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.


Temp Check: Mark McAulay from Singularity Sauce Co.

Mark McAulay likes it hot. Like…stupidly hot. So hot in fact he launched his own hot sauce company, Singularity Sauce Co. First as a first as a bit of fun, a hobby. It then grew into a side project and somewhere along the way people recognised his hard work and dedication. Before you could blink his hobby had become a proper grown up craft hot sauce business.

As both of us here at POST are big fans of heat, we thought it was time to find out more about Singularity Sauce Co. and the man behind it.



How are you doing right now? Be honest. This is a safe space.

Oh I'm doing great thanks. If anything, a little anxious about all the usual things when running a business, but also content in the knowledge that if everything goes wrong, it’s all my own fault.

How it all began

Like many small companies, Singularity Sauce Co. came out of nowhere…after five years of hard work and dedication. Tell us what inspired you to start your own craft hot sauce company, and how that developed into a real life, grown-up company?

I’d been making my own sauces for a while. I was so bored with the hot sauces which we’re generally available and I decided I could do better. I'd spent a few years living in London and there was so much choice in small indie places that I wanted more choice up here in the frozen north. I’d buy the hottest chillies I could get my hands on and add other flavours and lots of vinegar. At that time, Komodo Dragon chillies had become available in the supermarket. They are bonkers hot and just what I needed.

I quickly moved away from using vinegar as a base because I’d gone off on a mission, one I’m still on today. I’d become fascinated with the flavours found in different types of chillis and I want to continually explore that. Dumping a bunch of vinegar into a sauce unsurprisingly makes it taste like vinegar. That had to stop.

I started experimenting with fermentation and that’s where things started working out. I could achieve low enough PH values to make things acidic enough to be shelf safe and instead of a heavy vinegar flavour, I had a world of funky flavours available. I'll spare you, but I could go on for days about this stuff.

Bottles of Singularity Hot Sauce Co. hot sauce lined up in a row.
Singularity Sauce range at Rosemount Market | Photo by Chris Sansbury

I’d been testing these sauces out on friends, family and neighbours. Feedback had been really positive. One of my friends is a chef in Aberdeen and he’d started pushing me to sell the sauces I was making. Eventually I did of course, but that was the point I had to get serious. I had to figure out just how you can create food for sale and that took me a while. As I did the dance of environmental health, trading standards, insurance etc, I realised that this couldn't be a hobby anymore.

At the time of transition from hobby to business, I'd suffered a bout of depression which ultimately led to the end of my day job. I had to do some real soul searching to figure out what I was going to do. I chose the most difficult option there is and turned my hobby into my full time job. The sauce company became Singularity Sauce Co. LTD in November 2019 but didn't start trading until January 2020.

Eventually I sold a few bottles to people. My friend, the chef, had managed to get me an order from the restaurant he was working in at the time and that snowballed into lots of orders from restaurants/bars. Positive things were happening and I found myself starting to get orders from delis/farm shops/etc too.

The challenges of the pandemic

You launched just as we learned about this crazy virus on the other side of the world…only a few weeks before we went into lockdown. Tell us about that experience.

Oh man, in the book of worst timed business start-ups, you’re going to find Singularity Sauce in the first few pages. All of my larger, wholesale orders were for hospitality venues. Pretty much all of my non-wholesale sales were done at farmers markets. This was what was keeping the lights on. When the lockdown hit, all of this disappeared overnight.

There were no more orders from hospitality and there were no more farmers markets. I'm really not kidding, this whole situation was terrifying and there were many moments of serious doubt. Some days it really did feel like the end.

Having no commercial premises meant I wasn’t eligible for the government support and it’s not as if I could furlough myself either. It was decision time, stick or twist.
Mark McAuley | Singularity Sauce Co.

I chose to spend night and day hammering away at my website. What else was I going to do? I went full guns at it, doing a bunch of targeted advertising and really amping up my social media. I knew if I could get a decent volume of online sales that I’d live to fight another day. The rise of the "support local" vibe was incredible and I know of several other tiny businesses, much like ourselves, that simply wouldn't have made it otherwise. Online orders started coming in thick and fast. I had to upgrade all our postal packaging to cope.

