Art’s Cool Exhibition Review by Paul Bloomer

The Gadderie at Shetland Museum and Archives has been transformed into what can only be described as an overwhelming and overflowing sense of joy and the celebration of life.

Local artist Paul Bloomer ​has written a fantatsic review of the 'Art's Cool' exhibition which is currently on display in Da Gadderie.


The exhibition features the work of schoolchildren throughout Shetland and the first impression on walking into the space is of being immersed into a tapestry of uplifting colour.

A variety of artistic techniques are on display from painting, drawing, printmaking, 3D, and digital media and the skill and talent is abundant. One of the premises of the show hangs upon Picasso’s much quoted and important maxim, that ‘every child is an artist’ and this show proves that is true beyond any words can adequately describe. Seeing is believing so to speak, and this show has to be experienced and engaged with to fully appreciate the power of the art here.

The freedom and spontaneity found in much of the work on display is a lesson and reminder of something powerful and elemental in what it means to be fully human. The basic human need to make a mark, to express ourselves in a visual way, to tell a story or to sing a song is a force that cannot be contained, but for many of us as adults at some point in our lives that force has been suppressed in favour of so called ‘serious’ subjects.

Our scientific empirical culture does not on the whole value imagination because it cannot be measured and quantified by provable means. It is the ‘stuff’ of children and as adults we either consciously or subconsciously move out of this realm. This show is like an urgent wake up call, a reminder of that which we could easily lose if we do not value, enable and nurture that creative impulse.

Self-expression is vital to emotional well-being and art can be a powerful voice.
Engagement with physical materials, which we use with our hands, is a powerful respite to our increasingly out of control self and collective saturation in screens and virtual reality.

This exhibition will be of interest to all ages and backgrounds. To the children themselves this is a great chance to see their art in the context of like-minded creatives, in a public art gallery, free from the demands of wider schooling. A chance to stand back and look, to absorb achievements and reflect on what has been made. To adults this show is a reminder and wake up call to salvage and redeem something that many of us have lost, that uncensored, primal joy and need to create.

Embedded in each piece of work is an individual voice each carving out their own language and singing their own visual song. In this space are the future artists, designers, makers and educators, the future creatives that help make us fully human.

A tribute has to be made to the teachers who helped to birth this inspirational art.
It is great that the Gadderie is once again coming back to life under the curatorial direction of Karen Clubb and this show is one of the best. It will take several viewings to properly see all this work and it is not to be missed. Finally, a tribute to all the children that have made this wonderful art, the world is so much richer by your presence.

The exhibition runs until 15 January 2023.

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