Views from the Scord

Harbour activity

The Far Sagaris, one of the largest ships ever to enter Scalloway, paid a brief visit last Friday.

The bulk and height of the 6,107grt, 78-metre anchor handling tug vessel seemed near to being disproportionately large for the confines of the harbour, as she glided briskly through the approaches.

Her entry was delayed while she waited for more favourable tidal conditions as the lower tide when she arrived in the area presented an unnecessary risk from the shallows in the harbour entrance.

The Far Sagaris was in the area was to retrieve an anchor buoy that had broken free from the Foinaven production platforms’s mooring system. In keeping with the general scale of the episode, the buoy weighed in at 15 tonnes and would have caused a significant risk to shipping.

Petrojarl, the company which provides and maintains the Foinaven moorings, reacted immediately in chartering the vessel to seek, capture and deliver to Scalloway the lost mooring device.

The swift response and costs incurred in chartering a vessel of this type can be seen as a very good reference to the responsibility taken by the company for the moorings they provide.

The Far Sagaris, owned by Farstad Shipping, is a mere three and a half months old and this was only her third charter. She was conveniently available in Aberdeen for the mission.

Meanwhile fish landings were well above average in the last week of the market for 2009.

Monday alone saw around 1,400 boxes sold, in a day with over 3,000 boxes landed locally between the two markets.

The Defiant, Devotion, Keila, Radiant Star, Valhalla, Venturous, Mizpah, Quiet Waters, Fertile, Venture, Alison Kay and Guardian Angell were in during the week, with the last market on Thursday morning.

The total for Scalloway for the week was 3,045 boxes with the Keila, Radiant Star and Mizpah all having landings over 300 boxes on various days, but the highest single landing came from the Alison Kay with 471 boxes on Thursday.

Artistic pioneer

It is a rare privilege to encounter any pioneer in any given field, and it would be true to say that the Booth artists’ residence in Scalloway played host to one over the past three weeks.

Jayne Wallace is a PHD researcher from Newcastle University and her speciality is in the field referred to as “digital jewellery”, a combination of art and craft items and the latest technology.

This combination and the resources that are available to Jayne and the university make for some truly amazing end results and the vision and technical expertise involved is ground-breaking and innovative and very much crosses the barrier between “art for art’s sake” and commercial or beneficial technological development.

The theme she was in Shetland to pursue was that of creating and developing the personalised means to bring people and/or places together that are separated for specific reasons and the local fishing industry provides an immediate example, in that men are forced to separate from their family or loved ones for extended periods by the very nature of their work.

Jayne sourced families willing to participate in the project and has worked with and got to know them over the past three weeks, with a view to creating suitable digital jewellery items for them upon her return to Newcastle.

The easiest way to explain this type of creative project would be to refer to some of the previous work she has done. The majority revolves around identifying or creating items that are evocative or reminiscent, one that exemplifies these ideas was created for a family living in England with origins in Cyprus.

After a similar period of discussion with the family involved to that which she has undergone here, she created an intricately handcrafted flower-shaped ornament, contained in a glass dome. The flower petals were made of stamps that had been carried to Britain on letters from the family grandmother, making them very symbolic and emotive.

The electronic aspect of the item came into play as the technology incorporated into the item and the location meant that if and when it rained on their late grandmother’s garden in Cyprus, the petals of the flower would open on the item in the UK, connecting the family to a place very close to their hearts both directly and emotionally.

This was done without visible wiring, cabling, or any inelegant gadgetry and the end result makes for a memento that connects the family to a place of many memories and brings them together with their distant special place.

Another easily explainable project was that of a pair of identical pendants made for a mother and daughter who were separated by great distance. The pendants were created from items very dear to the owners and whenever one of the pair consciously rubbed their respective amulet, the other will give a tangible flutter to inform the wearer that the person was thinking of them.

Jayne hopes to create appropriate items for the families she has worked with in Shetland to enable them to stay more connected while the men are at sea and distant from their spouses and children.

She says: “Items like these provide so much more than just a connection between people, they provide a conduit to another person, place or experience.”

She is enabled to create these items with the full backing of the top electronic and communications engineers at Newcastle University and the work allows and prompts them to develop new and creative uses for standard or cutting edge technology. Her creative talents and technical knowledge provide them with the challenges to further the development of these technologies.

Another major component of their work is with people who are suffering the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and, with similarly neat technology and artwork, they can provide people with treasured items to keep them in touch with, or reminded of, family and familiar places.

Jayne describes her reception locally and those she has worked with as “very welcoming, I’ve really got to know people and will stay in touch with them”.

The end result of her projects will be brought back to Shetland for an exhibition in May and June next year before being passed on to the families who inspired them.

This exhibition will also feature work from another previous visiting artist, Hazel White, whose work was similarly technology based and also used in helping the elderly to stay in touch with their homes and loved ones.

Both projects were funded in part and enable by Shetland Arts.

Mark Burgess


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