Art in The Old Haa, Burravoe, Yell, Shetland
It’s been a few weeks since I last posted, I hope you’re all having a lovely summer so far? Summer is traditionally a quiet time for me, art wise, due to being a busy time for the chalets.
However, we’ve been busy nonetheless. In May the Fine Arts Shetland group held its first exhibition of work, at the Old Haa museum in Burravoe, Yell.
Originally built in 1672 for merchant Robert Tyrie, the Old Haa has a rich history and fittingly now houses the community museum, displaying information on local history including information on the whaling years, local shipwrecks and collections on natural history, genealogy and a picture and sound archive.
The Fine Art Group’s exhibition went really well and there were even some sales! This was the first time I had been to the Haa, and I loved it. There’s a tearoom and a lovely outdoor space, so it’s well worth a visit if you’re at a loose end in Yell.
I’ve requested a solo exhibition there, possibly for 2018, so fingers crossed for that! If I’m successful I aim to plan a Yell themed exhibition, using mixed media and local materials – there is fantastic sparkly sand to be found at the island’s East Sandwick beach, for example.
As I come from an island, Whalsay, I tend to look at other islands in comparison. When you live on a small island you get to know every corner of them, becoming familiar with every geo and the unique shape of the coastline; and there are many differences between Yell and Whalsay: Yell has some fantastic huge sandy beaches to enjoy. What are your favourite beaches? I’d love to know.
Beachcombing – Challister, Whalsay
My favourite hobby, if you hadn’t guessed already, is beachcombing.
This probably started when I was a child, at “the Bug”, the local name for the small beach just below our family home at Challister, in Whalsay, where I grew up. It’s a special beach to me.
On this small section of shore line there was everything you could hope to find – fine sand, rough sand, shell sand, whelk beds, rock pools for finding small fish, crabs, sea urchins, shells and unusual shaped stones of every size.
There are unusual yellow coloured shells and some with stripes not found on many Shetland beaches. These is a larger pool of water affectionately known as ‘the crabby hole’ which offered unlimited play time for my mum and her siblings when growing up.
It was also where I found not one, but 3 messages in bottles as a child! The one which had travelled furthest was from Newfoundland, Canada, and had been sent by a boy who was the same age as me at the time. He had sent it while on a fishing trip with his dad, which I found out when I wrote to him from the address in the bottle.
The Bug is definitely one of my favourite beaches. It is hidden away, but worth a visit as it has unusual shells which I use for my artwork.
2017 is already shaping up to be an exciting year, work wise. I got some exciting news recently with the offer of a brilliant opportunity from Northlink ferries: I have been selected to have my artwork displayed onboard one of their ferries!
The Hrossey is one of two passenger ships which sails between Shetland, Aberdeen and Orkney. Footfall on the ferries is huge, so this is a fantastic opportunity for my artwork to be seen. Passengers on a trip to Shetland can sdpend up to 12 hours onboard, so there should be plenty of time to view the work!
The area for display is spacious and well lit, with lots of natural light from the windows opposite the wall. There is space for 8-9 pieces, and the size of the exhibit allows me to try out different techniques, exploring my interest in mosaics and mixed media.
The opportunity does pose a challenge, however, in that the brief for the work is an Orkney theme. (Hrossey’s sister ship, the Hjaltland, is showcasing Shetland).
So, I made a quick trip south to collect reference materials, photos, shells, sands, sea glass and sea pottery from around Orkney.
The islands have stunning landscape, as does Shetland, so I am keen to promote that and not necessarily focus on the well known tourist sites, as there are lots of interesting places throughout the isles.
The exhibition is up!. I’d love to hear what you think if you get a chance to see it!
I am pleased to reveal that i’ve been working on setting up a new art group in Shetland!
The aim of the group will be for artists to exhibit together and swap expertise. We have had much discussion over names and logos, but we’re nearly there! We’re thinking to go with Fine Art Shetland.
So far, 12 local artists have been invited to be part of the group, all with a huge range of skills: some with professional degrees and some self-taught. We do have some exhibition space pre-booked at venues throughout Shetland, with an agreed theme or format to ensure work from different people will “work” being hung together
I’m really excited at the opportunity the group will provide to learn and share knowledge and experiences with other artists. I will really value this, as I tend to spend a lot of time working solo.
Last year, Joanna Hunter of Ninian – possibly the best gift shop in Lerwick- offered to try selling some of my painted wood boards.
I was pleasantly surprised by how well these sold throughout the summer, especially the chunky re-cycled scaffolding boards. There will be more of these in the shop soon, including new variations of Shetland themed painted wood. I’m also experimenting with some prints of paintings I have done.
Ninian will be the only Lerwick based outlet for my work, but there will be more in country shops throughout the islands. Watch this space!
As I grow as an artist and develop work one question which is never far from my mind is how to go about selling work.
Without a physical shop space, selling your pieces to the public can be difficult – lots of folk like to see work “in real life” before they buy, and there are packaging and shipping questions and costs to take into account.
Selling to trade fairs is another option. I recently visited Scotland’s Trade Fair Spring, in Glasgow, for a bit of research and as i’ve never been to anything like that before.
The show is huge – 500 exhibitors and 5,000 trade buyers (its not open to the public) The show incorporates four specialist areas – home and gift, fashion and accessories, craft and food and drink.
The range of arts, jewellery and crafts on display was amazing! It was great to see the friendly face of local Shetland knitwear designer Joan Fraser, who won the space at the exhibition as a prize, as well as other designers I am familiar with.
My absolute favourite by far was illustrator Linda Lovatt’s stall. Linda uses copper, wire, beads and pieces of pottery which she often finds in her garden at home in the Scottish borders to make wonderful ‘beastie assemblages’, including brooches, pictures and ornamental 3D pieces.
You can find out more about Linda’s work here – http://beastieassemblage.co.uk
Like most of the stalls, Linda’s was very well presented, with professional promotional material ready to give to anyone interested.
The show was a fantastic experience and has given me so much to think about. How do you like to buy (or sell?) art? I’d love to hear your ideas.