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A Hansel of Light A Shetland Celebration of Light and the 2012 Olympics

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The Proposal This project will run from 2010 - 2012 inclusive, with three main strands: Refractions, Radiations and Reflections. Although essentially rooted in the Shetland community, A Hansel of Light will be wide-reaching. It will comprise several significant creative and cultural events: A year long Festival of Light and Place (illuminated and inspired by Shetland’s unique environment); the mysterious Mirrie Dancers (Aurora Borealis); the endless days of the Simmer Dim (Midsummer: when the sun dips below the northern horizon for only seconds). This will be the starting point for a legacy which will grow well beyond the two year life of the project. A Hansel of Light: A Shetland Celebration of Light and the 2012 Olympics


We believe that A Hansel of Light* is a magical and inspiring idea. We are now seeking partners to join us and make the magic come alive. A Hansel of Light will be launched during a week long festival centred around Mareel, Shetland’s newly built music, cinema and education venue, at the Spring equinox, in March 2011. This event will mark the climax of Mirrie Dancers, a major twelve month project supported by the Scottish Arts Council Lottery Inspire Fund. Mirrie Dancers will bring people of all ages together from across Shetland to create a series of temporary, interactive light works in ten locations. These works will originate in specific local communities and then relocate to form a permanent landmark of monumental scale situated in the heart of Shetland’s new cultural quarter at Mareel on Lerwick’s waterfront.

As the culmination of two years of development, outlined in Refractions, Radiations and Reflections in the following pages, Shetland Arts will wash the whole of the UK in a wave of light to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic Torch on British soil and wrap the UK is a circle of light by sea. This circle of light will form the centre piece of a final two week Festival of Light marked by the setting sail of two vessels, each on its own voyage, bearing its gift of light, one around the east and the other round the west coast of the UK until they meet again in London, at the Olympic site in July 2012.

*Hansel: ‘a gift to commemorate an inaugural occasion, the launching of a new boat, birth of a child, a new home, new enterprise.’ John J. Graham ~ The Shetland Dictionary 2

A Hansel of Light: A Shetland Celebration of Light and the 2012 Olympics

Refractions* A series of seven residencies, from 2011 - 2012, of overseas artists (this includes the UK mainland ) who will be based in renovated Shetland lighthouses. Each of the residencies will be held by a practitioner in an area of the arts currently supported by Shetland Arts - drama, dance, visual arts, music, craft, film and literature. The practitioners will be selected in partnership with the Scottish Arts Council and in line with Shetland Art’s Commissioning Policy. Each of the practitioners will come from one of the seven countries or regions with which Shetland Arts has existing links. Where possible we will seek to connect with Legacy Trust Programmes, such as Relays, in the South West, Connections in Northern Ireland and The Big Dance in London.

In each case the artist will spend the first two months of their time in Shetland working closely with the Community Development Team and community groups in the area in which they are resident. Through community based workshops and creative interventions they will work with the people of each community, to explore the theme of light, physical and metaphorical - bringing light into difficult places; casting light into places of shadow; how light affects our mental and physical well being. The outputs of this work will be hansels (gifts) which will then be carried by the vessels on their voyage to London and delivered to the ports of call on the way. During the third month of each residency the artist will develop their own work in response to their stay in Shetland. This work will become part of the final celebration during the Simmer Dim of 2012.

A Hansel of Light: A Shetland Celebration of Light and the 2012 Olympics


Radiations* Seven artists from Shetland will each take up a three month residency in one of the countries or regions identified in Refractions.

As in Refractions, each of the residencies will be held by a practitioner in one of the seven art forms. Each will develop a close relationship with their host community and work to support the development of local talent and creative work.

In particular, the work will explore the artist’s sense of place and how their own sense of Shetland is affected by their residency. This work will also be featured as part of the second festival of light to be held during the Simmer Dim in 2012.

The artist will spend the third month of their residency developing work which will reflect their experience.

*Refractions: to deflect rays of light, sound etc., passing into it from another medium: deflected on passage: bent sharply back from the base.


*Radiations: to shine: to issue in rays: to diverge from a point or points: to transmit wirelessly: energy transmitted: the emission and diffusion of rays.

A Hansel of Light: A Shetland Celebration of Light and the 2012 Olympics

Reflections* A Hansel of Light coincides with significant cultural events for the UK and beyond. These events complement and support our two programmes of residencies, providing a valuable source of inspiration and reflection. Spring 2011 will see the official opening of Mareel, Shetland’s new cinema, music and education venue. The word Mareel refers to the very rarely seen glow in the sea which emanates from a certain type of plankton; this £12.1m new venue will include a light installation in which the whole building will become a dynamic light sculpture – a key legacy of the Mirrie Dancers project mentioned earlier. In July 2011, Shetland will host another major cultural event – the Tall Ships Race.

