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Arts / Local artist Haswell and Gaada collaborate on new commission for V&A Dundee

THE V&A Museum Dundee has officially launched three new commissioned artwork editions by Shetland artist Struan Haswell in collaboration with the Gaada workshop, writes Erin Rizzato Devlin.

Haswell is a volunteer zoo-keeper, visual artist and member of the Toogs Artist Workshop, a neurodiverse creative community operated by Gaada. His deep passion for wildlife and the natural world, in fact, are fundamental elements in his creative work.

Struan Haswell.

The artwork was commissioned by the V&A Dundee and was created through a collaboration between Haswell and the artist-led workshop in Burra, as a contribution to the museum’s showcasing of Scottish talent.

“Gaada is a dialect word for gaps, or holes, in Shetland and we see ourselves as a bridge trying to connect people to opportunities and support their creative development,” said Daniel Clark, director and co-founder of Gaada.

“That’s what this social enterprise is all about: trying to connect people that don’t often get much say or space in the creative and cultural sectors and giving these voices more visibility. And you can’t get more visible than Scotland’s design museum!”

Haswell’s work is characterised by a combination of drawings often inspired by the natural world, paired with humorous and often profound statements written in his own whimsical calligraphy.

The three print editions are based on Haswell’s collection Struan Sayings that he created for his exhibition I will not give up on a list of things I like to stay the same without ending, which took place in 2021 at Toogs Artist Workshop in Burra.

“We have been working together with Struan for about six years through weekly 1-2-1 workshops,” Clark continued.

“This commission has come about through the V&A catching wind of Gaada and taking interest in our work, so we have been working hard over the last year to create this.

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“This has been a hugely important achievement – for the V&A Dundee to recognise the value of the work of neurodivergent artists such as Struan is indicative of the wider cultural sector opening up to different ideas of being in the world and experiencing life.”

The artwork includes a Bewildered hammerhead screen print, as well as two badges titled Too hard to explain and Time for too many words is over.

The Toogs Artist Workshop is part of Gaada, an artist-led social enterprise which provides resources and support for artists in Shetland.

Gaada is part funded by Creative Scotland and the Shetland Charitable Trust.

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