News & Events

Newsletter February 2024

(Christmas fair at KGS 2023)

I start this newsletter with a tribute to one of our older members who left our ranks last year. Billy Jolly was a well-known character in Orkney and was a stalwart of the folk scene. He sang and played the moothie (mouth organ), was full of anecdotes and jokes and really lived up to his surname. I am lucky enough to own one of his well-made ‘creepies’ (little stools) which bears a bird motif. I asked him once if these extra adornments were supposed to be seabirds, his reply? “No, it’s a stool pigeon.” We were all saddened to learn of his passing this month, and send our sincere condolences to his family.

Apologies for the lack of news over the past months. It isn’t that we have been sat around doing nothing…….in fact nothing could be further from the truth! It has been the quiet time of year, when craft fairs are over and there is time to check stock, fill gaps and try new ideas.

Orkney Arts and Crafts goes from strength to strength and 2023 was a remarkable year for us. We had a spectacular exhibition and wonderful Easter and Christmas grand fairs held at the Kirkwall Grammar School as well as all the one- and two-day fairs in the Kirkwall Community Centre.

Because of the size of the space at the KGS once we have booked in as many of our members as want to attend, we can then open up the bookings to other artists and crafters. There are various independent makers who can take a stall for the weekend such as bakers and chocolatiers and there is always space for Orkney charities to set up a stall.  At Christmas Santa and his helpers come along and there is usually a cafe manned and womanned by volunteers from organisations such as the Young Farmers. All the attending crafters and artists donate one of their hand-made items for the raffle, the proceeds from which are divided up between the charities.

An aspect of what’s on offer comes in the form of competitions to engage the younger visitors. At Easter there was a ‘Hunt the Eggs’ competition where some of the stall holders had secreted specially decorated eggs. The youngsters had to find as many eggs as they could and then would get an Easter egg prize. At Christmas it was ‘Hunt the Toy Soldier’. Our chairperson, Teenie, did a grand job painting all the soldiers.

The present member list is also filled to capacity again and we have had to open a waiting list. Every year some members leave and new ones join so from year to year there is a change to the beautiful artisan-made items  we can offer. Impossible to name all the new members here are a few: Ceri Biddle, a textile artist using print, dye and stitch; Amanda Upton Art… exquisite watercolour paintings on teabags! Claire Louttit of ‘Scent Candles’ producing such delights as ‘Sea breeze’, ‘Lavender’ and ‘Spiced Saffron’; Alice Rose Jewellery producing innovative designs in silver; Steve Hanson making beautiful wooden items including furniture.

(Ceri Biddle)

(Ceri Biddle)

(Claire Louttit

(Claire Louttit

(Steve Hanson)

(Steve Hanson)

(Amanda Upton Art)

(Amanda Upton Art)

Even folk who have visited us before find it worth visiting our fairs again. Not every member wishes to be added to our website so actually visiting the fairs or exhibition can be the route to finding that special present, souvenir, or just treating yourself.

If you feel in the mood to come and see our huge range of art and craft we have a number of events already scheduled. Our fairs are advertised on Facebook and on posters and notice boards around the town, but the list as it stands at the moment is quite full.

Spring fair at Kirkwall Grammar School Sat. 23rd and Sun. 24th March . Doors open at 10 a.m.

Annual Summer Exhibition:  the Kirkwall Community Centre /Town Hall (opposite the cathedral) Wednesday 12th June to Saturday 27th July inc. 10am -4pm every day except Sundays.

Individual fairs : in the Kirkwall Community Centre /Town Hall (opposite the cathedral)

April 9th – 10th, 22nd

May 3rd, 8th-11th, 15th, 18th-20th, 22nd-23rd, 25th, 28th-29th, 31st

June: 7th

August: 1st-2nd, 6th-7th, 14th, 20th-22nd, 24th, 30th-31st

September: 6th-7th, 10th-12th, 16th, 19th

October 2nd-3rd.

Please check locally for the Kirkwall Community Centre fairs as these dates are not yet ‘firm’.

And remember you can always stay up-to-date via our Facebook page :

Until next time…….

Off to the crafting studio where needle and thread awaits.