Visual Arts

On this page you can find out more about some of our visual arts projects, initiatives and activities that aim to inspire, challenge and reach as many sections of the community as possible.

One of Shetland Arts’ aims is to enable everyone to reach their creative potential, and so we work with  people, artists and communities at any stage of their artistic journeys.

Core activities include

Support and guidance for artists and organisations

The Visual Arts Development Officer meets regularly with individuals and organisations based in Shetland, offering support and guidance regarding their visual arts practice or project.


Space2face – a restorative arts project


Space2face is a restorative arts project working with people involved in offending behaviour and is a unique project in Scotland. It has been represented at several national and international conferences. The project is jointly managed by Shetland Arts and the Community Mediation Team with a steering group which additionally includes: the police, Befriending mentoring scheme, Children’s Rights Officer, Adult Learning (Shetland Islands Council), Criminal Justice Social Work (Shetland Islands Council), and Victim Support.space2face-cover-web

History of the project

A space2face pilot project was commenced in 2009 with funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Community Safety Partnership (now Board) in Shetland, and Shetland Arts. Three professional artists were recruited and trained to work alongside young people who were responsible for causing harm. The artists enabled them to create a gift of artwork for the person/s they had harmed.

  • There is a book available about the project which can be purchased from Blurb. (Below is a preview of the first 15 pages).

Due to the success of the first pilot project and feedback from participants, funding was obtained from BBC Children in Need to run a second pilot project which recruited an artist as an Arts and Restorative Justice Worker employed part-time within the Community Mediation Team. During these two pilot years, referrals came through the office of the Children’s Reporter and Criminal Justice Social Work. Space2face worked with 26 referrals and many more people harmed through offending behaviour.

Offences have included assault, cyber bullying, theft, breach of the peace, fraud and vandalism. Art forms involved in creating the gifts for people harmed have included: photography, textiles, mixed media, writing, mural painting, candle making and graffiti art.

Since 2011, space2face has been doing outreach work and looking at ways of letting more people know about the service we offer. We have recently been successful in applying for funding from Creative Scotland Arts and Community Justice Fund to run the next phase of space2face until 2015. The project has also been extended to include preventative work and work with adults. Two space2face artists have recently been appointed and will be undergoing training to commence work shortly.

View PDF of Shetland Times article about Space2Face project (Shetland Times space2face article – 17/5/2013)

Arts in care homes

The Arts in Care Homes project was set up in 2008 as a pilot project in Taing House, a residential care centre in Lerwick, Shetland. This was funded through Shetland Arts, Taing House and the Co-Operative Community Fund and placed a visual artist and a writer in the home for trial periods delivering workshops with residents. As a result of this pilot, a member of staff was employed by Taing House with a particular remit for providing arts and cultural activities for residents. Other care homes also became interested and so we have since run training and networking sessions for care staff and also workshops for clients with dementia. This is an ongoing project in partnership with Literature Development.

Some of the Taing House clients’ work was shown in Shetland Museum and Archives.

Visual Art and Craft Awards

The Visual Artist Award was established in 2008 through devolved funding from the then Scottish Arts Council (now Creative Scotland), Economic Development Unit (Shetland Islands Council) and Shetland Arts.

The funding offers awards, through a formal application process, to visual and craft artists living in Shetland for projects and work that will further their creative, professional and economic development.
Since 2007, Shetland Arts’ Craft and Visual Artist Award schemes have funded 77 visual and craft artists awarding a total of 64,000 to Shetland artists and makers.

In 2013, the Visual Artist Awards scheme has  merged with the Working Up Craft Maker Award scheme to form a joint Visual Art and Craft Award scheme.

Bonhoga Programming and Curation Group

The Visual Arts Development Officer is a member of the Bonhoga Programming and Curation Group which curates and programmes exhibition spaces within Shetland Arts’ venues, including Bonhoga Gallery and Mareel. We also have a touring show (within Shetland) programme which is currently being relaunched.

If you are visiting Shetland…

The visual arts are thriving in Shetland and there is a professional association of visual artists called Veer North. There is also the Shetland Arts and Crafts Association who manage a craft trail around artist studios each summer.  If you’re looking for short term artist accommodation and studio space, then WASPS, based in Glasgow, manage the Booth in Scalloway  which can be booked by the calendar month for a reasonable rent.

Additional projects

In 2010, Shetland Arts Development team, of which visual arts development is a part, carried out a survey amongst the Shetland public regarding their work, with forms available from local shops and public buildings, as well as online and from Shetland Arts’ venues.

The majority of the feedback was very positive, but we have listened to those things or areas where you thought we could do better or there were gaps in our provision. Some of these we have addressed in our programming and curation of shows, events and activities, whilst others have informed the development of future projects. As a result, there are currently several visual arts projects that are in the planning stages and some for which we are applying for funding. We hope that more information will be available on these by the end of 2013.

Here is a taste of some of our Visual Arts projects since 2007

Created space – garden design project
Power of place – Shetland’s celebration of architecture and place 2010
Space2face – arts and restorative justice project
Whaar We Ir – touring theatre and costume design project
Visual Artists Awards scheme – funding for creative and professional development of Shetland visual artists
Bonhoga Gallery Education Programme
Arts in Care Homes
LK243 UnderSail Research and Development project
LK243 UnderSail Artist Residency on board the Swan for the Talls Ships Races 2011
LK243 UnderSail touring exhibition
Disability Pursuits – exhibition and workshops by Lydia Popowich
Portage research and curatorial project
Portage: Crossing Points exhibition
Portage: Anchor Points exhibition
Engine Tuning, as part of UZ Arts’ national Roofless project
Artist residencies
Shetland Nature Festival projects

This represents a total of 250,000 investment brought into Shetland through the visual arts and cross artform projects, the majority of which offered employment and freelance contracts to artists.

Ongoing projects

Created space
LK243 UnderSail touring show
Visual Art and Craft Awards

National networks

Roofless project, UZ Arts
Touring Exhibitions Group
Artists Newsletter

Many thanks to all the partners and funders for Shetland Arts’ visual arts activities over the last five years. These are listed below. We hope we haven’t missed any of you out.

Partner organisations for Shetland Arts’ Visual Arts projects over the last 5 years

Architecture + Design Scotland
Community Mediation Team, Citizen’s Advice Bureau
Hjaltland Housing Association
Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration
Scottish Natural Heritage
Shetland Amenity Trust
Shetland Architectural Association
Shetland College
Shetland Islands Council (Adult Learning, Children and Families, Community Development, Criminal Justice Social Work, Creative Links – Education, Housing, Planning)
Shetland Nature Festival
Supported Living and Outreach (formerly Independent Living Project)
Taigh Chearsabhagh
The Lighthouse
The Swan Trust
UZ Arts

Funders for Shetland Arts’ Visual Arts activities over the last 5 years (in addition to Shetland Arts)

Anti-Social Behaviour Working Group, Shetland
Architecture + Design Scotland
Awards for All
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Children in Need
Community Safety Board, Shetland
Creative Links
Creative Scotland
Hjaltland Housing Association
Northumbria University
Paul Hamlyn Foundation
Robertson Trust
Rotary Club, Shetland
Scottish Arts Council
Shetland Islands Council Economic Development
Shetland Islands Council Infrastructure Services Department
Taing House, Lerwick
The Lighthouse
Yorkshire and Clydesdale Bank

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