Art Art

Art in Orkney

There is much to inspire the senses in Orkney. Wild, windswept coastlines, spectacular seascapes, sunrises and sunsets and long, sunny days during the summer all help draw artists to the islands.

The clear and constantly changing northern light offers a beautiful challenge to artistic people and some never give up trying to capture the island skyscape. 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.

High quality art is everywhere on the islands and there are many galleries, open studios and shops where you can buy work that depicts Orkney in some shape or form, or just captures the sense of the place. You can find out more, and even see some of our artists in action, by visiting the Orkney Crafts Association website.

All kinds of media and art forms are explored here, from large oils and small watercolours, to landscapes woven in wool or felt, and to sculptures in wood, metal, ceramics or glass. Fine art cards and prints are an affordable alternative to splashing out on an original work, though there are plenty of those to choose from too. Watch out for special exhibitions - there is almost certain to be a show open somewhere in the islands featuring 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.