Our Creative Scotland Young Persons’ Trainee Issie Tovey talks about her recent trip to Shetland to take part in a Scotart project.
A few weekends ago I was lucky enough to take part in Edinburgh Hogmanay’s ScotArt project in Lerwick, Shetland. ScotArt invites young people from across 14 different regions of Scotland to come up with a symbol to represent their area. The symbols will then be made into wicker sculptures, which will form part of the torchlight procession on the 30th December in Edinburgh as a part of the Hogmanay celebrations.
I first heard about the ScotArt Project a couple of months ago through my current job as a Creative Scotland Young Persons’ Trainee at The Pier. Both the traineeship and the ScotArt project are part of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018. My role as Young Persons’ Programmer involves getting as many young people involved with the gallery’s exhibitions and activities as possible. ScotArt is a great opportunity for young people across Scotland as well as Orkney to take part in creative activity. I think that art is a subject which young people often see as an "add on" or are given the impression that it isn't important, much like how young people aren't taken seriously in many aspects of society today. The ScotArt workshops where open to all young people aged from 8 to 25, who didn’t need to have any artistic experience prior to this. So it was great seeing young people’s confidence grow in the workshops, as they may not necessarily have worked in this type of creative format since they were much younger.
For me, not being from Orkney originally, the ScotArt project was a great way to find out about different groups of young people, who I hadn’t worked with before. I hosted two workshops in Orkney before heading to Shetland. One of these was with Voluntary Action Orkney’s Connect group – they were very enthusiastic about coming up with symbol ideas. I was very impressed by their knowledge of local history, and they came up with ideas such as The Rose of St Magnus. We also had a session with the Centre’s Piergroup with lots of new members who came along and who will hopefully join in again! The workshops helped them discuss ideas for symbols such as a ‘groatie buckie’ and others involving the wind and sea.
The final workshop in Shetland was a great success and it was brilliant to bring the input directly from young people in Orkney. 27 young people came along ranging in age from 8 to 18, which meant there was an interesting variety of ideas for what the symbol could be. We also created wire hearts with a wicker saltire which were spray painted. It was a challenging but good way for everyone to bond and get creative.
Although the main workshop was in Shetland, I wanted to make sure that young people living in Orkney had as much input as possible. Young people in rural communities are often not given as many opportunities to those living in cities. It’s great that ScotArt have recognised this and will hopefully continue involving young people living in Orkney in projects after Scotland’s Year of Young People.