Fort art student emerges in exhibition

Former Spean Bridge Primary School teacher Debbie Shepherd signed up for the intensive Portfolio Course at Bridge House Art last October.

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An art student from Fort William will have her work showcased at the An Talla Solais Gallery in Ullapool on March 6 at the Bridge House 2021 virtual exhibition.

A selection of Debbie’s oil paintings inspired by the local landscape during lockdown.

Former Spean Bridge Primary School teacher Debbie Shepherd signed up for the intensive Portfolio Course at Bridge House Art last October and is one of seven students to feature in the exhibition, which will run for four weeks.

Debbie moved to the Lochaber area 25 years ago to immerse herself in the wonderful landscape and to work in outdoor education. She has brought up her family here and is now developing her artistic talent.

‘After a lifetime of teaching, it was time to focus on my art and the Portfolio course has enabled me to do this,’ she told us.

This year’s course started last October with course director Eleanor White determined to run it despite the challenges of the pandemic. After 25 years of the course attracting students from all over Scotland and further afield, many of whom have gone to become fully-fledged artists, this was the time to adapt and carry on.

‘With a whole range of precautionary measures in place, the course ran almost normally from October to December, with Ullapool being in tier one,’ explained Debbie.

‘When An Talla Solais studio closed after Christmas, I decided to return home to continue my landscape painting. It’s less fun working on your own when you can’t exchange ideas, but I’m lucky to be surrounded by a similarly inspiring landscape that provides the stimulus for my paintings.

‘I have enjoyed using oils to capture the astonishing colours of the Highlands.’

Entiled Emerge, the exhibition will reflect the students’ emergence as artists and also society’s emergence from a terrible time, with hope for the future. It shows that even in lockdown it is possible to make art.

An Talla Solais will be holding a virtual launch with its patron, the renowned Scottish artist Professor Will Maclean MBE, who has kindly agreed to speak.

The link for the online exhibition is: and will run from March 6 to April 3. The link will not be live until after the launch.

Bridge House Art based in Ullapool is a non-residential school offering a summer programme of weekly courses and weekend courses, as well as the four-month Portfolio course in the winter, which is currently recruiting. Anyone interested should email for more information.