Bobbie Tulloch was brought up in a croft cottage called The Lees, in the early 1900′s, at the far end of Lunna Ness, a remote and jutting peninsula in the North East of Shetland Mainland. This now ruinous pile sits close to the shore on the edge of the barren & windswept moor overlooking Hamna Voe, surrounded by thousands of discarded scattered Blueshell Mussel shells churned up from the sea below.
In January 2020, 100 years after her grandfather Bobbie lived in the cottage, and 35 years since her first visit Sonje returned to Shetland on a personal & artistic quest, just before the world went into lockdown for the pandemic. The dramatic & turbulent North Sea, late C19th Yorkshire Hibbert family fish merchant connections to Shetland and longstanding Shetland Tulloch family roots underpin the inspiration for the giant ceramic mussel shells which belong to a body of work called Seaweed In The Voe.
The research involved is on going, and delves into discussions with the still very present, Shetland relations. With their fascinating narratives of historical remote croft living hardship contrasting with late 20th Century entrepreneurial success, musical excellence, fishing traditions and threads of what it is to be a Shetlander woven in between. And of course not to forget the weather!
The Giant Ceramic Mussels Shells were developed during the pandemic lockdown 2020 and in June 2021 Sonje was accepted for a one month Artistic Residency at The Booth in Scalloway, the ancient capital of Shetland. As part of this residency the large ceramic sculptures were taken on an epic journey back to the historic roots for a very memorable photo shoot at the remote and now ruined croft house where her grandfather grew up.
To add further to the unravelling of this colourful historical yarn, images of the Giant Mussel Shells were accepted as part of The Fishermans Mission Annual calendar 2022, for the month of April, a wonderful platform to celebrate the artistic and historical fuelled journey that the shells have been on so far.
A more recent two week Artist Residency in Fair Isle in Feb 2022, has enabled the continuation of the inspiration that comes from the documentation & research of this journey.