Ornithology inspired exhibition to roost in old AHS

AN ACCLAIMED art exhibition by a son and father pairing based around birds is to be hosted at the old Anderson High School in Lerwick early next year.

Natural Selection by Andy Holden and Peter Holden is the culmination of a five-year collaboration between artist Andy and his well-known ornithologist father.

The exhibition, which has received rave reviews in the broadsheets, is hosted by Shetland Arts, which has dubbed it “beautiful and thought-provoking”.

It will take place from 26 January to 10 March.

Birds – and the human fascination with their habits and habitats – are at the heart of the exhibition which includes film, sculpture, photographs and animation. The origin of this commission lies in Peter’s authority in the fields of natural history and ornithology.

Peter worked for the RSPB for 45 years, building the Young Ornithologist Club, which Andy Holden joined as a boy, into the largest wildlife club in the world. He also regularly featured as ‘the bird man’ on BBC’s Blue Peter, and he also was awarded an MBE in 2009.

Shetland Arts exhibition manager Jane Matthews said: “It’s so fantastic to be able to bring work of this calibre to Shetland, and to bring the old school back to life for the duration of the show.

“The setting is perfect for this beautiful and beguiling exhibition that explores characteristics in birdlife that are innate or inherited, from nest building to egg laying, in an exquisite way that both delights and educates in spades.

“It’s a show for young and old alike and we are so grateful for all the support that has enabled us to host it”.

The balcony of the old AHS was itself the setting for an ornithological display – glass cases full of stuffed native birds that kept their beady eyes on generations of school children.

The exhibition is co-commissioned and supported by Artangel, an organisation that produces and presents art in “unexpected” places in London, across the UK and around the world.

With funding from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland the exhibition will tour Shetland, Arbroath and Inverness throughout 2019 following a successful showing at Inverleith House in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

The Shetland stage of the project has received support from The Sullom Voe Association Ltd and Lerwick Community Council, with additional transport support coming from NorthLink Ferries.