Students from the Outer Hebrides and Shetland are about to embark on an exciting inter-island creative industries placement, giving them a great new opportunity to learn and develop their creative practice in a different and inspirational environment.

Devised to encourage collaboration between the creative talent of the Northern and Western Isles, An Lanntair’s Between Islands initiative has produced a number of innovative ventures to date. These have included two musical projects – with a third due to premiere at the Hebridean Celtic Festival this July – and the publication of a book of short stories.

Earlier this year An Lanntair Arts Centre, creators of the Between Islands project, put out a call for film or textile students from across the Western and Northern Isles to apply for this pioneering inter-island exchange scheme. 

Between Islands Coordinator and Head of Performing Arts and Cultural Projects for An Lanntair, Alex Macdonald, explains, “The Year of Young People encourages those up to the age of 26 to take part, therefore we saw it as a great opportunity to include our creative industries university and college students. This year we will focus on film making and textiles, but it would be wonderful if these types of exchanges could expand in the future to include other disciplines.”

Student applications were invited earlier this year, and the successful Western Isles participants, Kate Macleod and Zoe Macinnes, will be travelling to Shetland in June, where they will spend a week making a short film about the area.

Alex continues, “The help and support of a network of people across the Island groups is essential, and we are grateful to Shetland Arts Development Agency for their practical assistance with the visit.” Bryan Peterson, Shetland Arts' Head of Creative Opportunities added, "Between Islands is an excellent project which has fostered strong cultural links between the islands groups, and we very much look forward to welcoming Kate and Zoe to Shetland"

The demand for placements from Shetland was really encouraging, so much so, that four textile students will be travelling to the Isle of Lewis in July this year. Rebecca Baxter, Rhea Kay, Helen Laurenson, and Megan Smith will be taking a look at the success of the Harris Tweed industry, and examples of the work produced by both sets of students will be featured at Las! Ignite!, An Lanntair’s Year of Young People festival in October 2018.

Ultimately Alex is hopeful that further funding can be found to develop the idea in the future. “The beauty of all the Between Islands projects is that they encourage collaboration, and it would be wonderful to make these types of exchanges a natural part of what we all do, sharing knowledge, and encouraging our young creatives to work from their Island bases.

"The creative industries are also an important part of our economic future, so involving our students is essential, not only as a means of keeping us all connected, but also to showcase what an incredible bank of talent we have collectively.”