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Edges and Extremes:
Shetland & Cornwall

People, place, industry

Edges and Extremes is a collaborative arts project which I undertook with Scottish poet Evlynn Sharp. Commencing in 2012 this long term collaboration took us to Scalloway in Shetland and West Penwith in Cornwall at the very edges of the British Isles.

Shetland Photo of Shetland by Evlynn Sharp
CornwallPhoto of Cornwall by Sally Booth

Residencies and making the work

During two month-long residencies at The Booth In Scalloway in 2012 and Geevor Tin Mine Museum in 2013/14 we worked closely with local people to explore traditions and work practices past and present in both locations. This included Davie Robertson's speed of fish filleting, the artistry of elderly Shetland makkers (knitters) Annie Henry and Emma Isbister, and the knowledge and skills of former miners and staff at Geevor Tin Mine.

The Booth Studio in ScallowayThe Booth Studio in Scalloway, Shetland
Concertina sketchbookConcertina sketch book The Scrap Pile or “heritage materials inappropriately placed” - Sepia ink on paper by Sally Booth
Sally drawing at Geevor Tin MineSally drawing in the scrap pile at Geevor Tin Mine – Photos by Evlynn Sharp

The work we developed together on the themes of people, place and industry reflected the distinctive patterns, landscapes and rhythms that we experienced and the people we met.
Over the course of the this very intensive project we have met fishermen, artists, knitters, ex light-housemen, chemists, musicians and ex miners, many of whom have now become long lasting friends as a result.

Slide show of photographs and artworks With music, poetry readings, text and still images
Running time: c. 25 minutes.

Exhibitions

Over the course of the project we showed our work in both Scotland and England. After an informal open studio event at the Booth in Shetland where we first displayed our work in pairings, our first main showcase of Shetland work was at The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and Artistmeet in Herts.

At the Scottish ParliamentEvlynn Sharp, Margaret Scollay and MSP Tavish Scott at the Scottish Parliament – Photo by Kevin Harrison

Mary Blance (Shetland ForWirds - promoting and celebrating the Shetland dialect) said “It's a welcome aspect of the project to see the emphasis placed on working lives. Knitting, fishing and fish processing have been vital to survival here for centuries and the writing and the pictures bring the skills, ancient and modern, to life on the page. You can almost sense the speed-sketching demanded from Sally.”

We were very excited to be invited to exhibit the full project at Tate Modern's McAulay Gallery in London in 2014. We worked closely with Marcus Dickey Horley, Curator of Access and Special Projects to curate the show and incorporate access as creatively as possible. This included a specially commissioned handling collection, a low hang, a large projection slide show of images and poetry, talks and workshops. The exhibition commenced with a live performance event in the Turbine Hall with special guests Shetland fiddler, Margaret Scollay and Cornish melodeon player, Marc Cragg.

Performance at Turbine Hall, Tate ModernEdges and Extremes performance in Turbine Hall Tate Modern 21.03.14 - Photo by Helen Graham
Harry drawing projection at Tate ModernHarry Williamson line drawing by Sally Booth with poem by Evlynn Sharp - Children watching large projection at Tate – photo by Jane Fradgley
KnittingKnitting by Emma Isbister with Geevor hard hats.  Part of the handling collection at Tate Modern Edges and Extremes exhibition - Photo by Helen Graham

Marcus Dickey Horley, Curator of Access and Special Projects at Tate remarks: “Sally's drawings and paintings have an immediacy of line and colour that can only have come from her first hand experience of live observation of extreme locations and ways of working with the sea. Evlynn's original poems and CD recording reflect the spirit of a distinctive community around Geevor and the West Penwith area of Cornwall”.

Due to the success of the Tate show we were subsequently invited to return to Geevor Tin Mine Museum where we exhibited 2014/15 and ran art and writing workshops with the learning team in the gallery, across the site and in the local community.

Installatio at Geevor Tin MineGeevor Tin Mine Exhibition Installation. Photo by Pat Comber
BookletsTwo publications of images and poetry with CD recording are available on request. Please contact the artist.

Acknowledgments

This project exploring remote landscapes is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and Creative Scotland. The artists are also grateful for support from Tate, Scottish Parliament, Shape, BBC Radio Shetland, BBC Radio Cornwall, Artlink Central, Geevor Tin Mine Museum, Juliet Gomperts Trust, Loganair, Shetland Arts, Earnscliffe – Making Access Work, Zinc White, Steve Mannix, Pen to Paper (Brighton), Copydog (Brighton), K and K Stationers (London), Grenfells Cottage, Skinner’s Brewery, Woking Print (Surrey), Margaret Scollay, Marc Cragg, Pendeen Silver Band, Stephanie Webber, Clint Hosking, David Wright and Bill Lakin.

The artists particularly wish to acknowledge the kind contribution of the Scalloway and Pendeen communities, and the staff at Tate, Scottish Parliament and Geevor Tin Mine Museum, all of whom give their support in so many ways.

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