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The current exhibition at Shetland Arts’ Bonhoga Gallery is  “Portage: textiles, extremes of scale.“ The exhibition is about contemporary textiles- we are all experts in textiles. From birth we have slept in them, worn them, sat on them and at this time of year we draw them together over windows to banish the cold and dark of winter.

Installed in all Bonhoga exhibition spaces will be textiles by selected international artists and jewellers working in textile materials, mainly from Finland, Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands and Britain. The extremes of scale in the exhibits, and their placement in the gallery spaces, will focus the viewer on the vast potential of textiles: the way textile techniques and materials can be used to express ideas beyond the usual scope of functional textiles in loom width, or garment structure.

There are surprising examples of woven, stitched, printed, knitted or embroidered objects and wall pieces. Some textiles are in the form of expressive three-dimensional drawings in wire and fibres, others tell stories or are large in scale but made up of small elements. There are curious, moving, funny or precious objects: all deserve closer attention: powerful ideas can be expressed through small textiles.

“Portage: textiles, extremes of scale. “ is the third in the “Portage” series of contemporary craft exhibitions supported by funding awarded to Shetland Arts by the Scottish Arts Council (now Creative Scotland) to research the work of artists and designers in northern Europe and to curate new and easily transported exhibitions especially for Shetland.  Like the first two Portage exhibitions; ‘Crossing Points’ and ‘Ring Symbols’;  ‘Textiles, extremes of scale’ brings new influences to inspire the public, textile makers and craftmakers, and connects with viewers through interpretive gallery texts, a catalogue, workshops and gallery tours. The exhibition was curated by Hazel Hughson, Shetland Arts’ Development Officer- crafts, within the project definition of ‘Portage’- ‘moving objects or influence across land between sea routes, or making changes in elevation from one plane to another, bringing objects or new influence.’

For “Portage; textiles, extremes of scale. “  Bonhoga Gallery is linked to the Town Centre of Lerwick by a digital projection, sent by email from Finland to Shetland as the largest scale exhibit.  ‘Bedtime Stories’ expresses a shared message, the language of worldwide chatting, inspired by a woven textile structure and created for Shetland by Finnish textile artist, Outi Martikainen as a covering for a building. Among the smallest in scale are brooches of silk cocoons by Jo Pond and wrapped sculptural jewellery by Tanvi Kant.

The film work in Bonhoga stairwell, Sorting it Out, by Norwegian artists Anne Knutsen & Karen Lidal uses real time to represent a maker’s hands bringing order to the chaos of the material she works with. In this way, the whole exhibition offers scope for unravelling and organising the concepts of scale, boundary and portage into something individual to each viewer.  The exhibition runs for longer than usual at Bonhoga Gallery. It can be seen for six weeks until mid Nov


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