Land of Straw Art Exhibition

Opening today, Berenice Carrington’s exhibition at the Shetland Museum and Archives focuses on the agricultural cycle of growing traditional Shetland aets (oats). Three very large charcoal drawings and eight smaller artworks reveal a world that can be entered when this native crop is cultivated.

Berenice describes Land of Straw as a metaphor which captures something that is invisible most of the time, ‘When you grow oats, you get straw, a natural resource that cries out to be worked with. Shetland aets straw was always the principle component of teckit roofs. It is still the most prized material for basket making, wooden chair upholstery, and traditional costumes. The seed is not purchased on the open market. It is passed from crofter to crofter. All this cultural activity happens within the borders of Shetland, and none of it is commercial. It is an older way of exchanging and sharing’.

The artworks depict the human scale of activities that sustain this type of agriculture. Bulging, heavy pillowcases of seed are delicately drawn in charcoal, as they hang from a ceiling over winter. A mysterious figure walks across a ploughed rig in a cloud of airborne seed. In another drawing the wind tugs at the trawler twine in a man’s hand as he struggles to tie down a coarn skroo. Each image part of a living Shetland landscape.

Yvonne Reynolds, Lifelong Learning Officer said: "We have just christened the corridor area where Berenice is exhibiting Da Briggiestanes. The abundance of natural light in the space makes it super for showing Berenice’s exquisite drawings."

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