May 2012 Newsletter
Hello! I'm Alastair and I'd like to welcome you to our May edition.
With long, light nights and some pleasantly warm days, there's been more than a hint of summer during April. The barbecues have been fired up and a few hardier souls have even been swimming in the sea. By the middle of the month, the sun's afterglow will be obvious in the northern sky overnight and we'll rapidly enter the 'simmer dim', the period around midsummer when Shetland experiences no proper darkness. Another sign of summer is PuffinCam at Sumburgh Head; the birds have arrived and the egg was laid on the morning of Friday 4 May, so we're hoping for a successful hatching in about six weeks' time!
Towards the end of April, we had the Voar Redd-Up (or spring clean), in which around 4,000 volunteers - almost a fifth of the population - turn out to clear rubbish from beaches and roadsides. That was followed, over the first weekend in May, by the Shetland Folk Festival, now in its 32nd year. As always, it brought performers from all over the world to audiences in every corner of Shetland. In mid-May, we're looking forward to the opening of the new Scalloway Museum by the Norwegian Prime Minister; beyond that, the Classic Car and Motorcycle Show starts at the end of May and June sees the first-ever Shetland Jazz Festival and the arrival of the Olympic Torch: more about these below.
If you're thinking of making the move to Shetland, as many others have done, we hope this newsletter offers a flavour of the life you could enjoy in the islands. We have a large amount of essential information about Shetland on our website but we also recommend that you make a couple of reconnaissance trips to experience island life, ideally at different seasons. You might take in one of the events I've mentioned, any of which would be a great way to meet local people and folk who've moved here. And - whatever brings you to Shetland - the Shetland 2012 visitor brochure is packed with all you need to know when planning your visit.
If we can help in any way, please don't hesitate to contact our team!
BBC To Air Television Dramas Featuring Shetland Detective
BBC Scotland has announced that, later this year, it will broadcast a two-part detective drama based on Ann Cleeves' detective stories. The detective she created, Jimmy Perez, features in her quartet of novels, and will be played by Scots actor Douglas Henshall. The production will be undertaken for the BBC by ITV Studios and the Executive Producer, Elaine Collins, said: "We are delighted to be working with the BBC on this commission. Shetland combines eccentric yet warm characters and a classic murder mystery story with the beautiful landscape and rich history of the Shetland Islands and we believe it will be hugely popular with viewers."
When a young archaeologist discovers a set of human remains, the island community is intrigued to know if it's an ancient find or a contemporary mystery; and when an elderly woman is shot on her land in a tragic accident, Perez and his team find themselves at the centre of two feuding families whose envy, greed and bitterness has divided the surrounding community.
Christopher Aird, Head of Drama, Scotland and Executive Producer, BBC added: "Shetland has a fantastic combination of writing, acting, directing and producing talent. It is a hugely exciting story and part of a project to bring the very best drama to BBC Scotland in the coming years."
Shetland is arguably one of the last places in which murder mystery might be expected to be set, given the islands' low crime rate. Indeed, Ann Cleeves says that she expected the first, Raven Black, to be a one-off. But in that first story and its successors - White Nights, Red Bones and Blue Lightning - she managed to weave stories that were both gripping and convincing.
The Executive Producer is Elaine Collins, of ITV Studios, the team who brought Ann's Vera Stanhope to television. Ann Cleeves says: "I'm delighted that my old friends from ITV Studios have teamed up with the BBC to create a television adaptation of the Jimmy Perez book Red Bones. I couldn't be in safer hands. And it's brilliant that the UK now has its own Nordic TV drama!"
Couple Who Moved To Shetland Open New Gallery
Shona and Alan Skinner, who moved to Shetland from London in 2010, have opened a new art gallery on the island of Yell. Shona is an artist and art teacher, and is the daughter of the late Adam Robson, a well-known Shetland artist. Alan is a lawyer and investment banker. They live in Shona's great grandparents' croft house in Cullivoe.
The aim of The Shetland Gallery is to showcase the best of contemporary Shetland artists and high-end crafts people. 'We want to help discover exciting young Shetland talent in all the visual arts and crafts. For example, we are working with two exciting young jewellery designers', says Shona.
The couple plan to take stands at international art fairs and are excited about taking the best of Shetland to the outside world. 'We want to model ourselves on the top international galleries', says Alan. 'We are ambitious. We already have an offer to show at The Caledonian Club in London'.
Shona also plans to run residential art courses, to attract keen amateurs to Shetland from all over the world. The plan is to rent Belmont House in Unst, arrange a local chef to cook the best of local ingredients, and do the coaching in the gallery in Sellafirth, which the couple bought in March.
