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Coronavirus crisis prompts Stoer photographer to offer images free to bring cheer to NHS wards

By Caroline McMorran

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An up-and-coming young photographer from north west Sutherland is offering copies of his stunning images free of charge to NHS hospitals during the coronavirus crisis.

Lewis Matheson is building up his photography business Taigh Solais.
Lewis Matheson is building up his photography business Taigh Solais.

Lewis Matheson, who was brought up in Clachtoll but lives in Edinburgh, thinks pictures on the walls help to make wards a more cheerful and optimistic place for patients, including those with the virus.

He said: “I remember going to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness when I was small and passing the children’s ward which always made me smile with its bright murals and colours. The same is the case for adult wards.”

The 23-year-old, who is presently on furlough from his job as a bar supervisor because of the pandemic, launched his on-line photography business Taigh Solais - the Gaelic for lighthouse – in January last year after friends and family encouraged him to do so.

“People were saying to me for ages that it was something I should do,” he said. “I had always thought of my photography as a hobby and not a way of making money.”

His mum Sheila and dad Kenny John Matheson, a well known local mechanic, bus driver and musician, still live at Clachtoll. He has a twin brother Calum.

Lewis specialises in landscape, seascape and architectural imagery and many of his photographs are of Sutherland scenes.

He said: “The dramatic terrain of the north west Highlands really inspired my passion for land and seascape photography.

"Growing up, I became familiar with each hill, loch and inlet scattered around the coast and I spent a lot of time out fishing on the family boat and off the rocky coastline.”

Moving to Edinburgh in his late teens, Lewis was soon captivated by the city and, with limited opportunities to capture land and seascape images, saw it as an opportunity to learn about cityscape photography.

Travels he later undertook through Australia, Spain, Cyprus and France have also fired his creativity.

He has publicised his offer of free images through social media and has invited hospitals to choose from the photographs in the e-commerce store on his website (www.taigh-solais.co.uk).

And he has already received a number of requests including one from Raigmore Hospital and Migdale Hospital in Bonar Bridge, where staff chose an atmospheric image of a rainbow over the old salmon bothy at Clachtoll.

The image of Clachtoll salmon bothy requested by Migdale Hospital.
The image of Clachtoll salmon bothy requested by Migdale Hospital.

Lewis was also surprised to receive a request from as far afield as Manchester

“I originally thought I would be able to send hard copies of the photographs but, of course, all the printers are closed and there would be a slightly higher health risk,” he Lewis.

“Therefore, I am sending the photographs digitally and putting my watermark on them so that people will know that it is my work.The recipients can then print the digital copies out themselves.

Lewis can be contacted at: lewis9@live.co.uk

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