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An exciting new exhibition opens at Bonhoga Gallery this weekend. Local artist Amy Gear has been working with five schools in Shetland to create an ambitious collaborative art exhibition at Bonhoga Gallery, opening to the public on Friday 10th June. Taking over the whole of the gallery – including the park outside – The Art World will be a celebration of creativity and imagination, representing the journey that Amy and the young artists have been on over the last six months.

Amy recently returned to Shetland after completing her Masters at Royal College of Art in London and was keen use her role as a contemporary artist as the starting point for the project; to ask the question, ’what is an artist? What can an artist do? How does an artist make a living? And what is this thing called The Art World?

This journey of meaning and discovery has involved over 300 young apprentices from five schools across Shetland – Aith, Sandwick, Whalsay, Fetlar and Baltasound – ranging in age from five to 16. Each one has played their part in creating the work for the show. However, if you are expecting to see the walls hung neatly with pictures in frames you will be in for a big surprise…

Jane Matthews of Shetland Arts who has been managing the project said, “apart from having the most fun imaginable, I have been genuinely blown away by the incredible creativity that has emerged throughout this process. It’s been like a giant game of creative consequences pushing boundaries and mixing up artforms from school to school.”

Amy said, “The Art World is a mysterious place even if you are an artist, living right in the middle of it. When I was in London, I was so aware of all the hierarchies and rules that existed within the art industry – It’s a very intimidating place - which can really put a cap on creativity.

“For this project I wanted to use the Art World as a theme, I used elements of the art industry like ‘Painting’ and ‘Audio Guide’ and ‘Sculpture Park’. With the bairns and teachers, we tore apart the art industry’s rulebook and have stuck it back together again and in doing so, it has been completely transformed. I absolutely love how the bairns and teachers interpreted the tasks we set and have made these very honest artworks. They have been a joy to collaborate with - the bairns’ fresh viewpoint of the art Industry has transformed it, like a bit of printer paper, into an origami swan.”

Delivered by Shetland Arts in partnership with SIC Creative Links the project has been funded as part of a three-year Start programme by national organisation Children & the Arts. Jeremy Newton, Chief Executive of Children & the Arts said, “The Start programme reaches out to the many children in the UK who are denied the opportunity to engage with the arts due to their physical or economic circumstances. Start opens doors to museums and galleries, theatres and concert halls, where children can experience and learn something new. We know that Start, as well as being fun, has had a huge impact on children's confidence, communication skills and personal development and we are delighted to be working with Shetland Arts to provide these absolutely essential opportunities for the Islands' children."

The show opens on Friday 10th June from 6-7.30pm and everyone is welcome to come and meet Jane and Amy and dive in to The Art World. They will also be at the gallery to introduce visitors to the project on Saturday 11th June from 10.30am – 1pm. Come and explore THE ART WORLD and prepare to be amazed.

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