I also had to locate the post offices closest to me who were less hardline about the number of parcels you could send per visit. Our nearest post office was restricted to 3 parcels per visit at one point. When you've got 20+ orders per day, that's not really going to work out! I found a couple of other post offices who were happy to help :)

How have your different markets reacted over this challenges of the pandemic? Has it refocused relationships or opened new ones you didn’t expect?

Some customers had no option but to stop buying from us. I get that and I don't hold any hard feelings. Every business had to make difficult decisions over the past 18 months and it's not been easy for anyone. As things have started to open up again, wholesale orders have never been better. I've also been able to show face at a few farmers markets and there has been a real buzz of excitement from people there.

We've found our way into several more shops now. Many through Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, one in Glasgow, a bunch in London and one in particular you've probably heard of. We were absolutely blown away to have our full range stocked in Selfridges. Even more amazing was that they approached us.

Collaboration and working with others

You obviously love collaborating with other craft producers. Tell us about some of your experiences with that.

I have a bunch of collaboration sauces with some incredible people. I make the Transatlantic Habanero Express with Lukes Handcrafted Hot Sauces in NJ, USA. The way we go about it might even be a world first, we're not 100% sure of that though. I am so proud every day that I get to make sauce for Fierce Beer. They're some of the best humans on earth and they'll always be my favourite. 😄

For the past 3 years, we've done a hot sauce ice cream collaboration with Fit's The Scoop over in Culter. This year, we've retired our pioneering "Raspberry Reaper". I guess I can tell you first what this year's is all about. Think blueberry ice cream, rippled with our Purple Naga Viper Brain & Blueberry hot sauce, smashed with lemon coated popping candy. This is a beauty and we can't wait to see it light up your faces.

I'm currently gearing up to launch a sauce built for pizza with The Gaff in Ellon. I also make a pretty unique hot sauce for The Coffee Apothecary based at Udny and Ellon. I've recently been working with Innis & Gunn on sauces for their food offerings in their taprooms throughout Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee.

The Tilly Butcher is doing things with some of our sauce, what that is, we don't know yet but you can be absolutely sure it'll be brilliant. We're up to no good with Bandit Bakery right now too.

You can look out for Singularity Sauce Co. collaborations with other UK food & drink producers. I've also had a few chats with some cool people in The Netherlands, USA and Denmark.

The common experience of working with all of these people, and as a marker for who I'll collaborate with in future is really just that they're lovely people. People I get on with and who I don't have to worry about getting into an argument with. We have to be able to work together and it has to be right for everyone in the collaboration. I don't say yes to everyone.

Mark McAulay | Singularity Sauce Co | Photo by Chris Sansbury

What makes a great hot sauce?

What do you look for in a hot sauce, whether it your own or somebody else's? Tell us a bit about some of your favourites.

Flavour combinations, less vinegar and I’m not ashamed to admit it, delicious labels! Personally I look for originality. The sauce industry is at a point where there are dozens of new companies popping up. This is a really exciting time for inventive flavours. Some of my favourite sauce makers out there right now are Thicc Sauce, Lou's Brews, Double D's and Lazy Scientist. You might have noticed that all of these come from the U.K. Traditionally hot sauce has been thought of primarily as an American thing and of course, some of the best sauces in the world come from there.

There are very much influences from the US in lots of the hot sauce brands in the UK, but I think we can stand up and be counted. The UK is really starting to punch above its weight. I've entered some Singularity Sauce Co. sauces into a large hot sauce competition in the US. We're the only Scottish entrant and we're going up against some heavy hitters in the sauce world. You've got to test yourself against the very best from time to time to see how you're getting on. We'll find out in a few weeks time how we've done.

Hot sauces vary a lot and some people are simply scared of the heat. Does Singularity Sauce Co aim its sauces at a specific market or is there a bigger flavour mission at play?

