Shetland Arts is exhibiting ‘Peerie Picters’ by Da Gaer Box artists as part of the Bonhoga Gallery Touring Programme. ‘Peerie Picters’ is a series of illustrations by artists from Shetland for Da Gaer Box, a Shetland Dialect resource for primary 1 – 3. The artists kindly donated their illustrations for this project.

The illustrations are very varied, not just because of the stories and characters they depict, but because of the range of styles and materials used. Viewers will see all manner of wonderful things: cats, mice and rabbits, trout, old ladies and taaties, magic, tirricks and whales, sheep and strong nort winds.

Mike Finnie’s Nort Wind evokes a cold shiver whilst Kirsteen Mullay’s Clooerie Cat exudes menace with a certain smugness. Viewers will want to catch Katherine Laidlay’s Liza Yaal as she falls and pull up taaties with Julie Inkster’s Annie an’ da Taaties. Other works in pen and ink draw viewers into imaginary worlds, such as Kit Mowat’s beautiful A letter fae Uncle Bertie and Eileen Nicolson’s Da Tree Peerie Grice. Prints of the work can be purchased by contacting Bonhoga Gallery.

Da Gaer Box is in every primary school in Shetland. It was developed in a partnership between Shetland Forwirds and Creative Links part of Shetland Islands Council Schools Service. Frances Tait co-ordinated its creation and writers, teachers and local artists generously volunteered their time to make it a lively education resource.

This big red box is packed to the brim with fantastic dialect stories, poems and activities which relate to the curriculum. There are translations, (e.g. Da Tree Peerie Grice), traditional Shetland items and new material. Recordings have been created to accompany the box. Viewers of Peerie Picters can peek at the stories and poems in the booklet that accompanies the exhibition.

Laureen Johnson, chair of Shetland ForWirds, the voluntary group which champions Shetland Dialect, said, “Da Gaer Box is a great resource. It wis designed tae encourage wir bairns tae use da dialect, but it also helps teachers ta meet da requirements o da curriculum. Da lovely artwark browt da stories an poetry ta life. We canna thank da artists enough, an I’m delighted at der wark is bein promoted tae a wider audience in dis wye.’

Peerie Picters is currently on display in Sumburgh Airport. And then can be seen in the Peerie Shop Cafe and the leisure centres in Whalsay, Unst and Mid Yell.

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