Culture

Christmas Spotting – In Stromness!

By Bernie Bell

First, to Julia’s Bistro for lunch – and a seasonal, festive arrangement in the window between the main café and the sit-ootery.

Julias Cafe Stromness Christmas B Bell

The food is good too!

From Julia’s, I headed up the street, and started Christmas Spotting at the Red Cross shop, with its message of kindness…

Red Cross Stromness Christmas B Bell

And lots of Christmas jumpers!!!

Across the street, to ‘Tams’ bookshop.  We are very fortunate in Orkney, to have an independent bookshop – they are becoming a rare breed.  Please, folks, order your  Christmas books from your nearest indie bookshop and help to keep the high streets alive!

Stromness book shop Christmas B Bell

Down the street, to the Bayleaf delicatessen, with a more ’chilled’ window display…..

Stromness delicatessen Christmas B Bell

……and  the Pussy Cat shop (aka Cats Protection), and a very colourful, seasonal display!

Cats Protection Stromness Christmas B Bell

Then – the main reason for my visit to Stromness at this time of year – the Pier Arts Centre Christmas Exhibition, where I started at the very top of the building, with flying boats by Sheena Graham George

Piers Arts Centre Christmas B Bell

I do like her work – it’s always gentle, and takes you to gentle places – much needed in these times.  Flying boats to carry you away…….

Next floor down, and I encountered ‘Lorelei’ by Anna Charlotta Gardiner

Some Orkney News readers might remember Lorelei from an exhibition in  Northlight gallery during the summer….   https://theorkneynews.scot/2019/08/19/real-magic-at-northlight/

The piece by Nonnie Dingwall, is labelled ‘Coral Bowl’…..

Piers Arts Centre Stromness Christmas B Bell

…..though it’s made of glass, and, to me, is people, circle dancing.  A thing of beauty – light and shadows.  In the background, in this picture, you can just about see Wendy Barker’s  ‘Between the Piers Transformed ’ One and Two – which, somehow, for some reason, I felt fitted well with ‘Coral Bowl.’

A piece of art-work – each of us sees it, as we see it.

‘Between the Piers Transformed – One’ – unwittingly, I caught the reflection of the wooden bench in this picture – wooden pier, wooden bench – and me in between – reflecting.

Pier  Arts Centre Stromness Christmas B Bell

The Pier Arts Centre Christmas Exhibition is always varied, and the next piece which caught my eye, reminded me of my youth and the days of psychedelia and ‘Flower Power’.  Entitled ‘Paper Lady One’ and Paper Lady Two’, by Jacqueline Foulis

Pier Arts Stromness Christmas B Bell

A time when many people believed that Peace & Love were a possibility in the world – hold on to that thought.

And then to the ground floor, and two carved stones by Ros Bryant, named  ‘Boulder Stone Red’ and ‘Boulder Stone Black’

I say ‘carved’, maybe I should say…..shaped, smoothed.  Carved seems too harsh a word for these flowing, curving shapes.

Robin Palmer has just one piece in the exhibition – ‘Droplet’ – a droplet, doing what droplets do – sending out ripples.

Pier Arts Centre Stromness Christmas B Bell

It has a crackle glaze, which I mistook for runes – my bad eyesight! – but, I like the idea.

We have a rippley piece by Robin Palmer, at home.  It’s meant to be a tea-light holder, but I put a shell in it instead – I’ll explain –

My oldest friend, Philip, lives in Japan, near Itoshima beach.  My husband Mike, works for ICIT in Stromness.  As part of his work with fisheries, he went to Japan, and, while there, visited Philip and family, and went to the beach near their house. He brought home some shells from that beach. Most of them are scattered in the gravel around our house, but I kept one aside, as I thought it was interesting and unusual.

Fast forward to now.  Someone we know, gave us a ceramic tea-light holder. This was made locally by Robin Palmer www.robinpalmerceramics.com , and was inspired by the ripples in the sand on Aikerness Beach. Aikerness Beach is just up the road from where we live – we stayed near there on our first holiday to Orkney, and it’s still one of our favourite walks.  Also – I have a liking for ripple-rock – when the ripples in the sand of a lake or ocean, become set in stone.

So, this little tea-light holder, holds associations for us.  It’s not smooth ceramic – it has a rough, ‘sandy’ surface.

It’s a good thing.

We have more tea-light holders than we’ll ever need, and I thought this piece of ceramic would look better holding – something – a shape of some kind – maybe a shell? Then I remembered the shell from  Itoshima, put it in the tea-light holder, and ….there you go!

tea light holder B Bell

A sandy ceramic piece, with the waves of Aikerness Beach, holding an odd little shell from Itoshima beach near the  house of my oldest friend.

This pleases me – the shapes and the associations.

And, finally, Michael Sinclair’s ‘Howar Cauldron’. Presumably referencing the Knap O’ Howar on papa Westray https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knap_of_Howar

Pier Arts Centre Stromness Christmas B Bell

As always with Michal Sinclair’s work – there is so much thought, so much work, so much detail – detail in the wood itself, and in Michael’s embellishments. An absolute beast of a piece – in the best way possible!  https://michael-sinclair-woodturner.co.uk/

And, as always with the Pier Arts Centre Christmas Exhibition, I came away with a mild case of sensory over-load, and needed to sit down and have a drink of water.  There is so much there, of such variety, and all by people who live here, on Orkney.  All that vision, inspiration and ability to express the vision and inspiration, is from and of Orkney. What a place to live!

The Pier Arts Centre is open 10.30 am to 5 pm Tuesday to Saturday. https://www.pierartscentre.com/

All pieces in the Christmas Exhibition are for sale – a possibility for some truly unique and individual Christmas gifts?

1 reply »

  1. The Amazing Mr Sinclair, emailed me to say………..

    “In this case it is actually Howar in Sanday, in the south end of the island near Poole. It was my grandparent’s place and where my mother was born. We named our house after it too. Nice mace head finds in that area of the island too. It is nice to have the connection with the island and also the Papay connection. ”

    All part of the story…..