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Traditional boat exhibition aims to bring life back to Shetland’s beating heart

Boats in Lerwick harbour.

Traditional boats big and small will be on show in Lerwick this summer as part of a festival designed to create a buzz around the town.

Living Lerwick will launch on Saturday, with a packed programme of events lined up – including an an art trail and digital treasure hunt.

At the centre of the fun will be a spectacular collection of traditional Shetland boats.

Fort Charlotte will be home to an exhibition of the boats, all handmade using traditional techniques.

It links with the celebration of of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21, and aims to remind islanders and visitors of the importance of the sea in Shetland life.

The boats range from the early 1900s to 2016 and have all been loaned by their current owners for the event.

Tommy Isbister on his boat, one of many which will be on display. Picture supplied by Living Lerwick.

There’s even a Shetland Boat Journey activity to accompany the exhibit, where visitors make their way through the town centre finding names of hidden boats. Entry forms can be collected from the VisitScotland Information Centre at the Market Cross.

This exhibition may also build excitement for Shetland’s hosting of the Tall Ships in 2023.

A new public art trail, Locus, will also be launched on Saturday, with a map and trail guide created by local designer Chloe Keppie.

The trail works its way around a series of contemporary sculptures based on the themes of ‘Where we are,’ ‘Where we’re going’ and ‘Where we’ve come from.’

Also on offer will be a digital treasure hunt and a colouring competition.

Supporting local

Local businesses are involved in the trails, hunts and exhibitions, meaning that they will start getting visitors back through their doors in a safe and socially distanced manner.

Steve Mathieson, chairman of Living Lerwick said: “As businesses continue to recover from the impact of Covid closures, we are keen to offer activities which bring people into town to spend time in a safe and socially distanced way.

“The trails, hunts and exhibitions allow customers to shop, eat, drink, visit businesses and engage with the activities in their own time and in their own space.”

Lerwick from the sea.

Staying safe

Shetland is currently in Level 0 Covid restrictions. 

Mr Mathieson reminds visitors that precautions must be taken when visiting the events to ensure that they don’t jeopardies that.

He said: “On behalf of businesses, we welcome all and would remind folk to sanitise their hands on entry to properties, wear face coverings unless exempt, and allow time and space for others around them.

“Shetland has benefitted from quicker relaxation of restrictions due to low case numbers, and we all want to keep it that way.”

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