February 2014 Move Shetland Newsletter
Hi, I'm Alastair and I'd like to welcome you to the February 2014 issue of our monthly newsletter.
We've now seen the first of this season's fire festivals, the biggest of them in Lerwick. Some of you may have seen Promote Shetland's hugely popular live webcast, watched by many thousands all around the world, and there will be a chance to see more of the festival later in the year, as Neil Oliver and a BBC crew were filming an item about the festival for the Coast series. There are also some excellent photographs on line: the most comprehensive set I've seen so far is that by Jeff J Mitchell on the Huffington Post UK site.
January is often quite a windy month and this one lived up to expectations; in fact, we reckon that it was the stormiest for many years. Social media sites have carried dozens of spectacular photographs of huge waves crashing onto the coast. Some ferries and flights were cancelled, but the disruption was mostly short-lived.
February and March will see more fire festivals but there are many other things to look forward to. Mareel, the islands' arts centre, has lots lined up. On Wednesday 5 February the venue will welcome outstanding guitarist Eduardo Niebla, offering flamenco jazz fusion and playing that the Guardian called 'exquisite'. The following night, BBC Radio 2 award nominees Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson take to the stage.
Also at Mareel, there's a diverse cinema programme. As well as current releases like American Hustle, 12 Years A Slave and Inside Llewyn Davis, there are several special screenings of films such as The Jungle Book, Robert Redford in All is Lost and, for LGBT History Month, Blue Is The Warmest Colour.
There's more music in March including Americana from Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire, Scottish and Swedish harp from from Catriona Mackay and Olov Johansson and the annual Shetland Schools Music Festival, which invariably reveals some astonishing talent. Meanwhile, there's a special treat in store for drama fans, with a screening of the acclaimed National Theatre production of War Horse. Later in the year, guitarist Martin Simpson will be followed by Barbara Dickson and Rab Noakes and then Eddi Reader, among others. The latest programme for Mareel events is availablehere and you can check out the film schedule too.
If you're exploring a move to Shetland, it's a good idea to take in one or more local events on the trip, because it's a great way to find out how the place ticks. We have all the information you need to plan a visit on our Visit.Shetland website.
Inspectors Find 'Excellence' In Shetland College
Education Scotland has produced a very positive report on Shetland College and the inspectors have cited one area of the College's work as "excellent".
Shetland College is only the second of Scotland's colleges to have received an overall judgement of "Effective", the highest grading under Education Scotland's current model for external review.
The review team visited Shetland at the end of October, and talked with students, staff at all levels in the college, members of the Board of Management, employers, external agencies and other College users.
The report highlights the College's many strengths. Its success in strengthening employability and developing entrepreneurship skills in Art and Design is rated "excellent". There's more about the college's approach in the Autumn issue of our online magazine, 60 North, which described the well-regarded BA Contemporary Textiles course.
Councillor Drew Ratter, who chairs the College Board, said: “Our staff work hard to develop and improve the service we provide, and this recognition of that work is very welcome. It is worth emphasising again that “Effective” is the highest grade available, and that it is very unusual for any college to get “Effective” across the board. It is a tribute to all concerned, and I would like particularly to mention the work which Irene Peterson has put in since taking up post as acting principal, in achieving this.
Photographic Exhibition Recaptures Shetland In The Sixties
An exhibition of photographs from the 1960s, currently showing at the Bonhoga Gallery, in Weisdale, is proving very popular.
The collection of photographs is by Dennis Coutts, who has been practising as a photographer in Shetland since 1959. All the photographs in the show have been laboriously hand-printed in the darkroom by John Coutts, Dennis" son, resulting in a beautiful body of work, with over 50 striking images of life in pre-oil era Shetland. All the photographs are for sale, mounted and signed by Dennis. As part of the public opening of the exhibition on 18 January, Dennis gave an informal talk about his work. It was, as always, laced with wonderful anecdotes and drew on Dennis" encyclopaedic knowledge of Shetland.
On establishing his studio in the heart of Lerwick, Dennis worked as a commercial photographer, combining press photography with family portraiture, social reportage and his own interests in natural history and the landscape. His remarkable talent for composition is evident in all the work on show.
This exhibition marks the start of a busy year at Bonhoga, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the gallery, and the celebrations both begin and end with photography, because the last exhibition in 2014 will feature the work of Don McCullin, arguably the greatest war photographer of all time.
The Bonhoga Gallery presents exhibitions of every kind of visual and multi-media art by artists from Shetland and beyond. There are usually two shows at any one time, one of them in the main gallery and the other in the café, which – with its conservatory overlooking the stream – is also a very pleasant place to enjoy a light lunch or afternoon tea. There's also a small shop stocking an eclectic range of books, cards and art work. Not surprisingly, the gallery makes a very popular outing for local people and visitors to Shetland.
Shetland's Malachy Tallack Wins Book Award
Malachy Tallack, a writer, editor and singer-songwriter from Shetland, has won the Scottish Book Trust's New Writer's Award for his current writing project, Sixty Degrees North.
