Summer Exhibition 2/3 'Around Orkney'

by Stephanie Cullen - 15:06 on 03 July 2018

    Although our exhibition is open to all kinds of entries with no fixed subject matter, it’s interesting to see how many artists choose to portray different aspects of Orkney. Our gallery is indeed full of many a spectacular landscape and seascape, but it also portrays how our surroundings have fed into our culture and art. Orkney is not simply a beautiful place, but it is full of life, history and folklore.

   Firstly, we have a number of works featuring Orkney wildlife; Kerry Leitch’s ‘Peepin’ Selkie’ is a pencil drawing of a curious seal that captures its audience with big brown docile eyes. Meanwhile, Mirran Hall has entered a selection of her colourful paintings and prints of birds. Puffins seem to be the main stars of any Orkney display of wildlife, we have them painted as canvases and on large and beautifully designed glassware, we even have a dancing puffin! ‘Westray One Step’ by Kathleen Keldie is an illustrated puffin created out of patterns performing a jig, it’s incredibly cheerful to look at.

   Before you ask whether there is anything more Orcadian than a puffin performing Scottish-dancing, there is! Liz Rickard’s work is also illustrative and playful, the viewer may always see something different to look at on further inspection; a blackening parks in front of the Reel as buskers play outside with fiddles, a familiar summer-time sight to many an Orcadian and flabbergasted tourist, the picture can’t help but bring a smile to the face. Similarly, another of her works entitled ‘Bring A Vodka’ might make one chuckle as it shows a nude couple dancing around the Ring of Brodgar, a not overly-familiar sight to all but not uncommon either, unless we’ve all completely forgotten about Billy Connolly’s escapades.

   Finally, we have a few pictures that illustrate Orkney folklore, a learning curve for our newest staff members who aren’t Orcadian and were somewhat baffled as to the spelling of ‘Assipattle’- “and what is a Stoor Worm?”Martin Laird has done two separate drawings which feature one of Orkney’s most celebrated folk stories, featuring the protagonist who overcomes the sea serpent. Martin’s style is definitely in keeping with graphic art, brilliantly detailed and well-designed, the story is captured for all to see. Similarly, Clive Strutt has taken Orkney folklore as the subject for his pastel drawings which feature the myths of Hildaland and Nuckelavee, they are two very contrasting pictures. ‘Hildaland’ is a simple depiction all in blues of the calm but eerie island of the Finfolk while Nuckelavee’ is deep reds and hurried strokes which capture the malevolence of Orkney’s sea-demon very well.

   There’s definitely a bit of everything for everyone, whether an Orcadian or a tourist, you may take something away with you about Orkney! The gallery is open Monday-Friday, 10-5 and Saturdays 10-4.

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