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Arts / Mural designs picked for Lerwick public art project

Gavin Renshaw's designs.

THE WINNING mural designs for a Lerwick public art project have been revealed following a vote.

More than 640 people took part in the online vote for the the LOCUS art trail, picking their favourites for two different sites in the centre of town.

The two winning designs, by Gavin Renshaw and Cobolt Collective, will be painted in July or August.

Renshaw’s work will be painted on two adjacent walls on Commercial Street, on the side wall of Bayes and the side wall of No.88, down Peterson’s Closs.

“I wanted to keep my design quite playful in response to the brief yet still have a deeper undercurrent of meaning hidden within the two walls,” he said.

“The concept behind the work was to look at the intrinsic relationship and historical connection that Shetland has between land and sea in regard to not only livelihood and travel but in the spiritual and primal sense of ancient and future culture.

“Objects which are in essence simple things but which hold great value in explaining that dependence upon land/sea and that interconnectivity between the two. I was instantly drawn to the Yoal, a cultural icon of the island.

“The standing stone looks out to sea, a beacon, an ancestor, a way marker? The Yoal looks for the stone, a reference to land. They are floating amongst two worlds, a way of navigating between them both, anchored to one, released to the other.  

“In this way, maritime themes juxtapose ancient land structures, the proximity of which, allows a mimicry to occur and shapes are echoed between the two walls in a dialogue of colour.” 

The mural by Cobolt Collective – four Glasgow-based female artists – will be painted on the Shetland Property Lets/Dowry wall on the Esplanade street-level, adjacent to the Peerie Shop & Café.

Cobolt Collective’s design.

Their work takes the sea as its subject, connecting local references and narratives, making a strong visual link between the busy street and Bressay Sound.

The group said: “We began the design process by speaking to as many islanders as possible in order to gain a better understanding of what life on the island is like and how this could link to the theme of ‘Where we were, where we are, and where we’re going’. It is these conversations that have influenced our design for the mural. 

“A consistent visual that recurred in our conversations was the sea and its deep-rooted ties to Shetlandic culture. The island has changed dramatically over the years, yet the sea has remained a constant. At the same time, the sea has been, and continues to be, an integral part of the island’s identity and growth.”

The collective picked a line from a poem by Shetland born poet Christine De Luca for the artwork.

“Overall, we believe that this design captures the independent spirit of the community, celebrates Shetland’s rich heritage and traditions, looks towards a bright future for the community, and injects more colour and positivity onto the Street,” they said.

Jane Matthews of Shetland Arts said: “We’re so pleased to have had such positive engagement from the community over the voting process, thank you to everyone that took the time to have their say. I’m delighted that the two chosen designs will add to the LOCUS art trail – an open-air art gallery for all.”