Reviews / A show to savour

Wendy Shaw’s hand finished knitted pieces testify to a love of geometric pattern and the influence of the Bauhaus - Photo: Austin Taylor Photography

Seeing the culmination of months or even years of work can be satisfying and overwhelming, and sometimes disheartening. However an exhibition of work by five students of Shetland College definitely belonged in the former category, writes Peter Davis.

The five, all graduates of the BA Contemporary Textiles course, are viewed as top of their field hence the Five Star Exhibition of the title. This is really a show to savour and one which provides insights into the creative process as well as being able to review the students’ progress. This is something I found easier having reviewed their work at the college over the last few years.


Monica Pothecary has built up a huge body of work based on some memorable automobile icons such as the Morris Minor, Austin Mini, and the Citroen 2CV. These she turns, through repeating pattern, into commercial applications such as gift wrap, fashion items, greetings cards and fabric. I loved the 2CV dress, very chic and very French, set off with a broad leather belt. And Monica has number of snazzy fashion prints highlighting her unusual fabric designs.


Amy Gair acknowledges the influence of 1950 and 60’s’s textile designers such as Serbian-born but Scottish-based Bernat Klein, particularly in her choice of colours. Her complex structures and warps are facilitated by a computerised weaving program. There are lovely examples of her fabric designs with their subtle colours complete with thread swatches to set them off. Amy has presented a beautiful example of an off the shoulder dress highlighting her quite individual approach together with a number of classy fashion shot photos.


Another student fascinated by past times is Ella Gordon, but here the nostalgia is through the memory of colour and shape. And it is the colours and shapes associated with the 50’s through to the 70’s which influence Ella’s designs. Greens, browns, blues and oranges predominate but these can also be found locally in the Shetland landscape so the nostalgia is two-pronged. Examples of photo-collage support this as do the imagery within her drawing and printing.

Wendy Shaw’s hand finished knitted pieces testify to a love of geometric pattern and the influence of the Bauhaus and the Italian-based Memphis Group of the 1980’s. The colours here are harmonious, the patterns simple and repeating and very much within a contemporary idiom, not out of place in any high-end interior design shop. And as such Wendy’s work fits perfectly with its professional finish and well-structured approach to what people will buy and use in a contemporary setting.

Standing slightly outwith the above work and on its own physically, being shown in the old Museum Gallery is the work of Diane Garrick. That however is not to denigrate it; quite the contrary, because Diane is probably the most outside-of-the-box artist-designer in this show.


Her work has always been driven more by a conceptual approach and in this case through the medium of knitting and stitching large forms and presenting them as an installation. Here Diane brings together a love of walking, love of both visual and auditory sensation, the Shetland landscape as textile maps, plotting walks through the backbone of the Mainland from south to north. These beautiful, calm images, the contours of the land and its soothing sounds rounds off what was for me a very fine show of five very talented people.

The Five Star Exhibition at Old Library Centre, Hillhead, Lerwick, closed on Friday 15 June.

Please read also: Textile talent lures professorship north