Mailboats (2008)

This collaboration between sculptors and poets in Orkney and Shetland is inspired by a scene from Michael Powell’s film The Edge of the World. A similar project was conceived in 2002 by Doug Robertson and we would like to pay respect to the artists involved and ask their indulgence as we, unwittingly, sail in their wake.

The mailboats were launched from Skerries, Shetland on August 9th 2008. A catalogue, which included the poems, was published.

The idea for this collaboration is simple: a poet writes a poem linked to the theme of Mailboats and the paired sculptor creates a ‘vessel’ to carry the poem. Prior to the ‘launch’ of these freighted wonders, there will be an exhibition in Orkney and in Shetland. The collaborative pairings are:




“The latest incarnation of the project is this elegant booklet, which inevitably foregrounds the poetry, though the artists’ contributions are well represented in photographs…Each pairing of poet and artist was obviously a fruitful and stimulating exchange…A truly fine bulderation, in all.”
‘Playing with wind and tide’, Nigel Wheale, The New Shetlander No. 246, Yule Issue, 2008

“It was lovely at the readings this summer to hear folk reading their own poems because there was such a diversity of voices.”
‘Mailboats booklet launched’, Orkney Today, 27th of November 2008

“An old sixareen lay on one side of the hall and there were several other boats suspended at different levels above us – the perfect setting for poems about islanders, boats and the sea.”
‘Viking Summer’, Yvonne Gray, Two Ravens Press, 25th of August 2008

“…providing links and encouraging the exchange of ideas between people in the two island groups, in the process of developing new work.”
‘Orkney writers in Shetland readings’, The Orcadian, 14th of August 2008

“…encapsulates our northern imagination: crafted, venturing, rooted, oceanic.”
‘Encapsulating our northern imagination’, JA, The Orcadian, 19th of May 2008

“Within the scope of the idea, the possibilities are tantalising and have yielded some remarkable writing…Let’s hope that when this poetry finally sails into the briny blue yonder it’s found at the other side by word and art lovers, hauled in and treasured.”
‘On the Poetry of Mailboats…’, PB, The Orcadian, 19th of May 2008