Seas of the Outer Hebrides

graphic designed logo of an embracing arm around images of sea, fish, boat and bird with text reading SEASOH: Seas of the Outer Hebrides Project

We believe that collaborative, creative approaches can support knowledge-gathering and problem-solving processes, particularly, but not necessarily, where participants have different backgrounds, interests, expectations or hopes. They can work particularly well in community consultations to bring together community members and local government or organisational teams wanting to create a shared vision.  

In 2019, Creative Carbon Scotland partnered with the Marine Protected Area Management and Monitoring (MarPAMM) project to bring inclusive, creative approaches to the Seas of the Outer Hebrides (SEASOH) project. Our involvement arose from the project team’s desire for an inspiring, different and accessible way to work with the Outer Hebrides communities. We are proud to be supporting their key aim – to build a shared vision for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the region – by involving artists and creative practices to help explore the cultural dimension of residents’ relationship to their seas.

stunning aqua-green sea, white sandy beach with mountains in background; Isle of Lewis

MarPAMM is a cross-border environment project, funded by the EU’s INTERREG VA programme, to develop tools for monitoring and managing a number of protected coastal marine environments in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Western Scotland.

The SEASOH project will deliver a regional management plan for the Outer Hebrides Marine Region, putting communities and people at the heart of the process and building consensus on the future management of MPAs in the islands. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Marine ScotlandNatureScot and the University of the Highlands and Islands are supporting the delivery of effective MPA management.

Project activities

Summer 2019
We attended a series of events held by the SEASOH team during July 2019 aimed at creating an inclusive environment for listening to any views or concerns, and providing information about the SEASOH project and its aims. During this time we also met with local artists and cultural organisations to build our understanding of existing arts activities and inform our ideas for hosting creative workshops across the Outer Hebrides.Seas of the Outer Hebrides 1

Our first series of events were co-organised with the Hebridean International Film Festival in September , where we held conversations alongside film screenings, connecting the film festival themes, ‘Islands, environments and remote communities’, to community members’ perceptions and experience of the marine environment. Participants also contributed drawings to a short animation produced following the festival themed around the local marine environment.

Winter 2020

Seas of the Outer Hebrides 2

In February 2020, we co-ordinated a series of family friendly, creative workshops on Lewis, Harris, North and South Uist with local artists Kirsty O’Connor (North Uist) and Sandra Kennedy (Lewis), alongside the Seas of the Outer Hebrides team. These workshops interwove creative activities, including mono-printing using found objects from the shoreline and origami paper boat making with conversations about marine protection, what benefits communities derived from the sea, and their hopes and fears for the future.

mono-printing using found objects from the shoreline; abstract shapes in greys, greens and reds, reminiscent of the sea Through these events and an online community survey, the results of which are available here, the SEASOH project was able to gain a deeper understanding of communities’ priorities for the marine environment as well as the less tangible aspects of peoples’ lived experience and relationship to the sea. Key themes emerging from this initial engagement work included:

  • Climate change and biodiversity loss
  • Marine stewardship
  • Better involved communities and local decision making
  • Sense of pride in connection with the sea linked to place, home or cultural identity

Summer 2021

In summer 2021 we were delighted to be able to resume activity with the project, following a a pause in progress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with Uist Film, Taigh Chersabhagh and artist Kirsty O’Connor we produced a short film, with local presenter Kate Macleod, sharing back the key findings and inviting responses to the themes we had heard so far, and hosted a series of creative digital workshops exploring past, present and future relationships to the sea.

Creating future visions for the seas of the Outer Hebrides 1

As well as an opportunity to re-engage communities in the project these workshops provided us with useful learning as to the opportunities and challenges of hosting online activities in an island context.

Autumn 2021

Building on this learning, we announced an open call for creative practitioners to support the development and delivery of a community-led vision for marine stewardship in the Outer Hebrides to be presented during a consultation on marine management recommendations in 2022.

Following a competitive recruitment process, artists Dr Saoirse Higgins and Jonathan Ford were appointed, bringing their knowledge of and passion for the sea and creative community engagement from their home island of Papa Westray on Orkney.

Since then we’ve been working hard to develop a call for activity through the Cùram Cuain project, inviting Outer Hebrides residents to become ‘Fathomeers’ and to embrace the sea by taking a dip in the North East Lewis Marine Protected Area, off Bayble Beach in October! Read a blog about the swim.

We’re excited to build on these activities with Saoirse and Jonathan and will continue keep the Creative Carbon Scotland website up to date with our news and plans.

Seas of the Outer Hebrides 2


SEASOH is part of our culture/SHIFT programme. 

The SEASOH logo was created by Loom Graphics, an independent graphic design studio based in the Outer Hebrides.

Image credits: Seilebost beach, Isle of Lewis – Paolo Chiabrando on Unsplash; workshop images – Creative Carbon Scotland; Cùram Cuain, Bayble Beach  – Saoirse Higgins and Jonathan Ford

Marpamm and interreg logos for Seas of the Outer Hebrides project

Get info on news, opportunities & events by email

About Creative Carbon Scotland

We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

0131 529 7909

Supported by

Creative Scotland logo City of Edinburgh Council logo

A project initiated by Edinburgh’s Festivals with key partners the Federation of Scottish Theatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network

Edinburgh Festival City logo Federation of Scottish Theatre logo Scottish Contemporary Art Network logo


Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Good Business Charter Accredited