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Arts / ‘Surreal experience’: Vivian relishes chance to create piece for the Queen of Denmark

She first worked in Hantsholm two years ago

Vivian Ross-Smith’s artwork being presented to the Queen of Denmark.

AN ARTWORK from one of Shetland’s leading visual artists was presented as a gift to the Queen of Denmark earlier this week.

Vivian Ross-Smith, originally from Fair Isle and now living in Lerwick, was recently commissioned by the Hanstholm Harbour Trust to make a piece for royalty.

On Monday an extension to the harbour was officially opened and the artwork was given to Queen Margaret II as part of the celebrations.

“I was honoured to be asked to create this artwork for the Danish Queen,” Vivian said this week. “It has been a surreal experience and wonderful to further strengthen my links with the Hanstholm community.”

Vivian Ross Smith with the finished piece.

Vivian first worked at Hanstholm, a small town of around 2,000 people in the north of Denmark, in 2019 after being invited to stay at the North Atlantic Lighthouse as an artist in residence by the Hanstholm Art Space.

She created an exhibition of fish skin and bronze artworks for display in their gallery, and also ran a series of fish skin preserving workshops for the local community

In June this year she was asked to make an artwork using fish skin from Hanstholm. While she was invited to return to Denmark to create the work, due to Covid-19 restrictions she decided it would be safer to make it in Shetland.

Network, a piece from Vivian's 2019 Hanstholm exhibition.
Network, a piece from Vivian’s 2019 Hanstholm exhibition.

“Luckily, during my previous stay in Hanstholm, I visited the harbour and fish markets several times to gather skins to preserve and still had many of these skins in my studio,” she said, “meaning I could use the material that originated from that site in Denmark but could make it from my studio in Shetland and post it out to them.”

The curator of Hanstholm Art Space, Signe Højmark, said they had been “delighted” to collaborate with Vivian in 2019 and now to receive a “beautiful original piece of arts, with roots in both Shetland and Hanstholm, for the Danish Queen”.

“At the inauguration of the new harbour extension [on Monday], Queen Margaret II was presented to the art piece by the harbour director of the port of Hantsholm, Nils Skeby,” Højmark said.

“He explained the origin of the piece, and the Queen looked with keen interest and delight at the work. Vivian Ross-Smith is part of the Hanstholm Art Space programme at the North Atlantic Lighthouse in Hanstholm, a project that is growing and becoming increasingly part of the local society.”

Earlier this year Vivian created Islands in the Gallery, a series of three performances where she displayed wearable paintings in remote landscapes around Shetland, as part of Shetland Arts’ Refresh Now initiative in response to Covid-19.