Ailsa Craig: An Island That Means So Much

Ailsa Craig: An Island That Means So Much

It might not even be a mile long, or wide for that matter, but its steep elevation makes it stand out from miles away, and the shape almost represents the curling stones that the island's granite is made into.

Whether you call it Paddy's Milestone or simply the island off the Ayrshire coast, you've probably seen it when you've visited Ayrshire or flown off to warmer climates from Prestwick Airport.

Yes, you guessed it, we're talking about Ailsa Craig. 

Now if you're here for the full history of the island, then I hate to disappoint. But I wanted to share my experience of the island, which I'm ashamed to say I've yet to visit. 

I've always been aware of Ailsa Craig, having been brought to Troon, Ayr and Prestwick as a child, enjoying many hours of sandy fun and swimming in the sea, always finished off with a fish supper, parked up at the seafront and watching the sunset over the Ayrshire coast. Fast forward 25 years, I now live on that coast and enjoy many sunsets and fish suppers with that same view.

Now rewind to 2018, and just a few years into my career in graphic design, I decided that I needed to find a creative outlet that wasn't work, and so I took inspiration from many of these happy memories and my current surroundings and combined them with my love of the traditional 1940s Cunard posters. Cue the creation of what has now become a "fan favourite" illustration. 

Using a digital illustration process and vibrant seaside colours, the Ailsa Craig design is my modern take on traditional travel posters. What started as a personal project ended up making me curious about selling the design as greeting cards on Etsy, so I opened my store and voila, Kate + Coast was born.

Expecting sales to roll in, I ordered my first batch of cards and envelopes online, and very, very slowly but surely the sales trickled in. This led me to create more designs using the same techniques, taking inspiration from photographs that I had taken on walks around Ayrshire, ferry trips from Oban, and a second-date road trip to see the Forth Rail Bridge (we're now married, so it must have gone well). This collection is now called The Landmark Collection – having taken inspiration from many of Scotland's recognisable landmarks and locations.

Since the release of the collection, and specifically the Ailsa Craig print, I've had many messages from customers telling me about their fond memories of times spent as children at the beach, or trips to the coast with elderly parents who have now passed, and just how much joy and peace people get from looking out to the island, whether it's a stormy day or one with beautiful blue skies. It has been a joy to hear these stories, but also to see the print that started as a personal project being shared around the world – having been sent to Australia, United States of America, The Netherlands and across the UK. It is also regularly stocked at my local gallery, The Waverley Gallery, where it has been stocked as a print scaling over 1.5m in height, as well as a circular print that has become known as "the porthole" version.

I'd love to hear your stories of Ailsa Craig, so if you've read this far then please do get in touch and share them with me.

Prints and cards are available in a variety of sizes on my store, and bespoke sizing is available on request, so drop me a message if you're interested.