January 2015 - morgan downie
morgan downie, the Sumburgh Head artist in residence for January, spent his childhood on Orkney, where he was always looking north, but while he has managed his way around the Baltic and Scandinavia, and despite the advice of many good Shetland folk, this will be his first visit to the northern neighbour. His writing and his interest in islands fits well to Shetlands landscapes and culture.
In the interim he has published poetry and short stories widely with his collection stone and sea focusing on island life. He is also a visual artist, working in many media including textile and installation. He is a keen collaborationist and this has seen sound and film work produced as far away as the Berlin film festival.
As part of his stay in Shetland he is keen to meet writers, artists, creative types, nature watchers and all sorts to find out about life in and culture in Shetland as well as having a bit of a blether. morgan delivered two events during the Up Helly Aa festival, the first of existing work and the second entirely of new work made during his stay.
February 2015 - Jennifer Talbot
Jennifer Talbot is a visual artist living and working in Cambridge, using a variety of fibres, mixed media and found objects to make work to record her experience of the landscapes and archaeology of British islands. Jennifer
has already visited Shetland as an artist-in residence, in 2005. Since then, her work has been almost exclusively focused on Shetland. Memory and the importance of place are recurring themes in her current work.
Walking, drawing and photography are fundamental to Jennifer’s practice. Her textile work is constructed by felting together the natural tones of Shetland wool with coloured silk fibres. Fragments of photographs, stitching and wire are added to the surface.
She explains that she became interested in Shetland lace knitting after seeing examples in the Shetland Museum in Lerwick. Working with a technician at Shetland College, she produced a contemporary version of lace knitting on an industrial knitting machine using her own designs. The subsequent work reflects the strong knitting tradition of the North Isles.
Jennifer continues to make work which relates to the prehistoric archaeology of Shetland, and has recently become interested in the military remains on the Islands, in particular, those on Unst, which has extensive remains of defence installations dating from both WWII and the Cold War. This has resulted in a number of works based on Lamba Ness RAF station and the Saxa Vord radar facility.
Jennifer states “Most of my work relates to memories of specific walks and places. Found objects are important in this regard, for instance I have created work which incorporates fragments of coloured plastic washed up on Scousborough Sands in Shetland after a winter storm. I have wrapped these with silver wire and coloured strands from fishing nets, also recovered from the beach, to make a series of ‘bruck’ pieces.”
March 2015 - Sandra Hammer
Sandra Hammer is a Northern landscape painter working in both oils and acrylic. She has lived and worked in Yorkshire and Northumberland for many creative years. After an early art education in the 1960's she returned to full time creative work in the 1990's by taking a Visual Studies course followed by a Fine Art Degree from Leeds Met. University.
Her paintings are vibrant and expressive, full of energy and movement. The paint is poured, dripped, brushed and layered creating surfaces to be explored in close up as well as images to be enjoyed from a distance.
Normally, Sandra’s inspiration comes from the upland areas of the Yorkshire Dales, the North Pennines and the softer countryside of the Tyne Valley. Her visit to Shetland will bring a new aspect to her work.
Her work is primarily about energy; energy in the landscape and energy in the painted mark.
Talking about her residency in Shetland, Sandra said “I work by walking the landscape in all weathers recording with sketchbook and collecting found objects. In the studio I aim to produce a body of work which captures my response to this experience and isolates the essence of a sense of place.
“Shetland will be a totally new experience for me and will provide an interesting contrast to my last residency which was working on the Cornish coast.”
April 2015 - Josephine Gornall
Josephine Gornall is a contemporary fibre artist intrigued by the alchemical and sometimes unpredictable nature of the felting process. She enjoys manipulating and transforming fibres, fabrics, silks and other media into a new dimension.
She states “Exploring its undervalued potential as an art medium and form of expression; I like that it is ecologically sustainable and ultimately will degrade back into the earth.”
Subliminal marine influences and elements of primal and spiritual history are in part inspirational in creating her felted relief and free flowing sculptural pieces. Sometimes incorporating discarded detritus pertinent to a place or moment in time. She will sometimes embed photographs she has taken, or juxtapose them with organic matter within the layered, textural surface.
Josephine enjoys working with vibrant, rich life affirming colours and reigniting the memories and feelings that these can evoke.
May 2015 - Shona Main
Shona Main is a writer and film maker, who recently produced her first film 'Clavel'. She is based in Fair Isle, which can be seen from Sumburgh Head on a clear day and proclaims that the kind of writing she likes "teeters between the real and the unreal, the mundane and the magical."
While at Sumburgh Head, Shona will be researching and filming a biography about Jenny Gilbertson, as she explains: "She (Jenny) was a real inspiration to me when I filmed Clavel and I have been thinking about doing something that honours her life for some time. Then I realised it was 25 years this year since she died and I thought I should do it now. Jenny has never really been given her rightful place in the history of documentary nor has her work as known as it should be. So I am going to write the book and make a documentary about her life and her films."
June 2015 - Connie Flynn
Shetland Landscape by Connie Flynn Connie is a textile and stained glass maker who’s multi skilled practice has evolved through experimenting and combining traditional techniques and modern practices.
She uses a variety of materials – textiles, glass and paper to work with both hand and machines skills. These processes often represent social, cultural concepts, crossing cultural and contextual boundaries between traditional craft and contemporary art.
Inspiration for her work is taken from her travels. A recent trip to Norway gave her the opportunity to research textiles, which lead to a rich body of work combining knitting, felting and stitch. Others creative interests are in natural forms, landscapes and cross cultural diversity.
Connie said “During this residency I hope to explore a new subject, different areas of Shetland unknown to me, engage with the community and to be open to see how my work develops. This is a really exciting opportunity!”
July 2015 - Margareth Worthington
Great Knot, Margaret Worthington Margaret lives in Calliope, Central Queensland, near the southern edge of the Great Barrier Reef. Her work often tells a story about a trip she has been on to the reef or bush, and these works develop into a series of paintings illustrating that story. Migratory and forest birds often feature in her paintings. She uses watercolours on Arches paper, her work is bright and whimsical.
Margaret saw a TV documentary on puffins and decided she really needed to meet a puffin, inspiring her visit to Sumburgh Head.
During her time at Sumburgh, she will encounter a totally new environment. She will spend time watching, sketching and learning about the birds and mammals as well as learning all about their habitats from the rangers.
During her residency, Margaret will hold a workshop leading participants through drawing and watercolour techniques.
August 2015 - Aimee Labourne
Ruins of Skaw - Aimee Labourne After many visits to Shetland, a place with constant reminders of time (both in its rich history and through the landscape itself, very little changed over hundreds of years), Aimee has recently become interested in the islands’ war ruins. In drawing these relics of the twentieth century, a time marked by ideological ruination, she uses more traditional drawing media such as watercolour, charcoal, chalk and pencil with an ethereal delicate approach, in strange contrast with the brutal architecture of the war constructions themselves.
Through this, she hopes to question the romantic view of the ruin, in light of the sinister connotations of these remains of war.