The latest from the North Bute Lit

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At the Lit’s latest meeting a near neighbour, Karen Scotland of Caol Ruadh, lovingly described the transformation of her Colintraive house and garden – from shipbuilding magnate’s holiday home through varied uses to present day family home and sculpture park.

It was in 1898 that the large Lancashire brick clad mansion was built for William Connell, set in 20 acres and with commanding views over the Kyles to Bute. The next owner, Thomas Hinshelwood, a paint manufacturer, built the much photographed nearby ‘Seven Sisters’ houses.

Karen illustrated her talk with old photographs, describing the history of the house through a name change (Feorlin) by Sir Colin and Lady Margaret McCrae and becoming the Loch Riddon Hotel. By WWII it was a residential school for Glasgow children in need of fresh air and continued thus until it closed in 1998 when Karen and her husband bought the much altered building.

It is a testament to Karen’s vision, energy and hard work that over the next 14 years she restored the house to its former glory by demolishing the ugly brick extensions which had clustered around it during the ‘school’ years. The first major garden work, the extensive dry stone walls and the gravel garden, were completed in time for the opening of the Scottish Sculpture Park in 2012. Since then Karen and co-founder Anne Edmons have mounted regular sculpture exhibitions in the garden and promoted the works of mainly Scottish sculptors and artists.

The introduction of new features and areas of the garden is ongoing and Karen showed photographs of her latest project, the Canopus, due to open in June, during its construction work.

The beautiful photographs of the garden and some of the sculptures Karen showed us has already encouraged members to mark next year’s opening date in their new diaries – June 23 2019. We anticipate a sunny day before the end of August when we can hop on the ferry from Rhubodach and stroll along to the Scottish Sculpture Park at Caol Ruadh.