By Bernie Bell
I don’t go into Stromness often, or Kirkwall for that matter, but I do like to go to see the Pier Arts Centre Christmas Exhibition. It’s always an interesting mixture of levels of ability , and ways of expressing the artists reaction to what they see around them. So, I went to have a look – and it was worth going into town for!
For me, the star of the show is the Otter.
It’s a beautiful metal sculpture of an Otter, with a small fish. It’s called ’The One That Got Away’, but I don’t think that’s what’s happening! The Otter has got the fish in it’s eye
– it’s swirling round it, in the water, and, any minute, that paw is going to come up and nab the fish. It’s a well-made piece of work, even if you just consider it as a piece of metal-craft, but it’s also, simply, beautiful. The artist has caught the eye of the otter, the movement of the otter, and even the dapples on the skin of the fish.
I walked round and round it, and took picture after picture of it.
Initially, I was taking them to send to Jackie Morris, as one of the ‘Lost Words’ in her book of that name ( with Robert Macfarlane) is….Otter. Unbelievably, the word Otter has been taken out of some dictionaries as being perceived to not be relevant to children’s lives today. Un-believable. Jackie and Robert have written the book, to try to conjure these words back into our lives. The person who produced this piece of sculpture, probably didn’t know about the book – it’s not been published for long, but, in my book, this sculpture helps to re-establish the Otter well and truly in the minds of anyone who sees it. It’s a beauty.
It’s an Otter, but , from some angles, it could be a dragon, which will also please Jackie!
My next favourite, is Chris Gee’s carved stone ball.
This is not a copy of any of the carved stone balls which have been found in Orkney, and also farther afield in Scotland. It’s Chris’ own carving, his own expression. It’s yet to be found from the ancient world – maybe?
I was taking photos of this, when I realised that my images were including Kerrianne Flett’s ‘Moon Jars’,and something happened which meant that the carved ball, and moon jars, were in a pool of light.
And my final favourite, is to do with another sense, as well as sight.
Upstairs, there’s a wooden chest – the kind of chest that folk used to keep their clothes in – a cedar chest. Open the lid of this chest, wait a moment, and then the scent will reach you. It takes you to another place – to the cedar wools, and into the past, when that scent would be use to keep the moth away.
The Christmas Exhibition is on until just before Christmas – it’s worth going into town for!