Category Archives: museum


  It takes a gang of lens’ lovers to assemble thoughts & pixels for a project sleek & visual.
It takes time & dexterity to sit & select 80 images (out of a pack of 300) to grace the walls of Da Gadderie, Shetland’s SMA&A’s non-permanent exhibition space for a good part of a summer.

  It takes pleasure to see folk smile and share their thoughts & reactions on the first day as they embark on a journey between four walls…
It was a pleasure to see you. There is still time to come and see how we present our shared home world – how we look at all its treasures, and thank you all for your visit, wherever you began your journey.


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Filed under 2015, 60N, arts, celebration, collaboration, exhibition, geopoetics, home, images, island, lerwick, museum, north, project, scotland, shetland, simmerdim, spirit, writing

Armistice Week 2014

One hundred years on,
10 million dead,
another 10 million crippled, too many headstones… Vanished hearts – brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins… My great grand father, Pépé Duval, was a stretcher-bearer on his country’s battlefields, lunar landscapes… He, like millions of men, was thrown into a carnage, brain-washed by a propaganda led by warmongers. He was lucky enough to return home, twice gassed and deeply scarred for the rest of his life, shell-shocked…

One hundred years on,
How can we forget?

Some politicians (at least in France) attempted to “turn the page” by declaring we should drop the bucket… Sorry, we have a duty to honour those who were sacrificed against their full will. Nobody wishes to endure what so many million men endured in horrid conditions… I recently read that, in some cases, 1 1/2 mile recovered in No Man’s Land cost well over 200,000 lives. That is more than sacrifice, this is a crime against humanity.

Over the course of such week, leading to Remembrance Day on 9 November around the UK, the Anderson High School, my school, has honoured all those fallen in and around Western Europe.

1200 North Islanders on the Orkney & Shetland respective Rolls of Honour…

One hundred years on.

No one wants a return to hatred & carnage, deep bleeding of nations.
My recent visit to Northern Germany with 22 pupils from the AHS reconnects ties between peoples, hence breaking down barriers, ignorance, fears.
We are all connected through various ways – sea, fish, herring, history, heritage. Our own language alone has been forged inside an incredible melting pot – metamorphic, enriched by words that included old German ones, brought over by the people who came to settle and trade on the land in the first place. We must not forget that either.

We commemorate our own, however, with one hundred years on, my heart also feels for all those who perished in blind madness (war of attrition).
Military, civilians, irrespective of colour, religion, gender, or island -ethnic origin, continent, nationality.

On such occasion, I was invited to contribute to two events – a creative writing project within a collective, and, reading my own work from such project on the school tannoy.
And so I did.
I therefore let Wildred Owen’s Dulce ET Decorum Est for my own piece entitled Ricochets, a poem which sits within a suite of verse & flash fiction created during this autumn thanks to a project called “1914 and all that”, a joint partnership between the Shetland Museum & Archives and Shetland Arts.

Ricochets resonated in the hearts of many 21st century AHS pupils, who shared their reactions throughout the day.

Touched & happy they could reach out to one another, pupils & words.
One hundred years on,
let us all remember.


So, in honour of all victims of the conflict, as well as a “taster” to the event at Wordplay 2014, here is the piece I shared a hundred years later.


Devil’s in the trench,
scavenging round the Earth –
against sandbags,
school, chapel walls or parapets, through cloth of brand new uniforms, grey, khaki, blue –
across cornfields
somebody ploughed in hope for bread,
where boys ventured to kill
boredom away from home in
a bull-ring*,
they remind me of
skimming stones,
light on the loch,
summer, crane flies…
Sleek impromptu or
hum-buzz-quick hiss,
whizz, woosh and plop,
to find their way deep inside mud or
in between innocent eyes,
an unknown name
turned animal inside a trench,
who dreamt of blackbirds and angels…

© Nat Hall 2014

Notes: Bull-ring: the famous infamous Bull-ring, training camp in Étaples, where harsh conditions were common place. (Source: Robert M Creig, Doing His Bit, Shetland Times, 1999-2003)

I think my great grand father would approve of not only my verse, but my thoughts as a whole.

Thank you,
Donald, Brian & Jon.

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Filed under 2014, fire, home, images, island, museum, north, poet, poetry, poets, project, shetland, spirit, verse poetry, wordplay, world, writing

website update

20140105-195548.jpgAt last, nordicblackbird / the roost is duly updated 🙂


Go check Writer’s Corner as summer is a season tainted by events & projects.


