Art Gallery micro commissions awarded to local artists

Aberdeen Art Gallery and Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery have announced the three local artists who will receive funding for micro commissions. The call for proposals was open to creatives residing in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. The objective was to create new works that respond to Aberdeen's exceptional art and history collection.

The applicants were requested to share their experiences in Aberdeen, focusing on themes such as diversity, social justice, climate change, representation, identity, well-being, and migration. The commissioned artists will work with the Aberdeen Archives, Gallery & Museums' collection and curatorial specialists. They can also exhibit their works through public talks, events, performances, workshops, and displays.

Amy Benzie

The artists awarded micro-commissions

Amy Benzie: Amy is a ceramic maker from Torry, Aberdeen, who finds inspiration in the interplay between art and science. She plans to explore local knowledge and traditional healing practices of the North East. And to create a collection of ceramics that reflect these themes.

Find Amy's work here

Clive Ramage: A self-taught artist, Clive is known for his unique paintings and hand-made prints. He will create a triptych of prints inspired by the John Piper painting of Dunnottar Castle. He'll explore the theme of disintegration and how it can lead to creating something beautiful.

Find Clive's work here

Helen Scaife: Helen is a painter and performance artist who intends to create a mixed-media painting that addresses global and local issues related to climate change. Her painting will be based on the setting of Aberdeen harbour. She has been inspired by the artwork Paddle Steamer 'Sovereign' Entering Aberdeen Harbour in the gallery collection.

Find Helen's work here

Clive Ramage

Supported by the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums

The completed pieces could be small-scale, and the development and production process need not be extensive. The Aberdeen City Council will preserve the artworks, which could also become a permanent part of the collection.

This is the third round of micro-commissions sponsored by the Art Gallery and the first one supported by the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums. The Gallery received funding as a joint winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2020. This is what led to the program's creation.

Helen Scaife

Michael Richardson, Chair of the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums, said: “The Friends are very proud of the support they have provided for the development of Aberdeen’s superb collection since the group was established in 1975. Over the years we have supported new acquisitions, conservation work and a large-scale site-specific commission for the Art Gallery during the redevelopment project.

"I’m delighted that we are now supporting the micro-commissions programme, which has become an in important source of support for local artists. Anyone who is interested in finding out more about the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums can come along and meet some of us during our next Friends’ Weekend at the Gallery on 15 and 16 April.”

Lynx seal League Championship with seconds to go

Aberdeen Lynx won the SNL League Championship in the last ten seconds of their match with Edinburgh Capitals. In the end, a cheeky Ben Edmonds flick into the corner of the net was all it took to separate the sides and award the league title to the Cats.

It was too close to call going into the game. The Lynx had lost their previous two matches, setting up a tense, winner-take-all match with their Edinburgh rivals last night. This game was also close, with very little separating the teams. The Edinburgh Capitals were just as deserving of their spot fighting for the league.

A great advert for the league

It's also a great advert for the league. Going into this game, only 9 points separated the Lynx at the top and the Dundee Tigers, third from bottom. A fiercely competitive Scottish National League that almost every team could win.

Gary Kelly and James Demeo's goals had kept things level with the Capitals, but in the last ten seconds of the match, Ben Edmonds scored the goal that won them the league title. The crowd erupted into a frenzy of cheers and applause, and the players threw their helmets off, hugged and high-fived on the ice. The Capitals' players could only look on, heartbroken.

For the players, it was a moment they would never forget. They had worked so hard for this, trained so long and hard, and now they had achieved their goal. The league title was theirs, and they had earned it through skill and sheer bloody-mindedness.

Lynx celebrate into the night

The celebrations continued into the night, with the players and fans basking in their hard-earned victory's glory. Jack Hutton, injured earlier in the game, had been taken to A&E. The team delivered the League Trophy to him as he waited, so he could enjoy the celebrations too.

So this week, the League Champions will start training for the playoff championship and their Scottish Cup match with Paisley Pirates. This will all take place in one spectacular weekend celebration of Ice Hockey at Murrayfield Ice Arena in April.

New gallery Growing Pains takes root

Two Aberdeen-based contemporary artists have teamed up for a new collaborative gallery and creative workspace called Growing Pains. Gray's School of Art graduates Caitlin Robb and Ace Ireland are establishing an all-inclusive gallery to develop new artists and hope to expand into other creative areas.

