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Inverness artist Reina Edmiston is delighted to get on her bike by combining brush strokes with pedal strokes

By Alasdair Fraser

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Reina Edmiston.
Reina Edmiston.

A talented Inverness artist is combining brush strokes with pedal strokes after turning to the humble bicycle in a time of need.

Reina Edmiston (32), a recovering alcoholic, first took to cycling to help improve her mental health.

A big turning point came when she was given her trusty, two-wheeled companion by the community organisation WheelNess after a workplace visit by development officer Brendan Dougan in early 2019.

WheelNess, run by national charity Cycling UK, specialises in improving health, wealth and happiness by offering people free access to a bike for everyday journeys.

Ms Edmiston then found her happy wheeling came into its own after the pandemic struck.

As a bid writer based at the University of the Highlands and Islands, she could ditch her daily double bus commute, lifts from colleagues or the 40-minute walk to work for relatively short rides back and forth from her Hilton home.

Having incorporated cycling as part of everyday life, she has since taken that a step further by using it during some of her artwork.

“It gave me a new lease of life. At the time, my mental health wasn’t great and I got in touch with WheelNess and I cannot fault that charity – they are just absolutely fantastic,” she said.

“To get a decent bike, you’re talking £400 or £500. I’ve had it over a year now, so throughout lockdown.

“They’ve been scarce during lockdown, but WheelNess still made sure people were able to access a different form of transport at a time when fewer people were driving or taking public transport. Being able to use the bicycle means I can easily reach a whole variety of local destinations to sketch or take photos, before going back home to paint them.

“Alongside my cycling, painting has just been great for my recovery.

“I paint all over the Highlands, but certainly for local scenes it is a case of getting on my bike.”

Cycling to work not only saves her £400 a year on bus fares, it also spares almost an hour a day compared to walking and offers more flexibility with timing.

“It gives me extra time by not being reliant on bus times and having the freedom to make more choices,” she added.

Through the project, she has also taken part in a range of fun social events, including bike maintenance sessions designed to build people’s confidence and enable them to stay on the road safely.

Her artistic speciality is oil paintings of seascapes in the Highlands.

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