May 2013 Move Shetland Newsletter

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Hi, I'm Alastair and I'd like to welcome you to the May 2013 issue of our monthly newsletter. Here at 60° north, with the longest day little more than six weeks away, the nights are already short and, well before the end of the month, there won't be any proper darkness.

The lambs have arrived and are practising their dance moves outside as I write; their vertical leaps never fail to amaze and amuse! An egg has also appeared at Sumburgh Head and you can follow our puffin family's progress on the PuffinCam. We hope that this year will bring success.

April was a busy month in Shetland, with - among many diversions - several musical events, the islands' motor show and the start of the summer football season.

The May diary is pretty full, too. The month has just opened with the 33rd Shetland Folk Festival, an annual highlight that always brings an eclectic array of international musical treats and offers the chance to hear the many talented local performers. However, there's a musical cornucopia in prospect over the summer, as I explain below, and much more to enjoy.

For instance, I see that Shetland's leading historian, Brian Smith, will be exploring the legal intricacies of the Hoswick whale case, which had a fundamental effect on landlords' and tenants' rights, at a talk in the Museum and Archives.

In the northern village of Hillswick, the organisers of this summer's Glusstonberry Festival are laying on a fundraiser featuring music and song, some poetry and a talk on whisky by Shetland-based BBC Scotland broadcaster Tom Morton. We have some great cinema to look forward to, with a terrific choice of new releases, old favourites and less well-known international films.

Looking farther ahead, I've gathered together details of some musical and textile events stretching through to October, so if you're planning a Shetland 'recce', any of these would be an excellent hook for your trip.

The long summer days also offer lots of time for outdoor pursuits. If you like hill-walking, beachcombing, sailing, angling or any number of other diversions, Shetland has endless opportunities. All of this adds up to a rare quality of life.

Don't forget that our companion website, Visit.Shetland.org, has lots of information about what you can do and advice on planning your trip. You can also read our online quarterly magazine, 60 North and the Visit.Shetland newsletter - the May edition is just out.

Shetland tale to become a major film

Hot on the heels of the crews who made Shetland and the dancing pony commercial, another film unit is due in the islands shortly to make a Hollywood thriller.

'Sacrifice' , a novel by SJ Bolton, is the inspiration for a feature film starring Connie Nielsen, Charles Dance and Rupert Graves. The story centres on consultant surgeon Tora Hamilton, who, not long after moving to Shetland, makes a gruesome discovery, the body of a young woman from which the heart has been brutally removed. There are mysterious rune marks on the body, which it seems are linked to an ancient legend. Ignoring advice to let the matter rest, Tora finds herself drawn into a disturbing, threatening drama.

The novel, Ms Bolton's first, was voted 'Best New Read' on Amazon.co.uk and was one of Waterstone's 'Best of the New Blood' promotions. It was shortlisted for the International Thriller Writers' Best First Novel award, the Mary Higgins Clark award and, in France, the Prix du Polar.

The screenplay is by Peter Dowling, who will also direct the film. It will be shot in Shetland, Ireland and Manhattan.

Meanwhile, the BBC has announced that six further episodes of Shetland have been commissioned for BBC1. Preparations for filming, which will take place later this year, are well under way.

Poet and author is new writer in residence

Chrissie Gittins , poet and author of short stories and radio dramas, will be spending May in Shetland as a writer in residence.

This will be Ms Gittins' second spell in the islands, having worked with schools in 2010. Her published poetry collections for both adults and children have been critically acclaimed; for example, two of her children's poems won Belmont Poetry Prizes in 2002. She has read her poetry and stories in places ranging from the Royal Festival Hall to the Poets' House in New York. Her plays for BBC Radio 4, including Starved for Love, Life Assurance and Dinner in the Iguanodon, have starred Patricia Routledge, Jan Ravens and Sorcha Cusack.

During May, she will be resident at The Booth, a studio on the waterfront in the village of Scalloway which is made available to visiting writers and artists. She will be working with primary schools in Hamnavoe and Scalloway and will give a children's poetry reading at the Shetland Times Bookshop on 18 May. On 22 May, she'll take part in an evening of adult poetry and music at the Shetland Library.