The name Growing Pains represents their struggle of leaving art school and figuring out what comes next. And also the time-consuming nature of the entire process. It's a recognition of the challenges and pain that often come with finding our way through the world.

The team behind Growing Pains

Ace Ireland, who grew up in Balloch, uses expressive art to evaluate life events that have changed their outlook. They focus on religion, technology, death, and the human condition, pushing the boundaries between what is considered professional and what is considered art. Ace uses poetry, pyrography and sculpture to explore ways to help people process trauma.

Contemporary artist Caitlin Robb is originally from Fife. She uses art to explore the natural world, anatomy, spirituality, and social issues. Her recent work has focused on our relationship with bodies of water. Robb's practice incorporates drawing, printmaking, analogue photography, ceramics, and poetry. She also believes being intimately involved in her art lets her express ideas and thoughts with clarity.

Lifting up those who often go unheard

The pair's frustration with galleries that follow tried and tested templates has led them to set up Growing Pains to encourage the exploration of taboo topics that other galleries may avoid. They're committed to working with people from diverse backgrounds and lifting up those whose voices often go unheard. They believe that hearing from different perspectives helps everyone grow.

Growing Pains seeks to achieve all this within a unique space that moves away from the traditional "white cube" gallery setting. They're creating a gallery that can add flavour to the artwork displayed. Building a safe space for both artists and visitors.

We'll keep you up-to-date about this intriguing new gallery, but for now you can follow them on Twitter and Instagram, and sign up for their newsletter.

Namebliss on the mic in the foreground of a live performance, while Vagrant Real Estste DJs in the background wearing a Scotland football shirt

Biggest Belief - new track from Vagrant Real Estate and Namesbliss

Aberdeen Producer Vagrant Real Estate and rapper Namesbliss have released a new track titled 'Biggest Belief.' This introspective anthem is a relatable gem and is now available to stream everywhere. The duo recently completed their first international music festival at Future Echoes 2023 in Sweden, where they premiered the track. It was also named the BBC Scotland Introducing Track of the Week on March 11th.

A testament to their musical talent and ability to create something relatable and inspiring

This is the second single from their upcoming collaboration album. It has an incredibly well-balanced mix of an irresistible rhythmic melody and a harmonic hook. The track has also been infused with 'light and hope' delivered by DeeRiginal, a fellow UK artist whose work shines through. This track is a soul-quenching listening experience you don't want to miss.

Vagrant Real Estate smiles to the camera. he's wearing a checked shirt and a black t-shirt
Photo by Chris Sansbury / POST

'Biggest Belief' invites listeners to look within themselves and find hope, inspiration, and motivation. Namesbliss's lyrics are relatable and brooding, making them easy to connect with. The song is also beautifully produced and really showcases Vagrant Real Estate's talent.

This latest release from the pair is a testament to their musical talent and ability to create something relatable and inspiring. 'Biggest Belief' is a song worth your time, an excellent reminder that hope and positivity can be found even in dark times.

Biggest Belief is available now

Namesbliss and Vagrant Real Estate have delivered a true gem. This song is a perfect representation of their musical talent and their ability to create something that is both relatable and inspiring. If you haven't already, spend a little time with this track.

#SaveCulture - We MUST protect Aberdeen's vital cultural programme

Aberdeen City Council faces a considerable funding shortfall, posing a significant challenge. Various proposed solutions have been suggested, including a drastic reduction in the cities cultural budget. This will inevitably result in the disappearance of many of the city's events.

It's time we made the call to #SaveCulture in Aberdeen.

In recent years, few things have brought the city together more than its exceptional festivals. Aberdeen is a vibrant city with a rich cultural heritage that can only reach its full potential with a well-funded cultural programme. Nurturing our culture requires passion, hard work, and healthy financial support.

Participating in cultural activities lets people feel connected to others and feel a sense of belonging.

Cultural events and activities improve people's well-being by providing a sense of community, reducing isolation, and promoting mental health. Participating in cultural activities lets people feel connected to others and feel a sense of belonging. Additionally, cultural activities such as dance, music, and theatre can provide therapy and help people express themselves creatively.

Spectra | Photo by Susan Strachan

Essential for wellbeing, business, diversity and jobs

Festivals and cultural events attract visitors from around the country and the world. This brings in desperately-needed revenue for local businesses, hotels, and restaurants. In addition, cultural institutions such as museums, galleries, and theatres create jobs and contribute to the local economy. Investing in cultural programmes supports a cultural tourism industry and bolsters our local economy.

