22 September – 4 November 2012 Public opening: 21 September, 5.30-7.30pm Gallery talk: 22 September, 11.30am Drop-in Workshop for Bairns: 22 September 11-1pm

Opening this Friday at Bonhoga Gallery is an exhibition of work by six of Shetland’s most innovative contemporary textile designers. The project promises to take the conventional view of Shetland craft truly out of the box.

Text-Isles is a collective of designers who work together to promote the Shetland textile industry. They form an active, unified and creative group who aim to promote Shetland textiles nationally and internationally, bringing global attention to the unique qualities of contemporary Scottish textiles.

Work for this exhibition started many months ago, with each of the six designers preparing a box of objects and artefacts that represented their interpretation of Shetland heritage and folklore. To this each added basic starter materials such as cotton, Shetland wool, a notebook and some fleece or fibre.

On a dark night in February the six makers – Jo Jack, Wendy Inkster, Suzanne Shearer, Andrea Williamson, Donna Smith and Emma Blain met at Bonhoga to swap their boxes with each other and start the second phase of the project. Each, with their new box of delights, set about interpreting the contents and using them to inspire new pieces of work for display.

It is these boxes, sketchbooks and finished works that make up the unusual and inspiring exhibition that runs until 4th November.  To coincide with the opening of the exhibition two members of the group will be giving an informal talk in the gallery on 22nd September at 11.30am, while from 11-1pm in the café on the same day, two more members of the group will be running an informal drop-in workshop for bairns to come along and get creative (no booking needed for either, just turn up!).

To complement this show there are ranges of cutting edge textiles from around the UK including Lost Values, a design initiative from London creating knitwear using a reflective yarn and Yu-Ping Ling, a textile jeweller originally from Taiwan whose intricate and beautiful range of work is inspired by origami and kaleidoscopic patterns. On a different scale, Shetland designer, Wendy Shaw is exhibiting a colourful collection of contemporary interior pieces and accessories in knitted cotton, and Emma Palmer revives the textile technique of tatting in colourful contemporary jewellery.

In contrast to all this work, but equally beautiful, is an exhibition in the café of photographs by Shetlander Christopher Rocks, taken during a seven month stay as a recent graduate in Kenya in 2011. These powerful images have been chosen to reflect an outsider’s glimpse of a very different culture, documenting a challenging project to improve the livelihoods of women and children in an east African slum.

Jane Matthews of Shetland Arts said, ‘the range of work on show at Bonhoga just now offers a brilliantly rich mix of eclectic influence, style and concept. From the cool colours of Christopher’s incredible images to the sparky textiles from Shetland and the UK, there is a vibrant feel to all the exhibitions at Bonhoga this autumn.’

The preview is on Friday 21st September from 5.30-7.30pm and everyone is very welcome.

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