(post by Kay)
A bit of background to how we ended up here:
Five years ago I was commissioned to deliver a participatory public art commission by Shetland Schools Service for Olnafirth Primary School in Shetland. I spent several months in the islands, researching, designing, making and installing the artwork. The purpose of the commission was to create a sculptural artwork that could be used for play and for quiet time, so I designed a set of 5 toadstool shaped sculptures sited in the school playground. One of the most important cultural traditions of Shetland was reflected through the designs: Fair Isle knit patterns, which lent themselves conveniently well to mosaic! The entire project is documented in an artists talking blog: https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/unravelling-shetland
Shetland has been beckoning me back ever since. It is a special place. I found out about Scalloway Booth then, a studio available to hire for periods of one month, managed by WASPS. I was offered a slot for August 2015 about 2 years ago, so have had plenty of time to plan the project. Firstly Joseph and I decided to collaborate on this project. We have worked together a couple of times in the past, but never as two artists collaborating on a project involving either a residency or an exhibition as ambitious as this. We were accepted for a collaborative exhibition at Shetland Museum and Archives as part of their Made in Shetland programme, proposing to create an immersive, multi-sensory evocation of the Shetland Landscape through ceramics and sound. An a-n funded research trip last November was extremely useful in helping us to plan, meet potential partners and solidify our ideas. We were delighted to discover how spacious and well appointed the gallery, Da Gadderie, is, and immediately started imagining what we could do in the space.
The plan for this residency is to work this out through research and design. Our starting point will be to identify a series of walks across the landscape, which we plan to map through ceramics and sound. Shetland Amenity Trust are partnering the project, and we are expecting to meet with one of the rangers next week, who will be able to help select the best routes to start investigating.
And as for today (DAY 1):
We arrived in Lerwick at 7.30 this morning after a 2 day journey from Brighton and now it’s 10.30 pm after a first day of getting our bearings. Already I’ve bumped into one of the teachers from Olnafirth Primary miles from where both of us live – just shows how small this place is! And not only that, but it was at Frankie’s Fish and Chips where we went to eat this evening, boasting not only to be “Britain’s most northerly fish and chip shop” but is also the winner of Britain’s best fish and chips 2015! And you know what, I believe it is true. Delicious. But now it is time to take a gentle stroll along the waterfront of Scalloway. The gentle lapping sound of water and the lights shimmering on the water are drawing me outside before the darkness sets in…