WayWORD Festival returns to Aberdeen

WayWORD is returning to Aberdeen from 19-26 September. The literary festival, which organisers first launched in 2020, will shine a spotlight on unconventional forms of expression. Online and in-person visitors can expect an especially inspiring line-up of poets, artists, writers and creators for author events, workshops, performances and discussion panels. A talented group of young people are behind the WayWORD festival, while University of Aberdeen play host.



Organisers aim to bring under-explored arts and artists in to view. This year’s line-up includes workshops in animation, Bothy ballads, and creative writing to improve mental health. Headliners include Val McDermid, Karine Polwart, Irvine Welsh, Alex Wheatle, A.L. Kennedy and Kirstin Innes. With more than 40 events covering topics such as nature, beauty, witches, poetry, music, comedy, Gaelic playwriting, dance, painting, and sound art, there is something for everyone at WayWORD’s 2021 festival and all tickets are FREE!

Our WayWORD Highlights

We've picked out a few of the events taking place throughout the week that have caught our attention. There are nearly 50 separate events over eight days, so make sure you check out the WayWORD event website to see what takes your fancy.

New York Times best-selling author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé | Sunday 19 Sep

The festival opens with an author discussion with a University of Aberdeen graduate. At just 22, Àbíké-Íyímídé is already a New York Times bestselling author for her debut novel. Ace of Spades is a high-school thriller that tackles institutionalised racism as well as homophobia in the black community.

Irvine Welsh in Conversation with Alan Warner | Wednesday 22 Sep

Irvine Welsh's debut, Trainspotting is perhaps Scotland's most well known books of the 1990's. Danny Boyle adapted the supposedly un-filmable novel into one of the greatest British movies of all time. Welsh is outspoken, forthright and a sometime pain in the arse to those in power. Alan Warner, one of Scotlands best loved literary figures, teaches at University of Aberdeen. He has penned nine novels, many winning awards along the way. His latest novel, Kitchener 434 explores delusional male behaviour. The pair, who recently collaborated on The Seal Club along with John King, will discuss life and writing and conclude with a Q&A session.

North-East Voices at The Blue Lamp | Wednesday 22 Sep

The Blue Lamp hosts an extravaganza of North-East words, music and film with writers, performers and musicians. The night will feature Shane Strachan, an Aberdeen writer and performer, North-East Makar Sheena Blackhall and also spoken word artist Noon Salah Eldin. Next up, Bothy Bass stars Affa Fine make an appearance. Twa loons fae Garioch fit like a bangin choon, ken? Finally, expect a performance from award winning Scots singer Iona Fyfe.

Producer and podcast host Dan Schreiber

Writing Comedy with QI's Dan Schreiber | Friday 24 Sep

WayWORD welcomes Dan Schreiber, QI elf and one part of popular podcast No Such Thing As A Fish. He is also a producer and writer on The Museum of Curiosity and Frank Skinner’s The Rest is History. With his long-standing role researching for QI, he'll be bringing over ten years of stories and knowledge about the industry and the art form.

Val McDermid | Saturday 25 Sep

Val McDermid is one of Scotland's best known novelists. She has sold over 17 million books around the world. Her best selling series of suspense novels, Wire in the Blood, was adapted for TV. Val joins WayWORD to introduce her latest work, 1979. The new series will follow new character Allie Burns, a journalist exposing the criminal underbelly of Scotland. The Arts Lecture Theatre at University of Aberdeen will host what will surely be one of the most popular events of the festival.

What the WayWORD organisers say

Students and young people from across the city have organised the festival with guidance and mentoring from University staff. Mabel Chambers has been part of the student committee organising this year’s programme. She said: “It has been really heartening to see such exciting events and festivals going ahead after so much disappointment last year. Despite the challenges of organising such a large festival remotely, it has been amazing to have so many creative and interesting people pull together to perform and organise this year’s program.”

Festival Director, Dr Helen Lynch added: “Last year’s festival was such a success that coming up with something to build on that was a real challenge. The young people have done an amazing job of keeping it fresh and imaginative while putting in a huge amount of practical work to bring it all together. The festival has more than twice the number of events we had in 2020 and yet the programme is coherent as well as varied. There really is something for everybody in 2021.”

What you need to know

Where: Online and at venues across Aberdeen
When: 19-26 October 2021
Cost: Free
More Info: Event Website
Social media: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

WayWORD is a student and youth-led arts festival for people of all ages. WORD Centre for Creative Writing and University of Aberdeen have organised the festival. Workshops, author events, panel discussions and performance nights are all FREE and live online, with BSL interpretation.


About POST

Kevin Mitchell and Chris Sansbury founded POST from a desire to cut through the noise to share the great things that happen in Aberdeen. They focus on community, culture and the interesting people of the city. The local artists, businesses and charities; photographers, musicians and entertainers; the people at a local level that make a positive impact on our city each and every day.

The goal is to use video, audio, writing and social media to amplify the voices in our community, and to ultimately give a platform to Aberdeen folk to engage and tell their own stories.

Recent work includes interviews with Paralympic gold medalist, Neil FachieChef, an Aberdeen rapper who is pushing for success; an article by film director Mark Stirton abut the state of high-rise buildings in the city; coverage of Nuart Aberdeen and TEDx Aberdeen, as well as coverage of British Art Show 9. Visit postabdn.com to read a great selection of interviews and articles.


Clan announce Light the North farewell weekend

Organisers of the Light the North Lighthouse Trail have put tickets on sale for their Farewell Weekend. Gordon Barracks in Bridge of Don will play host to the event on 29-31 October. Trail adventurers will then get one last chance to see all 50 of the lighthouses, along with the 90 little lighthouses. The lighthouses have been painted by school kids, community groups and artists. After the final event, organisers will auction the sculptures to raise money for Clan Cancer Support.



Booking Details

Bookings are available for a 90 minute slot on each day:
Friday 29 Oct 10am – 5.30pm (last admission 4pm)
Saturday 30 Oct 10am – 5.30pm (last admission 4pm)
Sunday 31 Oct 10am – 4.30pm (last admission 3pm)

Tickets are £5.00 per adult (age 18 and over) and £3.00 per child (age 17 and below) plus online booking fees. You can purchase them at www.lightthenorth.co.uk/event/farewell-weekend/

*There is a quiet hour on Sunday 31st October from 10am – 11am. Organisers will play no music throughout the event site. This will make it suitable for adults and children with specific sensory needs.

Lighthouse sculpture sitting on grass with the Aberdeen skyline and blue skies in the background. Painted on the lighthouse is a sailing ship in heavy seas.
Light the North lighthouse by Glen Brooks at Greyhope Bay | Photo by Chris Sansbury

Fiona Fernie of Clan and Light the North

Fiona Fernie is Clan's Head of Income Generation and Business Development and Project Director for Light the North. She said “We can’t quite believe we are almost at the end of the ‘Light the North’ trail which culminates in our ‘Farewell Weekend’ and then our auction. North-east people have taken the trail to their hearts and been so involved in visiting all 50 lighthouses across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Orkney and Shetland. These lighthouses, designed and painted by professional, emerging and as yet undiscovered artists. They've shone their lights across the north east for 10 weeks. The have encouraged people to explore and discover the region like never before.”

