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Lockdown Sketchbooks is an exhibition created primarily by island residents during the 2020 Covid-19 Lockdown, but also includes work from the rest of the UK and all over the world. Over a 30-day period the Sketchbook Project delivered a series of daily challenges and prompts designed to engage people in creative activity on a daily basis during a difficult time.

Completed sketchbooks were returned by post and form an integral part of the Lockdown Sketchbook exhibition currently on display at An Lanntiar. All of the images from the sketchbooks were scanned and made into large scale posters which are also displayed as part of the exhibition. 


If you would like to have a more in depth look at the work created click on the individual challenges below to see participants responses which showcase a huge array of talent, humour and imagination.

An Lanntair would like to extend a massive thank you to project participants who took the time to respond to the challenges in such an imaginative way and made this exhibition a reality.


Click on a challenge below to see all of the responses for that challenge.


Weekly Challenge from the Sketchbook Group

The Surrealist Dice Game

This weekly challenge was a Surrealist dice game.  The participants were given three lists with six items in each.  A Location, An Object and A Situation.  They were to roll their dice once for each list and create an image from the results.  Here are their results.

Weekly Challenge from the Sketchbook Group

Mr Squiggle

This weekly challenge came from the Sketchbook Challenge group.  On completion fo the sketchbook project some members of the group wanted to continue with regular creative challenges. The first challenge came via an old childhood tv program that used to air in Australia called 'Mr Squiggle".  It involved a marionette with a pencil for a nose who came from the moon.  He would use his 'nose pencil' to turn doodles or 'squiggles' sent in by children into recognisable drawings.  Here is a link if you want to take a look. He is kind of surreal and a bit creepy in retrospect.

I sent a 'squiggle' out to participants and here is the response.  Its amazing the variety of ideas that come from the same starting point.  Here are the responses starting with the original 'squiggle'.

Creative Challenge #5

Do something brave and good with your art

Send all work for inclusion to;

This can be practical- eg reaching out to other artists to encourage them, and share what you have been working on. Or it can be creatively responding to the challenges you see around you locally or globally.

Artists have always engaged with what is going on in their world, and it takes a lot of courage to observe difficult times and explore painful themes.

In the islands we had a strong tradition of the bàrd Baile – the village bàrd who would make up songs about what or who they saw and found around them, and about what was currently happening globally too. Murdani Mast (Sandra’s dad) was one of them; more famously there was song writer/ bàrd Murchadh MacPharlan- bàrd Mhealbost who wrote songs about the everyday as well as the horrors of world wars, the Iolaire tradgedy, and the threat of the cold war. Probably our most celebrated Gaelic song is An Eala Bhan by Dòmhnall Ruadh Chorùna from North Uist.

Almost every village in the island would have had at least one bard, and they would enjoy sharing their songs with each other and getting feedback and encouragement. If there was ever an event, they would have a huge library in their heads for singing songs- especially at New Year and weddings.

Make your art a vehicle for understanding and knowledge with whatever artform you work in.
Being a brave artist means getting involved with your community- it’s brave because it demands compassion, commitment and skills. For this challenge think about what you could do with your art that is both good and brave.

This is a bit of a documentary about Murchadh MacPharlain

Creative Challenge # 4


Watch this brilliant video from a decade ago 



'I have to praise you like I should' Fat Boy Slim 1998


It sometimes takes effort to focus on the good, and we might need to search for it.

Who are you grateful to, what are you thankful for?

Let's celebrate the good things with our art. It's obvious that voicing that praise is what makes our appreciation deeper.

'I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment' C.S Lewis 


Creative challenge #3

Connect and Collaborate

Send all work for inclusion to;

This is a suggestion to find somebody to collaborate with. It’s possible with email, dropbox and video conferencing to work together. You might choose to work across different disciplines- a visual artist with film-maker- A poet with a sculptor; Photographer with story teller etc. Use this blog for call outs for specific kinds of artists. Or if you want to be introduced to an artist get in touch with at;
If you find it difficult to ask somebody to collaborate with you then an alternative is to collaborate through your imagination- Give a classic story an alternative ending; work with an existing piece of work from art history; get into the mind-set of an artist from a different time and respond creatively, critically and imaginatively. Please get in touch if you need any help with this

Creative challenge #2


Send all work for inclusion to;

I think we’ve all experienced how restrictions lead to creative output. We all have the ability to adapt and be resourceful. There’s a lot of people gardening or baking artisan bread right now!