2012 will be the last year of the project which will feature the Voyage to London for the Cultural Olympiad and, in September, the Shetland Film Festival (an annual event run by Shetland Arts, last year being curated by Mark Kermode and Sir Christopher Frayling and featuring directors such as Douglas Mackinnon) and the book festival, Wordplay (another high profile event which has over the years hosted writers of the calibre and renown of PD James, Iain Banks and Ian Rankin). Both these festivals will feature work created as part of A Hansel of Light.

*Reflections: to bend or send back or aside: to give an image in the manner of a mirror: to express: to cast, shed: to consider meditatively, attentive consideration: change of direction of sound or light when it strikes on a surface.

Mareel: a new music, cinema and education venue for Shetland, opening Spring 2011.

A Hansel of Light: A Shetland Celebration of Light and the 2012 Olympics


A Giant ‘Mexican Wave’ of Light To celebrate and mark the arrival of the Olympic Torch on UK soil in May 2012, Shetland Arts proposes to trigger a giant ‘Mexican Wave’ of Light that ripples from the UK’s most northerly beach to London… a relay of light at the speed of sound. Shetland 60°N 1°W

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This ambitious project seeks to involve hundreds of thousands of people pointing torches into the night sky, turning them on and off to a given cue and in doing so, creating a massive wave of light that will be visible from space. Single fireworks will prompt participants from Shetland to the Olympic site to light and quench their torches in a relay of light at the speed of sound.

2012 will also see the finale of the Festival of Light which will be a two week celebration of arts and culture. The Festival will include concerts, craft exhibitions, theatre, book launches, film screenings, dances and exhibitions and the first performance of a specifically commissioned piece of music, the product of one of the Refractions residencies, composed to celebrate Shetland as a place of light.

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A Hansel of Light: A Shetland Celebration of Light and the 2012 Olympics

The Voyage As the culmination of the two week Festival of Light in 2012, two specially chosen fishing vessels, will set sail on the summer solstice on a journey from Lerwick to London. One down the east coast and one down the west, wrapping the UK in A Hansel of Light. They will freight light in the form of commissioned light installations. They will share light in the form of Hansels, to be delivered at each port of call.

A Hansel of Light: A Shetland Celebration of Light and the 2012 Olympics


Each vessel will carry seven emerging artists. At each of the appointed ports of call they will take on board a mentor who will be a respected practitioner in his or her art form. And the Hansels? They might take the form of a book launch or the opening of an exhibition of work created in the course of the project or a dance. Each port will welcome the vessel with a performance or show or exhibition, developed in partnership with the people of that place.

The Voyage is a celebration of our ancient relationship with the sea, our connections with other maritime communities and our recognition that we are shaped by the sea. The Voyage will culminate in the reunion of the two vessels in a magical forte of light on the Thames. The Hansel of Light will be delivered to the Cultural Olympiad in London in time for the Opening Ceremony.

Antares and Serene: Shetland fishing vessels will wrap the UK in A Hansel of Light.


A Hansel of Light: A Shetland Celebration of Light and the 2012 Olympics

Who we are: Shetland Arts was founded in 2006. It brought together the work of two organisations whose collective histories provide Shetland Arts with a local, national and international reputation for arts development and delivery, built over 20 years of work and innovation.

What we see: Shetland celebrated as a place where inspiration and innovation are valued; where people want to live, work and study; where individual creative opportunity is available to all; where each achieves their full creative potential; where personal development improves life circumstances, styles and choices; where the full social and economic potential of the islands is achieved.

Shetland Arts Development Agency

If you would like to get involved in A Hansel of Light as a sponsor, funder, partner or artist, please get in touch. We want to hear from you.

Toll Clock Centre 26 North Road, Lerwick Shetland ze1 0de Telephone +44 (0) 1595 743 843 Email For more information about Shetland, visit:

Gwilym Gibbons Director Richard Wemyss Events & Venues Manager Kathy Hubbard Arts Development Manager

Creative, confident, connected Shetland Arts is a Foundation Organisation of the Scottish Arts Council, and core funded by the Shetland Charitable Trust.

A Hansel for Light  

A Shetland Celebration of Light and the 2012 olympics. Shetland Arts.

A Hansel for Light  

A Shetland Celebration of Light and the 2012 olympics. Shetland Arts.