Our North-east adventurers have shared their personal stories and photographs, which has been a joy to see.
Fiona Fernie

Fiona continued, "The ‘Farewell Weekend’ is a special event which makes it accessible for those who may not have had the opportunity to visit all the sculptures and gives them one last chance to be able to tick them off their list when they visit - whether that’s via the Lighthouse Trail app or in their sticker book. Each visitor will have a 90 minute slot to visit, take selfies and collect their final lighthouses."

Fiona concludes, “We want to take this opportunity to thank the amazing team at Wild in Art for partnering with us on the trail, the talented artists who created these bespoke and poignant sculptures and to our sponsors for their generosity and making this all possible. Last but not least to the people of the North-east - individuals, couples, families, businesses, schools and not forgetting the pets who have got out there, visited the trail and made a real difference.”

Charlie Langhorne from Wild in Art

Charlie Langhorne from Wild in Art also commented on Light the North. He said “Events like this can’t happen without the dedication of the local charities we partner with. Certainly not forgetting the artists who create these wonderful pieces of art as well as the generous sponsors. The success of this trail is testimony to the hard work and commitment from the team of staff and volunteers at Clan. They've battled through a pandemic to bring this amazing spectacle to the north east. Please support this wonderful local charity by attending the farewell weekend and bidding at the auction. This will help them continue to support the people in your communities who need Clan the most.”


More About Post Aberdeen

Kevin Mitchell and Chris Sansbury founded POST from a desire to cut through the noise to share the great things that happen in Aberdeen. They focus on community, culture and the interesting people of the city. The local artists, businesses and charities; photographers, musicians and entertainers; the people at a local level that make a positive impact on our city each and every day. Their monthly newsletter, Your Aberdeen, takes a look at what's been going on in the city from all different angles.

The goal is simple. To use video, audio, writing and social media to amplify the voices in our community, and to ultimately give a platform to Aberdeen folk to engage and tell their own stories.

Recent work includes interviews with Paralympic gold medalist, Neil Fachie; Chef, an Aberdeen rapper who is pushing for success; an article by film director Mark Stirton abut the state of high-rise buildings in the city; coverage of Nuart Aberdeen and TEDx Aberdeen, as well as coverage of British Art Show 9. Visit postabdn.com to read a great selection of interviews and articles.


Neil Fachie and Lora Fachie embrace, gold medals round their necks and draped in a union jack flag.

Temp Check: Paralympic Gold Medallist Neil Fachie MBE

Neil Fachie was born and grew up in Aberdeen, a city still close to his heart. Despite the challenges he's faced due to a condition that has deteriorated his eyesight, he's become a British sporting icon. He's an extremely determined personality who pushes himself to success, and of course we wanted to find out a little bit more about him.

In this latest Temp Check interview, we talk to Neil Fachie about his early life and education in Aberdeen. We cover his struggles to find his place in the sporting world. Then of course we chat about his success including his most recent gold medal at Tokyo 2020, breaking his own world record along the way. We also covered his family success as his wife Lora also won gold within a few minutes of him.

Settle in. This is one of our favourite Temp check interviews.



It's been a big few days for you, winning yet another gold medal for Team GB, breaking your own world record. But personally…how are you feeling right now?

Two emotions really, firstly relief. The fact that something we’d planned for so long all came together is such a relief. My event is one ride, one opportunity and if one thing goes wrong it can all be for nothing. The race on Saturday was as close to perfect as I think I’ve ever been and that showed in the time we produced. Secondly I just feel pride, no only that Matt and I were able to win that title, but also that I got to share gold medal success with my wife Lora, who also won her event in a world record time.

Neil Fachie's Childhood

I thought we'd start with your disability before we move onto your world beating abilities. You suffer from retinitis pigmentosa (RP), diagnosed at a young age. How did that diagnosis come about and how did it effect your childhood?

I was diagnosed at the age of 4 after running into a washing line pole in my Gran’s back garden on Christmas day. A common symptom of RP is to struggle in low level light and it had just been coming down dark outside. As both my Gran and Mum suffer from the condition, they knew the signs. As its a degenerative condition, it didn’t affect me too much in my early years, but as I got older, school became more of a challenge. I had to sit closer to the front and in the end had enlarged text for my exams. The poor night vision also meant I didn’t socialise with friends in an evening, so it definitely affected my social circle in my teenage years.

Was a career in sports inevitable for Neil Fachie?

I adored sport. I’d fallen in love with athletics and spent much of my time training at what was the Chris Anderson Stadium in Aberdeen. A career in sports never seemed likely though. In fact during my early teens I lost almost every race that I did. I was in it purely for the social side, as well as challenging myself to beat myself. I was constantly striving to improve, but sporting success seemed a long way off.

Neil Fachie facing the camera wearing his dark blue Paralympics GB polo shirt. He is smiling.
Neil Fachie | Photo courtesy of imagecomms / Paralympics GB

Would you say your education in Aberdeen helped or hindered your sporting ambitions? Did your school see your potential?

I didn’t get much in the way of help from my school. We’d often have to enter the Scottish Schools Championships off our own backs, but its the way it was. Studying at the University of Aberdeen did allow me to continue with Aberdeen Athletics Club, the extra time meaning I was essentially training as a full-time athlete. In the final year of my degree I became a member of the British Athletics development squad, things really took off from there.

The First Paralympics

At your first Paralympics in Beijing you were a sprinter, but after that changed to cycling. Tell us about that decision.

Following the Beijing Games I received a phone call from my manager at British Athletics. They told me that they didn’t think I had the potential to make it to London 2012 and were terminating my contract with immediate affect. At that stage my sporting dreams were done.

I desperately wanted to be part of a home Paralympic Games and so I decided to try every sport I could until I found one I might just be good enough at to have a chance of making it to the Games. As a life long fan of cycling, I decided that would be what I tried first. As it turns out, getting kicked off that athletics team was the best thing that ever happened to me. I obviously didn’t see it that way at the time.

Neil Fachie and Matt Rotherham on a tandem bike. Matt in front. The velodrome track curves behind them.
Neil Fachie and his pilot Matt Rotherham | Photo courtesy of imagecomms / Paralympics GB

What can powering on the back of a tandem bike pedalling at breakneck speeds tell us about trust? How important is your relationship with your tandem partner?

We hit speeds of 75 kph around the tight banking of the velodrome and so my life is very much in the hands of my pilot (the sighted rider on the front of the tandem). I very much have to trust in their bike handling skills, as well as trusting that they are also willing to dedicate their time towards achieving Paralympic success.