Europe's best sunrise? Come to Shetland!

Shetland has attracted far more than its share of accolades over the years but it's the first time that the islands have been recognised for their sunrises.

According to Lonely Planet, Shetland offers the best sunrises in Europe. It's true that the sunrise over the North Sea can be spectacular, and those who live on, or commute along, the east coast often enjoy great views.

Lonely Planet wisely suggests that sunrise watchers would be best to visit in spring or autumn, since the sun rises in summer between about 3.15 and 3.45am. In fact, winter sunrises - which, during the weeks around the solstice, don't occur until after 9am - are just as beguiling.

New book and restored boat tell the story of long-deserted island

A new book recalls life on Havera, an island lying west of Shetland's south mainland. Meanwhile, one of the boats used by the islanders has been beautifully restored.

The original inhabitants of Havera, which was first settled in the 1770s, formed a fishing community. When the population was at its peak in 1850, there were around 50 people from five families. The book tells the story of these people and their community and explains how they made a good living from the rich soil and used their exceptional fishing abilities. The stories of life on the island feature a shipwreck and tell of the women's trips to nearby Scalloway to sell their knitwear and lace and collect supplies. Uniquely, the children of the township were tethered to a post to prevent them falling over the banks while at play.

The text for the book has been written by Laughton Johnston, with poetry by Christine De Luca. The photographs by Mark Sinclair complement the historic images of life on the island. Pauleen Wiseman has penned some original musical scores, which are included in the book. They'll also be played on an accompanying DVD that will be launched later in the year.

Boats were, of course, essential to life on Havera, but only one of these boats, the Ann, built in 1871 and owned by the Williamson family, survived. By 1999, when it was secured for the Shetland Museum and Archives by the present Curator, Dr Ian Tait, it was in a poor state of repair. It has now been immaculately restored by expert boat builders Jack Duncan and Robbie Tait. Everything original has been saved, and some parts have had new wood spliced in. The biggest challenge was the iron rudder fittings, which were made under Erik Erasmuson's direction. Every detail is right, from the rawhide grommets to her original colour, and the Ann is the second oldest Shetland boat now in existence.

A second launch event is planned for the book, in Edinburgh, on Thursday 16 May at 6.30pm in the the Scottish Poetry Library in Crichton's Close. Mark's photos will be on display, and Christine will be in attendance to read some of her poetry.

The hardback book is available to purchase now from Shetland Museum and Archives, and online at www.shetlandheritageshop.com, priced at £25.00.

You can also win a copy of the book in the May Competition on our companion website Visit.Shetland.org.

Youth Legacy Ambassadors help out at Michaelswood to support Glasgow 2014

Four of Shetland's Young Scot Youth Legacy Ambassadors 2014 have helped plant 420 trees at Michaelswood in Aith.

The Shetland Youth Legacy Ambassadors are part of a national programme that works to promote the lasting benefits of the Glasgow 2014 Games. The tree planting is seen as one way of creating a sustainable legacy and, at the same time, engaging with local communities.

The Shetland Ambassadors worked with Ray and Betty Ferrie on the project. Ray Ferrie said: "This sort of project is exactly what Michaelswood is all about, and we are delighted when the woodland interacts with the community in this way. We had a fun day with lots of good banter and fresh air, and both the young folk and the woodland benefited from the event greatly."

Youth Legacy Ambassador Holly King said: "We were delighted to work with Michaelswood to promote the sustainable legacy theme of Glasgow 2014. We hope that lots of children and young people visit Michaelswood over the next couple of years and enjoy the new plantation."

A plaque made by Enviroglass, which recycles glass in Shetland, is being made to commemorate the planting. Trees were supplied by the Woodland Trust Scotland.

Small community achieves faster broadband

The small community around West Burrafirth, one of the remoter parts of the Shetland mainland, has set up its own high-speed broadband service.

