There is so much to inspire the senses in Orkney which is why so many artists are drawn to the islands and so many native and adopted Orcadians create works of art.
The clear northern light which constantly shifts and changes offers a beautiful challenge to artistic people and some never give up trying to capture the skyscape above. Others are inspired by the sea crashing against the cliffs at Yesnaby, the crazily angled gables and narrow streets of Stromness, the mystical splendour of Orkney’s Neolithic monuments or the flowers and birds that make the county a natural wonder too.
High quality art is everywhere on the islands and there are many galleries, open studios and shops where you can buy a work of art depicting Orkney in some shape or form, or just the sense of the place. Visiting the artist is an opportunity to find out about the work’s inspiration and lead to a better appreciation. All kinds of media and art forms are explored here from large oils to small watercolours to landscapes woven in wool or felt to sculptures in wood, metal, ceramics or glass. Fine art cards and prints can be found here if splashing out on an original work of art is not what you want to do. Watch out for special exhibitions; there is almost certain to be one or several shows open. They may feature local artists, visiting names or a mixture of the two. There is often an artist-in-residence at the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness. Artists will also take commissions if you have a special project in mind. Art courses are available, for a term, a holiday or a one-off workshop, specialising in many media from paint to textiles. And Orkney College runs courses too.
Not all the art in Orkney has a local theme. The Pier Arts Centre’s remarkable display of 20th century art features leading lights of their day in British art, including Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, more associated with St Ives in Cornwall. Touring art shows visiting Orkney feature works for sale and the centre has a large range of art and art books in its shop.