The city's cultural programme provides opportunities for people from different backgrounds to come together and celebrate our diversity. Providing a platform for people to share their cultural traditions and practices promotes understanding and appreciation of other cultures. This leads to a more inclusive society.

Investing in cultural programmes supports a cultural tourism industry and bolsters our local economy

Cultural programmes provide educational opportunities for people of all ages, allowing them to learn about different cultures, histories, and art forms. This promotes learning and creates a more informed and engaged community. By investing in cultural programmes, the city can provide opportunities for its residents to learn and grow, which can help to improve our quality of life.

Aberdeen Art Gallery’s exterior view
Aberdeen Art Gallery | Photo by Chris Sansbury

How can you join the call to #SaveCulture

We've listed a few things you can do to convince Aberdeen City Council that cutting its cultural budget is not the solution that some may think it might be. No decisions have been made yet, but this will be discussed TOMORROW, so now is the time to take action.

  1. Contact your councillors. Visit the WriteToThem website and enter your postcode to find out who your representatives are. Then, go to the Aberdeen City Council website for their email addresses. Compose a brief email to them all expressing dissatisfaction with any proposal to cut the budget and explain why. Don't forget to include your home address. This lets them know you are a constituent.
  2. Sign the online petition at, leaving a personalised message of support.
  3. Use the hashtag #SaveCulture to share your thoughts on social media. Specifically, share some of your favourite events from recent years and explain why these events are significant to you.
  4. Share this article and spread the word on the value and importance of the cultural program in Aberdeen. You can help #SaveCulture in your city!

A well-funded cultural programme is crucial for Aberdeen. Promoting diversity, boosting the economy, enhancing education, and improving well-being create a more vibrant and thriving community. Investment in cultural programmes makes the city a cultural destination. The alternative is empty theatres, creative spaces and galleries. This would inescapably lead to more empty shops, cafes and restaurants. Let's work together to #SaveCulture.

Aberdeen Mela

Aberdeen Art Gallery brings a little serenity to Relaxed Mondays

Visitors to Aberdeen Art Gallery can now experience a new relaxed and comfortable environment on Mondays. The gallery team hopes Relaxed Mondays will appeal to those who may prefer a calmer environment. This includes families with neurodivergent children, neurodivergent young people and adults, adults living with dementia, and those with mental health problems.

To provide a more sensory-friendly environment, the Gallery has teamed up with Aberdeen charity, We Too! The team received ‘sensory first aid’ training and developed resources, such as an access guide, visual story, sensory den, and sensory kits, to make the experience more enjoyable for all visitors. The charity, which has previously supported visitors with additional support needs during the Spectra festival in 2022, will have their Ninjas on hand during this weekend's Spectra event.

Aberdeen Art Gallery’s exterior view
Photo by Chris Sansbury

Relaxed Mondays make everyone's experience memorable

Visitors on Relaxed Mondays can expect to be greeted by friendly, well-trained staff who are ready to answer any questions and make everyone's experience memorable. Sensory backpacks are available to borrow to further enhance the visit, including dark glasses, ear defenders, and fidget toys. A quiet sensory den has also been set up for those who may need a moment of peace.

Everyone is welcome to visit on Mondays, but to ensure a relaxed environment, the Gallery will not be accepting large group bookings. The friendly staff will be on hand to make everyone feel at home.

Creating the best customer experience for everyone

Phionna McInnes, of We Too! said, “As a customer-driven organisation, it’s our aim to reverse the inclusion model where Relaxed Sessions are predominantly for ASN (Additional Support Needs) participants, but in fact everyone is welcome as long as they are aware of the needs of others visiting at that time. It’s been great working with the Gallery team and other partners in the city who are passionate about inclusion and creating the best customer experience for everyone.”

Relaxed Mondays begin at Aberdeen Art Gallery on Monday 13 February.
Admission free

Aberdeen groups awarded £333,333 for eco projects

The team at ACVO has been in touch to tell us about the 13 community groups and charities that have been awarded grants from the Scottish government’s Just Transition Fund. These organisations will each receive a share of £333,333 for their environmentally friendly projects in Aberdeen, chosen by a public vote last month.

