I have been spending my summer on the far northern island of Shetland – Yell.
A 40 minute drive, 20 minute inter island ferry and then a further 15 minute journey away from my house in Lerwick, I have been driving up and down the A970 three or four times a week to work at the Center for Creative Industries there.
The Ann Sutton Foundation based in Sellafirth which is run as part of Global Yell and the Center for Creative Industries by Andy Ross, is the only organisation of its type on Shetland. (http://www.globalyell.org/)
I have been working on the Stay and Make program, which was set up for graduates to come and use the equipment, to get experience working in a professional environment and to get an idea of working to a brief for a company outwith University.
Having worked at the center for a couple of weeks while I was still studying at Shetland College in 2011, I knew what I was coming too, but at the same time as the Stay and Make program running, there is also a Weaver in Residence based there during the summer months.
This year, Kirsty Leadbetter, from London, who graduated from Chelsea School of Art last year has been working along side me, designing fabrics for interiors. (http://shuttletoshetland.wordpress.com/)
Being a Shetlander, and living away from the Island for the past year, I have come to realise just how important it is as a young local and designer that we need to promote our Island and its heritage, especially the strong textile heritage which we have.
Weaving in Shetland, which to me is equally as important as the knitting heritage, seems to have been forgotten slightly over the years and I did some research into the past weaving industry while I was home in Easter.
I spent 2 days at the Museum Archives looking through old samples from ‘Adies of Voe’ 1920’s – 1960’s collection. I was surprised to find out how successful the industry was, and how good the quality of the fabrics were. These fabrics were exported all over the world. These tweeds and woven fabrics inspired my designs which I created for the center and I have tried to create a new contemporary Shetland Tweed.
Below is my moodboard which I used to help me with my designs.
Inspired by my local surroundings and favourite places around the Island, I used the everyday colours along with trends from WGSN in my designs.
It was important for me to use these everyday colours which surround us as I wanted the fabrics to depict Shetland in the way which I, as a local see it.
It is the greys and purples that make the slate steps which we tread down the Lerwick Lanes on, the stone buildings which our houses are made of and the blues and greens of the sea which our Island is surrounded by.
Another important factor which I wanted to include in this project for ASF was to use Shetland wool. After doing research last semester for a written project I found the social responsibility of using local products and materials which are readily available in your local shops really interesting and using our local resource of Shetland wool is something I will definitely continue to use in the future as a designer. (The piece I wrote about this can be found here: https://amygair.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/campaigning-for-the-wool/)
These were some of the pictures from me setting up my first warp, which consisted of three miny samples next to eachother.
The first set of samples which came out were simple in structure yet effective in the portraying the Shetland scene. Working closely with Andy, we stopped and assessed the samples at each stage and discussed the successful ones, and what could be done to develop them on to the next stage of final samples. With help from an outside eye, Rhona Skinner – who owns the Shetland Gallery next to ASF Shetland (http://www.shetlandgallery.com/) we successfully picked a collection of Shetland Tweed’s designed by me which I am currently weaving large lengths of. These are potentially going to be made into interior accessories and details will be posted once they become available.
Here is a look at some of the final designsIf you are in Shetland and fancy coming to see us at the Studio in Yell, you are more than welcome to drop by and see what we have been up to! Andy, Kirsty and I would be glad to see you!