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Arts / Fair Isle chairs go on display in museum

DA GADDERIE in the Shetland Museum has reopened with an exhibition on Fair Isle chairs.

The exhibition features three of Eve Eunson’s new handcrafted pieces as well as historic chairs from the museum collection and other items on loan.

Eve surveying one of the Fair Isle strawback chairs.

Eunson was born and raised on her family’s croft in Fair Isle.

In 2018 she came up with the idea to survey the traditional chairs of her native isle.

Following in her great grandfather’s footsteps she then learned the wood and straw working skills to recreate them.

“I wanted to track down and survey all the chairs that I could find, and then make an example of each type,” she said.

“I had no previous woodworking experience, little knowledge of vernacular furniture and hadn’t performed any research since leaving university in 2007.

“What I did have were survey and drawing skills, and a deep love for the heritage of the island that I am from. Two years, hundreds of miles, 70+ surveys, 200+ drawings, thousands of photos and three furniture workshops later – and the project is now complete.”

Shetland Museum and Archives curator Ian Tait said: “We are delighted to be able to open Da Gadderie doors again and showcase the fantastic work of a local worker in wood and straw that is keeping a traditional craft alive.

“Usually we hold exhibitions for artists from the creative community, travelling exhibitions and galleries or displays from our own collection. What makes this particular exhibition different is its collaborative approach.

“We have worked closely with Eve, included pieces from our own collection as well as being involved in the installation, graphic design and overall look of the finished display.”

Museum operator Shetland Amenity Trust provided a grant of around £2,170 to help fund research and training costs as well as pay for the materials required to handcraft the three Fair Isle Chairs.

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Mat Roberts, chief executive of the trust, said: “We felt this is was an important project for the trust to support. There’s a strong legacy element and it’s fantastic to see the continuation of this traditional craft into the next generation.”

The exhibition is running from now until the end of February 2021. Pre-booking is required and can be arranged by contacting Shetland Museum and Archives.

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