stone, sea & sky


Scottish Civic Trust

In collaboration with

An Lanntair

Stornoway Primary School

Catriona Gilbert

Stornoway, Isle of Lewis


A culmination of the 30-year celebrations of the Doors Open Day programme, Stone, Sea & Sky was a project run by the Scottish Civic Trust across Argyll & Bute and the Outer Hebrides to celebrate relationships between architecture and communities of the Scottish Islands.


As part of the project, Civic Soup were commissioned with the design and delivery of workshops and a public artwork in the grounds of Lews Castle, Stornoway.

Place Discovery and Building with Light were linked workshops delivered in Stornoway Primary School with the Gaelic-medium 6/7 and Primary 7 classes. They focussed on place, ideas of heritage and the built environment through walking, discussion, field-recording, view-finding and design activity.

Place Discovery began with an open discussion, prompted by imagery of buildings the young people thought significant in Stornoway. Of those suggested, pupils selected three and together planned a walk to visit them.


Using toolkits that contained specific tasks to be carried out at each building, pupils gathered rubbings, captured photographs, made drawings and wrote observations and questions as they closely investigated the likes of the Ferry Terminal, An Lanntair and the Nicolson Institute Clock Tower.


The resulting visual material was plotted across maps and streetscapes, fuelling a fascinating conversation on the histories, identities and important features of the buildings we had visited.


Building with Light employed the materials and insights emergent in the previous workshop to create devices for looking at and understanding the built environment differently. Pupils decorated kaleidoscopes by drawing and collaging photographs that had been taken the previous week, and created filters using their rubbings, drawings, and writing.


The young people then took their kaleidoscopes and filters outside, finding exciting views of the previously studied buildings and capturing them in beautiful abstracted photographs as a means of seeing their everyday environment in a new and exciting way.

Following the workshops, a very rapid process of translating, designing and fabricating took place in order to create the resulting artwork; a kaleidoscopic standing stone and viewing device, fabricated from powder coated and etched sheet steel.


Initially exhibited in An Lanntair, the artwork includes many of the young people’s original drawings and writing and will eventually be placed permanently within a newly landscaped Lews Castle Grounds.