Eileen Gatt lives in the Scottish Highlands on the Black Isle –the perfect environment in which to work because her inspiration comes from the mystical interaction between man and the sea. Eileen is fascinated by ancient stories and customs which inspire her when she is designing her jewellery and silverware.
Every piece of her jewellery has its own story to tell, and because of the beautiful places where it’s sold, when you buy a piece of her jewellery it becomes part of your story too.
My “Big Catch” pendant is a very special reminder of an unforgettable holiday in Fionnphort on Mull. Our house was on the beach and had rabbits burrowing from the rose bush in the garden on to the sand. Rabbits are very endearing to me at the best of times but there is something about seeing them on a beach that makes my heart melt just a little bit more ! While on Mull, we were privileged enough to see golden eagles; sea eagles and dolphins; and we spent an extraordinary 7 hours watching a day in the life of an otter - swimming, hunting, feeding and even sleeping- one of the very best days of my life.
Our house was right next to the jetty for the ferry to Iona, brilliant for the amazing sea food shack selling fresh lobsters, langoustines and crab every day but also because we could get over to Iona in a matter of a minutes. Iona is an enchanting place, it’s been a place of Christian worship for 1400 years; it has spectacular beaches with a good chance of seeing an otter and one of the best places ever for cream tea with the biggest scones known to man!
It also has Aosdana - from the Gaelic, meaning people of the art, craft or gift - a beautiful gallery and working studio selling contemporary artwork alongside modern and traditional Iona jewellery. And that’s where I was first introduced to the work of Eileen Gatt.
Eileen has been designing and making jewellery for over 20 years. She has collaborated with Highland story tellers, using their stories together with other Scottish customs as a starting point for her designs. The Highlands with its rich cultural heritage, its exquisite wildlife and diverse landscapes has long since been Eileen’s main source of inspiration. The lovely soft frosty finishes that adorn her work echo snowy wintery landscapes and the fishing villages that surround the shores provide a rich source of ideas, both visually and historically.
I especially love her animal creations-the hare and the polar bear are particular favourites-but the “Big Catch” with its little boat containing a tiny gold fish; a silver fish charm; and a green peridot for the sea was a natural choice for a permanent reminder of Mull and especially the beautiful island of Iona. Each time I wear it, people want to hear the story of such a special piece of jewellery- it’s lovely to relive the holiday each time I tell it.