Illustrator Laura Darling (left) answering questions about her banner designs.

Walk, Chat Draw – In Crieff

Dundee-based illustrator Laura Darling has been awarded one of 6 commissioned banners for the Perth Museum, which will open in Spring 2024.

The banners are intended to tell the lesser-known stories of Perthshire and its people and will hang in the hall with the Stone of Destiny.

This October, Laura is hosting a couple of community engagement workshops in Crieff.

She is looking to integrate the local community’s voice into her final designs by inviting them to walk, chat and draw with her.

She has produced a free booklet for you to complete. (Anyone is invited to download it from her website). 



I delight in noticing new details in familiar spaces and like to share this joy through my work, creating subtle visual jokes and layers of narratives.

Laura Darling Website

Learn English Through Culture

Laura’s Walk, Chat & Draw workshops are a rare opportunity to meet an artist mid-project and discover her creative processes.

Blue Noun Language Hub joined Laura at Strathearn Arts for her first workshop.

It was raining pretty hard, so the walk was postponed, but the talk and draw were amazing.

More than anything, I just loved getting to see her sketchbooks.

(All images here are from Laura’s workshop – and used with permission)

Laura’s sketchbook work – planning the structure of the banner
Laura’s sketches of displaced communities as houses burn

Learn English Through Culture

In case you don’t already know, at Blue Noun we help internationals improve their English through English immersion holidays that explore Perthshire AND get chatting with artists, makers and producers in their studios.

All year we help international art students and professional creatives (illustrators, graphic designer, artists, architects) with our online course – Sketchbook English.

Then every summer, we swap online teaching for immersive holiday fun.

We share the landscape, culture, ecology and history of Perthshire with any culture-loving internationals from around the world, combining the best of a Scottish holiday with gaining English skills for a lifetime.   

It’s very much a cultural immersion and a language immersion at the same time (which is the best way to learn a language!)

In other words, a workshop by a Scottish illustrator, about Scottish history is right up our street.

(Literally, Strathearn Arts is our neighbour!)

Laura’s sketchbook: a potential pannel?

The Burning of Strathearn

Laura herself didn’t know much about the Burning of Strathearn before this commission.

Her research has moved her: in her workshop she shares her horror at the brutality. 

No one knows for certain why the Jacobites torched villages and towns, retreating from the inconclusive battle of Sherrifmuir in 1715.

Some say it is because they felt betrayed by the lack of supplies reaching them at the frontline. It may also have been to ensure government forces had no way of travelling north.

When it comes to war, truth is the first casualty.

Strathearn in Flames

It felt particularly treacherous for Crieff, as townsfolk thought they had a kind of amnesty. The soldiers took hospitality off the town, promised the inhabitants safety, and then raised huge parts of it to the ground anyway.

Auchterarder had the horrendous experience of being burned twice, as the soldiers passed though it a second time.

No one died from the flames – but a great number froze to death, driven from shelter into the harsh winter snow.

It would be endless to give account of all the hardships and acts of barbarous cruelty done. It may be easily imagined, considering the season of the year, the vast load of snow that lay then on the ground, the poor people, man wife and child, without the shelter of a house, without cloalhs, meat, drink, or anything to support them, and little or no hopes of relief, for within a day or two after, when they saw with their own eyes, from the high grounds to which they were retired for shelter, a second burning at Auchterarder, they were reduced to the utmost degree of distraction and despair.

Alexander Reid, The Annals of Auchterarder and Memorials of Strathearn, 1899

Laura’s sketchbook: colour work

Violet, Ultramarine & A Tiny Bit of Black

I write this blogpost in the week the Israel Gazza conflict erupted into war.

Cosy, in the workshop on Saturday, we were unaware of the events taking place, tipping a long running conflict into a war that massacres women and children (even now, there is clear evidence of war crimes on both sides).

Medieval Scotland was impoverished and times were cruel and desperate.

It’s essential to know the story of our town so we can understand that our language, culture and freedoms were all fought for (repeatedly), and appreciate the beautiful little town we have.

With her Walk, Chat, Draw workshops, illustrator Laura Darling very gently brings us a call to action.

Look up, look around – remember this part of history.

The story of our town is part of who we are today.

By including ourselves/community in her booklets about the past, history is once more part of our lives.


“If I’m honest, the most positive thing I’ve felt about it is an extraordinary and profound gratitude that I was not born into that part of the world, and in fact I’ve enjoyed extraordinary peace and security in the British Isles where I’ve been lucky enough to spend my entire life and which I hope my children will continue to enjoy as well.

Gratitude is sometimes something we often fail to register until it’s made obvious what the alternatives may be.”

Simon Evans, News Quiz, 06 October 2023


Laura’s booklet with her own sketches inside

Keeping The Burning of Strathearn in Mind

Perth Museum will preserve this part of our story with artefacts and museum curatorship.

And the inclusion of contemporary craftwork and artwork link who we now are with our past.

Get Involved!

Laura’s keen to involve adults and kids alike in walking, chatting and drawing. (Her attractive drawing style communicates well to both groups).

Time to bust out the pens and pencils?

You can submit your drawings online – and/or join her next workshop.

Laura’s next workshop in Crieff is October 21st 10 am – 1 pm. No need to book, just pop along and chat with her about her designs, illustrations and her research into the Burning of Strathearn.

Further Information

Blue Noun Language Hub

We have another blog about the Burning of Strathern

Fire & Folklore for Language School in Scotland

Want to know more about our Online English Course for Artists? 

Discover how you can speak English with our Network of Perthshire Artists.

External Links

Discover Laura’s illustration.

Visit Strathern Arts.

Learn about the new Perth Museum.