Alex Boak - People who touch wool

Alex Boak - People who touch wool

Saturday, September 2nd 2017 - Sunday, October 1st 2017

It was during photography for the book Shetland Works (published 2015 by Shetland Times) which chronicled the diverse work types of modern island life, that Alex began to appreciate the extent to which the traditional resource of wool is woven into the very fabric of Shetland. This will be no surprise to those crofters and ‘makkers’ with hands-on knowledge of working with wool, but to Alex, a ‘Scottie’ whose only experience was wearing hand-knitted pullovers, this newly acquired awareness was to provide an insight into the past and inspiration to record the present.

Alex set out on this project with no specific agenda other than to take photos of the people, processes, places and products across the wool-related industry from traditional crofters and knitters to the larger businesses and creative independent designers. He has many images from this photographic odyssey (including not a few camera-shy sheep) however it is the people and their relationship with wool this exhibition concentrates on – the only exception being a poignant image of an old neglected knitting machine mouldering away in a derelict building, entitled “There was ane in every hoose.”

The result as Alex says, may not be works of art individually, but collectively he would like to think it gives a good picture of the cultural, social and economic importance of wool. While acknowledging the difficulties and sheer hard work behind the industry the photographs dispel the anachronism that wool is of another time, and demonstrate the enthusiasm, activity and potential of the people, who in one way or another, come into contact with wool in Shetland today.

Carol Christiansen, Textile Curator at Shetland Museum and Archives said: “The Shetland Wool Week Committee is delighted that this exhibition will also include being shown in the HUB this year, giving our many visitors the opportunity to take in Alex’s photographic story of those involved with wool in Shetland.”