KGS Students Inspired By Kirkwall ‘Look Up’

Look Up is an exhibition by the first year art students of Kirkwall Grammar School who took the townscape of Kirkwall as their inspiration.

Look Up 3

The project saw 170 students collaborate with two local artists, Rebecca Marr and Frances Pelly, on their work, with support from their art teachers.

Over 600 artworks have been created including photography, chemigrams (a camera less technique using darkroom chemistry) photo montage using images from the Orkney Library & Archive collection, relief clay work, soapstone carvings, printmaking and drawing.

The aim of the project was to create a greater understanding amongst young people about the history and heritage of Kirkwall and how the town developed, encouraging them to ‘look up’ and explore previously unseen architectural features which are above their eye level.

thea.odling Look Up

Thea Odling

Through their observing and recording of the historical architecture and features, the students created images and objects, which showed their awareness and recognition of detail. They also learn new skills and broadened their knowledge of various approaches such as, sculpture, photography, collage, drawing, printing and mixed media collages.

george.wolstenholme Look Up 4

George Wolstenholme

The project also gave the opportunity for students to meet local people who make a living in the fields of heritage, design, architecture and the creative sector and showed them the opportunities that exist in these areas of employment.

Rebecca Marr, one of the artists who assisted with the project said:

“Working with so many young people in the classroom and seeing their responses to new techniques was a stimulating challenge. The photographic skills used were technically demanding and each pupil has produced work worthy of exhibition. Using old photographs from the Orkney Library & Archive allowed the pupils to time travel and I think people will be excited to see the way they have taken the familiar townscape of Kirkwall and interpreted it through different media.’

Nichola Watson, Principal Teacher of Art and Design at Kirkwall Grammar School, said:

“Our S1 pupils took inspiration from Kirkwall’s historic architecture where the theme of ‘Look Up’ was designed to encourage pupils to become more aware of the architectural heritage of Kirkwall. The funding from Kirkwall’s THI allowed us to invite artists, Rebecca Marr and Frances Pelly to the Art department to work alongside staff and pupils.  Architect, Leslie Burgher, also shared his considerable knowledge of Kirkwall’s architecture with the pupils, through a very informative presentation.


Orla Drever

The exhibition showcases a variety of 2D and 3D art works including print, photography skills, clay relief, soapstone carving and collage.

The exhibition runs from 2 March – 16 March in the Old Library exhibition room in Kirkwall.

The Kirkwall Townscape Heritage Initiative is a 5 year heritage-based grant scheme which seeks to deliver sustainable improvements to the built heritage of the Kirkwall Conservation Area, in an effort to regenerate the centre of Kirkwall for the benefit of local communities and businesses, as well as to attract visitors. The scheme has been running since July 2014 and will conclude in June 2019.

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2 replies »

  1. This is a very good idea. If you walk along, and look up, you’ll see all those carvings of dates and initials. Many of them have stories attached, and are of traceable people.
    Some kind of visitor guide, might come from this?

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