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About Reothart nan Ealain

Reothart nan Ealain is a new Gaelic visual arts hub established by Mairi Gillies and is born out of Mairi's experience as an artist and educator with a passion for Gaelic heritage, history and culture. Alongside Mairi you will find a host of other local Gaelic artists with work on display and running classes as tutors. See our page 'luchd-teagaisg' to find out more about our lovely tutors.


While Reothart nan Ealain's principal focus is on the Gaelic visual arts, you will also find classes and events focusing on other Gaelic arts including song, storytelling and step dancing to name a few.

Gaelic is our language of the home, so you'll be welcomed and encouraged to speak some whilst you're here. All of our tutors are Gaelic speakers and will be delighted to speak to all abilities of Gaelic language learners.

You can read more below about the history of the school and schoolhouse where Reothart nan Ealain is based.

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Loch Croistean School

In 1872 the ‘Education Scotland Act’ was introduced by the Government under the Argyll Commission to standardise education across Scotland. This was an historical marker in time, alongside the clearances which changed the face of Gaelic language use and culture across the Gaidhealtachd (parts of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland where Gaelic is, or was spoken). It brought in an education system of enforced and compulsory schooling that purposefully excluded Gaelic language.

State schools were built across the Gaidhealtachd to replace the existing local kirk schools where children had been taught in their Gaelic mother-tongue. One of these state schools, built in 1875 was situated in Loch Croistean, in the Parish of Uig, on the Isle of Lewis. Built from stone and slate, it would have been an imposing building alongside the local vernacular architecture of the time and it remained in operation as a school until the 1970’s before being decommissioned, becoming then a museum before changing use to an oyster hatchery and subsequently a restaurant.

Mairi aquired this old school building so that it can serve as a special place for Gaelic visual arts, for creative learning and for the empowerment and revitalisation of Gaelic language through the arts. This is significant to the building’s history, bringing it full circle to reverse its original purpose of monolingualism, forced formal education and instead, utilising the space to support the creative development of Gaelic visual arts and to contribute to the local community.

The schoolhouse is Mairi's family home and the adjoining school with it's classroom is a multipurpose space displaying artwork and offering a special studio setting for courses and events.

We will be offering residencies at Reothart nan Ealain for individuals and groups in the future. Please join our mailing list if you'd like to be kept up to date with these developments.

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