Islay inspiration

I love camping: I suppose there is just something about taking the time to simply be in the outdoors that allows the world to insinuate itself upon you in the most pleasing way. And I find Islay a particularly inspiring landscape. I like to potter about just looking at stuff, and always come home with a head and notebook full of ideas. Good weather helps too, of course: being able to sit outside in the long, light evenings watching hares, and listening to the wark-wark of corncrakes is a delicious kind of treat.

The things I see around me in Scotland, and the photographs I take of them are certainly my principal source of inspiration. Oftentimes it is the “feel” of something in a photograph (or perhaps more accurately the memory the photographs invoke of the feel of a place, thing, or occasion) that sparks off an idea. Here are a few groups of images that may or may not work their way into a thought . . . that later works its way into a design.

Thrift, spent blooms, rocks and sand.



40 thoughts on “Islay inspiration

  1. Kate, you are such a brilliant photographer! It’s no wonder your designs are so beautiful, imbued with your artistic sense. I would love to see you base a design on the Celtic scroll or cross. What you say about the “feeling of place” is so true. You’ve made my day!

    1. Dido! My husband and I are planning our first trip to Scotland for next summer. You are making me wish it was tomorrow, the plane was lifting off. Such stunning photography…I envy such wonderful inspirations you have all around you; how breathe takingly beautiful…I can’t wait…

  2. Wow! You’ve just inspired me to give camping a try. I’ve often thought myself more of a go-for-a-long-walk-come-home-to-creature-comforts sort of a gal, but hey, who could resist such encouragement? Beautiful, gorgeous photography!

  3. What a lovely story told in beautiful photographs…I wish now that the weather has changed that I had gone camping! It’s been lovely start the day with a smile. Thank you!

  4. The large carved rock looks like it could turn into a special cable pattern. There is beauty all around us if only we take the time to look. The Bru barrels are quite amazing–I love circles!
    Once again, thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Your gorgeous photos bring back wonderful memories of my one trip to the Hebrides! I was living in London, my friend flew in from Canada and we visited Skye, then the Hebrides. Such rare beauty. I would go back tomorrow if I could (but I live in Canada now and it is a much bigger trip with a family, lol). Thanks for the happy memories ;-)

  6. I think that camping for days out of our home, out and about in nature, is essential to gain perspectives we only have when Out There. I have had my creative insight pique many times, only to come home and find it matted down within a day or so. It Just Is That Way. Nature is like a big shake of the Etch-a-Sketch which is our chaotic and haphazard mind. The more brilliant the person, the more in need they are of that shaking off and renewal, of nature’s cleansing wash. I love your trip to the Hebrides, but even more so, how you’ve come back to us in a sequence of posts, whether decidedly or random consequence, it seems you’re again scribbling out your creative process building up between stellar projects… your grey day-to-day life between the bursts of color. Ah, and I see your angles from a lens of the very things A.S. made poetry ~ but yours is even more so, more sober, more real and imbedded in your Everydayness of Life, than the somewhat romanticized A.S.’s hardbound coffee-table fashion-model versions ~ the difference is apreciated and I drink it up ! Oh the stone, the fragile blossoms, the ancient Celtic relics, the pipe band, the whiskey !!!!! Thank you !

  7. Thank you for such a visually beautiful post! I felt like I had a mini-vacation just for seeing these photos!

  8. Ah yes, the Whisky :) but I digress, subject matter in the photos is wonderful. I am landlocked and have been for 12 years now………feels like prison! I walk every AM with dogs in the woods for 1 1/2 hours, saw a coyote this AM. Lovely and all the spring flowers…………every day is a good day.
    thank you so much.

  9. Your photos are fantastic Kate, and Scotland obviously offers beautiful scenery all year round.I really like the cross,makes one think of the stonemason who carved it all those years ago, what a thing of beauty.

  10. Catching up on your doings after a spell away from blogging, I’ve been cheered by your beautiful interpretations of Islay and Jura. Both places I’d love to visit. Finlaggan is on my pilgrimage list – it’s a Macdonald thing! Thanks to Bruce too for his splendid birthday post and cheers to his humans for success in their individual physical challenges on Jura.

