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Through support from SIC's Creative Learning Network fund we've been able to deliver two weeks of workshops in five schools across Shetland with Civic Soup, a design collective based in Edinburgh, as part of their LOCUS commission.

Claire Davenport, studying Fine Art at UHI Shetland College, is our LOCUS paid intern and has been integral to the project from the initial selection and commissioning stage. She spent time with Civic Soup during their school workshops, to learn more about their work...

“YOU ARE FREE TO DO WHAT YOU WANT” the children of Hamnavoe school proudly wrote on a map of their home created with contemporary artists’ collective Civic Soup.

Civic Soup’s Calum, Laura, Ruth and Sigi visited five Shetland schools over two weeks asking Shetland’s schoolchildren to help create ideas and designs that will feature on a brand new sculpture in Lerwick.

The children’s designs are being distilled as we speak by the four artists into a sculpture that will be sited at Hillhead, Lerwick as part of the LOCUS project. Civic Soup’s stated aim is “to encourage people to take interest in and ownership of their built environment.”

Engaging communities in energetic and design-oriented workshops, the team glean ideas that will result in a piece of art participants can have a stake in. Exercises from creating an image with just five lines or interpreting a pattern fire up imaginations into a longer-running design process.

In Shetland ages 9-15 were asked to re-interpret Fair Isle knit into geometric shapes and with these shapes they were then asked to design their own motif depicting whatever activity or idea they wanted. The children relished the free reign they were given and came up with ideas as diverse as surfers to guitarists, toads, dinosaurs and spaceships.

The children were most animated when they got the opportunity to talk about their Shetland home and all the things they can do in the area. Their taste for the outdoors shone through - in spite of the rain beating on the windows - as they boasted about all the activities they can do outside from swimming to jumping off piers and boats. In Hamnavoe, Halcrow’s shop was also a popular mention for its beloved selection of sweeties.

The exercises provoked lively discussions about the colours of the sea, whether aliens could live under water and whether dogs could pass for wildlife. The children also showed their concern for the melting of the arctic which experienced record temperatures on that day.

The artists have been carefully listening to the children and speculation is rife as to what kind of structure and idea they may choose from a giant diving board to a knitted jumper-like structure. The structure will likely be unveiled mid-August alongside three other sculptures from artists Joseph Ingleby, David Lemm and Kenny Hunter.

Civic Soup were handpicked out of over thirty applications to the coveted LOCUS commission for new artworks here in Shetland for their meaningful engagement with communities. They have overseen many successful projects from the design of a wikihouse’s roof cladding to the interior fitting of a superpower bus designed to empower children to explore their own unique qualities.

Creative Learning Networks are local authority-led initiatives devised to help develop creative teaching, creative learning and creativity skills across all subjects in the classroom.

LOCUS is being delivered in partnership with Living Lerwick.

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