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What does being an islander mean to you?

islandness is an ongoing living experiment. An open platform spanning the North Atlantic, this project explores life on two northern islands through the art practices of two islanders: Jane Walker (Newfoundland) and Vivian Ross-Smith (Shetland Islands). In a series of community-based workshops, a community supper meal, and a collaborative exhibition, Walker and Ross-Smith came together to engage in dialogues about art, islandness and contemporary rurality in the Shetland Islands and in Newfoundland. Both artists use traditional processes and adapted materials of northern island culture such as fish skin and rug hooking in their individual practices. Following several weeks of collaboration, experimentation, and community engagement in Newfoundland an exhibition in St. John’s featured new and recent works by Walker and Ross-Smith involving alternative textiles, bronzes, fish skin preservation and project documentation.

islandness explores:

  • Broadening audiences both within and outwith northern island arts communities
  • New gateways of arts engagement that extend beyond the contemporary art community in St. John’s
  • Place-specificity
  • Experiences of ‘islander’ and ‘islandness’ in Newfoundland and in Shetland
  • Familiar textures, processes, and materials within new art contexts

The project is experiential and personal for the artists and the communities involved. Everyday life, rhythms, gathering places and local experiences are central to the project. Whether that is through participation in a workshop, attending a community supper, or taking the time to consider what it means to be an islander in shared conversations.

islandness is currently being reimagined for a new set of programming in Shetland in late 2018.

To keep up to date with the latest in this project please follow us via:

Instagram –  @islandnessart
Twitter – @islandnessart
Website –



Press + Publications

An islandness publication is currently in production by Nothing New Projects and will be available in Spring 2018.

‘islandness: a living experiment’, Eastern Edge Gallery, online.
‘islandness’, Shetland Life Magazine, November 2017, Pg 24-25, Print.
‘islandness’, Visual Arts News. Fall 2017: Pg 45. Print.
‘Experience islandness.’ The Newfoundland Herald. 2017 Issue #37: Pg 31-31. Print.
‘Islandness’ The Island Review, 8 October 2017, online.
‘Newfoundland show explores similar traditions in contrasting communities.’ The Shetland Times. 29 Sept 2017. Page 27. Print.

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