Saturday 3 May 2014

Entering an Art Competition - Shetland Open

I decided to enter the Shetland Arts Open Competition. In some ways this is odd as I have never classified myself as an artist, but they do have a craft and design section. It is a local competition for those with a connection to Shetland so as a resident I could enter. I was expecting the competition to be fierce as there are a lot of incredibly talented crafters on the Isles and it is open to all abilities. It is also only ran every two years. With all this to consider I wondered a couple of times why I was putting myself through this and the answer was simple - I wanted the challenge. Not of winning or even competing but of making something that I am pleased to put my name to and happy to have hanging on the wall of a gallery I love.

The entries are displayed at Bonhoga which is one of our frequent haunts. It is a converted Mill on the West mainland of Shetland. It has a lovely modern gallery with a wide variety of exhibitions, a charming gift shop and a fantastic cafe with a conservatory that looks out over the burn. The cafe has the best cheese scones and onion chutney as well as being very child friendly. This years competition is celebrating the conversion of Bonhoga 20 years ago and as Bonhoga means 'spiritual home', the theme is 'home'.

I approached the theme in my usual way which was to jot all ideas down for 3 days until something stuck. To stick it has to be true to the theme, I had to be able to visualise it, it had to be a little arty and different and I had to be happy to put my name to it. I find it hard to get the motivation and drive to make something for the sake of making it or to appeal to a lot of people. So I had to design something that I knew at least one person would love and that was a little personal to me. One of the conditions for entering is that the piece has to be offered for sale, but if it does not sell then I know where I am sending it, although if it does sell I may have to use some of the techniques and do another piece!

My ideas ranged from obvious sayings like "home is where the heart is" to movie references - I wanted to stitch red sparkly shoes. I thought about playing on the theme of bringing home the bacon or home sweet home. I spent time thinking about spiritual homes and places that matter. I almost used the stained glass windows in our library as a starting point as I think libraries are where I have always felt at home and the one in Lerwick used to be a Church.

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