Since the opening of Talla na Mara in Harris last November, the centre has been busy hosting weddings, conferences and training events.
HIE invested £154,000 to support the centre which was developed by the West Harris Trust. The centre includes a performance space for film, theatre and live music events as well as a restaurant and motorhome parking.
The centre provides units for four creative businesses – Isle of Harris Fine Art, Hebridean Design Company, Joceline Hildrey Illustration and Porteaous Architecture.
Isle of Harris Fine Art is run by Owen and Marigold Williams who moved to Harris with their children to set up the business and raise their family.
Owen said: “Marigold and I were living in South Queensferry. Marigold was teaching art in high school in West Lothian and I was managing a sales team for a publishing company in Edinburgh. After 12 years working my way up with the same company and chasing endless sales targets, I was looking to do something different career wise, but I wasn’t sure what.
“My brother Angus runs Williams Stone Craft, a stone masonry business out of Stornoway and suggested I come and join the team. My mum was born in Harris and runs the Holmasaig Gallery, at Qudinish in the Bays of Harris and Marigold and I have had success selling our paintings from her gallery in the past.
“We heard about the new business available for rent at Talla Na Mara and we decided one of these would make a perfect studio/gallery where we could both paint, exhibit and sell our art work. We thought it would be amazing if we could make a living building drystone walls and selling paintings, so we applied for a unit in the summer of 2016 and where lucky enough to be chosen to get one.
“Two years later and we are well into our second season at the studio and things have been going great. Inspired by the surrounding environment of this beautiful island or work now ranges from original paintings, prints, cards and various hand-crafted pieces for the home. In the summer months, we take it in turns to work in and run the studio. In the winter, I switch over to the dyking and we both work on building up stock for the main season.
“We live in Leverburgh and, along with our children, we love the outdoors life in Harris and are at the beach all the time in the summer.
“Together with the other art, craft and design studios, the main gallery with monthly guest artists, the arts and entertainment space and the restaurant/cafe, we have become a real hub for tourists and islanders on the West side of Harris.”