Orkney's creative collective
Orkney's MÓTI Collective will launch its first exhibition of 2018 in the Pier Arts Centre in February. We've been finding out more about this unique and talented group of artists.
Orkney has always been a creative place.
From decorated stones and carved figurines uncovered at archaeological excavations, to the works of Stanley Cursiter, Sylvia Wishart and the great George Mackay Brown, generations have been inspired by these islands for thousands of years.
But creating connections between artists has always been a challenge, given the wide geographical spread of the archipelago. That was one of the driving factors behind the creation of MÓTI, a collective of Orkney-based artists, in 2016.
The group, named after a Norse term meaning ‘towards’ and ‘to meet’, now has 17 members from artistic disciplines as wide and varied as their island connections and backgrounds. There are photographers, painters and printmakers, sculpters, sound designers and more. And this eclectic mix of skills and experiences is what has made the collective so dynamic.
“We formed MÓTI to try and bring our diversity of knowledge together and develop a fresh and supportive platform, post-art school,” said Mary Grieve, a founding member of the group. “This environment gives us momentum after graduating, despite being geographically removed from large creative hubs such as the Central Belt or London, and helps bridge the gap between studying and becoming established artists and designers.”
All the members are either from Orkney, have studied at Orkney College UHI or are artists who have moved to the islands. It’s clear that the environment here influences each person in some way.
“The elements of land, sea and seasonal change have an overwhelming impact on my work,” said Louise Barrington, who works from WASPS studios in Stromness to create her intricate pieces of sculpture and conceptual art. “The everyday journeys I take, observing the changing light within the landscape, along with the history and heritage of the islands, are all inspirations for me.”
2018 is set to be the busiest year yet for the MÓTI members. Fresh from the inaugural show in Kirkwall in 2016, the collective will launch its new exhibition in the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness on February 10th. ‘DRAWING ROUTES: Experimentations in the art and act of drawing’ will explore the theory and practice of drawing, featuring work from 12 of the members. The project has given each artist the chance to experiment with the traditional tools and principles of drawing, but also leaving them with the freedom for individual interpretations of style and medium to be explored.
The exhibition is launching the Pier’s programme of events for 2018, Scotland’s Year of Young People, and the MÓTI ethos fits into the work of Centre too. “Supporting young people and emerging artists in Orkney is an important part of our activities, so it’s great to have the opportunity to work with members of the collective,” said Carol Dunbar, the Centre’s Education Officer.
Another exhibition, in Kirkwall’s Old Library, is planned for April, keeping the collective busy. According to member Kristyn Grieve, MÓTI membership has had a major impact on her work. “It has developed a platform for artists just starting out so they can work collaboratively towards events and exhibitions,” she said. “With very little spare time, the drive of MÓTI is invaluable in keeping me creatively active.”
That drive and determination doesn’t appear likely to die down anytime soon. Membership has almost doubled since the launch less than two years ago, and the door is always open to graduates from Orkney College UHI’s fantastic range of art courses, as well as those returning home or moving to the islands.
There are even hopes of spreading the MÓTI message far and wide and setting up a similar structure in other remote and creative places – places likes Orkney, with a busy, positive and supportive artistic community.
“You don’t feel alone as a creative person in Orkney, the islands are very open and encouraging of the arts, there’s a drive behind it here,” said Frances Scott, another founding member.
“Hopefully this drive will continue to support the ever-growing numbers of creative people, young and old, on their creative journeys in the islands - and maybe even further afield, in other remote, beautiful and unique places.”
DRAWING ROUTES is on display from Saturday 10th February until Saturday 10th March 2018 at the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness. Join the artists at an open event on Saturday 10th February between 2pm and 4pm. All welcome.