The Between Islands project, originated by An Lanntair in Stornoway, and which aims to explore the culture and heritage links between the Western and Northern Isles, is launching its latest initiative in Orkney later this month.

Funded through the LEADER 2014-2020 regional cooperation scheme, this latest series of events will see lecturers from each Island UHI campus undertake a public talk in a neighbouring area.  

The first of these will be undertaken by Professor Frank Rennie from the Outer Hebrides, who will be delivering his lecture in Kirkwall. Entitled ‘Space, Place, and Grace: Perspectives of a nisomaniac’, it explores the topic of what makes a place special or unique.

Dr Rennie explains: “Through the lens of a small crofting village in the west of the Isle of Lewis, we can look at the evolution of a location and what makes it distinct. From the earliest recorded time, as it became a home to a unique combination of plants, animals, and human families, the natural and social history of this place is analysed.

“Using many elements of the landscape that are found in north and west of Scotland – the brochs, and the remnants of Iron Age, Viking, and Gaelic cultures, the village can be compared to other island settlements, as well as being set apart.

“The exceptional amalgamation of ideas, cultures, and habitats to be found in this one small place gives a rich insight into the heritage and history of a distinctive community over thousands of years. In doing so, it also challenges many of the current stereotypes of ‘remoteness’ and ‘barrenness’ to celebrate the magnificence of the human ecology of small Atlantic islands.”

Project coordinator Alex Macdonald added: “As we launched the musical element of the Between Islands programme at the Orkney Folk Festival in May, I am delighted we are able to begin our lecture series here, too.

“With financial support from LEADER, and invaluable assistance from our contacts in each UHI campus, we are able to illustrate the main aims of the project, which are to encourage collaboration through collectively promoting our culture and heritage.”

The lecture series will continue with a talk by Professor Donna Heddle of Orkney UHI at the Faclan book festival in Stornoway in November, with a third lecture involving Shetland UHI planned for the summer of 2020.

Professor Frank Rennie will be undertaking his lecture in the King Street Halls in Kirkwall on Wednesday 25th September at 7pm.

Admission is free and all are welcome.