Exhibition: Ship of Fools Gallery, Bridge Street, Kirkwall

Mon-Sat 11:00-17:00, Sun 11:00-15:00

An explosion of forms takes over the Ship of Fools – ocean ecosystems in origami and crochet by Neil Banas and Emily Doolittle, paired with paintings by Michelle Campbell, and ocean trash transformed to wearable art by Selena S Kuzman. Orkney artists join in, with work by Bill McArthur, Maiwenn Beadle, Rebecca Marr, Megumi Barrington Uenoyama, Lesley Mackay, Marion Yorston. Work inspired by Orkney tales meets magical ships in bottles from Len Wilson and Fiona Sanderson.

The exhibition, with the sea and its forms running through it, has come about through a collaboration with the Orkney Japan Association. One part, titled An Explosion of Forms, features the ancient Japanese art of paper-folding applied to tiny creatures in the sea.

The Gallery

The new Ship of Fools Gallery is in a building with many associations with the sea – the former home of the shipping agents John Jolly, in Bridge Street, just a minute’s walk from the Kirkwall waterfront. The building dates back to the 1700s. You can read more about the new gallery in a recent report in The Orkney News.

Neil Banas

Modelling plankton with origami, says ecologist Neil Banas, is surprisingly similar to modelling them with scientific computer simulations, in each case into the darkness and deep.

“Scientific approaches and mathematical principles help us gain insight into these unfamiliar worlds and the changes they are undergoing, but even the best tools we have leave as much unseen as they reveal.”

He’s joined by two other Glasgow-based artists who also model plankton – painter Michelle Campbell and composer and crochet artist Emily Doolittle.

Michelle Campbell

Michelle Campbell experiences the world predominantly through colour, and through painting explores memory, dreams and emotions, breaking images down and restructuring them and working in many layers.

Emily Doolittle

Emily Doolittle’s interest in the natural world comes through in her work as a composer, where her deep interest in the music-like aspects of animal songs has led to pieces such as Bowheads, Gannetry, and Reedbird, and also Songs of Seals, based on the Selkie legend. Her first exhibited work as a crochet artist was a sea anemone with an orange-fin anemonefish.

The group will be speaking about their work in a presentation in the Phoenix Cinema on Monday 11 September at 10 am.

Selena S Kuzman

Selena S Kuzman  is a multi-disciplinary artist, ranging from performance/film and installation to exploring the transformative nature of everyday man-made materials, including plastic and discarded textiles. Her work of upcycling follows the processes of the sea in the transformation, creating costumes like the Selkie from the old shapeshifting stories.

Bill McArthur

Bill McArthur, an artist by training, spent 20 years fishing with his own boat, the 40-foot trawler/creeler Girl Shona, working the seas around Orkney, the Hebrides, as far west as Rockall and in the North Sea as far east as the Norwegian Sector. He came back to painting, and painted the waves that he had seen for so long at first hand.

Rebecca Marr

Rebecca Marr grew up in the Highlands overlooking the Beauly Firth, and found in Orkney an ongoing fascination with seaweed which has led to an MLitt on the social history of seaweed in Orkney and to a rich range of darkroom prints on silver gelatin paper. Her favourites range from tangles and dabberlocks to bladderwrack and sea spaghetti.

Megumi Barrington Uenoyama

Megumi Barrington Uenoyama was born in Osaka, Japan. She studied Visual Communication Design in Kyoto Seika University, and Painting at Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. She moved to Orkney in 2017 and is currently working on projects with Soulisquoy Printmakers, Vintage Paper Company and the Pier Arts Centre.

Maiwenn Beadle

Maiwenn Beadle gained an art degree from the University of Northumberland but found her style of painting watercolour painting was not in vogue and turned to the sea, sailing single-handed her own converted lifeboat across the Caribbean and captaining large sailing yachts on Atlantic crossings. She has rounded Cape Horn and taken yachts through the Northwest Passage and continues to paint the sea and its ships.

Lesley Mackay

Lesley Mackay is based in Deerness where she can walk, swim and kayak around the edges of the land and the sea. “As in painting, sea kayaking can be a challenging process,” she says. “Rather than just a means of getting from place to place, paddling a kayak in an environment that pushes you out of your comfort zone is often an end in itself.” Back in the studio she creates mxtures for painting from acrylic, oil pastel, ink and graphite along with materials she gathers on her journeys.

Marion Yorston

Marion Yorston was born in Stromness with early memories of coastal walks and treasures in rock-pools. She grew up in remote parts of Scotland and Canada, and worked in design in Oxford and elsewhere, and her work ranges from sea themes and Arctic light to chlorophyll and DNA as the building blocks of life. A collaboration with Oxford University’s physics department led to an exhibition titled Dark Matter with installations on themes from photons of light to distant galaxies.

Len Wilson & Fiona Sanderson

Len Wilson, a former boat builder and radio engineer, learned the craft of making ships in bottles from his father, who had been a ship’s carpenter in earlier days. Len’s parents were from Graemsay and he grew up in Stromness and will speak in this year’s Science Festival on Stromness in the Days of Sail, along with his cousin, naval architect Dennis Davidson. Fiona Sanderson, whose family origins are in North Ronaldsay where her grandfather was a lightkeeper, is now learning the skills from him, to add to her own richly varied range of work, which varies from photography and film to silversmithing and recreating the old North Ronaldsay rivlins, shoes of sheepskin.

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