We became well known for big heat almost immediately. I feel that’s a bit of a disservice. It's true that we use a lot of superhot chillies but there's more to this than just trying to hurt everyone. For us, the heat is the consequence of the flavour profile we’re chasing. There are different flavour notes to each chilli. We like to take those flavours and pair them with other flavours, sometimes unexpected pairings. We smashed Carolina Reapers (Officially the hottest chilli) into local Blackberries and won 2 stars at the Great Taste Awards last year for it. We've also done a big citrus sauce with Orange Habaneros, again a hot chilli. The important factor is flavour, even if these sauces end up too hot for some.

It's true that we use a lot of superhot chillies but there's more to this than just trying to hurt everyone.
Marc McAulay | Singularity Sauce Co

Heat is so subjective anyway. We regularly talk to people who feel our mildest sauces are too hot and we often hear that out hottest sauces aren’t hot enough. Everyone experiences the heat differently and we’ve always felt that makes it a weaker attribute from which to define a sauce as a whole. If we're using Moruga Scorpions, Purple Naga Viper Brains or 7Pot Yellows, yes the sauce will be hot. If we're using Jalepenos or Dutch Reds, not so much. That's about as deep as I like to get into the heat discussion.

What's the biggest challenge, finding places to stock your sauce, or keeping up with the demand?

The biggest challenge for me has been finding a commercial kitchen from which to scale. I could be making a lot more sauce but my capacity is limited right now. It has taken well over a year but we do have a new home in the works, still in the mighty village of Tarves, the hot sauce capital of Aberdeenshire.

I guess at this point, keeping up with demand is my number one problem. I've trimmed our range to cope right now but I have several notebooks jammed full of sauce recipes, mustards, syrups and seasonings. I just can't launch any of them until I get the keys to the new lab.

I've been fortunate finding really good stockists. We look for likeminded businesses to work with because we know they'll do our brand the best service. We want to invest in promoting them as much as they'll promote us. I've been approached by some amazing businesses from throughout the UK also. Getting into Selfridges has to be one of the best "good fortune" stories yet. I'll tell you that story in full someday.

The future

What's the big plan for Singularity Sauce Co? Where does the company go over the next few months?

Well, I used to have a big plan and now I don't. That statement will have made all sorts of business advisers and consultants shudder.

Experience has taught me that you can have all the plans in the world but everything can change overnight, rendering those plans obsolete. Spending more energy on them feels wasteful and risky to me. I have targets of course, I have things I am trying to achieve but they're not "change the world" big. They're "make better hot sauce" small. Smaller, more achievable plans will shape whatever the big plan turns out to be. I'm pretty chill about this. I've never been more nimble or light on my feet. I can adapt to change quickly and if the past 18 months are anything to go by, I can be resilient in the face of utter devastation.

There are so many positive things which have happened which have involved no planning at all that I've just gone with it and unshackled myself from a formal strategic plan. Next for us is to move to our own fermentation lab and kitchen. You can ask me what the plan is at that point, once we're in. 😉

We’ve seen you experiment with dill pickles on TikTok. Who do we strong arm to get some?

I've wanted to make pickles forever. I couldn't resist just getting some together and starting to experiment. I've currently got one flavour I'm really happy with and another couple of prototypes on the go just now. I'll launch them a little later this summer. Word has it they might appear at a Market as a sample for people to try sometime. I'll give you a heads up…or maybe I'll eat them all myself. They're just so good!


Find out more

Thank you very much to Mark for his time and his frank answers. The thing we love about Temp Check interviews is people showing true passion for the thing they do. You can find Singularity Sauce Co. and meet Mark in person at Curated Aberdeen in the Bon Accord Centre between 9 and 11 July. You can also visit their online store, as well as say 'hi' on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.

Thanks very much to the lovely team at Rosemount Market who generously allowed us to use their amazing shop as a backdrop for photographs.

This article was originally published at POST Aberdeen. If you enjoyed this, why not read our Temp Check interview with Louise Grant from Fierce Beer.


Gray’s School of Art Graduate Degree Show 2021

The Gray's School of Art Graduate Degree Show launches on 9 July. Sustainability is the focus of many of the students' final year projects. The show, named Onwards, is the second that the school will hold online due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

With expectations high for another year of high quality, inspiring work, Gray's reached out to tell us about some of the graduates who's work will be on display.