The area is not well served by the existing telecommunications network and broadband speeds were sometimes no better than 0.16Mbps, much lower than most areas of Shetland experience. Now, thanks to a local initiative, residents are enjoying some of the fastest broadband links in Britain, with speeds of around 25Mbps.

It's been achieved thanks to lottery funding and excellent cooperation from Shetland Broadband, which has undertaken similar projects elsewhere in Shetland, and H Williamson and Son of Scalloway, who erected the mast and equipment. The service uses radio to connect the West Burrafirth mast with another near Lerwick, where a link is made into the SHEFA-2 fibre optic cable that links Faroe, Shetland and Scotland.

Other remote communities in Shetland have benefitted from imaginative broadband solutions and you can read more here.

Writing the North

Shetland's literature will take centre stage in a major new project, 'Writing the North', that was launched in Edinburgh on Saturday.

The project, which also involves authors from Orkney, will culminate in spring 2014 with a specially designed exhibition at Shetland Museum and Archives. It will include activities for school pupils, new contemporary writing and a series of public events. There will also be a website about writing from the northern isles and Museum and Archives staff will work with schools to develop new education packs. Contemporary authors from Shetland and Orkney have also been signed up to collaborate with leading academics in the creation of new pieces of writing, some of which will draw inspiration from old stories and poems from Shetland and Orkney.

Writing the North is a partnership between Shetland Museum and Archives and the University of Edinburgh, who have been awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council grant of £114,000. The project is led by Dr Penny Fielding, head of English at Edinburgh, and Dr Mark Smith of the Shetland Archives.

Mark Smith said: "We're very pleased to be working with Edinburgh University on Writing the North. It's also 200 years since Walter Scott visited Shetland and Orkney, so it's a good chance to explore his legacy. The funding allows us to do lots of stuff we wouldn't ordinarily be able to do, and we hope people will enjoy coming to the events and exhibition we'll be putting on."

School Crossing Patrol Service celebrates diamond jubilee

Shetland's school crossing patrols have been awarded badges and certificates to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the service.

School crossing patrols were introduced by the School Crossing Patrol Act in 1953, with the first official patrol starting work in 1954. Since then the uniform and sign have changed to meet modern standards, and patrols can now stop traffic to enable any pedestrian to cross the road. The service celebrates its Diamond Jubilee in 2013, and Road Safety GB has commissioned a special commemorative badge and certificate to mark this important milestone.

Shetland has the most northerly patrols in Britain with two each at Bells Brae and Sound primaries, both in Lerwick.

The Convener of Shetland Islands Council, Malcolm Bell, said: "I am delighted to award these certificates and badges to our very dedicated and essential school crossing patrol officers. These officers are an essential part of our responsibility to keep our children safe and it's important to be mindful of them as they go about their work."

Photograph shows (left to right):

George Webster (Sound School 1 year service)
Sandra Moar (Sound school 10 years service)
Anne Brock (Relief patrol at Bells Brae)
Convener Malcolm Bell
Kathryn Gillie (Bells Brae 9 years service)
Jean Stewart (Bells Brae 9 years service)
Anne Amedro (Relief patrol at Bells Brae)

Council tug engineer wins photography prize

John Bateson, Second Engineer on the Shetland Islands Council's tug 'Tystie', has won the British Tugowners' Association's 2013 photographic competition.

John's seascape features the tugs Tystie, Dunter and Shalder escorting the tanker Ocean Lady into Sullom Voe. There were 22 entries in the general category, which covers towing operations or other tug activity, and John's photo was judged the winner.

John says: "Winning the competition is a bit of a surprise. The photo was taken in April last year and the sky was particularly dramatic that day. We were in a good position to show our tugs manoeuvring into place for the berthing of the tanker Ocean Lady."

The winner was announced at BTA's Annual Dinner by its President, Steve Jellis. "We chose this picture because it showed three tugs working hard in a way that reminded us of a good painting, and captured the spirit of towing in a very atmospheric way."

