Pierless Arts

We may be  better known for our neolithic world heritage site and great natural beauty – but now Orkney is to get its own taste of the contemporary art scene.

An exhibition devoted to the American video artist Bill Viola is to open at the award winning Pier Arts Centre in Stromness in June, as part of a scheme aimed at spreading contemporary art shows throughout the country.

The works on tour are from the collection of dealer Anthony d’Offay, which was sold to the Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland last year for £26.5m ($36.6m) – a fraction of its £125m valuation.

More than 30 “Artist Rooms” will be created at 18 galleries across the country over the course of the year.

Folking Greats - May 21-24 2009

 How do you follow the 2008 performances by the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra? Simple - Bagpipes.  The House of Edgar Shotts & Dykehead Pipe Band; a Grade 1, world class pipe band are coming to Orkney for a major concert at the Pickaquoy Centre, with mass parades through Stromness on the Saturday morning to wake you all up!

Further headliners include the masters of Shetland Fiddlery, Fiddlers Bid, backed up by the junior all stars, the Shetland Sessions, and some late night Shetland stompers, Fullsceilidh Spellemannslag. Ireland is well represented by top new trad band Beoga, Niall Vallely's concertina led trio Buille, and the best voice in Ireland, Karan Casey. Local acts include award winning Orcadians, The Chair and Jeana Leslie & Siobhan Miller, plus the best of what's going on across the Firth these days.

As if being at Orkney Folk Festival isn't an education itself, there will be one or two things for the kids, including the amazing Kidsamonium featuring 'trumpeting chickens' and kazoos aplenty.

Waves at Skara Brae

Work is about to begin on strengthening the foundations of the sea wall at the Neolithic village of Skara Brae.

Waves have undermined a section of concrete toe on which the protective walling was built and could cause damage if left unrepaired.

Historic Scotland has now started a project which will involve digging two metres down, and inserting a new reinforced concrete toe with steel securing rods to bond the existing toe to the underlying bed rock.

Historic Scotland district architect, Stephen Watt, said: “This is an important piece of work along a 15-metre stretch of wall. The area affected is a bit beyond Skara Brae itself, but it is important because it stops the sea outflanking us".

"MV Pentalina"

A new catamaran ferry built for the route between Caithness and Orkney reached the isles Tuesday 9th December.


The ferry, constructed for Pentland Ferries, and called the “Pentalina,” was built in the Philippines.

On its journey from the Pacific, the ship’s crew took security precautions as it passed through waters that have seen increased pirate activity recently.

Previously the departure of the Pentalina for Scotland was delayed, waiting the arrival of additional equipment. Its crew is reporting that the catamaran has been operating well.

The new ferry will replace an older ship that had been servicing the route between Caithness and Orkney.

The Pentalina has a capacity of 350 passengers, 32-58 cars and nine lorries. It will take 45min to make the crossing between Gills Bay, Caithness and St Margaret’s Hope, Orkney.

Pentland Ferries



Skullspiltter Headache

Alistair Carmichael, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, has tabled a Commons motion calling for a complaint against Orkney Brewery's 8.5 per cent ABV Skull Splitter ale to be rejected.

The 8.5 per cent ABV ale came under fire from the pompous Portman Group last month after a report claimed it "implied violence" - and the drinks watchdog is to meet later in the year to talk about possible action.

In the motion, tabled on Wednesday, Carmichael says he recognises that the name would be inappropriate if it were applied to a low-price high alcohol content drink aimed at young drinkers.

But he adds: "Skull Splitter is not such a drink, but is instead a high quality premium beer, not sold in supermarkets, a past Champion Winter Ale of Britain, which is targeted at, and bought by, discerning drinkers who appreciate its quality and who drink it responsibly."