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Reviews / Spoilt for choice at this year’s Christmas Craft Fair

Roisin McAtamney of RAM Textiles; inspired by old wallpaper and funky carpets from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Photo: Austin Taylor

SHETLAND has a wealth of talented, unique arts and crafts creators and this weekend many of them will be under one roof selling their creations at the Christmas Craft Fair in the Clickimin Leisure Centre, Lerwick, writes Alex Purbrick.

Organised by Shetland Arts and Crafts, the fair opened on Friday night to queues of people eager to see the dazzling array of handcrafted products from photographers, jewellers, painters and many more.

Treasurer of Shetland Arts and Crafts, Emma Geddes of Aamos Designs: ‘Demand has been high for stalls and this year there are some interesting new exhibitors’. Photo: Austin Taylor

Emma Geddes, treasurer of Shetland Arts and Crafts said: “There are around 100 stalls. Demand has been high for stalls and this year there are some interesting new exhibitors.

“I’ve been here at the craft fair since 2006 and been a committee member since then. There’s nothing like this where folk can get together and communicate and show their stuff and put a face to their work.

“Some people do it for a hobby, others have maybe started making something and want to see what people make of it. One of our committee members said that more people are coming to Shetland to visit the craft fair which is great.

“They’re willing to travel here to come and see the handmade items that are not mass produced and are distinctive.”

There are certainly many exceptional artefacts on show this year, one being the work of Roisin Alexandra McAtamney from R.A.M knitwear who is based in Bressay and is a talented, up and coming designer.

Her knitwear is bold, colourful, and incredibly innovative in that all her work is made from one off colours, because she buys recycled yarn, past season yarn, and donated yarn and utilises it to create retro inspired scarfs, snoods, headbands, shawls, ties and socks.

She explained how she was inspired from “looking at old wallpaper and funky carpets from the 1960s, 70s and 80s”.

“One of my scarfs is inspired by the carpet in the 1980 film The Shining by Stanley Kubrick, which has been very popular with fans of the film,” she said.

Sharon McGeady says she is inspired by the natural colours that she can see from her workshop in North Roe. Photo: Paul Bloomer

There are many textile and knitwear stalls highlighting Shetland’s rich heritage and culture from a range of gifted designers. As Roisin explained: “People still like to feel and see the textures of textile products and knitwear which is the reason craft fairs like this are so popular.”

As well as knitwear there are a few ceramists exhibiting, one of them being Sharon McGeady from North Roe whose beautiful handmade clay buttons, plates, bowls and other gifts are, as she described, “inspired by the outside world, the water, light and the Mirrie Dancers.

“My work is reflective of the natural colours that I see in the view from my workshop, blues, greys and whites. There are no two pieces the same, they are all unique.”

The Shetland landscape is a huge inspiration for many of the exhibitors and whether they express their love of the wild through paint or photography or jewellery, their creations weave a fabric of artistic identity that is a complimentary acknowledgement to the beautiful natural environment.

Tending a fire is Jack Kieran of Kynda. Photo: Paul Bloomer

This is illustrated in Kynda, a young enterprise group of seven 6th year boys from the Anderson High School who wanted to show their love of their home and heritage by entering the Young Enterprise Scheme.

Kynda is an old Norse word that means ‘to tend a fire’ and the boys have produced wooden candle holders all inscribed with iconic images from Shetland like the Mousa broch, the Swan sailing boat, a Viking longship and the Shetland flag.

One of the boys, Jack Kieran explained how “the wood was sourced from offcuts no longer needed by Garriocks who donated it to us, and we’ve taken it to renew and turn into something different.

“The metal moulds for the designs were kindly made free of charge by N-Graved company and we used a hot iron to press the designs onto the wood.  This is the first time we’ve shown our products to the public which will be exciting.”

There are many inspiring first-time exhibitors this year at the craft fair and it would be impossible to list them all but as Cecil Tait, chairman of Shetland Arts and Crafts said, “the talent every year is amazing.

“This feels like a country living fair rather than a peerie craft fair. The quality and diversity of the work is incredible. There’s a huge range of items and also a lot of new faces.”

Shetland Arts and Crafts Association’s Christmas Craft Fair runs from 10am-6pm Saturday and Sunday 11am-5pm at Clickimin Leisure Complex, Lerwick. Admission costs £2 (£1 for concessions)

Cecil Tait – Paparwark and Ronald Mouat at Shetland Arts and Crafts Association’s annual Christmas Craft Fair. Photo: Austin Taylor


Alison Smedley of Good Gub Soap. Photo: Austin Taylor