It’s been four years since Gallery 5, located in the crofting township of Tolsta Chaolais, just a few miles along the road from the Callanish Stones, first opened its doors to the public.
Owner and artist, Margaret Stevenson, says: "I enjoy meeting people and hearing their different stories. I meet so many visitors, but so many islanders as well. It's lovely to welcome new faces and returning visitors.
“Just recently, there was a woman in with her family. She had been to Goldsmith’s College in London just after Damien Hirst attended and exploded onto the art world with his graduation show. She said there was a real buzz about the place in the aftermath. I think it’s great to meet people and hear about their different lives and experiences.”
The welcoming gallery space contains many of Margaret's paintings, as well as new season prints and greeting cards. “The prints are a mixture of still life scenes, houses and a loom shed,” reveals Margaret. “I like including a little bit of history in my work.”
2019 has seen a shift in Margaret's work and style. As well as creating the dramatic, free-spirited oil paintings she is known for, Margaret's work has evolved to include still life scenes, watercolours and pen and wash sketches. Margaret is particularly inspired by local scenes such as Carloway and Arnol, as well as land and seascapes.
Speaking about her pen and wash drawings, Margaret reflects: "I think they are the liveliest thing about my work, in a way. I find drawings very interesting – it shows the rounded aspects of an artist's work."
Art work from the gallery can be found all over the world. Margaret has sent her art thousands of miles away – a perfect service for tourists visiting the gallery and wanting to have a piece sent home.
Margaret, who signs her work with her Gaelic name, Mairead, explains: "I have custom-made boxes for the paintings to go in and I package them up as if my life depended on it!
“It's funny – even if it's FedEx or TNT who ultimately handles the package, it's always picked up by Calum from Woody's!
"I recently sent a painting to Australia. It had a spring theme, so it’s been welcomed like ‘a foretaste of spring!’ It’s winter there and the UK is having a heatwave!”
Margaret occasionally gets the chance to see how her painting looks in its new surroundings. She reveals: “I love it when people send me a photograph of their painting when it goes on their wall. It's great to see it in its new setting.”
Margaret's artistic skills go hand in hand with those of her husband, John. "John frames all my work, which is super," she reveals. "It's super having someone there to finish my work like that."
Margaret also welcomes the opportunity to work on commissions. “I’ve had five commissions last year,” she reveals. “I enjoy the challenge of a commission instead of just doing my own thing.”
Whether you're on holiday and stumble across Gallery 5 or you are island-based, Margaret's work has something for everyone.