ACVO's Maggie Hepburn was impressed by the enthusiasm shown by the general public to be involved in voting for projects. She said: "I hope people can see that their votes have had real benefit for the third sector organisations who were successful.”

Local people guide how the region moves towards net zero

ACVO, who promote and foster the growth and participation of the Third Sector in Aberdeen, said the goal of the funding is to allow local people to have a say in how the region moves towards net zero emissions.

NESCAN Hub helps communities work together to organise climate projects, providing training, help and support. The two organisations have collaborated on distributing the grants. They have been focusing on projects that align with the needs and priorities of local communities.

Transportation is the main focus of many of the funding awards. Somebody Cares, Aberdeen Science Centre, Alcohol and Drugs Action, North East Sensory Services, Tillydrone Community Council and Camphill Wellbeing Trust have all chosen to use the grants to purchase and operate electric vehicles. This will of course help lower emissions for their services.

Cafe and community space Greyhope Bay has been awarded £11,000. This will be used to implement a recycling and waste management system at Torry Battery. Meanwhile, Cornhill Community Association has been awarded £16,625 to establish a community garden in the Cornhill/Stockethill area of the city.

ACVO and NESCAN Hub teamed up to distribute the grants

The 'Family Food: Fresh and Frugal' initiative at Garthdee Field Allotments has been awarded £20,789 in funding. This project involves allotment volunteers collaborating with students at Kaimhill Primary School to cultivate and cook their own vegetables. Additionally, The 9th Aberdeen Scout Group has been awarded £30,000 to make their Scout Hut in Broomhill more environmentally friendly. The group will achieve this through upgrades such as better insulation and roofing.

More green projects

Friends of Westfield Park got £10,400 for improvements to the park. They plan to add a container with a plant-covered "green roof" and also shelters for community events. The Allotment Market Stall, which takes place at parks across the city, received £13,590 to build a toilet that turns waste into compost at their Grove Nursery location.

Lastly, the Bonnymuir Green Community Trust has been awarded funding of £3,900 to assist in the maintenance of their community green space.

The Scottish Government launched the Just Transition Fund back in May 2022. This ten-year fund of £500 million is intended to help the North-East region transition to net-zero emissions.

Further details of the successful projects, as well as details of the free funding support offered by ACVO for charities and community groups in Aberdeen, can be found on their website.

Aberdeen Lynx play with pride despite loss

It's been a while since my last visit to see Aberdeen Lynx play at Linx Ice Arena. It was certainly before the pandemic. My friend Susan looks after the media for the club and she invited me to go along to their Pride match against the Kirkcaldy Kestrels on Saturday night.

Ice Hockey clubs all across the UK have been standing with their LGBTQ+ communities, playing under the rainbow flag, and wearing glorious special limited edition shirts. At Aberdeen Lynx, these shirts are on auction until 29 January. You can bid for one of these amazing shirts here and here. Half the profits from the auction will be donated to Four Pillars, a local charity that helps supports the health and well-being of the LGBT+ community. While the other half will go towards youth development at the club. The Lynx are the only club in the SNL to take part this year but hope they are leading the way for others.

Lennox the Lynx judging Chuck the Puck | Photo courtesy of RS Photography / Aberdeen Lynx

A little less chilly than normal

So my 9-year-old assistant and I (my daughter) arrived at the Linx Ice Arena on a cold January night with a bag of sweeties in my pocket. We headed straight for the 'Chuck the Puck' stand, a fun mid-game for spectators where you can win big. In the second-period break, kids throw these pucks onto the ice, and the closest to the centre point wins a prize. The kids love it, and well, so did I.

Maybe it was the cold outside or the warm welcome we received, but we both noticed that it felt a little less chilly than expected as we took our seats inside the arena.

There was a crackle in the air

As the Zamboni cleaned the ice, the growing crowd started to get excited. There was a crackle in the air as the teams finished their warm-up as they knew what was coming next. The fans were up for a big game.

The last time these teams played, it had been a strong win for the Lynx, and the crowd were up for more.

The crowd settled in their seats, the lights in the whole arena turned red and phone torch lights sparkled throughout the stands as the players burst onto the ice to the loudest of cheers. Everyone was ready for the head-to-head. The music blared stadium classics such as Guns N' Roses, Metallica and Queen blasted over the tannoy.

Let's GO!