The opening group show includes works by Ron Sandford, Nicholas Barnham, Ruth Brownlee, Shona Skinner, Anne Bain, Mike Finnie, Mary Fraser, Mike McDonnell, Adam Robson, Cecil Tait, Peggy Johnson, Wendy Inkster and Janet Holt. There's more information about some of these exhibitors on the Veer North website.
The Shetland Gallery is at the Sellafirth Business Park and is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 5pm and Sunday from 2pm. to 5pm.
Excellent Range Of Landscapes In Annual Show
Meanwhile, the long-established Bonhoga Gallery, in Weisdale, has chosen landscape for the theme of its annual open exhibition. Dozens of local artists have submitted paintings, drawings, photographs, collages, embroidery and - in what is surely a sign of the times - a very appealing iPad 'painting'. All 110 entries -thirty of them by children - are on the theme of landscape, interpreted in its widest sense. Several exhibitors are making their first appearance and the quality of work is impressive. The exhibition runs until 10 June.
Shetland Table Tennis Player Receives Career Boost
Back in April last year, I reported that Shetland player, Lynda Flaws, had done very well in the Scottish table-tennis championships, being crowned Junior Women's Singles Champion. She went on to win a silver medal in the 2011 Island Games, held in the Isle of Wight, and a Scottish title.
Now, she's been selected as a Bank of Scotland Local Hero in a scheme that provides sponsorship for training and competition. Lynda will receive an award of £1,000 and joins 345 other sportspeople from across the UK who are judged to have special talent and may have Olympic potential.
After 25 Years, Voar Redd-Up Draws More Volunteers Than Ever
Shetland's annual spring clean, now celebrating its 25th year, has, again, attracted a record number of volunteers. Around 4,000 recently turned out to clear the winter's accumulated rubbish ('bruck' in Shetland dialect) and make Shetland spick and span for the summer.
To mark the anniversary, the Shetland Amenity Trust has organised an exhibition at the Shetland Museum and Archives. Opening the event, Brian Gregson, Chair of Shetland Amenity Trust, said that the Trust wanted to thank the many thousands of volunteers who had taken part year after year. He added: 'As well as celebrating the volunteers' incredible achievements, the exhibition highlights some of the sources of litter, its potential effects and what can be done to reduce it. There is also plenty of archive material which we hope will spark a few memories and stories about Redd Ups past and present.'
Entertainment at the opening ceremony was provided by The Donald Anderson Band, playing tracks from their recently released debut album 'In Passing'. The band's bass guitarist, Rick Nickerson, was responsible for the very first Redd Up coordinated by the Trust and is thrilled to be involved with the celebrations to mark its 25th Year. The exhibition runs until 17 June.
The Trust has also re-launched 'Dunna Chuck Bruck', Shetland's local anti-litter campaign, which has been running even longer than the Voar Redd-Up. The slogan was originally chosen in a competition run in association with BBC Radio Shetland.
Viking Windfarm Gets Planning Permission
The Scottish Government announced during April that they were granting planning permission for a large windfarm in the northern part of the Shetland mainland. The project will include up to 103 turbines which, at full capacity, will produce 483Mw of electricity. To put that in context, a typical nuclear power station such as Torness or Sizewell B generates around 1,200Mw and a large coal-fired station may supply 2,000-3,000Mw.
If present intentions are fulfilled, the Viking Windfarm will be unusual in that half the investment will come from Shetland and half the anticipated profits will flow into the islands. The proposals have been highly controversial, attracting substantial opposition and support. If the scheme is to go ahead, a 600Mw cable will need to be laid to connect Shetland to the north-east coast of Scotland.
Shetland is certainly well placed to exploit wind energy. The average wind speed over the year is around 15mph and the small wind farm that already exists, just outside Lerwick, typically produces more than half its theoretical output, compared to 25-35% in more southerly parts of the UK.
Other renewables are being explored too; it's expected that wave and tidal power will be extracted from the seas around Shetland within the next few years.
Time Travel At Classic Car and Motorcycle Show
Whether you're driven by nostalgia or curiosity or just fancy a great day out, Shetland's Classic Car and Motorcycle Show is an event not to be missed. It runs from 31 May to 5 June and presents upwards of 150 cherished cars plus a huge range of lorries, traction engines, military vehicles and bikes.
There are all sorts of other exhibits, including many stationary engines. Tours around the islands recreate a bygone age and, of course, there's music and dancing, too. There are more details on the Scotland's Islands website .
Lerwick To Host Olympic Torch
Fifteen local people who have contributed to sport or wider community life will carry the Olympic torch through Lerwick on 10 June. The youngest is Bryden Priest (12) and the oldest is John Nicolson (74). All the torchbearers have been nominated by members of the public and they'll follow a route around the town that will include a short boat journey on the Clickimin Loch.