It takes a great deal of understanding between riders to make a fast tandem. Two great cyclists on a bike doesn’t equal a fast tandem. We have to be in sync, we have to compliment one another and we have to work well together. That relationship can take years to develop, if truth be told we are always learning more about one another.

London 2012 and Glasgow 2014

From a viewers point of view, being part of London 2012 and Glasgow 2014 looks like it would have been amazing. What was your experience of those games.

London 2012 was insane. The noise in the velodrome was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before or since. To win gold there was beyond my wildest dreams. Just taking part in those Games was all I’d ever wanted. For the following two weeks we were rockstars. We had to be accompanied by security when we went to events because everyone knew who we were. In that moment the Paralympic Games became mainstream.

To then follow that up with a home Games in Glasgow was very special. The crowd there were immense and pulling on the Scotland kit there was an extremely proud moment. My victory in the sprint in Glasgow is still my favourite ever win. It was an event we really shouldn’t have won, but somehow we managed to defeat the incredibly strong team from Australia.

I was devastated. As reigning world champion I was ready to race. The thought that I would have to keep going for another year, allowing my opposition time to catch me up, was gutting.
Neil Fachie

The build-up to Tokyo 2020

Let's skip forward to early 2020 as you were training for the Tokyo Olympics, we started to hear about this virus in China…and then in Italy. A worrying time for us all, but how were you feeling about your build-up?

In late January/early February we won gold at the World Championships in Canada and all was looking on track for the Games. We had beaten our opposition by a good margin and I felt extremely confident going into the final phase of training before the Games. Although the virus was starting to spread, I didn’t ever consider things would turn out the way they did.

When the games were eventually postponed, were you relieved, frustrated or a bit of both?

I was devastated. As reigning world champion I was ready to race. The thought that I would have to keep going for another year, allowing my opposition time to catch me up, was gutting. It was at that point that I started to doubt whether I would even continue to the Games.

Do you think, in terms of your performance, you benefitted from that postponement?

After the initial disappointment I started to fall in love with cycling again. As we had to train from home, I’d had to change the way I train. It turns out that this ‘freshening up’ was just what I needed. I thrived during lockdown, and once we were able to get back on track, we went from strength to strength. We used the extra year we had to work on areas of the event we hadn’t had the chance to before. We just kept getting quicker and quicker. There is no way we would’ve gone as fast as we did in Tokyo, had the race taken place in 2020.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK0ql_R740Y

Life in Tokyo

You are still in Tokyo right now. Tell us a little about the experience of being part of the mid pandemic olympic village beyond your cycling. What have you been able to get up to?

Regulations were very tight in Japan. We stayed outside of the athlete’s village because the velodrome is based over 100km away. For that reason it didn’t quite feel like the usual Games. Every morning we had to spit into a tube for testing, to ensure we weren’t carrying the coronavirus. Sport is often far from glamorous! The day following my race we headed to a hotel near the airport, ready to fly home. We were told that if we left the hotel, we could be arrested. Fortunately the view from our hotel was stunning, but its not quite how I wanted to see Tokyo.

Neil Fachie and Lora Fachie embrace draped in a red, white and blue union jack flag. Lora is crying and holding a bouque of flowers in her hand.
Neil Fachie and Lora Fachie Celebrate their victories in Tokyo | Photo courtesy of imagecomms / Paralympics GB

Your wife Lora won a gold medal within 15 minutes of you, a truly fantastic family achievement. How did that feel?

The most incredible day. While warming up for my race I watched Lora break the world record in her qualifying ride. I knew the pressure was then on me. Matt and I then won gold, breaking the world record, so the pressure switched back to Lora and her pilot Corrine. In their gold medal ride they won a tough battle against the Irish bike, taking Paralympic gold. I didn’t see Lora for the next 30 minutes or so as I was taken away for my podium and Lora hers. When we finally came together I gave her a huge hug and she said to me, “we did it”. The tears were flowing at that point.

The Future for Neil Fachie

That top spot on the podium must be getting quite familiar, and we're now only three years away from Paris '24. Have you made the decision whether or not you'll aim to compete?

I have every intention of being there. Next summer the Commonwealth Games take place in Birmingham, an event I plan to be part of. In 2023 the cycling world champs take place in Glasgow. This will be the first time all cycling disciplines will come together to create a cycling Games of sort, so I definitely want to be part of that. Then at that stage we are just one year away from Paris. I might be 40 at that stage, but I’d love to be there to try and defend my title.


Thank you so much to the amazing Neil Fachie taking the time to answer our questions despite having an incredibly busy schedule following Tokyo. He's a truly inspirational character. This is a story we can all take motivation from no matter what path we are on.

Find out more

Neil Fachie's book Earn Your Stripes is a great read. You can learn more about it on his website. Neil hosts a podcast The 1% Club with fellow presenter, John Mellis. You can also make a connection with Neil on Twitter where he's very active.

If you enjoyed this Temp Check, why not check out our interview with Aberdeen radio presenter Lauren Mitchell. It's a great follow-up read.


The return of Aberdeen Performing Arts

Aberdeen Performing Arts has announced that all of its venues will re-open to the public from Tuesday 7 September. APA closed The Music Hall, His Majesty’s Theatre and the Lemon Tree on 17 March 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic forced the world into lockdown. This resulted in the arts charity rescheduling or cancelling over 700 performances and placing 270 staff on furlough.



Jane Spiers of Aberdeen Performing Arts

Chief Executive Jane Spiers said: “We are so pleased, relieved and grateful to be opening our doors again after such a difficult 18 months.  We earn nearly 90% of our turnover through earned income and that was wiped out overnight. I can’t thank our loyal team enough, our furloughed team who stayed with us in spirit and the handful of retained team who ripped up their job descriptions and did whatever it took to keep us afloat. It’s a milestone moment for all of us and we can’t wait for curtain up. As we start to see people coming back to work it’s hard not to feel emotional. It’s much more than a turn of the key to get our three venues open again after so long and everyone is working so hard to get us there.”

“We are gradually phasing back and plan to offer a full programme again by November. For now, though, our immediate priority is to bring our beautiful buildings back to life and put measures in place to make sure that our customers and audiences feel safe and comfortable going forwards.

We’ve just put the finishing touches to a terrific Autumn/Winter season brochure. We’re so grateful to our audiences who donated so generously during the pandemic to help keep us going. There would be no show without you. Enjoy!”

New opening hours

Box offices at His Majesty’s Theatre and the Music Hall will open on Tuesday, September 7. They'll be open Tuesday to Saturday, from 10am – 6pm. Coda Café in the Music Hall will be open from Tuesday, September 14. It opening hours of Tuesday to Saturday from 9.30am – 5pm. HMT 1906 café and restaurant will remain closed until the end of November. This will allow APA to increase circulation space in the HMT foyer/box office as part of COVID safety measures.

