Exhibitions 2017

It’s 50 years since the death of Robert Rendall, Orkney shore naturalist and poet. Two exhibitions in the Orkney Library mark the occasion, with archive letters and photos, and new images of the Orkney shore.

The new pictures come from Orkney Camera Club, looking at aspects of Orkney’s shoreline. Upstairs in the archive department is a display of documents and pictures from the life of a much-loved and multi-talented Orcadian.

His great book Orkney Shore is a masterpiece, with a call of the sea running through the whole book.

“I have looked on other shores and felt their charm and colour. At Pesaro in Italy I have admired the peculiar grey-green of the Adriatic and sauntered along the tide-mark picking up shell after shell. It is a shore that now has my heart. But even there I was haunted by the tumbling seas of Orkney.”

On Saturday 9 September, an evening in the King Street Halls in Kirkwall will bring together speakers of different aspects of the life and work of Robert Rendall. There will be John Flett Brown and Brian Murray who edited his collected poems, marine scientist Jon Side, and Neil Dickson who wrote a biography of Robert Rendall as part of producing an anthology of his writing.

Elsewhere the Orkney Wireless Museum summer exhibition is under way, with wartime radios, including the Wireless Set No. 19 which was designed for use in the back of a lorry or jeep. It has two separate transmitter/receivers, one for short range and one for long range, plus an intercom for use in a tank. There is a suitcase radio that was used by agents and partisans in France and all over Europe. And there is a German U-boat communications receiver and a Morse key from a German plane shot down in Orkney in 1939.

The Museum is joining forces with the Museum of Communication, of Burntisland in Fife, to present a dramatic story of radio communication at the battle of Alamein, 75 years ago. Radio operator Bill Sutherland from Stromness kept up a vital information link from the front line, enabling artillery fire to be targeted to protect the slow infantry advance through a massive minefield. When his batteries ran out, he made an incredible 700-yard dash under fire to get replacements. The story of ‘Big Bill and the Guns of Alamein’ will be told on the evening of Monday 11 September in the Orkney Theatre.

In the Orkney Museum in Tankerness House, there are environment soundscapes created by Marianne Greated of Glasgow School of Art. You can listen through headphones to the varied sounds, and feel the three-dimensional effect of the sound surrounding you in a variety of settings.

Ancient archetypes and modern technology will combine in a display in the window of Age Scotland Orkney in Victoria Street, Kirkwall (the former Croy’s draper’s shop). Beira, Queen of Winter’ is inspired by the Celtic goddess Beira, a winter queen who looked after flocks of sheep amongst other animals. She is clothed in material assembled by the artist Selena Kuzman from vintage-antique reclaimed fabric, embroidery pieces, and 3D-printed flowers. The 3D printing was carried out by the Moray makerspace

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