Of all the places that paid rent and tax to Norway in cloth, it was only Shetland and Faroe where the cloth was fulled in the sea. People in both communities would have been fulling their cloth around the same time of year. We thought of all these cloths streaming out into the sea from our two island groups. We decided to commemorate this shared practice jointly, and made contact with Faroese artist Katrina i Giel.

On 21st May 2022 we went down to the toevakoddi at Helliness, while Katrina and her group went to the Váðasteinur, the cloth stone, at Hoyvík on Faroe’s east coast. In Shetland and in Faroe we tied up our cloths and let them out into the sea, streaming east towards Norway.

We shared the moment in a Skype video call. We heard the water lap on our island neighbours’ shore, their northern language echoed around our familiar rocks, and the sounds of Faroese eider ducks joined with those of Shetland shalders. On the blurred phone screen the Faroese and Shetland cloth rippled and flowed together, almost as one, a symbol of the payments our two communities worked to make.

Fulling place names in Shetland

Fulling place names in Faroe