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Arts / ‘Relevant and resonant’ photography exhibit to open this weekend

Photograph of Diane Arbus around 1968 © Photo: Roz Kelly / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images. Photo credit © The Estate of Diane Arbus

WORK BY one of America’s most influential photographers is being exhibited at the Shetland Museum from tomorrow (Saturday).

Diane Arbus’ photos blurred the lines between documentary photography and fine art. Her work captured a wide variety of people and their lives in the sixties, before she took her own life in 1971.

Her work still strikes a chord with many today, as she photographed marginalised communities with dignity and respect.

Now more than 30 of her photos are coming to Shetland as part of the Artist Rooms collaboration between the Tate and National Galleries of Scotland.

Karen Clubb, Shetland Museum’s exhibitions officer, and Ceri Lewis, curator at Artist Rooms. Photo Ciara Tait

Ceri Lewis is the senior curator for Artist Rooms. She told Shetland News about how the project works:

“Its ethos is that it will tour nationally around the UK and all the collection can be seen at partner venues such as Shetland Museum.

“We’ve been touring in different ways, different models, for sort of 10, 15 years now…the most important thing is access for audiences, so geographic reach.

“Everyone deserves to have that access on your doorstep to international contemporary art.

“They should be free – here at Shetland Museum the exhibition is free and that’s really, really important.”

Karen Clubb, exhibitions officer at the museum, said having Arbus’ work in the isles is a “dream come true”.

“We’re committed here in the museum to develop a varied programme of opportunities,” she said. “We have a fantastic physical space in Da Gadderie, we have a really good team of staff.

“We have to balance our programme, with local, national and international opportunities…to be able to work in partnership with Artist Rooms and Tate and National Galleries of Scotland to develop this particular exhibition is like a dream come true really.

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“I really hope the Shetland community come out and see it.”

Diane Arbus – A young man and his pregnant wife in Washington Square Park, N.Y.C. 1965. Photo: ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland © The Estate of Diane Arbus.

Alongside the exhibition running from 19 August to 12 November, the museum will be hosting workshops and events in relation to Arbus’ work.

“We’ll be doing some highlight tours and some key visits for community and specific interest groups,” said Clubb. “And we’ll be doing some workshops that explore with young folk some of the issues that Diane Arbus unearthed in her process of work.”

Lewis added: “I think there’s some really powerful themes here, about gender, identity, our place in the world, how we see ourselves.

“It’s a great opportunity to be able to think and talk openly about that, and to use art as a vehicle for enabling that.”

The exhibition opens on Saturday (19 August) and entry is free. The museum will announce more information about workshops and events shortly.

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