Face off on what turned out to be a stunning night of hockey | Photo courtesy of RS Photography / Aberdeen Lynx

And the Aberdeen Lynx crowd went wild

The teams took their places. The referees, wearing their black and white striped shirts, gingerly found their spot. Then the whistle blew, the music stopped dead, the first period got underway and the crowd went wild. Aberdeen Lynx immediately looked like a more confident team. Each player a little stronger and more skilled than their Kestrels opponent.

This domination meant that after around 12 minutes, Kestrels found themselves two goals down courtesy of Lynx players Jack Flynn and Jordan Leydon. However, it wasn't long before the Kestrels drew one back and things got more bad-tempered. Gloves and helmets were thrown down and fists went flying - welcome to the other side of ice hockey. All this was to the delight of the crowd, of course.

This type of on-ice fighting is allowed in ice hockey with a strange set of rules around it and everyone seems fit to allow it, even the family-friendly crowds. As soon as any player hits the ice, the refs step in. But anyone taking part knows they'll get at least five minutes in the sin bin, and this too is accepted.

"Is that the naughty step?" asked my assistant. "Yes," I replied, "it very much is."

The first period ended just in time to let the players cool down and the crowd take a well-earned breath.

Four Pillars support and services for the LGBT+ community | Photo courtesy of RS Photography / Aberdeen Lynx

Four Pillars for the LGBT+ community

We went to look at what was on offer at the stalls. I was getting the feeling that a plan was being formed by my assistant, but nothing was said as we walked past each stall to check what was on offer.

The team at Four Pillars were present at their stall, speaking to passers by As recipients of the fundraising from the Lynx pride week, they were reaching out to the Lynx fans to let them know about the services they provide. Four Pillars is a community support group that was started in 2016 by a group of people who saw a need for more support and services for the LGBT+ community in Grampian. Their goal is to help people with their mental, emotional, physical and sexual health, and bring the community together through peer education and one-on-one support.

Non-stop action, everything can change in seconds

Back to our seats ready for the second period. As the whistle blew, the sin bin was stacked thanks to the fallout from the first period. The Lynx were looking strong, and after 5 minutes they had restored their two-goal lead. Ben Edmonds is on target. This was a much calmer period though with both teams trading shots and the keepers standing their ground as the crowd ooh'd and aah'd in pure delight.

Ice hockey is a very high-paced sport. Even when goals aren't being scored, there is always something to grab your attention. A moment a skill, a stunning shot, a group of players smashing into the perspex at the side of the rink. It's non-stop action and everything can change in a only few seconds.

That was for the final period though.

As the whistle blew the plan that had been formed in the first break came back to the fore…"Dad. Can I have some money to get an Aberdeen Lynx scarf?" I delved into my pocket and played my part and Aberdeen Lynx had one more little cat as a firm fan.

Aberdeen Lynx celebrate a stunning goal | Photo courtesy of RS Photography / Aberdeen Lynx

A wonder goal from Aberdeen Lynx's Tom Johnston

As we headed into the final period, things looked treacherous for the Lynx. They were sitting back, awkwardly soaking up pressure from the Kestrels. It didn't take long for the visitors to cash in on that pressure as they reduced the deficit by one. However, two minutes later, a wonder goal from Tom Johnston restored Aberdeen Lynx's two-goal lead.

This wasn't over, though. Not by a long shot.

As the Lynx began to assert their dominance, the Kestrels team got frustrated, punches began to fly. While this was entertaining for the crowd, it felt that on the ice, the home team had lost their concentration. As they began to tire late in the game, the Kestrels found their opportunity and scored two in quick succession.

This was a touch match for both teams | Photo courtesy of RS Photography / Aberdeen Lynx

All square and everything to play for

With all square and everything to play for, it was a challenge that the Lynx felt they were up for. Less than a minute later Garry Kelly scored, quelling the fears of the crowd. It had been an incredibly entertaining match and the Aberdeen team deserved that lead, but things were getting a little sloppy. Kestrels didn't take long to draw level, and just like that, regular time was over.

Overtime is a tense matter in ice hockey – The first to score takes the glory. Lynx came out determined as they always do, to reward the home crowd with a victory. And, as they mounted wave after thrilling wave of attack against the visitors, it seemed certain that reward would come quickly. The Kirkcaldy goaltender blocked, parried and redirected the puck over and over again, but the Lynx knew this was their win.

And then it wasn't.

