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October 17, 2015 By Andy Ross

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Mapping Jamaica

James Robertson of YellYell, where the weave studio is based, is one of the North Isles of Shetland. Far from being a remote and isolated part of the world, Yell has been an important part of the maritime history of the world for centuries as the story of James Robertson from Gossabrough (picture, left, donated to the Shetland Museum by a friend of ours, Elizabeth Morewood) shows. 

In the latter half of the 18th Century, James set out to make his fortune in the Caribbean, and an exhibition in the Shetland Museum and Archive reveals, for the first time in Shetland, the maps that James made of his new island home. The maps are absolutely stunning in their detail and are well worth spending time with. (The show runs until the 22nd November in Da Gadderie.)

The story of James and his travels is an interesting one. Eventually he ended up in London where he lived well, but at the time of his death was involved in an acrimonious dispute over a commissioned map of Aberdeenshire which took far longer to finish than expected and was not to the liking of those who had commissioned the work. But it is for the Jamiacan maps that he is best remembered. Perhaps there is an art project in there for someone?