The Pier Arts Centre - home to an internationally acclaimed collection of modern art and beacon for Orkney’s creative community for the past 40 years - has found itself at one of those defining moments - and it’s choosing to grow.
Around three years ago, the Pier Arts Centre, which is a charity, found itself in possession of Linkshouse in Birsay on Orkney’s west coast. It is a substantial rundown property, dating from 1913, and in need of renovation.
The building was given to the Pier Arts Centre in memory of the artist Erlend Williamson (1965-1996), a young artist of great promise who died in a mountaineering accident. He relished the creative inspiration and freedom he found in Orkney.
Building work has been ongoing throughout the pandemic to upgrade the property and bring it into use as an adaptable and accessible arts residency facility with accommodation and studio provision for individual or group use. Renovation work is now nearing completion, with fantastic plans created by Studio Niro Architects, based in Edinburgh, and the hard work and craftsmanship of Orkney's Casey Construction Ltd.
The intention behind the gift of the building, and the ambition driving forward the Pier Arts Centre’s plans, is that Linkshouse will act as a launch-pad for local artists and a landing-strip for artists visiting the county. Beyond that it will be a focal point for the wider community, supporting other local arts organisations and festivals to nurture talent and make connections.
Linkshouse will also support the Pier Arts Centre’s educational work, enhancing opportunities for outdoor learning and wellbeing and represents a whole new area of creative activity for the Pier Arts Centre and Orkney.
This Crowdfunding campaign seeks your help to equip and furnish Orkney’s new arts residency facility so that groups of up to 10 creative people can stay comfortably in the facility, utilise the studio spaces and exchange ideas over a kitchen table in a relaxed domestic setting.
We have the building, and have turned it from a tired tumbling warren into a smart accessible house with ample space, indoors and out, for creative endeavour. All we need now are the many and varied bits and pieces, some big and some small, that will turn the house into a useful arts residency facility.
Some of what we need: teapot, beds, tables, kettles, duvets, forks, chairs, bowls, sofas, knifes, mugs and rugs, coat racks, drawers, spoons, lights, mattresses, jugs, plates, studio tables, bookcases, benches, shoe racks, towels, mirrors, work desks, pillows, pots, pans, oven tray, desk lamp, bins, glasses, door mats, wooden spoons and a corkscrew are all needed or we will just have an empty building.