So this challenge is placing a restriction on process- whatever your art form is- or on your materials, colours, the chords in a song the words in a poem. Restrict in number, type or quality. 

Examples are painting with only one colour; drawing using only straight lines; writing only with words that begin with the letter T; a poem with only 2 syllables in each word. Limit your resources and work with what you have.

 Make up your own restriction, try different ones before you settle on a small project.

 Although you should in a sense be ‘strict’-  there is the possibility for a bit of rebellion bringing your work to life - So one wobbly line amongst all the straight ones, or maybe your lines are all wobbling at closer inspection, or there a hint of orange in a blue painting.

All artists use restriction and you will undoubtedly do this without realising anyway, but I thought it would be a good time to explore this consciously.

Some work from visual art history to inspire are Picasso’s blue period, Agnes Martin, Jackson Pollock. Maybe you can just use this challenge to explore other artists who use that magnifying focus and learn from them. 


Creative Challenge # 1 (Be A Beginner) by Jonathan MacDonald

These are my attempts at trying new disciplines. I had loads of old nails, screws and scraps of wood from my old shed, so I made these rather than throwing them away. Don’t know if assemblage would be the right term?

Creative Challenge # 1 (Be A Beginner) by June Graham

This is my attempt to do new art form (drawing as I am a writer). 


I am thinking of trying to do illustrations for the children's book I am writing in Gaelic. I used to draw when I was a lot younger but am very out of practice. For a week over the Easter holidays I decided to draw rather than write. My mind was numb from all the sudden changes due to covid-19 - kids at home, trying to work from home instead of going into the office etc.


I was worried I wouldn't be able to draw any more and wasn't quite sure what to draw. However, I read the advice, don't think, just draw, and gave it a go.


This picture shows Pangur cat stowing away on a van. He is a Swiss cat who was taken to Lewis by his family and doesn't like life on this rainy, boggy island. When a local cat starts bullying him, he runs away and gets lost. Instead of trying to get back to his family in Stornoway, he decides to make his way back to Switzerland. This picture shows him stowing away in a van which is heading for the ferry. 


I used a photo of a Ford transit van to help me draw the van. Then I had fun thinking up things to put inside. The man driving is moving house. I found that if thoughts didn't get in the way, some surprising things came out.


After I had done the pencil drawing, it took quite a bit of courage to get the pens out (ordered on Amazon after the shops closed).


I'm not happy with all of it. Maybe the inside of the van is too busy. I think I made the coat stand too bold. Also, the cat is black in the story, but I feel it is best to just do him as an outline. Otherwise I will have trouble getting his expression.


Okay, I know this is quite amateur but it shows what is in my head. Even if I get a professional to do the drawings in the end, I would be able to show them how I have visualised this scene.


This is taking quite a lot of courage to press the send button. I am definitely out of my comfort zone when it comes to drawing.


Le durachdan 



Andrew Eathan-Lewis's response.  A music video for his track.

'The song that says they're gone'

Creative Challenge # 1 (Be A Beginner)

This was my first ever attempt at making my own music video for one of my songs. I've left it to other people in the past but I don't have much of a budget for these things anymore. It was filmed on an iPhone while walking the dog up the hill at Gallan Head near where I live, and edited using iMovie. The whole thing probably took a couple of hours. I wouldn't say I have a glorious future in film-making but I think it works for this song. The long takes and simple edits, which are the only thing I know how to do, fit well with a song that's also very simple and slow. I think the setting works too. It's a song about the end of humanity, so abandoned buildings are an obvious way to illustrate that. The bit near the end where you see the dog running along was an accident. I didn't realise my phone was still filming, but I thought the film needed a bit of movement by that point after all those still images so I kept it in. It was made before the lockdown but could just as easily have been made after - I still walk that route every day and hardly ever see anyone. I usually didn't before the lockdown either.' 

