The opening of the new Garenin Gallery on Saturday (1 May) brought back memories for many, as neighbours called in to wish the new business well.
The first day in business was hailed “as good as it could possibly have been” by photographer Joe Kirkman, who is settling into the gallery at 8 Garenin as both his home and his workplace.
With his twin brother Ben, Joe has returned to the home district of their grandfather, Calum an-Uigeachd, a Carloway man who moved away to the mainland to start a new life.
Joe and Ben, 21-year olds from Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, have decided their own future lies in the ancestral district of their mother, Helen, who brought her family on holidays to her own father’s house, introducing them to relations and neighbours around Knock, Carloway.
Helen and husband Gary now stay in Galson and were with the twins every step of the way, converting the old crofthouse into a bright and colourful gallery of artworks and gifts with a beachy Hebridean theme.
Joe is a photography graduate, and Ben has worked in retail and business, so they decided to pool their skills with the opening of the new gallery.
Joe said: “The first day went really well. There were lots of really nice people, way more than we were expecting, and we met loads of neighbours and people from the surrounding area.
“Everyone was very friendly, welcoming and complimentary and plenty of people remembered my grandad and were interested in our connection to Carloway.”
The friendliness and welcome came as no surprise to the boys, who spent many of their summers in Lewis.
Ben said: “We used to come two or three times a year and always looked forward to the things that we did when we were home – trips to the beaches, going crabbing, visiting uncles and cousins. It has always felt like home to us.”
It was Joe’s photography skills that led to the ambition for a gallery, while lockdown and the limited options for work gave him the push he needed.
He said: “I have wanted to live here for a long time and, once I had finished my degree, it seemed as if everything aligned. It’s hard to make a living from photography, but here I have the landscapes and the location to make a business from it.”
The twins’ close relationship and skill-mix will, they hope, give them a head-start in making a success of the business. Ben said: “I’m the bossy twin and Joe’s the artist, the dreamer – although I do appreciate art. But while he’s been studying I’ve been out in the world in retail and will do the counter service and show him the ropes to begin with.
“We get on very well and, since it’s our first venture, we’ve both got the enthusiasm and the appetite to make a go of it.”
You can find out more about gallery opening times and Joe’s work from his Facebook page at
and see his work on Instagram at
Picture shows Joe and Ben outside the new gallery at 8 Garenin