The Orkney Islands are an inspiration to many artists, writers and craft-makers, drawn by their remoteness, cultural richness and natural beauty.
The archipelago of over 70 islands lies, like green jewels scattered over the North Sea, off the north-east tip of the Scottish Mainland. The vast open skies and sea provide an ever-changing backdrop to the undulating hills, heather moorland, lochs and dramatic sandstone cliffs, which characterise the Orkney landscape. These unique features have provided a wealth of creative inspiration to Sheila Fleet are reflected in collections such as Island Panorama, Headlands, River Ripple and Tidal.
Sheila Fleet designs, and their vibrant enamel colours, reflect this stunning environment and the traditions of Orkney, where the jewellery is designed and made by skilled craftspeople.
Some 17 of the Orkney islands are inhabited today (some seasonally) and there is evidence that people have lived here for over 6,000 years. The buildings and artefacts these people left behind have earned Orkney's Neolithic heartland World Heritage status, and the renowned archaeological sites at the Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brae have inspired collections of jewellery including the Sheila Fleet Runic, Standing Stones and Skara Spiral collections.
a break from the pressures of daily life - you will often have a beach or hill to yourself on a leisurely walk
Orkney is home to a rich diversity of wildlife and plants. In Spring the landscape comes alive with the sounds and sights of displaying birds. Tens of thousands of seabirds nest on cliffs in the summer months, when verges, meadows and heaths are bursting with shrubs and wildflowers. Bright splashes of pink sea campion and yellow bird's-foot trefoil cling close to the cliff edges, withstanding the powerful salt-winds, while further inland the rich pink-purple northern marsh orchid, angelica, foxglove, primrose and others create a wonderful display. If you are fortunate, you might see the delicate Primula Scotica, which flowers in May and July - a dainty flower now found only in Orkney and isolated parts of the Scottish mainland. This rare and exquisite plant inspired Sheila Fleet's popular Primula Scotica collection.
Most of Orkney's 20,000 residents today live on the main island, known as the 'Orkney mainland', the majority staying in the historic town of Kirkwall.Dominated by the magnificent red sandstone of the 12th century St Magnus Cathedral, the town centre's narrow streets run among tall former merchants' houses. The Cathedral, which contains many fine stone carvings - one of which the Breckon collection is based, remains at the centre of island life - with weddings, christenings and funerals all taking place in the heart of the old town.
Our own Sheila Fleet Gallery can be found at 30 Bridge Street, a cobbled street leading down to the harbour, from where boats travel to and from the outlying islands.
Music is a feature of island life, and there are a variety of musical and other festivals and events throughout the year. The Folk Festival takes place in May with an impressive line-up of visiting artists and local musicians performing at concerts, ceilidhs, dances and pub sessions over four days, mostly in the picturesque harbour town of Stromness. The St Magnus Festival is a mid-summer celebration of the arts with world-class performances from orchestras, ensembles, choirs, theatre and dance groups, attracting visitors from all over the world. These are just a selection of events on offer - you can find out more from the 'diary of events' at www.visitorkney.com. Collaborations with local musicians and cultural events have inspired a number of Sheila Fleet collections, such as Skyran and Breckon.
Why not visit Orkney and experience for yourself the creative vibrancy and natural wonder of the islands?
Northlink Ferries operate sailings from Aberdeen and from Scrabster on the north coast of the Scottish mainland, and Pentland Ferries operate from Gills' Bay near John O'Groats. Daily flights from the major Scottish airports can be booked with Flybe. Day trips are possible during the summer from Inverness and via John O Groats ferries. There are a wide variety of accommodation options locally.
You will enjoy a warm welcome, a break from the pressures of daily life - you will often have a beach or hill to yourself on a leisurely walk - and can sample some of our excellent local food. Have a relaxing break, and see for yourself how Sheila Fleet designs are inspired by her island home.
Here is a link to download the latest brochure for visiting Orkney.
See http://www.discover-orkney.com/ and contact their friendly staff for more information on planning a visit to Orkney.
Most of Orkney's 20,000 residents today live on the main island, known as the 'Orkney mainland', the majority staying in the historic town of Kirkwall