My name is Yasmin Davidson, I am new to life on North Uist and I recently moved to Berneray in January. I am an artist specializing in painting. I moved to Uist just before the Covid pandemic really kicked off and I feel like I have missed out on the social aspect of living on the island such as the Highland games and Berneray week. Despite this, the people of Uist have been so welcoming and kind to me. The recent summer group show at Taigh Chearsabhagh has really given me an opportunity to meet new people on the island and to finally showcase my work again. Before I moved to Berneray I was living in Canada on Vancouver Island for a year in a small fishing town called Campbell River. I lived there with my partner Ruairidh who grew up in North Uist, we both decided to return home due to visa reasons and have found ourselves now living in a croft house in Borve.
Living in North Uist has given me some new experiences and it has shown me a different way of life. I am originally from Dundee so it’s a massive contrast between city life. I recently had my first experience of cutting peats and preparing for winter, it a strange thought process to prepare for a cold winter during the warmer months of summer. I wasn’t even aware of peats before I moved here and it led me to my latest painting ‘Peat Gathering’
Peat gathering is such a traditional event which seems to bring families and friends together for a day. I enjoyed being out in the heat and having to physically gather up earth and bag it in order to survive winter here. I love the simplistic way of life that Uist has to offer, it’s very quiet and still, although the wind can be harsh here there is something very comforting about staying at home and sheltering yourself from the elements.
The inspiration for my art comes from all my vast experiences of travel around the world, the people I meet, new strange alien environments and old traditions feed my interest. I still see myself as a traveler to a certain degree but I do feel slightly more grounded now in terms of what I want. Most of my work is based on my travels through America and Canada. A lot of my paintings seem to depict the Canadian lifestyle that I once lived. I love humor in art so I often use bold colors and quirky image titles, I want to capture and remember the emotional and comedy value of a specific moment. I truly had the best life experience so far living in Canada and I still often think about returning one day, it excites me and that definitely comes through in my paintings.
I think that Uist offers me a blank canvas to be creative, to process and to share all my experiences on to a canvas or paper. Travelling can be full on and restless, I often found myself too caught up in the moment to be creative. I lived out of a van for a few months with my partner, we often went to festivals and to different cities to visit friends and we went on many hikes together. Now that I’m in Berneray I now have a quiet and still surrounding to get creative again and I’m really enjoying my new process of working. It’s good to have somewhere like Uist to go back to after travelling because it gives you time to breath, recharge and to gain perspective. I can finally think about the next steps of my life without having to jump around so much in the process. My paintings are definitely evolving in to something that I’m proud of and want to share with others.
Visit Yasmin’s Instagram page