‘Get ’em, young, and train ’em – Exhibitions at the Pier Arts Centre

By Bernie Bell

Someone I used to know, said that was her approach when choosing a partner – and there is something to be said for it, in various areas of life!

I went along to the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness  http://www.pierartscentre.com/  to see three exhibitions featuring young artists, starting about as young as you can get, in Primary School.  The Peedie Pier exhibition presented art-work by Primary and Secondary school pupils – some of Orkney’s youngest artists.  I caught this exhibition nearly on  its last day, as it finished on the 2nd March.  I hadn’t realised that, and am glad that I did catch it – what variety and colour – and promise for the future – remember some of these names, we’ll be seeing more of their work. Here’s a selection – a purely personal selection – not necessarily based on expertise, but on …well, what I liked!

As you enter the room, this piece, in the far corner, catches your attention.  2018 was a year of Remembrance for the First World War, and this piece was produced by P1-7  pupils of St. Andrew’s Primary School, as a collaborative project for Remembrance Day

Primary School Art 1

Sanday School S1 & S2 students, using linocut reduction prints, produced this 2019 Wildlife Calendar, based on the wildlife of the Northern Isles

Primary School Art 2

In ’Geramont’, Sanday P5-7 pupils used photographs, pen & ink and marbling techniques, to produce slightly other-worldly images, which draw the observer, into that world….

Primary School Art 3

And, I love this one – looking at it, with daylight coming through the window, it’s pretty, but, when you take a picture – it gains strength……..

Stained glass windows by P6 students at St. Andrews Primary School, left to right…….Olivia Brown, Jordan Linklater, and Joseph Barnby

Primary School Art 4

I’m afraid that I nearly missed the second of these exhibitions, too – Higher Photography  2017-18, also finished on the 2nd March.  This presents work undertaken by senior pupils at Orkney’s two Secondary schools as part of the SQA Higher Qualifications Programme.  They haven’t been given titles – presumably intentionally?, and so, I’ll give them my own and I hope the young artists, won’t mind!

By Thomas Fish  – I’ll call it….’Shapes, Light, History’

Secondary School Art 1

To me, echoes of the work of  Ian Collins   https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/02/14/not-just-concreteelegance-beauty-and-the-unexpected-in-orkneys-wartime-remains/

Rebecca Drever – ‘Reflections in the Round’ – X 2

And, by Phoebe Taylor, with much appreciation from a fellow admirer of bits of old metal!

I’m sorry these are a bit wonky – it was hard to get the pictures, without catching my shadow in them – I only have a little happy-snaps camera!  You get the idea though, which is, not all that matters, but it’s the beginning of why  the image is produced, isn’t it?

The remaining exhibition, is on until March the 23rd, and the Pier Arts Centre is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.30 am to 5 pm, so, there’s plenty of time to go and see it.

This is called ‘Delineations’, and brings together the work of  Orkney art graduates 2017-2018. Not only from Orkney College, but also from art schools and universities around the country.

Again, I’ll write of the pieces which particularly caught my attention – the majority of which, because they are visually striking and appealing, and also contain some groovy ideas – the kind of concepts which I like to play with.  There is one exception, which I’ll get to, later.

I’ll start with the wonders…………

This is entitled ‘A Sense of Neverending’, and is by Beccy May.  It’s described as being ‘field stone and gold leaf’.  I say….. stone circle – say no more.

I like the shape, within the circle, too.

In the every end room – there is a projection entitled ‘A Quiet Space for Contemplation’. And it is. This is also by Beccy May.  She has circles in her soul – a woman after my own heart………….

Orkney College Art Beccy May 3

Along…maybe…kind of…similar lines ……’Key Stone’  by Norna Sinclair – for me – echoes of Neolithic geometry.  For me, a lot of things have echoes of geometry, Neolithic or otherwise!

Orkney College Art Norna Sinclair 1

I’m not sure what I make of the next piece, which is by Rachel Alexander.  It called ‘The [Personal] Edit’, and, it’s about…let’s say…..shopping, and style.  In the mirror, is reflected …myself….a scruffy old biddy who dislikes shopping – who admires/appreciates style in others, but who can’t be bothered to make the effort, herself.  It caught my attention – it was something to play with, and so, here it is……………..

Orkney College Art Rachel Alexander 1

And now I come to something which absolutely did my head in, and not in a good way. It’s by Cassia Dodman.  It’s a metal square, which tilts and turns, with a small metal car on it.  This makes a tinny ‘whoosh’ sound, as it careers back and forth.  I could hear it, constantly, as I was coming along the corridor, in the room with it, and back through the adjoining room of other pieces of work.  AND IT DID MY HEAD IN!  I just wanted to get away from it.  It’s a good thing, when art stimulates, and not necessarily in a way which we are comfortable with, but this, for me, was just very, very  annoying – the stimulation, was to annoyance, and it interfered with my ability to attend to the other pieces.

I was taking this picture of it

Orkney College Art Cassia Dodman 1

When a man arrived in the room, and stood and looked at it. He said he’d heard it, from right down the corridor, and came to see what it was. I said it did my head in.  He looked at it again, and said “But – what IS it?”  And I answered – “Good question.  It’s a small metal car, on a piece of metal, making a god-awful racket – that’s what it is.  And I don’t want to be rude, but I’m getting away from it.”

Exit, growling smallbear.

I’d given myself plenty of time to see these exhibitions, and, in fact, planned to go back and sit with the space for contemplation again, at the end, to calm me before heading back out into the street, but, time ran away from me, and, before I knew it, the helpful young woman from the reception desk had tracked me down to the top floor, to let me know that it was 5 o’clock , and they were closing!  She said that I could return. Trouble is, I really don’t get into town often, but, you, reader, can, and, once you have found the Quiet Space for Contemplation, you might find yourself returning time and time again, to soothe your soul and step aside from the melee of life, for a time, and to a space.

There something about circles, and they were present here, in stone, in shimmering light, in glowing orbs. What is it about them, that appeals to us, and that we find somehow reassuring and calming?

I’m interested to see young people tuning into this very basic shape, at this time in the Life-cycle of our planet.

As I finished writing this, I had the image of one of Michael Sinclair’s carved wooden balls in my mind –

wooden ball by Michael Sinclair

It’s not in the pier Arts Centre now, but his work has been there, before now. https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/01/07/timelines-of-an-orkney-wood-turner/

And we’ll be seeing work by these young artists there, again, too.

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5 replies »

    • I’ve only just seen your comment – and you might never see mine, as it’s a while ago, now.
      Rude? I was presenting an honest, personal opinion of an exhibition. Isn’t part of the idea of exhibiting, to get people’s responses to your work? This was my response – that’s all. Fact is, my response doesn’t matter at all, in the scheme of things, but it might have drawn people to the exhibition, to see for themselves.
      Equally – you think I’m rude – that’s your response, to my way of being. Fair enough.

  1. I like the idea that I am young! But in fact I’m a rather mature graduate! I’m glad you enjoyed my works.

    I must say I rather enjoyed Cassia’s car whizzing around….funny! Noisy but funny!

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