Sullom Voe is the site of the terminal that receives oil and gas from fields east and west of Shetland via pipelines or shuttle tankers. The Ocean Lady is typical of the tankers that carry oil from the port to destinations in the US and Europe; the vessel weighs in at 108,942 deadweight tonnes, is 245m long and has a 42m beam and 13m draught.

Shetland offers wide-ranging summer music programme

Many musical tastes are catered for in a series of excellent concerts in Mareel and other venues in Shetland this summer.

So far, the line-up from May to July includes Roddy Woomble with support from Freda Leask and Brian Nicholson,Vamm, Shooglenifty with support from Vair, Matthew Barley, the Edrom String Quartet, Peatbog Faeries, Rachel Sermanni, and Paul Brady, with more to be confirmed in the coming weeks. From 4 to 11 August, there's Fiddle Frenzy 2013.

On 13 May, Roddy Woomble will be in concert at Mareel. Familiar to many as leader of Scottish rock band Idlewild, he's also a celebrated solo songwriter & performer. On 17 May, Shetland Choral Society will present their Spring Concert and it'll feature four soloists from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in music by Haydn, Vaughan Williams and contemporary Welsh composer Karl Jenkins. The major work on the programme is Haydn's 'Maria Theresa' Mass from 1799, a large-scale setting of the Latin Mass, including four vocal soloists, and is full of exuberance, originality and classical Viennese elegance.

Also in May, Vamm will play live in Mareel on Sunday 26 and at the Fetlar Hall on Saturday 25. Formed in 2012, Shetland born Catriona Macdonald (formerly of Blazin' Fiddles), Perthshire's Patsy Reid (of Breabach), and Norwegian Marit Falt seamlessly create a dynamic yet intimate sound.

June is packed with events, beginning on Saturday 1 with Shooglenifty and support from Vair. Shooglenifty play an infectious blend of Celtic traditional music and dance grooves that they describe as "hypno-folkadelic ambient trad." Vair have already gained a shining reputation for their unique take on the folk sound and are sure to start the night in style.

Just a few days later, on Tuesday 4 June, world-renowned cellist Matthew Barley will play a concert in Mareel as part of his Around Britten national tour, celebrating 100 years of Benjamin Britten. The programme will include Britten's powerful third cello suite, a suite by J.S. Bach, solo cello music by Tavener and specially commissioned new works by Dai Fujikura, James MacMillion, and DJ Jan Bang. Strings have another outing on Wednesday 12 June, in the shape of the Edrom String Quartet, consisting of Lucy and Maeve Auer, Ferdinand Erblich and Shetland resident Donald MacDonald. They first met over 40 years ago through studies in Vienna and Austria and were coaches at the International Cello Centre (now known as the Edrom Casals Centre).

On Saturday 15 June, the Peatbog Faeries appear at Mareel. A Celtic fusion band featuring Shetland's own Ross Couper on fiddle, their music embodies many styles and influences, including folk, electronica, rock, and jazz. They have twice won Live Band of the Year" at the Scottish Traditional Music Awards, and were nominated for "Live Band of the Year" in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Rachel SermanniEnlarge Photo

21 year old singer singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni, from Carrbridge near Inverness, will play Mareel on Wednesday 26 June. Rachel has impressed audiences across the UK, Europe, India and the USA over the past year, playing in excess of 150 shows. On her only previous visit to Shetland, Rachel provided the support slot for Mumford and Sons and audiences have been pleading for a solo show.

In July. Paul Brady will be live in Mareel on Friday 12 & Saturday 13. He's one of Ireland's most highly regarded artists, incorporating folk, rock, blues, traditional Irish, and classic pop styles into his song writing. His songs have been covered by an array of major artists including Bonnie Raitt, Tina Turner, Cher, Joe Cocker and Carlos Santana.

Early August sees the Fiddle Frenzy and the programme is a cracker, with appearances from some of the most celebrated exponents of the instrument. Shetland's Aly Bain will be there with Phil Cunningham, an enduring and unmissable combination that always involves impeccable playing and good humour. Bryan Gear and Violet Tulloch are an outstanding fiddle and piano duo and we'll also be hearing the wonderful sound of Lau. The event is curated by outstanding young fiddlers Jenna and Bethany Reid.

