Shetland Arts is collaborating with the Broadway Gallery to bring the work of Shetland filmmaker Roseanne Watt to Letchworth Garden City. Roseanne will present an exhibition of her films and costumes in the Broadway Studio that seek to re-examine Shetland’s history over the past century from a feminist perspective. Her film poems explore Shetland dialect and folklore, often focusing on forgotten stories and female mythological figures. As part of her project The Kishie Wife Collective, Watt presents three films that each depict a different spirit from Norn mythology. Alongside the films, the costumes for each film hang in the space as ghostly incarnations. Speaking of her home, Watt says:
“Shetland has had just the most profound impact on my work. I love my home; I love its language, its landscape, its ways of life. The name of my first collection is ‘Moder Dy’, which means ‘mother wave’. The moder dy itself is a piece of old fishing lore; it was said that experienced Shetland fishermen were able to navigate home by the moder dy, which was an undercurrent that always flowed in the direction of home. That is my poetry at its core; always trying to return home.”
ootadaeks – beyond the enclosure
A kishie is a type of straw basket historically used in Shetland to carry peat from the hills, and the image of Shetland women carrying kishies filled with peat is somewhat iconic in Shetland’s cultural memory. This film reimagines the archetypal ‘kishie-wife’ as an almost Promethean figure, setting her task within the tensions of the modern, industrial landscape of Shetland’s hills. Here, however, power is not wrested from the gods, but rather the wilderness itself.
innadaeks – within the enclosure
Named after the Scots word for scarecrow, Tattiebokey occupies the seemingly-cultivated realm of innadaeks. A guardian of the garden, Tattiebokey invites only those worthy enough to enter it; but it is only on entering that we come to realise this is a garden filled with dead things.
Raaga is an old Shaetlan word for ‘driftwood’ or ‘wreckage’. A ‘Raaga Tree’ is a tree which has been torn up by its roots and drifted by the sea. In this film, a Raaga Tree takes the form of a deity of loss, who occupies the space between things – between the sea and the shore, the old and the new, one language and another.
Roseanne is a poet, filmmaker and musician from Shetland. She was the winner of the 2018 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award, the 2015 Out-Spoken Prize for Poetry in Film, and runner-up in the 2018 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award. Her first collection, Moder Dy, is published by Polygon. Roseanne’s work has appeared in publications such as The Irish Pages, The Dark Mountain Project, Gutter, The Harlequin, Northwords Now and These Islands, We Sing. She is poetry editor for the online literary magazine, The Island Review.