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hansel (n) a gift to commemorate an inaugural occasion, the launching of a new boat, birth of a child, a new home, new enterprise. The Shetland Dictionary, John J. Graham.

Mareel has generated strong opinion from the community since its inception nearly 20 years ago. During the construction phase of the building, Shetland Arts invited the public to record their feelings towards the building, positive, negative, neutral, or otherwise, in the form of a ‘hansel’ or ‘gift.’ The only requirements were that it should contain nothing illegal or organic, and must fit into a 3 inch screw-top jar. These jars were then buried within the walls of the building where they will remain forever. Three hansels were chosen to be displayed as a visual marker of the project. These are in the south wall of the Café Bar.

The Hansel for Mareel project will be officially launched on Sunday, 23rd December at 4pm in the Café Bar. All are welcome to attend alongside those who contributed to the project to hear a short presentation and to be some of the first to see a brand new leaflet containing photos of the hansels with a map of Mareel showing where they are in the building. Christmas themed refreshments will also be available to all attending.

 Vaila Henderson's Hansel buried within Mareel.

Shetland Arts’ Director, Gwilym Gibbons, said: “Mareel has been a project that has stimulated unprecedented debate amongst the Shetland community. Mareel is now a venue which has, in just a few months, been used by tens of thousands of people from all corners of Shetland. The decision to build Mareel in 2008 came just at the point in which fears were growing about the levels of funds Shetland Islands Council had to invest in large scale projects. The Council’s investment in Mareel stands at just under half the costs for the build; that investment continues to be one which attracts lively debate.

“Hansel for Mareel captures a small part of the story that led to the Mareel construction, caught in individual responses to Mareel and gathered from the Shetland community throughout the construction. The hansels were buried into the very fabric of the building locking away personal opinions in the form of gifts into Mareel forever.

He continued: “I feel it is important to acknowledge the broad range of responses Mareel has stimulated. It feels right for the building to be the home to the rigorous debate that has taken place, and for Mareel's walls, ceilings and floors to hold that story in the form of what Mareel represents to individuals in the Shetland community.”

All are welcome to attend the launch in the Mareel Café Bar at 4pm on Sunday 23rd December.

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