Between Islands: culture and life in Atlantic Scotland

Between Islands: culture and life in Atlantic Scotland

Rachel Boak [Curator]

A new exhibition showcasing Orkney art and artists as part of the Between Islands project opens on 13 August at Orkney Museum, complementing the crafts display at Kirbuster Museum, which re-opened at the end of July.

The Between Islands project has been devised by Stornoway arts centre An Lanntair with the aim of collectively promoting the heritage and culture of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. This has been undertaken through the development of specific projects encouraging inter-island collaboration and, with financial assistance through the LEADER 2014-2020 regional co-operation scheme, a series of larger-scale initiatives, including musical events, exhibitions and lectures, was to have taken place this summer.

Wishart, Sylvia; Yesnaby; Orkney Islands Council;

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the planned large exhibition at Orkney Museum has been reconfigured as a virtual exhibition which we hope to make available on the Between Islands website ( ), YouTube channel, and on Orkney Islands Council’s museum web pages towards the end of 2020.

The Orkney Between Islands virtual exhibition will explore the inspiration and legacy of islands in the arts, crafts and literature of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles through objects such as books and prints documenting island journeys and scenery, paintings by island artists, portraits of island writers and their publications, and examples of island crafts, from the permanent collections of Orkney Museum, Orkney Library & Archive, Shetland Museum & Archives, and Museum agus Tasglann nan Eilean, with complementary material from museum and archive collections around Scotland.

Portrait of George Mackay Brown by Alexander Moffat, also on display in the Orkney Museum.

The new display at Orkney Museum is intended to act as a ‘taster’ for the virtual exhibition. Featured works include prints of Orkney by William Daniell from A voyage round Great Britain, published between 1815 and 1821; Stanley Cursiter’s 1951 painting of the Hall of Tankerness and oil sketches from 1965 for the carved figures in the St Rognvald Chapel in St Magnus Cathedral; two views of Rackwick by Sylvia Wishart; a 1980 pencil sketch of George Mackay Brown by Alexander Moffat for the large oil portrait also in Orkney Museum’s collection; Nancy Ramsay’s 1948 portrait of poet, Robert Rendall; and three works by lesser-known and anonymous artists which show traditional Orkney crafts.

Wishart, Sylvia; Rackwick, Hoy; Orkney Islands Council;

Oil paintings owned by Orkney Islands Council are available to view on the Art UK website where works by artists such as Stanley Cursiter and Sylvia Wishart in other collections can also be explored.

Information on visiting Orkney Museum can be found at

More information on the Between Islands project can be found at: Website


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