Tickets for these events can all be purchased now from the Shetland Box Office, by phone on 01595 745555 or online at www.shetlandboxoffice.org.

Meanwhile, the first album to be wholly recorded, produced, mixed & mastered in Mareel, Renegades by The Revellers, has been launched at this year's Shetland Folk Festival. The band have been working hard with the staff at Shetland Arts since before Christmas to record the 10 track album, with at least one song written by each member of the 7 piece band.

The fact that music is in such a healthy state in Shetland was also underlined, during April, when the Shetland Young Fiddler of the Year was named as 15 year old Callum Watt, who comes from the village of Walls in the west mainland of Shetland. More than 100 young musicians had competed in the two-day event, which is organised by the Shetland Folk Society.

Festivals and conferences explore textile heritage and design

Between now and October, Shetland will host two major events of interest to anyone with a passion for textiles and knitting.

Shetland Arts' International Textile Festival will run from 31 July to 5 August. Aimed at a wide audience, it will cover art, knitting, design, education and business. The Festival will explore the contemporary potential of textiles, making new connections, learning from other textile cultures and looking to the future.

As part of the Festival, ten textile artists will be visiting from Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, exhibiting along with two Shetland artists in Lighten, an exhibition in Bonhoga Gallery from 3 August to 15 September. The festival will also include textile tours, gallery talks and Meet Shetland Textiles, a free networking event for the public, textile makers, artists, knitters, designers, the exhibiting artists and delegates. The festival will include In the Loop 3.5: Making Connections, an international conference with a focus on knitting, a Nordic theme, and an emphasis on the development of contemporary textile cultures. Speakers will include artists, curators, designers, knitters, theorists and historians. Tickets for In the Loop 3.5 are on sale via Shetland Box Office (01595 745 555) or online.

KnittingEnlarge Photo

Later in the year, beginning on 7 October, the Shetland Wool Week is another highlight for anyone interested in wool textiles and knitting. It's a celebration of Britain's most northerly native sheep, Shetland's textile industries and rural farming communities. Organised by a committee of local public, private and voluntary organisations, this community-led event has a world-wide following, and attracts ever-increasing numbers of wool and knitting enthusiasts to the isles every year. It will include a four-day North Atlantic Native Sheep and Wool Conference, beginning on Friday 11th October.

Guest patron of this year's event is Felicity Ford, who, in addition to her work with 'Wovember' is also an accomplished sound artist and textile designer. Felicity's workshops and lectures will include a focus on the 'sounds of Shetland sheep', inviting participants to 'listen' to Shetland wool.

Felicity will be joined by Tom Van Deijnin, otherwise known as 'Tom of Holland' for selected events. Tom is perhaps best known for his Visible Mending Programme (VMP), where he uses darning, patching and weaving techniques to give a new lease of life to
damaged or over-loved garments.

Well-known local designers and knitters will also be providing a range of courses and events for aspiring Fair Isle and lace knitters, spinners, weavers and dyers. The Hoswick Visitor Centre has an astonishing array of events planned through the week with Niela Nell, Kalra and Elizabeth Johnston. Jamieson and Smith (Shetland Wool Brokers) Ltd will open their shop daily for lessons with Hazel Tindall, Mary Henderson and Mary Kay, to name a few. Other events will take place throughout Shetland.

Before then, knitters in Shetland are also participating in Alzheimer Awareness Week, from 3 to 9 June, when Shetland Arts and Alzheimer Scotland are to launch a new challenge for knitters of all ages in Shetland. The aim is to make at least 171 special knitted patchwork pieces, stitched from sets of squares of any size, or completed blankets. The 171 objects will be installed during Alzheimer Awareness Week in and around the foyer and café in Mareel. The total of 171 represents the number of people in the Shetland community who have a diagnosis of dementia.

Meanwhile, the BBC in association with the L.A.B. Scotland project has released a great little documentary on the knitting club at Whalsay school, which you can watch here. It's also an opportunity to tune in to Shetland's (and Whalsay