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Art Project

Argyll and Islands Hope Spot

September 2021

I was very lucky to be invited to contribute to the Argyll & Islands Hope Spot art project.  The invitation came from Jane Smith a fellow SWLA fine artist / printmaker member who lives in the centre of the project area at Tayvallich.  I joined Jane and three other SWLA artists - Louise Scammel, Kittie Jones and Kim Atkinson - invited because of our swimming, snorkelling or diving interests and past experience.

The idea was to create a body of artwork featuring the marine life of the Hope Spot below and above the water.  This is some of my contribution, and a lot of studio time in the coming months will hopefully tease out some more creative interpretations of a week’s experience of the marine life

Thanks to the coastal communities around Argyll who care passionately about the marine environment, they are now able to celebrate the establishment of a Hope Spot to help protect and restore marine biodiversity locally in Argyll, but on a regional, national, and international scale as well.

The Argyll and Islands Hope Spot will be a catalyst to greater understanding, appreciation, and protection of the marine environment as the coastal communities of Argyll work to make sure that the seas around them are a beacon showing others what is possible when the people who live by the sea join in caring about the marine environment.  They have the enthusiasm, knowledge, tools and technology to ensure that their legacy includes a healthy and sustainable marine environment which for generations has sustained the lives of the coastal communities.

The Hope Spot is one of a few remaining areas in Scotland with such an outstanding abundance of marine biodiversity. The breath-taking scenery and rich biodiversity, that we are all familiar with on land, is surpassed underwater. The Hope Spot has an intricate coastline of sea lochs, peninsulas, deep water sounds, narrows and islands, encompassing existing Marine Protected Areas, Special Areas for Conservation and a host of Priority Marine Features.

This is one of the most marine biologically diverse environments in Scotland and the UK. Deep water species can find depths up to 200m just offshore, and the wider coastal environment supports an impressive range of birds and mammals. It is no coincidence that this special environment provides one of the few remaining strongholds for the critically endangered flapper skate in the UK.

The combination of economic, cultural and environmental value represented in the Hope Spot demonstrate the vital connection between coastal communities and their local waters. Raising awareness and developing understanding of the Argyll Coast and Islands marine environment will enable local communities and visitors alike to gain an enriched perspective on exactly why Argyll is such a special place for biodiversity.


Aims and Objectives

  • To bring together local sea users on issues affecting the marine wildlife and habitats in the Hope Spot and to engage the Scottish Government on these issues, influencing policy and management.
  • To restore biodiversity and increase biodiversity protection of coastal and marine habitats as well as keystone and rare/endangered species. Exploring techniques such as no-take zones, whilst also focusing on biodiversity inside and outside Marine Protected Area boundaries.
  • To engage and work with local fishers to promote low impact, high value fisheries, including scallop divers and creel fishermen - helping to protect the marine environment from environmental threats such as destructive forms of bottom-contacting fishing or environmentally damaging forms of aquaculture.
  • To promote awareness of the Hope Spot’s local areas, providing marine environmental education talks in schools and to the general public, and engaging in online outreach with film and media - sharing why the natural environment in our area gives hope to us and others.
  • To seed innovative ideas, collaboration and funding for projects which bring social and economic benefits to neighbouring Hope Spot communities, enabling communities to make the Hope Spot their own.
  • To work with tourism operators and agencies to promote the Hope Spot area as a wonderful, world-renowned place for sustainable eco-tourism.
  • To survey marine biodiversity to better understand what the Hope Spot contains, set up baselines for repeated surveys to monitor change and to explore creative ways to involve communities.


(Left above) Studies of fifteen spined stickleback

(Left below) Studies of (snake?) pipefish


Each day we went out to the foreshore and set up a base among the rocks where we could kit up in our diving gear, fill glass tanks with specimens so we could take a close look at the form and colours of various fish, crab and starfish species.

Fortunately, the weather held good for most of the week we were at Taynish, and in the evening we returned to magnificent suppers at Jane's house (all cooked by her husband Mark) and it was also where we were staying.


(Right) The campervan as mobile studio, changing room and dive base!

(Below) Green shore crab under observation




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