Local artist channels Iona influences for charity

Bill McArthur has always been inspired by islands.

He has lived and worked in the Orkney island of Sanday since the late 1970s, both as a fisherman and an artist, and the bulk of his oil paintings focus on the interaction between the sea, sand and wind.

His gallery in the north end of Sanday is full of seascapes from the island, the west coast of Scotland and further afield. Now he has turned his attention to Iona for a special exhibition.

Bill McArthur in his gallery in Sanday
Bill McArthur in his gallery in Sanday


Bill was one of seven artists invited to the island for a week-long painting expedition in spring 2017. It was organised by a Trust in the name of the late Lord MacLeod of Fuinary, founder of the Iona Community.

The IONART exhibition opens at the Summerhall Gallery in Edinburgh on the 2nd of October
The IONART exhibition opens at the Summerhall Gallery in Edinburgh on the 2nd of October

His wife died from a diabetes-related heart attack aged 63 and Sir Maxwell MacLeod, Lord MacLeod’s son, is also a diabetes sufferer. In April he welcomed the group of artists to Iona to paint pictures, with the aim of selling them at an exhibition to raise funds for, and awareness of, the work of Diabetes UK.

That exhibition – titled ‘IONART – New Scottish colourists on Iona’ - will open at the Summerhall Gallery in Edinburgh on Monday 2nd October, and will run until the 28th of the month. Alongside Bill McArthur’s paintings, work from Kate Downie, Hugh Buchanan, Leonie Gibbs, Deirdre Nicholls, Laura de la Mare and Brenda Martin will also be on display.

The proceeds of the sale of one of each artist’s works will go to Diabetes UK. Sir Maxwell also plans to set-up a website and create an app that will help support people with Type-2 diabetes by providing dietary and lifestyle advice.

Find out more about the project from the IONART Facebook page. You can see more of Bill McArthur’s work on his official website and via his member’s page.