What's on

The first performance at the Music Hall will be Nick Cave and Warren Ellis on Sunday 19 September, with the first event, the National Whisky Festival, taking place on Saturday 18 September. The first show at His Majesty’s Theatre will be the 100th Aberdeen Student Show, Freezin’ which runs at the theatre from Tuesday 14 September to Saturday 18 September, while at the Lemon Tree the first show will be The Wandering Hearts on Wednesday 8 September.


Don't miss out on our interview with Aberdeen Rapper Chef. He spoke to us this week about a BBC Scotland documentary about the Aberdeen hip-hop and R&B scene.


Chef and Louis pushing Aberdeen's music scene

Aberdeen's growing hip-hop and R&B scene has caught the eye of BBC documentary makers. The New Aberdeen: R&B and Hip-Hop at the Heart of the Granite City takes a look at musician Chef, producer Louis Seivwright and the musical artists that surround them as the scene in the city in the city grows and gets national attention.

We reached out to Chef to find out a little bit more about him and his working relationship with business and creative partner Louis Seivwright. We wanted to know how it started, the artists they work with, what it was like to shoot the documentary and his plans for the future.



How it started

Let's start with a little bit about your background. Tell us about how you met. How did that develop into a working relationship?

Louis and I first met working a door to door sales job. We were both there for a very short period of time but during that time we were told of each other (since we both were interested in music) but never really spoke too much. It was only some time after that he reached out to me.

Louis and I are brothers. We don’t always agree but we always trust one another to know what the other is doing.
Chef

I was and am extremely busy so I wasn’t able to meet with him but we ran into each other when I was coming off a train back from a trip I made to Glasgow. He pushed me to go studio right there and then and the rest is history. We made our first song and never stopped.

How is your working relationship? Is it all smooth sailing or does it sometimes get salty between Chef and Louis?

Louis and I are brothers. We don’t always agree but we always trust one another to know what the other is doing. More often than not, we are thinking the exact same thing and we usually learn from each other when it comes to any differing ideas. It’s never been salty but we are both so passionate about what we do so its all a part of collaboration.

Photo supplied by Chef

Growing relationships

You have a number of artists that work around you. Did you go out to find them or was it more organic than that?

I definitely go out and look for them and I have done from the start. I’ve always believed that a community and thriving culture is what drives music and art. In order to have that you have to search for those looking to be a part of that and help and nurture them in whatever way they require. I spend time every day searching the Scottish music scene. I listenin to everyone’s new releases, analysing and entrenching myself in what’s going on.

However even though I search for them, I don’t force connections, those are all organic. I’ll have an eye on someone for any amount of time. If I’m meant to meet them then I’ll make sure I get the chance to speak to them. From there we see if anything we’re involved in can align, collaboration is not just about being on the same song. It can be so many more things.

Aberdeen's music scene has traditionally been dominated by guitar bands. In the past few years that's changing. Why do you think that came about?

I’ve been working with countless artists in all shapes and forms. As I said, it’s not always making a song with someone but my connections with the music scene spans to every level of industry and I plan to keep fostering healthy relationships with everyone I can.

This documentary is an ambitious next step, with the aim of bringing your music scene to a wider audience. How did it come about?

The BBC actually approached us, but the documentary was a goal that we set for ourselves a year prior and it seems that the work we put in allowed our wishes to come to fruition.

https://youtu.be/vmNrHpY1h6Y
Chef and Louis appearing in BBC Documentary The New Aberdeen

Shooting the documentary

What challenges did you face in getting the documentary produced?

The documentary went along without any issues thankfully. The BBC Tune team were absolutely amazing and allowed us to have input. It did not seem forced and we felt like we could be ourselves.

Tell us a little about the day of shooting.

Louis and I were shooting from 9am. We were present throughout everyone else’s shoots so our day wrapped up around 8pm. Quite long but it was a great experience. We started at Spin Record Store on Littlejohn Street. They gifted me a vinyl of my favourite Fela Kuti album “Zombie”. We then travelled round Aberdeen and ended at 210 Bistro. Tru Nature, Aiitee, Josh Maclean and Aiysha Russel were all great and it felt like we all had a good time.

Hard work and the future

It looks like you've both been putting in long hours to get this off the ground. Have you any advice for those following in your footsteps?

We certainly have been putting in long hours. The advice I’d give to anyone else is to take the stairs and not to skip any steps. And secondly, I believe people should always ask for help. Never be too proud to rely on others because knowing different perspectives will help give you a better understanding of what you’re doing. Even if you don’t want to take the advice, it’s always good to know what someone would think.

What upcoming releases should we be keeping an eye out for?

Louis has a game changing album that is coming up. Louis and I are both taking part in a few more things for TV. Aside from that I can’t give too much away, but there a big plans in the works. We're now fostering some international connections and the goal is to develop what we’ve started and take it to highest heights. You’ll have to keep up to date on our socials to see more.

What you need to know

Where to follow Chef: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook
Where to listen: Spotify, Apple Music
Latest release: The World is Mine EP 

If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy our interview with Aberdeen producer Vagrant Real Estate.

https://open.spotify.com/album/4b7ledOhkZcTWWitE1y6ao?si=9OX5D8wjTqCWpv6B2hbPLg&dl_branch=1

British Art Show 9 - Asking big questions

British Art Show 9 has been at Aberdeen Art Gallery for over a month now. Many of you will have been to visit, while many others have not. Some will love it, others may not. One thing is for sure, though. It’s undeniable. It’s asking pretty big questions of its audience on its themes of healing, care and reparative history, and it’s not afraid what we might say in reply.

So let’s have a look at the show. I really wanted to find out what BAS9 tells us about modern Britain.

Heads up here. I’m going to use the word ‘works’ here a lot when speaking about the art generally. It’s not a perfect word, but in a show that contains paintings, photographs, sculpture, video, soundscapes and many more besides, it’s as good a capture-all word for the art as any other.



https://youtu.be/bcJMh6qrkk8

The first visit

I was lucky enough to visit on opening night, but I have to admit I was left feeling a little disappointed. I felt that what I was seeing was a cut and paste. Pre made work dropped into a space that was seemingly not expecting it. I wondered if the artists hearts were really in this post Brexit, mid pandemic exhibition. What story are the artists and curators were telling me, either in individual works or the show as a whole? I left Aberdeen Art Gallery feeling a little flat.

But I saw it. I saw it with a small crowd, faces covered apart from their eyes and I realised this isn’t how I enjoy art.

Finding the right time

Like many in Aberdeen, I think my big art event every year has become Nuart Aberdeen. In normal years, when it visits the city, huge crowds fill the streets. I love those crowds. The delight on people's faces as they look at vast murals is intoxicating. I get out there with my camera and photograph their faces. Our city at its very best. But I actually see very little of the artwork on those big days. I save that for later. When everyone goes home I go back out to the empty streets and take in the work in my own time and headspace.