The defence playing their part in an amazing game | Photo courtesy of RS Photography / Aberdeen Lynx

The whistle blew and the crowd were stunned

Halfway through overtime, the puck broke free towards the Lynx half, and Kirkcaldy Kestrels' Conor Duncan put it away. The whistle blew and the crowd were stunned. This hadn't been on the cards tonight, and yet here we were, politely clapping the teams as they lined up on the ice and shook hands like true sportsmen.

Did this really happen?

And that was it. We had been thoroughly entertained, but still went home with sporting disappointment. That said, the journey home through the dark was filled with conversation about how much fun we had, but still wondering what had gone wrong.

As we arrived home, my assistant pointed out that we had never opened the bag of sweeties. There hadn't been a single lull in the entertainment to think about them.

That's proper Saturday night fun. Next time, and there will be a next time, I'm taking the whole family!

The young team show off their skills | Photo courtesy of RS Photography / Aberdeen Lynx

The next generation is ready to step up

Aberdeen Lynx is very much a community-led organisation. Prices are fair, both for entry to the match and for snacks, drinks and merchandise. Young players get involved in the big matches, often helping out during matches and showing off their skills during breaks. There is a strong feeling that the next generation is ready to step into the skates of their heroes at any given moment.

About Aberdeen Lynx

The Aberdeen Lynx is a Scottish National League ice hockey team. They train and play at the Linx Ice Arena, regularly drawing in over 1000 fans. The team prioritises junior development, fielding teams of all ages and offering a Learn to Play program. Lynx players have gone on to play for their country. The Aberdeen Ice Hockey Club, the organisation behind the team, is a registered charity.

| Photo courtesy of RS Photography / Aberdeen Lynx

Aberdeen Art Gallery set for a thrilling year ahead

Aberdeen Art Gallery has announced an exciting lineup of exhibitions for all ages and interests in 2023. The program includes a showcase of Sir Quentin Blake's book covers and illustrations, in honour of his 90th birthday. Additionally, 20 world-renowned photographers from the Magnum Photos collective have captured some of the most famous artists in recent history in their studios.

Three of Scotland's top artists, Lennox Dunbar, Ian Howard, and Arthur Watson, will also be returning to exhibit in their hometown. Also, a rare 17th-century manuscript recently added to the UNESCO-recognized city archives will shed light on the civic and religious life of the city during a time of political upheaval and religious persecution.

Overall, the program sounds like it has something for everyone and is definitely worth checking out.

Shadows and Light – The Extraordinary Life of James McBey

11 February – 28 May

Shadows and Light, curated by author Alasdair Soussi, celebrates Aberdeenshire-born artist and adventurer James McBey. He was noted for his etchings and dry point engravings, and was once described as the “heir to Rembrandt”. This small-scale exhibition is curated by author Alasdair Soussi to coincide with his recently-published biography of McBey.

Travelling Gallery


A new two-person exhibition by artist Emmie McLuskey and choreographer Janice Parker will be featured in the Contemporary Gallery on a bus in Aberdeen. The exhibit, titled "Movement," combines dance and art to explore the relationship between the two. Keep an eye out for the Travelling Gallery as it makes stops across the city in March.

The Testament of Alexander Jaffray

4 March – 3 September

The Testament of Alexander Jaffray is an exhibition that examines the life of the two-time provost of Aberdeen. 2023 marks the 350th anniversary of the death of Alexander Jaffray, representative of the burgh in the Scottish Parliament. This prominent member of the community later became a Quaker, at a time when doing so would certainly mean persecution.

Where Ideas are Born

1 April – 11 June

Get ready for a visual feast at Aberdeen Art Gallery. Where Ideas are Born brings together over 20 talented photographers from the famous Magnum agency. This includes legends like Inge Morath, Eve Arnold, and Robert Capa. You’ll see 70 mesmerising photo portraits of world-renowned artists like Andy Warhol, George O’Keeffe, Ai Weiwei, and Yayoi Kusama.

Making a Splash! A Century of Women’s Beachwear

10 June – 14 January

Experience the evolution of beach fashion as it was shaped by historical events, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, and groundbreaking design and material advancements. Dive into the Archives, Gallery & Museums' collection of stunning 20th-century beachwear, including iconic bathing costumes, in this must-see exhibition. See how the sands of time have shaped the way we dress for the beach.