Auld Enemies, 14 July 2014 at Mareel, Lerwick, Shetland


Happy reading! 🙂

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Filed under 2014, 60N, celebration, home, island, lerwick, museum, north, poet, poetry, poets, project, shetland, simmerdim, verse, verse poetry, world, writing


An occasional holiday allows many of us to catch up with the world.
I seized that free weekday to visit my local museum in order to catch up with a promise, that of enjoying the latest exhibition at Da Gadderie.

I must confess the Shetland Museum & Archives picked the follow-up to Writing The North exhibition with flair, and What Seas, What Shores follow in the footsteps of the former.
Two archipelagos once again on show till the end of June, and celebrating their respective land / sea scapes would make us once again travel between Orkney & Shetland.

Today’s voyage of discovery made me discover selected works from Laura Drever & Diana Leslie, based in Orkney, as well as that of Gail Harvey, Glasgow born – Shetland based.

On the other hand, my eyes & heart found themselves back on very familiar ground with Paul Bloomer & Ruth Brownlee, whose respective works speak very vividly to my senses.


On this occasion, Bloomer chose to explode with extraordinary colours in his interpretation of Aurora borealis – locally named as da mirrie dancers.


I just love the way he played with colours.
Ruth has always captured seascapes with such flair her works make you taste seas pray on your lips.
As a poet & photographer, I am sensitive to my local seascapes, and Ms Brownlee’s work has long captured my imagination & deep admiration as an artist.

Her world speaks of home through her oil & other media’s pigments.
Great exhibition not to be missed if you are wandering on our northern latitude. It’s a cracker!


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Filed under 2014, 60N, atlantic, celebration, colours, exhibition, geopoetics, home, images, island, lerwick, museum, north, project, review, shetland, shore, spirit, world, writing

treasure fae da north (1)

From the hand of RLS, Robert Louis Stevenson,
father of
Treasure Island…



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Filed under 2014, 60N, celebration, exhibition, geopoetics, home, images, island, museum, north, project, shetland, writing

writing the north


I love my local museum & archives.
It is a place of treasures, a temple of wonders & records – a time machine, a cabinet of life, past and present.
As my love grows deeper in time for da auld rock, such a temple feels a familiar place where I find inspiration, knowledge and understanding of my island world. It is a place where I collaborated with other poets for different literary projects, including The Hanseatic Project, with Bremen based poet Michael Augustine a few years ago.
But something very special was expecting me this afternoon – something of a different kind.
At first, all looked perfectly “normal” – Barbara’s smile behind the imposing desk inside the flagstone paved foyer.
A quick look around the gift shop & bookshelves led to a voyage of discovery. “Da Gadderie” looked a bit darker than usual at first sight.

Whereas my friend sat at the old typewriter, my heart pounded at the first manuscript, that of Robert Louis Stevenson… A magical extract from a journal, illustrated with a quick sketch of Sumburgh Head, dated June 1869, a hundred years before my birth (!) How exquisite to discover your literary hero’s own handwriting. I was suddenly in heaven.
And this magical literary journey continued with other great literary heroes – Sir Walter Scott, whose only visit to Shetland dates back to 1814, two hundred years exactly this year, had a best seller purpose, The Pirate (1822), where the story begins in Sumburgh… Jarlshof was born.

Here, before my very eyes, Scott’s original manuscript of The Pirate.
So ethereal.
The team behind the entire project worked over the past year to bring us all a formidable collection of priceless literary artefacts, including, books & manuscripts, to celebrate the literary saga from the Northern Isles.
Hugh MacDiarmid & George MacKay Brown stand side by side…
Naturally the exhibition celebrates the linguistic history of both Orcadian & Shetland dialects. I notably marvelled at the glass cabinets dedicated to them, and savoured a moment before Jakob Jakobsen’s linguistic wonder.


My heart also bowed at John & Lollie Graham, but also Stella Sutherland & Rhoda Bulter among the 20th Century greats from the Shetland pantheon of poets. Their faces beam at you.
What a feast for the reader and writer that I am!
I certainly need to return to sample and digest better this phenomenal literary showcase. Thank goodness, it is running till 11 May 2014.

it is not to be missed.
All Museum staff involved in such exhibition, as Barbara smiled, deserve a pat on the back.
Please click on the link for full details on that formidable literary journey at:
Writing The North
The final day of events planned for Saturday 10 May includes a series of talks as well as an evening of poetry reading.
Free tickets available from Shetland Museum & Archives. I will certainly reserve my ticket :-)>


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Filed under 2014, 60N, celebration, exhibition, geopoetics, island, lerwick, life, museum, north, project, review, shetland, spring, world, writing

found at sea

Just popped up to our local museum, the Shetland Museum, en route to a movie, and discovered a magical exhibition – Found At Sea – by poet Andrew Greig & Yell-based visual artist Mike McDonnell.
A friend recommended it.
I was not disappointed.
a taster & do join Andrew Greig at Wordplay this coming Saturday for the reading of his long poem.


