Like a shape shifting zoomorphic, Aosdàna has grown into another form in this new relationship with award winning Scottish/American jewellery designer, Maeve Gillies. The concept of Iona My Heart, or Ì Mo Chridhe in Scottish Gaelic, was Maeve’s and it began with conversations and visual story telling, gradually growing into a young brand that we hope will continue the legacy of Iona Celtic Art into the future.
We think the lovely thing about Iona My Heart's story is that it begins with another story, and then many stories overlaid on the first, an unfinished line that runs through the Book of Kells to Iona artisans Euphemia and Alexander Ritchie, to my relative Iona silversmith Iain MacCormick, and on through me, and now Maeve, who brings her passion and skill with a pencil, like the Ritchies, a lover of all the treasures of Iona.
Iona My Heart reflects the values that have guided Aosdàna over the past two decades. Inspired by the Ritchies own commitment to the recognition and revival of Celtic art on Iona in the 20th Century, Ì Mo Chridhe will continue to amplify this aim through the creation of new work which combines design and production innovation with the rich legacy of Iona’s Celtic past.
The Ritchies were dedicated to sharing their crafts knowledge and to creating economic opportunity for islanders to supplement their income through the creation of quality craft products. In 1900 they opened Iona Celtic Art in the grounds of Iona Nunnery, a small wooden shop and treasure trove of their own and their fellow islanders’ work.
Knowing this story, in 2003 I began renovating, in partnership with the National Trust for Scotland, the disused and run down buildings known as The St. Columba Steadings. Completed in 2006, with huge support from family and friends, I provided affordable work and retail space for Aosdàna and nine other island micro businesses. Leased to talented Iona makers for a nominal rent, this creative space makes a significant contribution to the financial sustainability of the individuals involved. The first development of its kind on the Island, it also contributes to a vibrant revival of the crafts on Iona.
Island life thrives because of our interdependence as a community, and the Ritchies lived this symbiotic relationship through their work, and through sharing economic opportunity with their fellow islanders. Their example has been a cornerstone for Aosdàna as my business has developed, and Iona My Heart will continue this relational approach to business, with profits from every sale supporting the St. Columba Steadings development and the craft businesses which thrive here.