Public Art

Art in Public Places Scheme, On loan from Sheena Frankish
Orkney Museum no L 2017.01.

Art in Public Places

The Arts, Museums and Heritage Service operate the Art in Public Places scheme and annually acquire pieces for the existing collection. The collection is accessible to the public through schools, colleges, Orkney Library and Archive and other public buildings.


Orkney Museum currently houses the portrait of George Mackay Brown by Alexander Moffat, which was restored for the Stromness bicentenary exhibition at The Pier Arts Centre in 2017. Sandy Moffat very kindly offered to do the restoration at no cost to OIC and the painting is on display in the drawing room. Sandy Moffat visited Orkney at the beginning of October 2019 to see the portrait on display.


There were two significant acquisitions:

1. Four portraits of George Mackay Brown by photographer Gordon Wright were gifted to the library and supplement the paintings displayed at the Warehouse Buildings, Stromness.

2. George by Ian MacInnes. Ian MacInnes painted this portrait of George Brown, his classmate at Stromness Academy from day one onwards, and life-long friend, in a rare afternoon off school in the early 1950s. At the time, the family was living in rented accommodation in “Quildon”, where Ian used an empty, rather draughty upstairs room as a studio. This is why George is wearing the old raincoat and famous Fair Isle scarf, which made him a familiar figure to Stromnessians of the era, as he wended his way north to the pier-head and back home to what was then Well Park. An avid supporter of Orkney County football, George would accompany the team on its sporting encounters in Shetland and Caithness. On one of these escapades, the scarf was mysteriously lost in Shetland, only to reappear flying from the mast of the old Ola on a trip back from Thurso!

“As like him as life”, folk said of this portrait of George, aged about 30. It was used as the original cover of his autobiography, ‘For the Islands I Sing’. It is painted on board, in its original frame (Ian often reused old frames and touched them up himself) and is as he intended it to be.

Stromness, its history, people and, not least, the old library meant so much to both George and Ian that the new premises are the right and appropriate place for this painting to hang.

Public Art Events

St Magnus Sails.

In addition to Art in Public Places, Orkney Islands Council also provides support for public art commissions and larger-scale public arts events and exhibitions. The intention behind these events is to provide access to public art across Orkney for as many residents as possible and to attract visitors to the Islands.

Recent Events

Details about recent events can be accessed from the 'Related Downloads' section of this page.

Forthcoming Events

2020 is Scotland's 'Year of Coasts and Waters'. CLAN are proposing a sculpture trail of lighthouses in key locations in Orkney and a secondary trail of smaller lighthouses in partnership with local schools.

In 2023 Orkney is hosting the Island Games.

Related Downloads

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535


Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS