New arts organisation looks to unlock isles’ creativity

Creativity in full flow at GAADA's first risograph printmaking workshop earlier this month.
Creativity in full flow at a Gaada risograph printmaking workshop in 2018.

A NEW not-for-profit organisation seeking to unlock the “creative potential of our island communities” has begun hosting art projects in Shetland.

GAADA is the brainchild of artists Amy Gear and Daniel Clark and it has kicked things off by hosting riso print workshops at its studio space at the old Burra Isle Methodist Church in the last couple of weeks.


It has also received nearly £10,000 from the CashBack for Creativity Open Fund, which redistributes profits of crime to creative and cultural activities, to undertake a print based project with Disability Shetland.

“This project will provide participants with opportunities to explore printmaking in the supportive and familiar surroundings of the Eric Gray Centre in Lerwick,” Daniel said.

“We are taking a collaborative approach, meaning we will learn as much about making the artwork from the participants, as they will from us. It’s an exciting way to make work with new artists, as you don’t ever know exactly what the end product will look like.”


The idea for GAADA – named after the Gaada Stack in Foula, the birthplace of Amy’s grandfather Andy – originates back to 2015 when the pair started looking into pooling their skills to develop independent art projects in Shetland.

Daniel, who left his role as technical instructor at London’s Royal College of Art in April to relocate to Shetland, said there is “absolutely” a gap in the market for something like GAADA.

Daniel Clark at the GAADA studio space at the old Burra Isle Methodist Church.

“Despite there being some excellent organisations in Shetland, we both felt the number of existing opportunities for young creatives in the isles to be frustratingly low in comparison to elsewhere in the UK,” he said.

“We feel in good company amongst the growing number of social enterprises in Shetland who take it upon themselves to embody the change they want to see in the world.


“We look forward to using our experience to make a positive contribution to the isles.”

GAADA aims to host its public events on a “per-project basis” in locations around Shetland, with accessibility key. The risograph workshops were timed to coincide with the Burra feeder bus, for example.

Amy, meanwhile, is a well-known figure in the local arts scene, and she returned to Shetland a few years ago with a MA in printmaking from the Royal College of Art in tow.

She recently collaborated with 300 schoolchildren for a project in conjunction with Shetland Arts, while the artist will also exhibit work in Aberdeen and Glasgow this year.