Quentin Blake – Illustrating Verse and Book Covers

8 July – 17 September

Two Aberdeen Art Gallery exhibitions celebrate the talents of Quentin Blake. Illustrating Verse brings together for the first time a selection of Blake’s sketches and illustrations for a range of poetry, from comic nonsense poems to poignant ballads. While Book Covers demonstrates how Quentin Blake's illustrations have grabbed the attention of readers of all ages over the past 60 years. The exhibition includes reproductions of the cover artwork and rough sketches which give insights into Blake’s unmistakable work.

Constructed Narratives: Lennox Dunbar, Ian Howard, Arthur Watson

14 October – 28 January

Discover the works of three of Scotland's premier artists at this must-see exhibition. Lennox Dunbar, Ian Howard, and Arthur Watson, all hailing from Aberdeen, were nurtured by art teacher Charles Hemingway at Aberdeen Grammar School and went on to hold influential roles in Scotland's art scene.

About Aberdeen Art Gallery

Aberdeen Art Gallery is a vibrant cultural hub located in the heart of the city. Since its founding in 1884, the gallery has played a vital role in the cultural life of the region, showcasing a wide range of art from both local and international artists.

The gallery is home to a stunning collection of works of art, including paintings, sculptures, prints, and photographs. The collection is diverse and varied. It features works by some of the most renowned artists in history, such as Monet and Renoir. In addition to these classics, the gallery also has a strong focus on contemporary art, with regular exhibitions featuring the work of emerging artists from around the world.

SPECTRA 2023 - This is your complete guide

Get ready for SPECTRA 2023 folks! The multi-award-winning festival of light and sound is back! It will again bring colour and light to Aberdeen from Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th February. This year, organisers have selected an epic lineup of free-to-see installations from some of the best visual artists, studios, and companies from around the world. They’ll transform the city centre with light, sound, and jaw-dropping visual art.

The festival programme has some incredible new commissions that will illuminate iconic Aberdeen landmarks in the most stunning way possible! We've put together all the information you need to know about Scotland's festival of light this year. Furthermore, we'll keep this page updated as we approach the big weekend, so keep it bookmarked.

SPECTRA 2023 finds 'Home' at Union Terrace Gardens

SPECTRA is returning to Union Terrace Gardens for the first time since 2018 and will be one of the first major events to take place in the revamped historic public space. Expect a spectacular program of installations and artworks that will blow your mind. Inspired by the theme of ‘Home’, the festival will light up Aberdeen’s winter nights for everyone to enjoy.

Andy Brydon, Director of Curated Place said: "Spectra is always a winter highlight in Aberdeen, and we're beyond thrilled to be announcing this programme for 2023. It's packed with extraordinary work from some truly astounding artists and creatives.”

PULSE by This Is Loop - Manipulating scale and perception

One of the program’s highlights will be the first Scottish appearance of Fantastic Planet, created by the Australian group Parer Studio. It will feature towering humanoid figures descending upon different city-centre locations, including Union Terrace Gardens, Aberdeen Art Gallery, and Marischal College. These gargantuan visitors have travelled from afar to explore the city. At a time when the world’s resources are being depleted and the future seems uncertain, these visitors will playfully encourage you to imagine a better future for your own planet.

PULSE by This Is Loop

Broad Street

This is loop will transform Broad Street with Pulse, a 45-meter-long light sculpture created by the Bristol-based team This Is Loop. Pulse is a large-scale mirrored sculpture that manipulates scale and perception. The sculpture features 12 giant mirror-covered hoops arranged in a winding tunnel shape. It'll create a contemplative space for visitors of all ages to enjoy day and night.

ILLUMAPHONIUM by Illumaphonium - Bringing people together

ILLUMAPHONIUM by Illumaphonium

Union Terrace Gardens

Get ready for a one-of-a-kind experience with Illumaphonium. This giant instrument is all about bringing people together for a fun and spontaneous outdoor music-making session. Packed with over 200 illuminated chime bars, so you can make beautiful sounds when you interact with it. A real feast for the eyes and ears!


His Majesty's Theatre

At His Majesty’s Theatre, you'll find The Waxwing Wanes, created by the incredibly talented projection art specialists Illuminos. The lights react to a brand-new composition by the brilliant composer and harpist Ailie Robertson. And so the piece will take you on a journey, musing on our changing climate, as it follows the ebbs and flows of nature.