  11. Ah, Kate..such delights! You tease my heartstrings with pictures of places I love.
    Molly Spollie and I have to be patient until next month. Thanks for sharing your photos.

  12. Oh! My Dear Kate,
    You don’t know me, nor I you, we’ve not ever met or spoken, but your photographs have pulled my soul straight out to my skin. You see what I love to experience. I feel as though I have been to the places you travel to before, although I know that I have not. Not sure what to do with this. Sit with it and enjoy I guess. You and your work and your thoughts are a blessing, I cannot thank you enough!!!

  13. No doubt your work benefits from being outside, especially in such lovely settings! The article “Mom Was Right: Go Outside” in the May 25 Wall Street Journal includes these sentences: “According to the latest research, untamed landscapes have a restorative effect, calming our frazzled nerves and refreshing the tired cortex. After a brief exposure to the outdoors, people are more creative, happier and better able to focus. If there were a pill that delivered these same results, we’d all be popping it.” Think I’ll go outside now. . . .

  14. Stunning pics (as usual). My lingering memories of Scotland are of Pitlochry where we stayed for a week just after we got married. I’ve often wanted to go back! From your photos the lasting impression for me is of the aqua blue of the Bluichladdich sign against the pale orange of the lobster claw! Interesting colour combo! Thanks for the inspiration. xxx

  15. Great pictures of such beautiful scenery ! Me and my children went there and loved every single minute and my children loved the tradition, would never have thought it lol

  16. You do more for tourism to Scotland than you can imagine! I might enjoy camping more there, where there’s no need to be concerned with predators such as bears, cougars, and wolves. Years ago, I had a student who was tragically killed by a black bear while sleeping in tent on a camping trip, and I have never been able to relax totally in the wilderness since.

  17. I am currently lucky enough to be in Bruichladdich. Sitting looking out of the window across Loch Indaal with a view to the Paps of Jura and the lights of Bowmore across the the water with an Islay whisky by my side and reading your blog. x

  18. I wish I could say some wonderful words about your blog, writing, photos . . . I never seem able to express how much I enjoy a visit to your part of the world. Thank you for sharing!

  19. Beautiful and inspiring words and pictures – saw lotsof seals today lazing on the rocks in North Ronaldsay, and white sands and blue seas, lots of kingcups and buttercups out everywhere. Thanks Kate for your lovely blog! X

  20. Kate, this might not be the best post for this comment, but it reminded me of the series of posts from that time when you visited Funchal, in one of the islands of Portugal, and I wanted to tell you about a sort of Portuguese traditional sweater, as you seem to appreciate these sort of “traditional” knitting.
    In continental Portugal, there is a seaside city called Nazare, an important harbour with lots of sailing and fishing history. I’ve noticed that, since I can remember, there are very recognizable, characteristic handknit sweaters(and ponchos) for sale here and there.
    These are fair isle sweaters, all in whites, dark blues, dark browns and beiges. And the yarn -pure wool- used to make them is very rich, strong, resistent, yet not rough at all. It is the best to protect you from the cold sea wind.
    I asked several merchants about this yarn, and about the origins of these pieces. Sadly, they did not know. They said “we only sell them”.
    I will try to find out more about these as soon as I can, and check if they are in fact a tradition. I don’t have any photographs of these sweaters, but I could find one picture on the internet:

    Thank you so much for your attention
    And for this absolutely lovely blog:)


  21. Love these photos! And a distiller with its own pipe & drum band, what a hoot! My grandfather’s name was Davies, although it was “Anglicized” to Davis when he landed at Ellis Island, in 1905. He was from Swansea on the Mumbles, in Wales. I have a (distant!) cousin named Gareth, like one of Arthur’s knights. My longing to be THERE rather than HERE is something I run smack into, whenever I see photos like yours.

  22. Your Kildalton stones bring me back to the little-but-impressive Pictish Stones museum we stumbled on in Meigle while we were exploring your beautiful countryside last September. Beautiful shots Kate!

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About Kate Davies

writer, designer and creator of Buachaille (100% Scottish wool)