Do enjoy it – here, a few more images of such great collaboration 🙂





It is a feast for the eye and heart 🙂


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Filed under 2013, 60N, boats, celebration, exhibition, geopoetics, images, island, museum, poetry, poets, review, shetland, shore, spirit, verse poetry


finding our place

Geopoetics, intellectual nomadism, metasaga…

When selecting my training courses for my October two-day In-Service Training last September, I came across one that immediately spoke to my heart. Its description read fascinating – its title said it all. Metasaga.
My new term began with a bang, as I met with a very inspiring course leader and group whilst on a on that particular course at school. Firstly, I was a little astonished to find the course under-subscribed… However, I felt far less surprised to find two of my fellow local poets/artists among our group, Fair Isle based Lise Sinclair and Hebridean bard & writer, Donald S. Murray, who teaches English in Sandwick. As a matter of fact, all participants were involved in the Arts at educational level. 

Wunjo, rune of joy, light

A token of somebody’s loveFriendship engraved on a stone, which finds its place around my neck. I made sure I would not forget it on my journey through autumn term. Metasaga is a compound word formed out of two words, meta, from metaphor and saga, from our neighbouring nordic friends. Storytelling is very much interwoven in the history & cultural heritage.  As soon as our course leader began to explain what we were to undertake, my geopoetical heart began to sing deep inside!
Uyesound School headteacher Kate Coutts spoke very much like Kenneth White, father of Geopoetics, the albatross and intellectuial nomadism; she aims to help us  find our place in the world around us by taking us on an inner journey.

Metasaga does not answer questions – it enables each journeyman to ask much deeper questions about him/herself in this world through culture, heritage and physical landscape.. 

Needless to say we did not stay very long in the classroom, for some adventure was waiting for us! Re-starting school in late October in not so clement weather conditions, I would have been surprised to spend an afternoon at Ninian Sands or even more nearby beach…Instead, we found ourselves meandering in and around our local museum and archives in Lerwick. Perfect! The museum houses everything we needed to undertake this shared inner journey. We each  picked a spot, an object, a moment. Delight. We thought of themes, values, packaged the lot in some educational and/or more personal context… Dressed it with questions, pictures. We used our creativity, poetics, to make it happen and found joy in creating our group metasaga. 

Result: two fabulous days. Geopoetics, metasaga in the making. Please click! Shetland Metasaga

What a formidable tool to respond to individuals, young or slightly older to find themselves. Although Kate re-iterarted this was in no way a new concept, she nonetheless packaged it with grace to notably meet the needs of all, including those of our Scottish Curriculum for Excellence. 
Next step? To introduce colleagues and pupils at my school and start sharing all its benefits! It has started. Our world is in motion.

Kenneth White will smile again. We, the intellectual nomads, have an additional way to find our place in the world. 

Metasaga belongs to us.

Please click on this link Metasaga Home


Filed under 60N, celebration, earth, geopoetics, home, kenneth, metasaga, museum, north, poets, project, shetland, white


And the weekend started with a bang…
I burnt the pains au chocolat on Saturday morning. 
Just two hours before a reading at Wordplay, I carbonated our breakfast beyond recognition, as I was reading out loud Power of Place, that second piece of verse for Karen’s event. Wooopppsss! Very swiftly, I made for amends by invating David to lunch at da Peerie Shop Café in Lerwick. Thank goodness, the soup and the reading went down far better!

Martin’s happy feet at Da Gadderie yesterday afternoon, Saturday 4 September, as the Four Seasons in Shetland exhibition opened officially to the public in Lerwick.The Shetland Museum & Archives lit on all lights onto some 74 framed works as well as some 328 digital images projected on a screen. 

We, the gang of photographers & visual artists, gathered and met friendly faces who came to discover what the Islesburgh Photographic Club could offer.  The result is an eclectic collection of images taking your eyes and hearts through the four seasons around the nordic archipelago – voar, simmer, hairst and winter, as captured through some 20 different viewfinders… There is something for everyone.

The exhibition is on till 10 October and the Islesburgh Photographic Club  remains open to talented world watchers 🙂

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Filed under 60N, celebration, exhibition, geopoetics, home, images, island, lerwick, museum, north, project, shetland, wordplay