A northern Identity….

As my time in Shetland for the summer comes to an end, the dark nights are starting to draw in and I am approaching the last week of my placement at the Ann Sutton Foundation in Yell.
My thoughts have been split between the weaving which needs to be finished for my placement and my next project for the last year of my degree at Heriot Watt. It is an exciting time!

While working in Yell it has given me the time to concentrate on what I want to do for my personal projects which will entail this year. I have practically been given a second chance at this because while at Shetland College, although at the time I was pleased with my work, and it was right for me at the time, I feel as though I have developed as a person too, and my work has almost gone full circle in the other direction. Perhaps it is maturing as a person, but I think the reason is linked to being away from Shetland for a year as it has opened my eyes to the unique setting which we live in here, and this is what I want to promote through my own textile label – Browns Road.

At the beginning of August I attended the ‘In the Loop 3.5’ conference which was part of an International Textile Festival arranged by Shetland Arts.
The conference was a fascinating experience where we listened to speakers, artists, designers and people generally interested in textiles share their stories linked to textiles.
The conference this time was linked to making connections and had a nordic theme throughout.
It became clear to me while attending the conference that as Shetlanders we are unique because of where we are set on the map. We, as Shetland, are where Scandinavia meets Scotland, almost….and although some may say that we are not part of these Nordic regions, we are in a sense, but I would say we have our own Northern Identity.

I had a conversation with Andy one day about the colours which I had used in my work for him. Although some may think that they were rather dull and grey, I was trying to evoke a feeling through the textile which would be linked to Shetland rather than an exact colour representation. Which led us on to another question.
He asked me “What does Shetland mean to you?”
I had to stop and think, because it was a really difficult question to answer.
But has sort of started a thought process in my head and I have started to collect idea’s for my last year at Heriot Watt based around theconversations we had.

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( One of the chosen samples which I designed based around – ‘A contemporary Shetland Tweed’ for ASF Shetland – more on this project is available on my other blog – http://www.amygair.wordpress.com )

I think that the way I see Shetland, or people local to here, may see Shetland differently to people who are here visiting. Yes we see the beauty that our island has, we are aware of how lucky we are to live in an unique and safe place, but we are also aware of the darkness and the dull feelings that can come across us in the middle of winter. And also, visiting a place and living somewhere can be completely different.
These thoughts have led me to concentrate my idea’s on the everyday things that I pass in Lerwick – it is the grey stone buildings and the blue and purple slate paving stones which appear on your way down Hangcliff Lane which I think are a true representation of Shetland. But of course this is how I see Shetland, but for someone else who lives away from the Town, they will have their own way of what Shetland means to them.

With this in mind I set out one night for a walk around the area I live. Not on a night of any particular nice or horrible weather, just on a fair day. My Mam and I walked down to ‘The Sletts’ and I thought about how even though we are in the middle of town, you can still seem like you are far away from anything when you look out to the sea. Also the way that there are juxtaposing influences of Natural ‘V’ Industrial and manmade, soft ‘V’ hard and Geometric ‘V’ Organic everywhere. And this is what I love about Shetland.

My pictures from our walk:
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I am looking forward to going back down to the Scottish Borders in a few weeks and how my work will unfold and develop!

But before you leave, if you live in Shetland or have visited…How do you see Shetland? and what does Shetland mean to you?

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