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Air a’ Chùl Fraoin: Arts Therapies Conference

‘air a chùl fraoin: the back of beyond’

In Gaelic ‘air a chùl fraoin’ is used metaphorically to refer to a kind of liminal place. A place where transformation and change might take place outwith the ordinary; literally the ‘back side of the mountain’.

The place between arts therapies and arts in health or social practice is a fertile ground for bringing together practitioners in the broad sphere of health and wellbeing. This second annual Arts Therapies conference at Taigh Chearsabhagh on the island of North Uist, in conjunction with the UHI Institute of Health Research & Innovation, addresses the overlap of experience and practice offering presentations and experiential workshops from both the perspective of the arts therapies and the broad field of arts in health, wellbeing and social practice.

In arts therapies we adapt our practice for the client setting and boundaries can be quite fixed or at times quite fluid. This has an influence on how the therapeutic space feels, what might happen and the quality of what might take place. Arts therapists often think of boundaries in terms of psychological safety and also think of the containing and holding features of the arts practices themselves, as well as therapeutic relationship and group processes and how all this might play out. In a community setting arts therapies practice may appear to be the same as those of other arts practitioners working in a health and wellbeing model. Are there differences, and if so, what are they? 

This two day conference offers the opportunity to explore the depth of this overlapping field, led by professionals from the arts, psychology, environmental arts and arts therapies. Keynote speakers psychologist and musician Raymond MacDonald, drama therapist and environmental arts facilitator Rachel-Clare Campling, art therapist Bridget Grant, artist Fiona MacIsaac, creative producer Sorcha Monk, art therapist Vicky Armstrong and music therapist Alex Brown and art therapist Catriona MacInnes will work with in-person and online delegates to fluidly and safely explore this theme to depth through presentations and experiential participation ending with a panel discussion involving all contributors at the end of the two days.

We are pleased to present an Improvised Music Performance with Raymond MacDonald and Neil Davidson on the evening prior to the conference, on 31st August, which is open to all.

Also in conjunction with the conference, all that is remembered and not remembered is exhibited in the café gallery in Taigh Chearsabhagh.

The full programme for the conference is available here: Air a’ Chùl Fraoin Arts Therapies Conference Programme

For more information on the speakers and their presentations, please see: Conference Biographies, Presentations & Workshops Descriptions


Booking is essential for the conference, with a special discounted price for Uist and Barra residents. Everyone will be emailed with Zoom links for online participation should your plans change short notice. 

One day tickets are available if required. Please request these by emailing taigh@taigh-chearsabhagh.org 

Access Information

One of the in-person workshops will be outdoors. Please bring sturdy, waterproof footwear and suitable clothing given the changeable weather here. The ground walking out is uneven and the footpath becomes narrow. There is also a tidal rock area which can be slippery. If you are not comfortable with this terrain, there is an alternative indoor workshop available. 

Online participation will be through Zoom. We will be using a Meeting Owl to broadcast an immersive view of the conference room.