08 August 2013


Photo: Artwork by Kristina Wiherheimo (Finland)


To coincide with Shetland Arts' International Textile Festival (which ran from 31 July - 5 August this year), Bonhoga Gallery's new exhibition Lighten, running till 15 September 2013, explores the theme of 'northern light and seasonal change' through work from ten textile artists from from Iceland to Finland. Each artist will use their work to explore lightness and darkness through cultural connections, notions of travel, history and the seasons, with particular reference to their northern latitude.    


The idea for the exhibition began with a conversation between Shetland Arts and two artists - Gudrun Gunnarsdottir from Iceland and Agneta Hobin from Finland - and has evolved into a major exhibition to accompany this year's International Textile Festival. A total of ten artists have been selected to produce work for the show; two from Iceland, three from Finland, one each from Norway, Sweden and Denmark and two from Shetland.


Each of the exhibiting artists has a well-established background in textiles, many with an international reputation for both their artistic practice and academic work, and all have been in Shetland for the opening of the show. Hazel Hughson, Craft Development Officer at Shetland Arts and Co-curator of the show explains, "We are grateful to the Nordic Cultural Fund and Creative Scotland for supporting this Shetland Arts project, enabling us to bring the artists exhibiting in 'Lighten' to Shetland.  Since arts development opportunities underpin all our exhibitions, Shetland textile artists will exhibit alongside the Nordic artists; local students, textile designers and artists will benefit by taking part in the exhibition project."


Each artist has created new small work specifically for the show. Interpretation of the theme is varied and covers many fascinating aspects of the idiosyncrasies of northern life. Kerstin Lindström accompanies her intricate wire sculptures with the description, "The winter is long in northern Sweden. The snow settles over the landscape and embeds the people. The darkness can be compact."


Conversely, Shetland-based artist Barbara Ridland explores the energy that comes with the returning light, "each year we are revived by the returning sun from the darkness onto faded land wrapped in mist and cloud". Basket-maker Jeanette Nowak explores growth and light and is driven by the elements in nature and the pull of the tide. She has used an array of plant fibres collected from around her in Yell.


All the work in the exhibition can be said to both express and question our identity on a local and global scale. The ten exhibiting artists, from a wealth of creative environments, provide us with the opportunity to see the (often) intangible side of life at these northern latitudes.


In the Lower Gallery a collection of collagraphs, linoprints and homewares by Shetland born artist Mandy Tait features alongside a selection of work by Shetland and UK based makers. The Shetland work on display includes a new jewellery range by Mike Finnie, jewellery and sea glass and wood sculptures by Jeanette Novak and accessories by Rosalyn Fraser. 

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