Libby Galli

by Julia Welstead

Libby Galli – at home in Eigg

Eigg felt like home

On a wild March day of wind, rain, hail and sun, I walk through Cleadale, the northerly township of the Isle of Eigg, to the house of felt artist Libby Galli. As I reach the gate, adorned with an arch of driftwood, her partner Charlie comes bowling out, on taxi duty. As the island’s only taxi, he’s a busy man. Bob-the-dog wags and woofs: my arrival is announced.

Examples of Libby’s artwork are everywhere. Detailed portraits (human, canine, feline, equine) studies of local flora and fauna, and glorious landscape wall hangings adorn the rooms. We settle in the kitchen for coffee and Libby’s freshly baked cake. In her capacity as provider of summertime garden teas, Libby’s cake making is legendary.

Originally from East Sussex, Libby’s life has involved a steady trek north.  And from nursery nurse, to forestry extraction driver, to farmer on Bardsey, to running the Green Shed craft shop on Muck, her career path has also been an adventure. When she and Charlie (childhood sweethearts who re-found each other in later life) first encountered Eigg though, it immediately felt like home, their forever place.

Libby’s felt-art resonates with the glorious land and seascapes that surround her home. I’m astonished at the detail she can build into a felted piece, and her ability to capture a likeness in her portrait work (mostly commissioned pieces) is uncanny. I’m left with the impression that Libby is a talented artist who uses felt as her medium, rather than a craft felter. Having said that, she started out making slippers, bowls and rugs on a peg loom whilst on Bardsey, and subsequently taught herself to create images with a felting needle.

Funding from Eiggbox enabled Libby to launch her artwork with an exhibition in the Edinburgh Storytelling Centre, and she now sells through isle20 as well as from her own garden studio, and locally. She also runs very popular felt workshops.

What’s next? Libby shows me examples of her prototype felted jewellery, lampshades, fridge magnets and sculptures. I fall in love with a delightful, almost lifesize hare, formed of divinely soft wool felted onto an internal structure of flexible wire. He’s a character. 

Vist Libby’s isle20 shop to see more of her work.