Yell peat banks inspire artist Carrington

A Social Life of Peat is the latest exhibition at the Gadderie in Shetland Museum – of ethnographic drawing from Australian artist Berenice Carrington.

This is the third Shetland exhibition since 2015 from Carrington, who now lives in Yell. It focuses on the local ways of life in relation to the significant reserves of peat in that island.

An example of Bernice Carrington’s work in the latest exhibition.

Carrington said: “Peat in Yell has a cultural force that can be traced as it moves down from the hill to integrate into the lives and customs of the population.”

The artworks comprise mainly charcoal drawings, some impressionistic, others large and highly detailed, depicting the diversity of influence which peat has on local contemporary culture. Childhood, stoves and what is buried in the peat are some of the themes explored.

Having previously worked for over 15 years with Aboriginal communities in the Australian outback, Carrington is bringing that ethnographic experience into her current works.

The watercolour Hair watch chain and myosotis from her exhibition at Burravoe in Yell, won joint first prize in the 2016 Canberra M16 drawing competition.

She said: “Peat is all around you all the time in Yell, but to make it into a fuel you have to transform it. This is not the same as gathering wood or burning coal. The well-maintained peat banks of someone who knows their way are elegant, with a human – not a mechanical scale – that is as intriguing as it is delightful in its simplicity.”

The exhibition also includes work by local Yell artists Cilla Robertson and Elaine Thomason, two participants from a series of related workshops that took place in 2017. Shetland Arts and the Shetland Museum and Archives were sponsors of the workshops.

The exhibition opens on Saturday at 2pm and runs until Sunday 5th August.


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