ATS: Ullapool's visual arts centre
An Talla Solais is Ullapool's visual arts centre and we have two galleries that host a range of contemporary artwork throughout the year.
Our main gallery is home to an annual programme of exhibitions featuring a wide variety of exciting and thought-provoking contemporary artworks including painting, sculpture, ceramics, installation, drawing and performance.
Our smaller gallery - The Room - shows a selection of paintings and sculpture that is changed on a regular basis to complement our main exhibition programme and to offer our visitors the opportunity to view and purchase work from some of Scotland's leading contemporary artists.
ATS: a potted history
An Talla Solais arose from a need: while music has traditionally flourished in the highlands, and Ullapool is a recognised hub of musical talent and growth, no dedicated space existed for the visual arts. West coast residents were out of easy reach of the best contemporary art shows and opportunities.
In 2003 an approach was made to Highland Councillor Jean Urquhart to ask the council if Ullapool’s redundant library building could be made available for visual art use. By 2004 access was allowed on a temporary basis to allow the art exhibition ‘The Sea’ to mark Fish Week showing work by local artists. The Highland Council then agreed to the building being used in a pilot scheme to test the water for public interest and support.
£7000 was raised at an exhibition of donated work in the Ceilidh Place in 2005, commission being waived. This gave us a working capital. The response to the quantity and quality of donated art work gave us a tremendous boost, not only for the money it raised, but also for the goodwill it represented. This in itself was an asset in terms of the council’s and the public’s perception of the committee’s endeavour.
After a few years of successfully running the old library as the art centre, now known as An Talla Solais, the site was given over to social housing development. Highland Council acceded to our application to re-home the centre in the empty building nearby, formerly the Medical Centre. The council generously gave us a twenty five year lease on a peppercorn rent basis.
The new premises allowed us to take our work much further. Now established as a charity, An Talla Solais offers classes and courses for beginners and professional artists alike; we provide studios and workshop space for artists and groups and we show a wealth of artwork with exhibitions ranging from work by internationally renowned artists to local group shows and open shows.
In 2014 ATS installed an electric kiln to open up new scope for ceramics tuition and residencies for ceramic artists. The following year we moved the gallery to Argyle Street in partnership with the Caledonian Hotel. This has made our exhibitions much more accessible to the public whilst making more space for studios on our Market Street site, including an expanded ceramics working room and teaching space. In all developments, we are guided by our wide membership and benefit enormously from our team of committed and passionate volunteers.
Professor Will Maclean, D Litt., MBE, RSA, RSW, RGI
ATS board of directors
Susan Brown - Minutes Secretary
Ann Marie Firth-Bernard
Neil Gerrard - Treasurer
Beth Robertson Fiddes