Arts / New exhibition looks at traditions which some may view as ‘non-politically correct’

A NEW online exhibition has been launched by Shetland Museum and Archives which touches on three customs “now viewed rather emotively” – hunting seabirds and eggs, whaling and harvesting peat.

The exhibition, called Fair Game, is part of the Between Islands project which brings together the culture of Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles.

Islanders were renowned for risking their lives on the cliffs to collect seabirds and their eggs. This group in Orkney used the same kind of net that Shetlanders did, and the Faroese still do.

Museums in the three island groups have created their own exhibition inspired by each other’s history and collections.

Shetland museum curator Ian Tait said: “I am delighted to see the final instalment of this project which connects historical culture between the three islands go live.


“Originally it was intended to be a physical exhibition with items from each island loaned to the other. However, due to the pandemic each partnering museum has had to adapt so that the information can be shared virtually.

“The result is an online show which is presented through a fantastic new website. It explores three customs, which are now viewed rather emotively – fowling, whaling and peat cutting.

“We have looked at processes or traditions that are now seen as ‘non-politically correct’ and take a non-judgemental, factual approach to them, exploring how islanders traditionally used these resources, why they abandoned traditions and question what’s to stop their return in the future?

“The website looks at each of these topics in sequence and brings the material to life through a combination of archive images, maps, paintings, literature, re-enactments, audio footage and new films.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


“One example is a film on fowling, which shows how islanders used to risk their lives to feed the family, portraying the terrifying peril of hunting seabirds and gathering their eggs in the cliffs of Shetland, Orkney and Hebrides.”

Museum nan Eilean in the Hebrides focuses on unexpected aspects of island culture in their Tales of the Unexpected exhibition, highlighting some misconceptions about life on the island groups, looking at designers, living traditions, and industry.

The Shetland content includes mining, poultry farming, and guising.

Orkney Museum’s Orkney: Between Islands explores the inspiration and legacy of the islands in arts, crafts and literature, which includes a detailed look at Shetland carpentry, Fair Isle knitting, and the work of author/photographer Jack Peterson.

The Shetland Exhibition can be viewed here.
The complete Between Islands project can be found online.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.