New Year’s honour for artist Melanie Shand

Artist Melanie Shand from Banchory has been awarded a BEM for services to the Arts and to the community in Aberdeenshire during the Covid-19 Response.

By Dawn Renton
Thursday, 7th January 2021, 7:30 am
Artist Melanie Shand
Artist Melanie Shand

The 56-year-old talented wildlife artist has been significantly involved with a wide variety of local organisations in the Aberdeenshire area.

She is a talented wildlife artist and significantly involved with a wide variety of local organisations in the Aberdeenshire area.

She introduced the Portrait of Our Time Project (POOT) which for the last decade has delivered community plays and other local events and activities.

The exhibition attracted over 900 visitors, selling all the 500 copies of the book which has since become an unofficial record of the families in the area.

She took the stories that emerged during the project and wrote and directed a community play based on local myths, increasing the awareness of the cultural heritage.

A variety of new groups grew from the community play, including a choir and a cinema club.

Melanie also introduced the Alter:Nativity, taking place in an outdoor steading in December, with a cast/backstage team of over 100 people and 10 live animals.

The play integrated the Christmas nativity story with a refugee theme reflecting the migration situation at the time. The play was awarded the Scotish Epic Award for community engagement with the Arts from Voluntary Arts.

She set up a COVID-19 community group NeedaNeighbour to support the community during lockdown. This has 90 members and has done much to help people isolating by shopping, collecting prescriptions and providing physically distanced social contact.

Hearing of the shortage of PPE for NHSScotland workers, she set up a group of volunteers to sew scrubs and masks.

To date they have produced over 100 sets of scrubs in a wide variety of colours, including some from old Harry Potter and Thomas the Tank Engine duvet covers.

The divisional general manager for surgical services at NHS Grampian helped to deliver the first set of 40 scrubs to the hospital.

As part of the Portraits for NHS Heroes she painted portraits of NHS workers, this included lengthy discussions so she could capture the essence of each hardworking individual.

These portraits were gifted to them.

She is also a Director of the River Dee Trust and is heavily involved in the annual Opening of the Salmon Fishing every February. She produced a book of photographs about the lives of all the Ghillies on the river (A Portrait of the River Dee) and led the creative and educational project River of Fish to a successful conclusion, increasing the whole communities understanding of the river and its ecology.

Melanie remains an exceedingly active promoter for North East Arts Touring which brings plays to the Village for all to enjoy this includes negotiating with the touring company, selling tickets, helping set up and even providing dinner for the cast.