SIC sports and leisure service manager Neil Watt said the torch's presence will encourage sportsmen and women in Shetland to feel connected to the wider world of sporting achievement: 'It brings the Olympics to Shetland and connects us to the best in the world. I see the torch as something that will hopefully light a flame of passion for competition and participation in the hearts and minds of local folk, young and old.'
Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG said: 'We are thrilled that Shetland Islands Council has agreed to host the Olympic Flame on its journey right across the UK'.
(Image courtesy London 2012).
Line-Up Announced For First Shetland Jazz Festival
The first ever Shetland Jazz Festival will take place over the weekend of 8 to 10 June 2012 and will feature great music from some of the very best jazz musicians in Scotland and beyond.
Friday's opening concert will be a gala affair at the Town Hall with the Nova Scotia Jazz Band and Brass Jaw. Saturday will begin with jazz films at the Garrison portraying talents such as Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Anita O'Day and Scotland's Annie Ross.
On Saturday afternoon, Shetland Community Ballet will collaborate with local jazz musicians Norman Willmore and Max Tyler and gymnasts and circus performers to create a truly magical event. There will also be a first outing for the recently-formed Shetland Improvisers' Orchestra. Also on Saturday, the Nova Scotia Jazz Band, the Becc Sanderson Trio plus Norman Goudie and Friends will perform at a wonderful jazz garden party in the grounds of the Busta Hotel. Saturday evening sees a concert by the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and the excellent Becc Sanderson, making a welcome return to Shetland.
Gigs on Sunday feature Steve Hamilton, The Bespoke Quartet, Gilad Atzmon and Frank Harrison of the Orient House Ensemble, local music groups Aestaewast, Tropo Funk, Brian Nicholson and Friends and Chris Stout and the Brazilian Theory. The final concert will bring them all together in the Olympic Suite, based on the music of five continents, to mark Olympic torch day.
There really is something for everyone and tickets are now on sale through Shetland Box Office, Islesburgh Community Centre, 01595 745 555 or at www.shetlandboxoffice.org
Artists And Craftspeople Gain Recognition
Shetland Arts has completed an assessment of work by almost thirty visual artists, photographers and craftmakers who are members of the Shetland Arts & Crafts Association. This year, members' work achieved a high average pass of 80 % on assessment criteria such as originality, design and skill, production methods and presentation.
Shetland Arts put together an objective teams of designers, artists and specialist Shetland Arts staff, to evaluate the work. All the entries were judged in completed form, as a buyer would see them in a shop or gallery. The forms of craft and visual art made by the Association's members are increasingly diverse and include photography, printmaking, painting, sculpture, jewellery, furniture making, bookbinding, knitting, metalwork, leatherwork, basketmaking, ceramics, fused glass and textiles.
Wendy Inkster is the Association Secretary, Exhibition and Craft Trail Organiser. She said: "Over the years, we see the quality of arts and crafts in Shetland increase, with new makers joining to become full members by going through the Quality Assessment process, something we are very proud of. With the recent success of our first ever Craft Trail we intend to build on this and increase and improve what the Association has to offer."
The work of the Association's membership and their new Craft Trail is attracting wider attention. A TV travel documentary for Japanese television will include Shetland craftmakers. Elizabeth Johnston of Shetland Handspun and Wendy Inkster of Burra Bears have featured in the Channel 5 "Holiday Heaven on Earth" programme and a researcher for www.coolplaces.co.uk, who explored the Craft Trail last summer, selected Wendy's Burra Bears Open Studio as one of the top 15 'cool shops to visit in Scotland'.
The assessment is one of the ways in which talented people in Shetland can be supported to build a successful business.
60 North Summer Issue
Do you want to learn about Shetland lace with Kate Davies, discover Old Scatness with Val Turner, escape to Fair Isle with Abby Faulkner, sample the variety of Sunday Teas with Alastair Hamilton, celebrate Shetland nature during the Shetland Nature Festival with Rory Tallack, learn about summer wildlife with Jon Dunn, go trout fishing with Paul Bloomer, and so much more?!
Well, you can! Put the kettle on, turn your phone off and enjoy the latest issue of Shetland's new and irresistible must-read! The free quarterly online magazine '60 North' from Promote Shetland is available to view online here (not available for iPad and iPhone users) or to download as a PDF version (10.1 MB).
Blog Of The Month
Our blog this month will be of special interest if you're involved in education. Genevieve White works in Lerwick as a tutor in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) and she writes both on her own site and for the Guardian.