FANTASTIC PLANET by Parer Studio - Journeyed from faraway lands to SPECTRA 2023


Across the City Centre

A radiant large-scale public installation, Fantastic Planet is crafted by the Australian artist Amanda Parer, the mastermind behind Parer Studio. It illuminates the night sky with its giant humanoids. These brilliant beings have journeyed from faraway lands and now grace us with their presence as they embark on a new adventure here in Aberdeen for the very first time.

NATURE NOCTURNAL by Lantern Company

Union Terrace Gardens

Lantern Company will transform Union Terrace Gardens by adding two stunning nature-inspired installations. Nature Nocturnal will bring the slopes of Union Terrace Gardens to life with mesmerising illuminated plants, insects, and wildlife. You can also take a magical lantern walk through a radiant kaleidoscope of colours. Experience the nocturnal natural world in a whole new way.

LUMINOSI TREES by Sound Intervention - An immersive and peaceful experience

LUMINOSI TREES by Sound Intervention

Union Terrace Gardens

Sound Intervention's Luminosi Trees, towering structures resembling giant jellyfish, will provide an immersive and peaceful experience in the centre of the Gardens. These six-meter-high structures are equipped with thousands of sound-responsive LEDs that change colours and patterns in response to a Fibonacci-inspired soundscape, ensuring a unique experience every time you visit.


Across the City Centre

The SPECTRA 2023 program features live performances, including a premiere of a new outdoor piece by the Fusion Youth Dance Company of Aberdeen. Choreographed by Scottish dance artist Steven Martin, the performance will take place in the Marischal College Quad. It will also respond to the visually striking Fantastic Planet installation on display during the festival.

CIRCA by Limbic Cinema - Get ready to have your mind blown

CIRCA by Limbic Cinema

Union Terrace Gardens

Get ready to have your mind blown by Limbic Cinema's Circa. This light sculpture is all about exploring our circadian rhythms and the beauty of light in different seasons. It's a spectacular piece that the artists built around the seasonal light levels in Aberdeen. It features 12 light fixtures that represent the average light fall over one month of the year in the city.

Think of it as a 3D clock that reflects the light and dark cycles of the city, set to a mesmerising sound design by Joe Acheson of Hidden Orchestra.

HOME FRONTS by Vincent James

Union Terrace Gardens

Meanwhile, Visible Voices, an animated projection created by visual artist and animator Vincent James working with local young people, infuses everyday objects with a twist of the surreal and will appear in the archways by Union Terrace Gardens.
PROJECTOR BIKES by Sound Intervention - Touring the city for SPECTRA 2023

PROJECTOR BIKES by Sound Intervention

Across the City Centre

Sound Intervention will be bringing their Projector Bikes to different locations in the city. These electric trikes have been transformed into mobile cinemas and can travel around improvising and interacting with audiences. The bikes are off-grid and feature audio and visual projections of digital animations inspired by Aberdeen and the theme of 'Home'.

NØKKEN by Illuminos

Marischal College

Illuminos created a new sculpture, Nøkken, for the front of Marischal College. The sculpture is based on the Kelpie, a shape-shifting freshwater spirit from the folklore of Scotland and the Nordics. Furthermore, the sculpture is meant to echo the perspective-shifting effect of the nearby Fantastic Planet artwork.

Pauline Cordiner - Old and new tales from Aberdeen and beyond for SPECTRA 2023
Pauline Cordiner - Old and new tales from Aberdeen and beyond

STORYTELLING with Pauline Cordiner & Lindsey Gibb

Storytelling Tent

Pauline Cordiner and Lindsey Gibb will host storytelling at Broad Street. They'll tell stories in English, Scots, and Doric for all ages. Expect both old and new tales from Aberdeen and beyond, encouraging you to reflect on the concept of home.


Marischal Square

Finally, Ulianka is a world-renowned face painter known for her innovative designs. She'll help you select the perfect design and create stunning UV light-activated artwork for your kids' faces. And adults are also welcome to participate in the fun too!

PULSE by This Is Loop - Manipulating scale and perception

SPECTRA 2023 - What you need to know

SPECTRA 2023 is a free light festival. It takes place over three days from 9-12 Feb 2023. It will be held at various venues across Aberdeen City Centre, including Broad Street, Union Terrace Gardens, Marischal College Quad and His Majesty's Theatre.

Please visit the SPECTRA website and follow them on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for the very latest news.