The Between Islands project has been devised by An Lanntair, its main aim being to collectively promote the heritage and culture of the three Island groups of Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles. This has been undertaken through the development of specific projects which encourage inter island collaboration, and with financial assistance through the LEADER 2014-2020 regional cooperation scheme, a series of larger scale initiatives during 2019/20.

In line with many other initiatives, the Between Islands Project found itself in a position where this year’s planned programme of activities had to be cancelled due to the COVID virus and ensuing lockdown situation.

The project had been working with a range of arts and heritage organisations from throughout the Western and Northern Isles in the creation of a collaborative series of events. Musical performances were planned for both Shetland Folk Festival and Hebridean Celtic Festival in Lewis, with workshops, lectures and museum exhibition launches planned throughout the summer and on each island group.

However, the project was saved by recreating the work in different formats, including the creation of online virtual exhibitions and the replacement of live music events with entirely new commissions.

Ultimately placing these activities online presented their own challenges, but ultimately there is both a tangible legacy to the project and of course that these resources can potentially be accessed by a much wider audience.

To that end there is now a website www.betweenislands.com and a dedicated Between Islands YouTube channel which contains information on the project activities during 2020.

Past Projects

The Year of Young People 2018
This initiative offered university students from the Western and Northern Isles an inter-island placement, giving them the chance to learn in a different – but not unfamiliar – environment, whilst receiving a week of one to one tuition and advice in their chosen field of study. To this end Lewis film students Zoe Macinnes and Kate Macleod travelled to Shetland in June 2018 where they spent a week making a short film about their experiences. Four textile students from Shetland – Rhea Kay, Rebecca Baxter, Helen Laurenson and Megan Smith – then undertook a trip to Lewis the following month, to explore the manufacture, design and marketing success story of the Harris Tweed industry. The work produced by both sets of students was showcased during the Las!/Ignite! festival.

Zoe’s blog on her placement can be seen here  https://www.las-ignite-festival.com/single-post/2018/06/18/From-Lewis-to-Shetland

Between Islands Music Project One
Singer/songwriters Willie Campbell (Western Isles), Arthur Nicolson (Shetland) and Kris Drever (Orkney) were the pioneers of the Between Islands music project, meeting up in Lewis and Shetland in 2014, and collaborating on the production of twelve new songs. The resulting concert then opened the Hebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway in July 2015 and went on to tour to Orkney and Shetland.

Between Islands Short Story Collection
Authors Kevin MacNeil (Western Isles), Alison Miller (Orkney) and Roseanne Watt (Shetland) were commissioned through An Lanntairs Creative Places Award to write a short story each on a Between Islands theme. The resulting book was published in June 2016 and is available from An Lanntair’s shop. (priced £5)

Between Islands Music Project Two
For the second music project, the focus switched to traditional music, with fiddle players Jane Hepburn (Western Isles), Maggie Adamson (Shetland), and Louise Bichan (Orkney) working together to create a concert which celebrated the varying playing styles and tunes of the individual Islands. It premiered as the opening concert for the 2017 Hebridean Celtic Festival, and a review can be found here:  http://www.hebrideswriter.com/2017/07/20/fiddle-traditions-showcase-is-perfect-start-to-hebcelt

Between Islands Music Project Three
This concert took place in July 2018, and featured music which acknowledged the 2018 First World War commemorations, as well as a general programme representing each Island group. Those taking part were Kathleen Macinnes and Linda Macleod, (Western Isles), Jenny Napier (Shetland) and Saltfishforty (Orkney).  The concert then took place at the Orkney Folk Festival in 2019, with Julie Fowlis adding to the line up.

Other Activities
Between Islands short story writer Roseanne Watt produced this wonderful piece of filmpoetry as part of An Lanntair’s Burns Night celebrations in 2016, featuring film of Lewis and Shetland.

Between Islands Book and CD
The Between Islands Book features articles written by museum curators and UHI staff involved in the Between Islands Project lecture series. And the double CD features music from the artist who had originally intended to perform both at the Shetland Folk Festival and the Hebridean Celtic Festival 2020; as well as collaborations by musicians from across Shetland, Orkney, and the Outer Hebrides, including Julie Fowlis, Kris Drever, Willie Campbell, and Saltfishforty.

The Between Islands Project Book (£10) and CD (£15) are available to buy in store and via our online shop.

The Between Islands Book features articles written by museum curators and UHI staff involved in the Between Islands Project lecture series. And the double CD features music from the artist who had originally intended to perform both at the Shetland Folk Festival and the Hebridean Celtic Festival 2020; as well as collaborations by musicians from across Shetland, Orkney, and the Outer Hebrides, including Julie Fowlis, Kris Drever, Willie Campbell, and Saltfishforty.

For more information contact:
Alex Macdonald
Between Islands Project Coordinator
alex@anlanntair.com

Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/betweenislands/
Website – www.betweenislands.com
Twitter – @between_islands
Instagram – betweenislandsscotland
YouTube Between Islands Channel