So I went back on my own at a quiet time of the day and was able to give it my full attention. Let’s have a look at the work that stood out for me.

Patrick Goddard – Animal Antics

Created for British Art Show 9, Patrick Goddard’s Animal Antics is a short film featuring a woman and her talking dog. As they talk and walk round a zoo it becomes apparent that the small smug white dog has a pretty oppressive view of the world.

It’s beautifully shot, but awkward to watch as the dog’s often detestable rants are played in part for comedy. The film feels a bit reminiscent of a ’70s sitcom but without the laughter track. However, as time rolls on, we start to see the uncomfortable link between the dog’s bigotry and the way we as a society treat animals.

At just under 40 minutes, it’s a long viewing time for an art exhibit, but well worth watching from start to finish.

Margaret Salmon – I You Me We Us | Photo by Chris Sansbury

Margaret Salmon – I You Me We Us

Glasgow based artist Margaret Salmon’s contribution to BAS9 is a 16 minute silent film shown on two stacked monitors which ‘talk’ to each other. We’re exploring affection here, and the small intimate touches and sounds we share with the people we love. It's very tender and gentle to watch. You can find yourself

The space on this work is perfect. The monitors stand in a corner but they capture people’s attention as they move from one space to the next. It’s great fun to watch couples walk past, then turn back to watch longer, to see more of the affectionate moments that Margaret Salmon has shared.

Hardeep Pandhal | Photo by Chris Sansbury

Hardeep Pandhal

Glasgow based Hardeep Pandhal’s installation grabbed me on my first visit and kept me coming back for more. He works with his mum on amazing knitted works, but his illustrations are what captured my attention, with the feel Robert Crumb of fantastical '60s stoner comics. 2Pac makes an appearance, and we take a look at how we have come to misuse the word ‘thug’.

Each time I visit I find something new about this to enjoy. Something that amuses or maybe I peel back another layer. Not only does it look great, but it really does reward you for repeated visits and taking a little time to look into Pandhal’s influences and previous works.

Marianna Simnett
The Needle and the Larynx (still), 2016
© the artist. Courtesy the artist and Serpentine Galleries, London

Marianna Simnett – The Needle and the Larynx

Another video production, Marianna Simnett films herself going through a medical procedure to lower the pitch of her voice. For the sake of art. The practice is sometimes used help young men who’s voice doesn’t settle after puberty.

We don’t normally see medical procedures like this, and Simnett uses slow motion and artistic editing to ensure that as an audience, we never flinch from seeing the disquieting procedure from start to finish. Matched with its hypnotic soundtrack, it’s an uncomfortable watch, but you can’t tear your eyes away. Of all the works at British Art Show 9, this was the one that stuck with me for days after.

It’s worth noting that The Needle and the Larynx might not be for you if you are particularly squeamish.

Aberdeen Art Gallery’s exterior view
Photo by Chris Sansbury

No wrong opinions

Fellow visitors to British Art Show 9 might notice that most of my favourite works use video as their medium. That, of course, is entirely down to my personal taste, and possibly where I am able to see beyond the surface. I can offer a little more than “that’s pretty” or “I don’t like that”.

There are maybe a handful of works on display at BAS9 for you too. Ones that you’ll be particularly taken by. Hopefully to even draw you back for repeated visits. Those works could well be different from the ones that excited me.

So what does BAS9 tell us about Modern Britain?

I think curators Irene Aristizábal and Hammad Nasar have taken a deliberately hands-off approach to an overall show message. There is no message. We aren't supposed to walk away thinking our views on this strange island we all live on have been confirmed, adjusted or derided. There's definitely a conversation to be had as to whether that was a good option.

We're supposed to walk away having maybe been moved by some exciting modern art. Beyond that, we can argue which ones we like best, and why, but British Art Show 9 is not answering questions on its themes of healing, care and reparative history; it's asking them. How do YOU feel about these things? Where do YOU stand? What do YOU care about?

What do you need to know?

British Art Show 9 runs in Aberdeen until 10th October, before it moves on to Wolverhampton. As with almost everything at Aberdeen Art Gallery, its free but depending on current Covid19 restrictions, you may need to book a visit. My advice is take your time with the works on show. My first visit was 3 hours long and that was probably rushing it.

Where: Aberdeen Art Gallery
When: July 10 – October 10 2021
Opening Hours: Monday 10am-5pm, Tuesday closed, Wednesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm 
Cost: Free

Let us know what you think of the show. As with all art, there are NO WRONG ANSWERS here.

https://twitter.com/aberdeencity/status/1430115117564375080?s=21

Ian Watt from Code the City on Open Data

You may have read about Open Data while browsing the internet, or reading the news. However, to many of us it remains subject that seems important but we'll get to it one day. Well, postpone no more. We reached out to Ian Watt, cofounder and trustee of Aberdeen charity Code the City. We asked him to tell us about the fantastic civic benefits of open data. He also takes a look at whether our local and national governments are performing well on delivering both the benefits and the data. Grab a cuppa and enjoy.



Over to Ian...

When we started Code the City in Aberdeen 2013 we were driven by the idea that everyone should understand data and should know a little bit about code (the stuff that makes computers, smart phones, gaming devices and even TVs work). We subscribed to the notions that data should be free and open, and that “coding gives you superpowers” as Michael Kennedy puts it: no matter what your job (journalist, doctor, historian, office admin assistant, photographer, astronomer, musician …) being able to code will boost what you can do. 

Code the City | Photo supplied by Ian Watt

We’ve continued to run events for the last seven years, mostly in Aberdeen and across Scotland. People can join in with others to share and learn, and to work on real world problems while they do so. We’ve also run kids coding classes, created a monthly data meetup, initiated a regular user group for those who code in Python, run workshops and research projects, and started the annual Scottish Open Data Unconference. Many of these activities are designed to increase data literacy of participants in a way that is relevant to their role or interests. We see data literacy as a key skill for these times. 

In the remainder of this article I am going to concentrate on the importance of open data to what we do - and also to Aberdeen in particular. 

What is open data?

Open Data is data which is freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. This data can come from any source but is mostly associated with the public sector. 

Why do we need it? What are the benefits?

If you have used the City Mapper app on your phone - or GPS or Google Maps to move around - then you are a user and beneficiary of open data. If you’ve looked at newspapers’ dashboards on the spread of Covid or Vaccine rollouts then you’ve benefited from open data. 

Publishing open data is proven to stimulate innovation, foster trust and transparency. Furthermore it would deliver economic, educational, social, environmental and other benefits. 

Code the City | Photo supplied by Ian Watt

The February 2020 report by the  European Data Portal – The Economic Impact of Open Data –  sets out a clear economic case for open data. From that we can see that if Open Data was being provided robustly and at scale in Scotland as it is in mainland Europe then the value to the Scots economy would of the order of £2.027bn to £2.266bn per annum.  Sadly that is not happening in Scotland - despite some of our efforts over the last decade. Our estimate is that it is currently worth about 0.01% of that! 