Creative Challenge # 1 (Be A Beginner)

Be a Beginner

Photographer to Illustrator? by Lesley-Anne Young


Be a beginner, as we know, was last week’s challenge set to all us artists here at the AnLanntair’s Artist Support Programme. For this challenge I decided to grab some pencils and paper and have a bash at drawing for the first time in a long time.

Long, long before I ever picked up a camera I was obsessed with drawing, as a lot of children are, however around the age of 15 it became the time in my life to get ‘serious’ about my career, so I dropped art in school to do something that’d get me a ‘real’ job. For my 5th year at high school I took admin instead of art, something I’d come to regret. That was 18 years ago now and age 15 was probably the last time I was ever serious about drawing.


Fast-forward to the age of 18 where I was just completing the 2nd year of my Modern Apprenticeship in Business Administration and quite frankly just about tolerating the job I was in. I’d go on to tolerate this line of work for a further 11 years, however, after completing my apprenticeship way back then I knew that this line of work, for all I was ‘good’ at it, it just wasn’t for me!


The same year I completed my Administration Apprenticeship I started night school courses in Photography, because in my young naivety I had figured that since it’d now been 3 whole years from the last time I properly drew anything, I’d have lost my talent for drawing. Don’t get me wrong though, I loved photography and still love it to this day – which is why it’s now my chosen occupation, but in art, my first true love was drawing, so after 18 years, this week I decided to be a beginner again.


Starting with Printer Paper, an HB Pencil, some drawing pens and YouTube Tutorials on how to draw Disney Characters - I was firmly back in the drawing saddle. Disney and Pixar Animation had a massive impact on me as a child and still do to this day, particularly as my preferred style of drawing has always been cartoon(ish)


I got more serious about drawing as the week went on, using sketching paper, a variety of pencils and pens and coming up with my own concepts. I also joined Skillshare, a website designed for learning, with classes taught by leading practitioners in many fields including drawing, animation and illustration - I am absolutely loving these classes and the first two months of subscription are free of charge right now for anyone who might be interested.


I also took part in Noel Fielding’s Saturday Instagram Art Club, which is something he’s doing every Saturday afternoon throughout lockdown, so be sure to check that out too, if you’re looking to get involved in some art-based activities and need a little bit of persuasion from a zany and talented Public Figure. For the Art Club I drew an Ice Cream as the prompt given by Noel was Holidays.


I rounded my week off with a sketch inspired by life on the island and a pair of Blackbirds who’ve been visiting my new window birdfeeder regularly, I also pulled inspiration from the insane amounts of Starling’s that’ve been visiting the garden too, hence the colouring and speckles. I introduce to you - Stan and Soozie Mactweet, the product of a week back in the drawing saddle.


Now that I’ve started with this medium again, I really don’t want to stop, I even looked out an old easel I had from when I took a bash at painting a few years ago to allow me to draw without hunching over and giving myself unnecessary backpain. Not getting any younger – ha-ha!


My passion and appreciation for drawing has always been there since I was a child but it’s been fuelled again tenfold by this challenge, not only that but it’s also helped me to appreciate the work I do in Photography and is giving me creative ideas to bring to my medium as a Photographer, especially as I delve further into more artistic photography, which is very much in contrast to the work I do in my creative business as a Wedding and Family Photographer.


At times, with photography being my profession, it can sometimes feel like ‘work’ just to pick up the camera and it’s really been something I’ve been finding increasingly difficult recently. If you are feeling this way too – know you’re really not alone. However, being a beginner in a new artform has been very inspiring to me and has given me permission to immerse myself in learning something new, to create fun light-hearted characters, and truly helped me to find some calm and focus among the chaos.


Sending you all my very best and I hope that by sharing my story it might help to light a creative spark in yours.


With Much Love,


Lesley-Anne Young





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