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Continuing its support for the creative and professional development of practitioners working across all artforms, Shetland Arts is delighted to announce the next round of its popular and effective grant schemes: Working Up-5 Craftmaker Awards, and the Visual Artist Awards.

Both award schemes are funded in partnership with Creative Scotland and Shetland Islands Council, and are designed for individual Shetland-based artists and craftmakers who are already working full-time or part-time in their creative practices.  Cash awards up to £1500 are granted towards 70% of the cost of applicants’ own development projects to advance or improve their work.

Since 2007, through the two schemes Shetland Arts has awarded £64,000 towards 77 successful applications from craftmakers and artists living and working in all parts of Shetland; from Unst to Fair Isle, Whalsay to Sandness. Applicants are mentored by specialist arts officers throughout the award schemes, enabling visual artists and craftmakers to achieve new levels in their creative practices.

Some successful applicants are members of arts groups, such as the Shetland Arts & Crafts Association and the Veer North Visual Artists Group.

Helen Robertson of Sullom, artist, jeweller and knitter, received a Visual Artist Award to create an installation entitled Hentilagaets. It involved knitting with wire using traditional Shetland lace patterns, with names relating to crofting, and placing them within a ruined croft belonging to her family at Croga, Northmavine. An installation projection of Hentilagaets, documented by Mark Sinclair of Phatsheep Photography, is currently being shown at Bonhoga Gallery until the 22nd of April.

Helen Robertson’s Hentilagaets. Photo byMark Sinclair, Phatsheep Photography.

Helen plans to create a publication of the images. She said of the award: “[I] was so moved by the thought that I had gotten an award for doing something related to visual art, coming from a craft background, was like folk were putting faith in me…[it’s] had a direct effect in that I’m going to design jewellery inspired by it. My next project is directly related to it…[and it’s] given me more confidence…”

Cheryl Jamieson of Glansin’ Glass in Unst designs and creates fused glass pieces. Cheryl said: “The Working Up grants have made the world of difference to my business as they have allowed me to explore new techniques of working with glass. These newly acquired skills, such as screenprinting on glass, feed in to my working practice and mean I can extend the range of products I make. I think it's important for a craft business in Shetland to keep coming up with something new as we have very loyal customers locally who are always looking for something different.”

Cheryl Jamieson’s Blue Bowl in fused glass. Photo by Mark Sinclair, Phatsheep Photography.

Artist Howard Towll said that one of the benefits of receiving a Visual Artist Award was that it: “…assisted in the transport to drawing sites and purchase of materials.” He added: “… because I’ve gone part-time the amount of the Award was like the equivalent of a month’s loss in made going part-time a little bit easier.”

Howard Towll’s 'Rooks at Kergord,' Woodcut 2010. Edition of 15. 60x45 cm.

Suzanne Shearer of Phatsheep Textiles said: “Receiving a Working Up craft award enabled me to learn, hands on, a technique I'd been interested in for a long time. It provided me with the funds to learn screen printing techniques from a skilled printer in a print studio. Increased knowledge in this skill gave me the confidence to produce some new hand printed designs, they proved to be very popular and I continue to develop this aspect of my product range.”

Suzanne Shearer’s Screenprinted Birdy Cushion. Credit: Mark Sinclair, Phatsheep Photography.

Emma Blain said: "The Working-Up Craft Award allowed me the time, resources and equipment to teach myself how to design and create handbags, incorporting my own fabric as well as a variety of other materials, including cord and canvas. I have been interested in creating a range of handbags using my fabric for some time and the grant gave me the funds I needed to learn bag construction from the very beginning, right up to producing a final product. I launched the new bag collection at last year's Christmas Craft Fair in November and they were very popular, and continue to be a favourite with my customers. I intend to continue designing and creating new styles of handbags to add to my collection, with new work coming out in the summer."

Handbag by Emma Blain

New work produced by craftmakers and artists through the Shetland Arts Visual Artist Awards and Working Up Craftmaker Awards can be seen in UK galleries and shops, on websites or online shops. In Shetland work resulting from the schemes can be found in Bonhoga Gallery Exhibitions and on the Bonhoga Touring Programme; at the annual Shetland Arts & Crafts Association Craft Fair at Clickimin Leisure Centre; on the Shetland Craft Trail, and in many local shops and galleries.

To apply for the Visual Artist Awards, click here.

To apply for the Working Up-5: Craft Maker Awards, click here.


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