What data do we need?

In a perfect world you would have access to data such as 

  • The air quality in your area
  • How much your education authority spends on books in your kids’ school compared to others
  • Where are the potholes in your locale? When were they reported? When were they fixed?
  • Planning applications in your neighbourhood
  • How clean a local loch is to swim in, and its current water temperature
  • Where the electrical vehicle charging points are on your route south
  • Food hygiene inspections of all city restaurants which can be linked to online ordering 
  • Adult literacy rates in each council ward
  • etc.

If you are data literate then the raw data might be interesting and of use to you.  Otherwise people with entrepreneurial skills such as those taught at RGU could build new products or services using this data just as City Mapper and other apps help us make sense of raw data. That activity would attract investment, create jobs, and stimulate demand for skills - and business space - in the city. 

Currently Aberdeen City Council publishes 16 data sets as open data. Leaving aside the observation that these are static and not currently maintained, as a comparison here are some EU cities: 

Historical context and the current situation

The UK Government signed the G8 Open Data Charter in 2013 committing itself to publish data openly. As a result, the UK as a whole was for a while the leader in Open Data worldwide. 

The Scottish Government published its Open Data Strategy in 2015 committing that data in Scotland would be open by default. Sadly there has been little to show for that commitment and we’ve largely wasted the six intervening years. 

Code the City | Photo supplied by Ian Watt

The Scottish Cities Alliance, which represents all seven Scottish Cities, have tried to push forward the open data agenda as part of their Smart Cities programme. However the results to date have been at best inconsistent. Early leaders Glasgow faded but are now starting to do some good work again. Edinburgh similarly were great to start with, then appeared to give up. They have now committed to a Data Driven Innovation programme linked to their Smart Cities approach. Dundee, Perth and Stirling have been most consistently committed and are putting real effort into open data publication.

Who isn't doing so well?

The lame horses, sadly, are Inverness and Aberdeen who have dropped out of the programme. The latter case is especially sad when we consider that Aberdeen was the trailblazer in open data in Scotland. It published not only the first open data by any Scottish local authority in 2010 but what is considered to be the first open data of any public body in Scotland. [Full disclosure - I was responsible for that publication when I worked there.] 

Sadly the current state of open data in Scotland is extremely poor. What happens at a governmental level is mostly done grudgingly and without enthusiasm. It is underfunded and has no long-term approach or sustainability. At a city level it’s worse. The publication of open data is seen as a burden or overhead - and not an opportunity to deliver the economic, social, environmental or educational benefits that we know that it will deliver. It misses the opportunity to foster trust through transparency. And it starves the educational process at all levels of raw material that could drive engagement in STEM and enliven the curriculum in a particularly meaningful way.

None of this should detract from the dozen or so committed civil servants and local government officers across Scotland who do their very best to advance open data - either with indifference from above or, in many cases, despite a complete lack of political or managerial support. 

What needs to change? 

As we’ve seen the current situation is poor - locally and at a Scotish level. The Scottish Government strategy has no teeth. There are no consequences to a government department or council failing to publish data openly. The actions in the strategy go no further than 2017. This  has provided the perfect conditions for complacency and non-delivery. 

Funding for open data projects where it exists tends to be short term. There can be no confidence that data publication platforms will be there in a year or two’s time. Inverness switched theirs off after a year, having spent £10,000s of funding on it.

Code the City | Photo supplied by Ian Watt

We need to view the publication of open data as part of a commitment to the economic success of a country or region. It should be funded just as we fund other infrastructure, with a view to it underpinning long term development. We don’t create roads, bridges, railways, electricity grids or water supplies on the basis that they might disappear next month. They will exist for decades or centuries - and people know that they can rely on their being there - and build on them: locating factories, offices, homes along the infrastructure which has been created. 

We should take the European view - and not only invest in the publication of open data but in education in its use, and provide stimulus funding to startups to create new products and services.

Summary

Open data promises to deliver so many benefits to Aberdeen and Scotland as a whole if only it were done well. But it’s not: strategies to deliver open data are ignored - and doing so has no real consequence to those who ignore them; funding, if it exists, is short term; and there is no recognition of the need to treat data as infrastructure. Consequently potential benefits - particularly economic - are not delivered. At one time Aberdeen was at the forefront of open data in Scotland. Thanks to Nesta funding it had the opportunity engage on the European stage with the leading cities there. 

We should be clear - this is about a failure of leadership nationally and locally. The council is depriving the city of potential income, job creation, and the retention of graduates. Schools - which need to get young people engaged in STEM education - are deprived of the very raw material which would make that possible and attractive. 

At Code the City we continue to work with citizens and support the sharing of skills and knowledge. We work with local charities and various public sector organisations to help them better understand and use technology and data. We encourage the creation of open data, and help make that happen. 

But we need to start holding our political leaders to account, nationally and locally. Each is letting down youngsters, stifling innovation and depriving the economy of much needed stimulus. How much longer can we allow this to go on? 

Code the City | Photo supplied by Ian Watt

About Ian Watt

Ian is a co-founder and trustee of Code The City, an Aberdeen-based  charity which uses tech and data for civic good. He is a non-exec director of Democracy Club, a UK community interest company which uses crowd-sourced open data to better engage citizens in the democratic process. He is on the steering group of Data Commons Scotland, a Stirling University programme which is looking at how we can better use open data across the whole waste management cycle in Scotland. Furthermore, he's an Ambassador for both Open UK and Data Lab Scotland. Until May 2021 he was the civic society lead for open data in the Open Government Plan development for Scotland. He writes regularly about open data in Scotland.

If you'd like to keep up to date with Code the City, you can sign up to the newsletter here.

Further reading

A huge thanks to Ian from Code the City for taking the time to write this article. If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy an article by Neil Innes from Ride the North about whether Aberdeen is delivering on its commitment to become a cycling city. If you would like to write an article for POST, check out our Share Your Content page. Stay up to date with what we're up to, sign up to our monthly newsletter.


Temp Check: Director Mark Stirton

Mark Stirton is an Aberdeen loon through and through. It comes across in his dialogue, his humour. That dry whit that is particular to folk here the North-East of Scotland. His second movie has a legendary status with the people of Aberdeen, though it didn't travel well. One Day Removals is the story of Andy and Ronnie, a pair of Aberdeen removal men who have a very, very bad day. The sharp dialogue is in doric, peppered with as many swear words as you could possibly hope for.

His first film, The Planet, was a low budget sci-fi. He filmed it at Balmedie Beach with a budget of just £8000. No mean feat for a film that doesn't shy away from visual effects. Mark and his production team spent two years to create the models and effects.

Publicity photograph for Mark Stirton's ONE DAY REMOVALS

2018 saw the release of his third feature length, Dark Highlands, a horror about a Japanese artist who visits Scotland, only to become the target of a crazed killer. It's a delicate blend beautiful cinematography and high tension with very little dialogue.

