Reviews / Vision 18 shows talent and creative flair

Abigail Howard's work Bust of a Child
Make America great again

Vision 18, the current exhibition of creative talent from students of Shetland College offers an eclectic and diverse range of work in art and textiles, writes Alex Purbrick.

This year’s show features the work of two BA (Hons) Contemporary Textile graduates, Rhea Kay and Megan Smith.

Rhea is the only student that has come up the ranks within the Shetland College from studying art through the Vocational Pathways course in S3 at high school to an NC in Art and Design and finally to a degree in Textiles.


Her collection is called Coastal Cool which she has portrayed in beautiful knitted garments that she said were “inspired by the seascape, by walking around the Shetland coast.

“I took my camera wherever I went. I wanted to communicate that light, fresh feel you get when you’re at the coast through my garments. The colours are coastal colours, soothing and airy.”

Sponsored by Jamiesons of Shetland, her garments are made using Shetland wool and are very wearable and functional yet also flattering and unique. She says she likes using “exaggerated shapes, really oversized, slouch silhouettes.


“I was looking at a lot of different Scandinavian designs and was fascinated by the principles of interior design, street style and fashion brands so I tried to incorporate certain elements of that as well.”

Megan Smith explored the changing seasons of Shetland through a series of woven cloths. Each weave reflects the weight of the season; the winter weave was a heavier Shetland Arran wool, lambswool for spring and cotton for summer.

She took inspiration from the colours of the Shetland landscape incorporating the light, sea, sand, flowers, sunsets and snow into her finished woven designs.


She mentioned that her textiles are “influenced by Shetland, whether this be the colours and tones or textural qualities. I am also fascinated by the way people attach meanings to different places and how these locations can impact on our identity.”

As well as textiles there are strong art works on display in Vision 18, most especially from the Secondary 3 and 4 school children on the Vocational Pathways course.

Powerful abstract drawings by Abigail Howard titled Bust of a child and The god of the northern forest show an imaginative, original interpretation of work inspired from studying the surrealist artist Paul Klee.

There are a range of strong drawings and sculptures from the NC Art and Design students as well as thought provoking photography.

Leah Dale’s series of photographs explore the ways in which contemporary adverts in the fashion world glamourise heroin chic, smoking and binge drinking. At first glance her photographs appear beautiful and dazzling, tinged with glitter but closer study reveals the darker side of fashion photography and how alcohol and drugs are portrayed to romanticise image and design.

It is refreshing to see art that challenges and forces us to examine aspects of life that we wouldn’t normally have considered and there are several examples of this from the BA(Hons) Fine Art degree first year students.


Elaine Gilbertson, in a photographic series from the lens-based media module explores the overuse of plastic in the agriculture and aquaculture industries.

Photographs are almost plasticised by being tinged with bright tones over the natural colours of the environment and then displayed in a very imaginative way on top of plastic waste objects from these industries.

Alice Manson Brodie has exhibited three thought provoking drawings covered by white cloth, of the stages of bleeding in women’s menstruation; a publicly taboo subject that she has brilliantly expressed through an intimate study of a monthly ritual in a woman’s life that is veiled over in the ashamed, hushed tones of modern society.

And last but certainly not least the work from the students of the Eric Gray resource centre and the 4 Directions students who are exhibiting their past year’s collection of art.

Worth looking out for is the small lino cut by 4 Directions student, Josh Clark, which depicts American President Donald Trump above a printed verse in Russian which translated reads ‘make America great again’.

A powerful, subversive image printed in bright red that challenges the propaganda of two of the world’s big superpowers.

These are the highlights of Vision 18 but there are many more exhibits that demonstrate a high degree of talent and creative flair and reflect the development of up and coming artists and designers to Shetland’s artistic arena.

Vision 18 is at the Shetland College until the 16 June.