New work

Collaboration with writer Robert Leach


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Press Release

The Cockatrice’s Egg

Perceptions of Shetland by Joy Parker and Robert Leach

The mythical Shetland cockatrice was an evil, dragon-like being who ran amok in the islands and could only be stopped by being burned to death. And though the cockatrice was male, he could reproduce himself by laying an egg.


What hatched from the egg was surprising, strange and sometimes life-changing.


This fantastic traditional story lies behind a new collaborative work by the artist Joy Parker and writer Robert Leach. With financial backing from Creative Scotland, they journeyed from the Scottish Borders to the far northern isles where for a month they stayed in Scalloway and explored the
Shetland Islands. The end product was this unusual book, a series of poems and prints which make up a montage of discoveries and responses.
Shetland has perhaps never been seen quite like this before, but the work’s approach allows a fresh, unexpected view of the islands. There is no story here, just a stream of glimpses which viewers and readers may connect to make their own meanings.

Joy Parker is a visual artist using different mediums to explore a range of themes. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, her mosaics may be seen on the frontage of the Church of St Catherine Labouré in Glasgow, and she has contributed to the Ruins Project, a large-scale art installation in a former coal mine in Pennsylvania.

Five volumes of Robert Leach’s poetry have been published. His work often captures those small moments which provide new insights into things we usually take for granted, or upon which turn unexpected understandings. He has also written biographies and a series of books on the theatre,
including the two volume Illustrated History of British Theatre and Performance.

Joy and Robert have travelled extensively and produced joint work before, such as A Ferrari Through India, Minor Chats and a visitor’s guide to the Scottish Borders. However, their time in Shetland has inspired them to take this joint work in new and original directions.

The Cockatrice’s Egg is now available for £15 including p&p in the UK and in February 2022 it will be the title of an exhibition at the Cornucopia Gallery in Hawick, with poetry readings, workshops and other events.

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