We reached out to Mark Stirton to find out a little bit more about the man behind the films. We want to find out what inspired him to became a filmmaker, what he’s been up to during lockdown, and his plans for the future.



It's been a crazy few months with a few highs and a whole load of lows. How are you doing right now? Have you been coping okay with lockdown...and coming out of lockdown? Have you been able to work?

Yeah, I was pretty reclusive anyway so it didn't affect me so much. However I couldn't go filming so I turned to animation and had rather a fun time working with Composer Jon Brooks on Wrong Time, Wrong Space which won a few nice awards.

Being locked down really destroyed my ability to put a crew together. Now I love my crew and I enjoy working as a group, but that was just impossible, so i turned to a project that one man theoretically could do alone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sQX3nGh3_Q
Mark Stirton's lockdown short film, WRONG TIME, WRONG SPACE

Wrong Time, Wrong Space

Animation is new for you. Can you tell us about that experience?

Slight problem, I'm not an animator. So I opened some animation software, started to build my hero spaceship and made a deal with myself. If I could make the spaceship, I'd make the film. It took a while but eventually I had a hero model that could star in the film, so I just learned how to do each shot pretty much in chronological order.

But, I'll never do it again. I had this one animation project in my head, and that's yer lot. It was nice to finally get it done after years of thinking about it, but it would never have happened without a lockdown.

So did you you do all the work on Wrong Time, Wrong Space yourself?

My only real collaborator was composer Jon Brooks, who also scored Dark Highlands for me and will also be providing a full orchestral score for the new [version of] One Day Removals.

I knew my animation would be, kinda rudimentary, so Jon really had to bring the whole thing to life with his music, which he did beautifully. The best days for me were hearing his music come in, as I painfully pushed the film forward with maybe four seconds complete each week. Maybe six if I was lucky.

CGI animation is neither easy nor fast. Particularly since I was using some very old equipment to achieve the shots. After all, I didn't know we'd be locked down for months and months, so it's not like I had a CGI workstation sitting waiting, I had to improvise one!

Why film making?

Nobody comes out of the womb a fully fledged creator. What inspired you to set out on the path to making movies?

Avoiding going to prison. My path, as a younger stupider man, wasn't exactly smart or legal. I was going no-where, except probably to prison so I pulled myself together a bit, focused on what I wanted to do, then did it.

Publicity photograph for Mark Stirton's DARK HIGHLANDS

One Day Removals

I think it's fair to say most folk know you for One Day Removals, your 2008 Doric comedy set very firmly in Aberdeen and around. Tell us about how the idea for that came about and how you took that from script to screen.

It took a long time. I wrote the first version in around 1993, but I just couldn't find anyone interested in funding it, so it sat in a folder for a decade. But, little by little, digital technology advanced enough and was affordable enough that I was eventually able to mount a feature film version for around 60 grand. The basic idea never changed, what if two removal men accidentally killed not just one person, but a van load.

A lot of folk were shocked by the language. To me, though, it just reflects the way that folk in the north-east speak at work and in the pub. Was the swearing a conscious decision when you wrote it?

Yes. The screenplay was written in Doric and was full of swearing. It was very much a mission statement. This is the way we are going to do it and it won't change. Unfortunately that was also the path to distribution failure.

I remember at the time it was the sort of movie that people passed between friends and co-workers. It’s a great way to ensure people in the city see the movie. However, it’s probably not the most profitable of distribution methods. Did it ever get a commercial release?

No. The Planet was released commercially, Dark Highlands was released commercially, but the Raindance selected BIFA nominated One Day Removals, was not.

Aberdeen’s film industry

Aberdeen's film making scene is particularly small even while other creative industries in the city are hitting a bit of a moment in the sun. So why do you think Scotland's film industry is stuck in the central belt...even just in terms of filming locations? What do you think can be done to help our industry?

I'm hardly the person to ask. I'm a multi award winning director with distribution deals in America, Japan, France and HBO Europe, but in Aberdeen I am both unemployed and unemployable. You'd be as well asking me how to get a job at ASDA.

Publicity photograph for Mark Stirton's DARK HIGHLANDS

Tell us about your most recent film, the horror Dark Highlands. It's a very different film so you must have experienced a different set of challenges and frustrations.

Very much so. I like to change genres every time I make a new film. Sci-fi, to Comedy to Horror to Animation. Keeps things challenging. In terms of Dark Highlands the most challenging aspect was filming everything in the actual Highlands. Filming miles away from anywhere, with bad weather and midges was not something I'm rushing to do again.

However, as a budget conscious director I was aware of the amazing production values you get from going there. It's not exactly free and it takes plenty of planning, but visually it was worth it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Q8DZAQ5Pws
Trailer for Mark Stirton's 2018 film DARK HIGHLANDS

What do you think motivates you to create?

I'm not sure, but even during the pandemic I was animating away on a new project, so even if I'm alone in a flat, I'll create something!

Is there anything you'd have done differently in your film-making career? What advice would you give to your younger self?

To be honest I kept being surprised that we got anywhere. I was surprised that The Planet sold, I was surprised One Day Removals opened in London at a big fancy festival, so maybe I'd advise myself to have a little faith and not worry so much.

The future

As folk get the vaccine and we can hopefully get on with the next part of our lives, what are you up to? Is there a new movie on the way?

Yes, I'm writing it now. One Day Removals never gained any real popularity outside the North East, so I'm going to try it again only based out of London next time with two English actors. Call it the Lock Stock version.


Find out more

Thanks very much to Mark for his time. It’s fantastic to get an insight into a local industry that perhaps needs no small amount of attention. You can find more about the work of Mark Stirton on his website. If talking directly is more your thing, you can follow him on Twitter.

If you enjoyed this interview, check out our Temp Check with Colin Farquhar from Aberdeen's Belmont Filmhouse Cinema.

You can also watch One Day Removals in full right here!

https://youtu.be/v8NbHYtlaS8

Vagrant Real Estate explores Holy Places

Aberdeen producer Vagrant Real Estate has teamed up with Edinburgh-based singer Misty Galactic for a new track. Released on 23 July, Holy Places is a dark late-night pop single which explores the intense feelings of lust and obsession.

https://youtu.be/ldgM_vXVxC4

Both musicians have enjoyed tremendous praise in the infancy of their careers. Misty Galactic’s previous releases received a wide range of support, including from the Scottish Alternative Music Awards. She ended 2020 on a high with her inclusion on The Herald’s Top 100 tunes of the year. Recently Misty Galactic also landed the coveted Artist of the Week feature in The Scotsman.