Malachy is the former editor of Shetland Life magazine and is currently editor of The Island Review. He has also written for the Guardian, the New Statesman, Caught By the River and many other publications, online and in print.
Sixty Degrees North is a book about the sixtieth parallel, exploring the relationship between people and place. This has taken him around the world, from Shetland to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Greenland, Canada and Alaska.
He has produced four albums of his own songs, and has just released a new EP entitled Leaving My Old Self Behind. He has played support for artists such as Runrig, King Creosote, Karine Polwart, Newton Faulkner and Matt Cardle.
Malachy said: “It is so easy to be hampered by doubt when working on a long and difficult project such as Sixty Degrees North. To receive this award, and the support of the Scottish Book Trust that goes with it, makes the task of writing feel more manageable and more worthwhile."
Shetland Chippie Best In Scotland, Runner-Up In UK
A Shetland chippie has won yet another award, this time finishing as runner-up in the National Fish and Chip Awards announced in London on 22 January.
As winner of the Scottish regional award, Frankie's competed against nine other fish and chip shops from around the country. The top prize for Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year was the Quayside in Whitby, North Yorkshire
“It's a tremendous honour for us to have been recognised as the best in Scotland and second best in the UK,” said Frankie's manager John Gold, who together with owner Valerie Johnson gave a presentation to 12 judges on Tuesday 21st January at the Lancaster London Hotel. It included a short video by local filmmakers JJ Jamieson and Dave Donaldson with a backing track – Frankie's reel – composed by JJ and Peter Gear. The film can be seen here.
“This gives us a great platform to promote ourselves and the fish and chip shop trade in general,” said Mrs Johnson. “We are delighted.”
“Several of the judges commented that the standard of entrants this year was higher than it has ever been,” said Mr Gold. “So to have risen to where we have among our outstanding peers in the trade gives us great satisfaction. Frankie's is just over five years old and all the staff have worked extremely hard to ensure our produce and customer service is as good as it can be. In fact, our staff are our most important asset, so I'm delighted for the recognition this gives them.”
This latest success at the awards, hosted by celebrity chef Jean Christophe Novelli, follows four major awards at the same event last year.
The café in Brae, in Shetland's north mainland, offers much more than fish and chips. Mussels are a speciality and there are all sorts of other delicious treats, including a range of home-baked cakes, served in generous portions.
Software Company To Benefit From MIT Link
Kildrummy, a software company founded in Shetland, has been selected to take part in a business programme at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The firm, which provides cost management software for many international businesses, will be represented by Barnaby Mercer. It's one of fourteen Scottish businesses selected to attend MIT's Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP). The EDP is a week-long, high-level intensive executive education course which takes participants through the entire process of building an innovation-based enterprise from creation through to growth, investment and exit.
Barnaby Mercer said “I am honoured to be invited to participate in MIT's EDP. Kildrummy has a raft of new, innovative technologies developed in the past two years which we will be bringing to market in the immediate future. The knowledge and experience I gain at MIT will be invaluable in the successful exploitation of Kildrummy's world-class R&D.”
Barnaby expressed his thanks to the staff of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise for their support.
Kildrummy was founded in 1992 by Ken Beer, who worked at the Sullom Voe Oil Terminal in the early 1980s. His speciality was cost management and he developed a software tool used by BP at that time. Ken Beer had chosen to make Shetland his home and although the company has offices in London and a subsidiary company in Houston, Shetland is still at the heart of the business, partly because the firm can recruit highly-talented young people who've benefitted from the excellent education available in the islands. Today, Kildrummy has clients in more than 50 countries around the world.
Shetland Students Impress In Glasgow
Two women from Shetland who are students at Glasgow have been making their marks in very different ways. Lynda Flaws, who is studying Sport Science, has won through to become Scottish under-21 women's table tennis champion. She's one of many young people who have benefitted from the exceptional standard of sports facilities and coaching in Shetland. Now, Lynda is hoping for a place in the Commonwealth Games, to be held this summer in Glasgow.
Meanwhile, Louise Polson, who is studying medicine in the city, has come up trumps in a photographic competition called Glaswow!. The competition was intended to highlight the best of the city and Louise chose to portray the Clyde Auditorium (usually labelled "the armadillo") and the recently-completed new venue known as the Hydro, which stand together on the city's waterfront. We send our congratulations to them both.
Jobs of the Month
Jobs on offer at NHS Shetland include a Podiatrist, a Senior Dental Nurse (Team Leader) and a Clinical Director for the Dental Service.
Vacancies with Shetland Islands Council include posts for Social Care Workers, a Specialist Social Worker (Mental Health) and a Lecturer in Construction.
Blog of the Month
Our blog this month is all about Shetland food. The islands offer wonderful, fresh produce from land and sea and the blog contributors will be offering recipes, reviews and more, all intended to whet our appetites and our enthusiasm for cooking. Recent posts include a review of food at the Kvelsdro Hotel in Lerwick and some inside information on that celebrated species, the haggis.