Yasmin Davidson

Dundee’s own Yasmin Davidson came to Berneray around three and a half years ago after spending some time in Canada. She and her partner had moved back to Dundee when they were looking to live in a more rural setting and just like that, a house for rent appeared in Berneray.

‘It just popped up and at the time it was the only house for rent that was available before lockdown kicked in. So me and my partner just went for it and that’s how I ended up in Berneray. It was pure chance.

I wanted to experience rural life because that’s how we were living when we were in Canada. We were outside of the city and I really enjoyed it, so I didn’t want to go back to city life again.’

After having worked in the care sector in Dundee, Yasmin got a similar job in North Uist and now cares for the residents of Trianaid Care Home. She one day hopes to become a nurse, but she also spends her time painting while in Berneray. While she’s at work, the residents have been helping Yasmin with the local lingo!

It’s a really nice group that’s there. I don’t have Gaelic at all, but a lot of the old people make time to try and teach me a little bit. They’re quite good at correcting me if I pronounce or say something the wrong way. I feel quite comfortable speaking Gaelic here and there to them because I feel a bit less judged.


Yeah, it’s just a nice, tight knit group that I work with.

And the old people like sharing their stories of when they were growing up and their past experience of living on the island as well, which is interesting. 

Yasmin is a Fine Art graduate and after leaving school she went to Duncan Jordanstone College of Art where she focused on sculpting, printmaking and painting before she went travelling. Throughout her life she’s been used to more urban landscapes in her painting but now that she’s on the croft, her canvas has changed slightly.

‘Well, art is just something I’ve always enjoyed doing at school. Even when I was young, I would just sit in my room and paint or go to art classes and stuff. 

When I was at uni, I used to do a lot of portraiture and graffiti work. So it’s always drawn to urban landscapes and bright colours. When I moved here, it really challenged my art practice, because obviously, I’m not around cityscapes anymore.


I maybe look at colour differently and if I’m looking at the landscape here, I’ll think about the colours that are underneath. Is it a warm green? Is it a colder shade of green? Like that kind of thing? So then I had to just adapt my colour palette to here, and I feel like it’s helped me grow more as an artist as well. My work feels more authentic now, and I’ve been getting back into portraiture as well. 

With cityscapes, I feel like there’s more man made shapes there, like the buildings and everything. There’s perfect lines and then there’s bright signage and advertisement boards. You don’t get that as much in this landscape. It’s more of a natural kind of influence, like the hill or the colour of a sky or just really subtle changes in landscapes or like animals going by and that kind of thing.

So, yeah, I’m trying to just make more of a living out of it now and just enjoying it a bit more. 

Recently, Yasmin has worked on an exhibition which featured some of the local people of Berneray who were part of the film Dùthchas which was made by Andy MacKinnon. Her time working in Trianaid added to her art since her Gaelic teachers in the care home were connected or even featured in the film that was made.

One of the residents at Trinaid, who’s no longer with us, sadly, featured in the film. It was nice to see him in his younger days at the harbour, hanging out with friends and getting involved with shearing sheep. Andy McKinnon, who made the film actually came down and played it on the tv for the residents to watch as well, which was quite nice. That was a really nice daily activity. Then people there were picking out other people that they knew in the film.

Having the film certainly added a different dimension to Yasmin’s latest exhibition. Not only did people recognise the people, they also recognised the boats and the tractors as well.

On the opening night, there were a lot of people from Berneray that turned up. And obviously, like Gloria, her wedding was filmed in that film, and she came along as well, which it was really cool to meet her and other residents that grew up in Berneray at the time.


I remember some of the people that were shown in the paintings. were there and so were their boats and tractors. There’s a painting of a boat on one of the canvases with the identification number.

One of the men that came to visit the exhibition had said, oh, that’s so and so’s boat. He remembered it from when he was growing up. He said that he recognised the figures in the boats as well. So that was like a really nice connection to make, and it kind of brought the community together as well. 

It was a night of reminiscing, really. It was lovely.

On the opening night of her exhibition, Yasmin mentions that lots of local people turned up and made her feel so welcome. It’s a brave move to paint the lives of your new community and this is something that he people of Berneray took well to. 

‘I came in as a newcomer and I didn’t know anybody. It was in the middle of lockdown and I felt quite isolated at first. But then people were always so friendly. When the shops were back open, people would chat to me or if people were going for walks they’d always make a point to wave and stuff.

So I’ve always said the community of Berneray is really warm and welcoming and they go out their way for you as well. I’ve never actually felt alone when I was in Berneray because just everybody was so nice to me.

That’s the community feel here’.