Vagrant Real Estate has also received notable coverage. Specifically from the likes of Ministry of Sound, DJ Mag and i-D Magazine. In addition he was also named as one of Vic Galloway’s Top 25 Artists To Watch in 2021

The new track marks the first time that Vagrant Real Estate has worked worked with a singer. As a producer he normally works with rappers. His signature production style combining warm melodies with soap bass and drums is still very much present, though. Holy Places highlights Misty Galactic’s sonic ambition. Her voice commands presence over walls of guitar and synths. The result is a cavernous and carnal anthem to obsession, evoking artists such as BANKS, The Weeknd and Lana Del Rey. 



What the artists say about Holy Places

We asked Vagrant Real Estate how he and Misty got together for the track. Speaking to POST, he told us, "I originally came across Misty's music through blogs as she was picking up press for her first few singles, and really liked her sound and aesthetic. I always want to try and push myself and work on different sounds and styles, so I reached out and she was happy to collaborate.

“Misty Galactic is a great talent, and I couldn’t be happier with how the track came out. From the initial demo I sent through, her songwriting and vocal performance took the whole sound to the next level."

Misty Galactic told us, "It was awesome to get to work with Vagrant Real Estate on this release. The lyrics are all about being so obsessed with someone and having such intense feelings, it all starts to feel like a religious experience. I'd been playing around with them for quite a while, and when he sent me the initial idea for a track, everything just seemed to fit together perfectly. I'm super proud of what we've created."

Vagrant Real Estate | Photo by Chris Sansbury

The effect of COVID on recording music

We wondered whether remote the move to recording has been liberating for artists. Some say it's levelling the playing field, while others tell us it's more difficult for new acts. Vagrant Real Estate thinks it is a bit of both. "I think it's definitely benefited those who have been able to adapt and work effectively with it. I've seen a number of people grow their brand massively. Artists tapping into that new captive audience who were stuck at home, looking for things to watch on social media.

If the quality is there and you have the right push/marketing behind it, people will start to notice.
Vagrant Real Estate

"There's definitely an argument that it's difficult for new acts due to the sheer amount of new music now. You can self-produce and release tracks from your bedroom, but equally the tools are all available and mostly free to network and get your sound out there via social media, websites and the like. If the quality is there and you have the right push/marketing behind it, people will start to notice."

Aberdeen's music scene

Aberdeen's music scene is dominated by rock bands, but other genres are starting to push their way through. We asked about the city's music scene and he sees it. He said, "I think locally and for Scotland in general, there's an abundance of bands. That's what we're typically known for. When I started out producing, pretty much the only other person working in hip-hop in the city was Ransom FA.

"I definitely think now though that hip-hop is coming through. There's a lot of talent in the next generation of artists. I think that ties in with the global shift towards hip-hop as the most popular genre. The main thing Aberdeen needs to compete with the central belt is just infrastructure. In terms of venues, studios and practise spaces we're definitely lacking. Especially when compared to what's available to the artists in Glasgow and Edinburgh."

Vagrant Real Estate | Photo by Chris Sansbury

The future

Wondering what's on the horizon for the Aberdeen producer, he told us, "I've been working on some really exciting collaborations with MCs in London. I've been building those relationships and expanding my sound to incorporate more live instrumentation. Gatson and I are writing the follow-up album to our Holding On EP from Spring this year. I'm also finishing up my next instrumental project - just keeping as busy as possible.

"Once we get a bit closer to normality I'm also keen to put on some events in the city with DJs and performers, providing a platform to showcase the talent we have here."

Our view

Holy Places is a great example of the wealth of talent coming out of Scotland’s next generation of stars. Highlighting both artist’s level of musicianship and versatility, Misty Galactic and Vagrant Real Estate have bright futures ahead of them.

We are extremely keen to support Aberdeen singers, songwriters, bands and producers. Check out The Lounge, a playlists with shines a spotlight on our finest musicians. We update it every Monday so check in regularly.

Holy Places is released on 23 July. You can find Holy Places on your favourite streaming site. You can also keep up to date with the latest on the Aberdeen DJ and producer on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


Aberdeen Art Gallery’s exterior view

British Art Show 9 arrives in Aberdeen

In a major coup for the city, Aberdeen Art Gallery is the opening venue for British Art Show 9. Open from now until 10 October, the free it'll take its place in a massive summer of art and culture in the city.

The British Art Show is an ambitious touring event organised every five years to explore challenging British contemporary art. This year’s show was originally due to take place in 2020 but was delayed due to Covid-19. It's the first time the British Art Show has come to Aberdeen, and only it's second ever visit to Scotland.

https://youtu.be/edS1UodTtpQ

Irene Aristizábal and Hammad Nasar are the curators of the show. They chose artists for each city after travelling to more than 23 locations across the UK as well as meeting over 230 practising artists.

POST will be covering the event throughout the summer; we have loads of things to say about it. In the mean time, get down to Aberdeen Art Gallery and be part of an event that manages to be both challenging and entertaining.

What are the themes of the show?

We think this show is going to be a big deal for the city. Something, like Nuart, that everyone can take part in and explore. Organisers have structured the show around three main themes as it tours the country.

  • Healing, Care and Reparative History
  • Tactics for Togetherness
  • Imagining New Futures

While these themes were agreed prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests of summer 2020, all three have become more relevant in the present moment.

What to expect in Aberdeen

The Aberdeen leg of British Art Show 9 will display over fifteen new artworks never-before seen in the UK. Six of these are brand new commissions. Organisers have focused on the effort to develop alternative systems for ethical cohabitation in the world. Artists will explore the different forms of knowledge we can use to heal the planet. Why we should resist stripping the earth's resources. And finally, how we can develop non-exploitative ways of living with non-humans such as animals or artificial intelligence.

Some of the highlights of the show in Aberdeen include Maeve Brennan's The Goods. This is a series of films, photographs and billboards which explores the trafficking of looted art. Tai Shani will present an exhibit called Neon Hieroglyph. In this installation, fantastic objects – including a pair of floating glass eyes, a huge melting candle and Dracula’s disembodied hand – are accompanied by an otherworldly soundscape.

Perhaps most intriguing of all, Patrick Goddard presents Animal Antics. This is a beautifully shot newly commissioned film featuring a woman and her talking dog.

What you need to know

Where: Aberdeen Art Gallery
When: July 10 - October 10 2021
Opening Hours: Monday 10am-5pm, Tuesday closed, Wednesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm 
Cost: Free

POST will cover British Art Show 9 throughout the summer. We'll take a look at the art and explore the themes. We'll also look at what it means for the city now, and later, it's legacy. We want to know what you think about BAS9 and we’ll ask questions on your behalf. What is contemporary art? Why is it relevant to me? Who pays for it? Is this culture for culture's sake?

Contemporary art is meant to be challenging. Visit BAS9, soak it all in and come away feeling like the artists have asked something of you. In return, you should ask something back. Be vocal about what you saw.

If you would like to know more about British Art Show 9 right now, you can take a look at their website. You can also book your free tickets to the event at Aberdeen Art Gallery as well as check out opening times.