St Columba’s conversion of the Picts on Skye in the late-sixth century and the coming of Christianity to Scotland was the starting point for The Nation//Live – Faith. William Hole’s mural depiction of St. Columba Addressing the Picts, 597 AD (1895-1901), on the Ambulatory of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, depicts such an event, and served as the inspiration for the project.

Artist Catherine Weir worked with young people from Sabhal Mor Ostaig (the Gaelic College) and SkyeDance, to investigate sites associated with the Saint’s mission on the island. She also explored participants’ personal concepts of faith, asking them to assess whether a fundamental shift in belief could be possible in Scotland today. The resulting dance-work created by SkyeDance, directed by Lorayne McLucas and commissioned by Atlas Arts, beautifully illustrated the conflicting emotions the dancers felt when examining their faith in the context of their friends, families and the island community in which they live.

The new dance was performed several times on Skye; at sites of religious significance in the north of the island, in St. Columba’s Episcopal Churchand on the streets of Portree. The final public performance on 17 August 2013, took place on the Lump in Portree, an outdoor site akin to the setting of William Hole’s painting and from which St. Columba’s Isle is clearly visible in Loch Portree.

On the same day, Daniel Warren’s Faith film was also screened in Portree in the Church of Scotland Parish Hall. A public panel discussion, debating contemporary concepts of faith, followed the Skye Dance performance in St. Columba’s Episcopal Church. The panel featured local ministers and artists including Rev. John Urquhart, Sr. Elizabeth Burggy, Dolina Munro Donnie Munro and Catherine Weir. A video recording of this debate can be found below.

Skye residents were also invited to contribute their thoughts regarding their own faith and its place in wider society, via a questionnaire circulated by Catherine to the island’s church congregations. The testimonies gleaned from this process were presented on laser-cut, plywood boards erected along Portree High Street as part of the project’s finale.

Faith was produced in partnership with Atlas Arts - who commissioned a new dance work from SkyeDance - with support from Sabhal Mor Ostaig and Aros. 


The Nation//Live - FAITH

Artist Catherine Weir and young People from SkyeDance explore concepts of faith on the Isle of Skye.

Directed by Daniel Warren. Produced in conjunction with Atlas Arts.

Faith is the third part of The Nation//Live Outreach project.

[Duration 12:09]


The Nation//Live - Faith Public Discussion

St Columba’s Episcopal Church, Portree, Isle of Skye.

Speakers include Donnie Munro, Sr Elizabeth Burggy, Artist Catherine Weir, Dolina Munro, Rev John Urquhart and chaired by National Galleries of Scotland Senior Outreach Officer, Robin Baillie.

[Duration 53:12]


Images from the project