Tom Andrew

One of those exhibiting, is 21-year-old product designer 3D design student, Tom Andrew from Torphins. With a keen interest in the future of transport and an environmental consciousness, Tom has created ‘TEXTAM’. This is a light-weight and highly functionable skateboard that reduces the reliance on private cars.

Tom says: “I want to challenge current modes of transport. Currently, mobility in urban locations is environmentally unfriendly, congested, and unsustainable. I have created a compact and sustainable skateboard that tackles short but important journeys.  I want to challenge urban transport issues and to push micro-mobility into the future.

'Textam’ provides a practical solution to the first and last mile often needed at the beginning and end of a trip made on public transport.  While you may take a bus or train for most of your journey, your final destination maybe too far to walk onto. Microbility products such as my lightweight skateboard, Textam, plug the gaps often found in public transport routes. In turn, this will reduce the need for private cars in city centres. As a result it will make cities such as Aberdeen, greener and cleaner places to live.”

Leanne Daphne

Another student with an environmental ethos at this year’s degree show, is Communication Design graduate, Leanne Daphne Goodall. 26-year-old Leanne-Daphne recently won the Scottish Kelpie Illustration Award. In addition, Penguin Books put her in the shortlist for their Student Design Award 2021. She uses illustration to tackle the effects of climate change through a fantasy adventure story, Hollow as she explains:

“The story for ‘Hollow’ is heavily influenced by the issues we face today. For example, global warming, pollution and over consumption.  My project had to appeal and educate young audiences in a fun and engaging way. Hollow embodies the concept of a living planet and plays with the question of how we would treat Earth if we could see it as a living creature instead of a resource? I want people to see the world in a way where we can empathise with it instead of just seeing it as a resource to harvest.”

Digital 3D art with a pink background and strange insect-like objects filling the space.

Maria Laidlaw

Jewellery designer and 3D design student, Maria Laidlaw showcases a collection of jewellery. She created her work from repurposed scrap metal to make intricate jewellery. With a rich cultural heritage, Canadian born, Maria hopes to inspire other creatives to embrace sustainability in their own work. She is passionate about addressing our throw-away society.

Maria said: “I have always been quite practical and dislike waste of any kind. As a result of our times and a desire to work more sustainably and ethically, it only seemed right to me that we use materials that could be repurposed in some way. I feel very passionate about this and believe that artists and makers can be pivotal in changing social perceptions. I adore old things and take inspiration from their stories. That’s whether it's material, architectural or historical. I hope people who view my work will consider its material legacy.”

Other Highlights

Other highlights from Gray’s Digital Degree Show, Onwards, include Fashion & Textile design student, Cameron Lyall who is showcasing a unisex collection of clothing called ‘NO-PLACE’. His work was inspired by a trip to a desolate spot at Balmedie beach, north of Aberdeen. He invites viewers to go on their own reflective journey as they watch a 3-minute screening, set in a dimly-lit atrium, where they can find their own ‘NO-PLACE’.

Head of Gray’s School of Art, Libby Curtis, said: “Our students have created an exceptional body of work for this year’s digital degree show, Onwards, which we look forward to unveiling to a global audience at our launch event, on July 9. Sustainability underpins a number of our graduate projects and demonstrate how forward-thinking our creatives are.”

What you need to know

Gray’s School of Art graduate degree show, ‘Onwards’, officially launches online to the public on Friday 9 July and runs for ten days. Throughout the show, there will be a mix of talks, interactive workshops, fashion shows and music.

Visitors will be able to explore a traditional archive of artists, with a simple click through of art works, featuring audio descriptions and visual images. Organisers will give attendees the option to explore the exhibition in a more experimental way. Visitors will take part in an immersive journey, as they navigate their way through a series of 3D virtual spaces.

Robert Gordon University, Gray’s School of Art, Digital Degree Show, ‘Onwards’, has been developed in partnership with Gray’s students, Gray’s School of Art’s creative unit Look Again, which hosts a biennial festival in Aberdeen, and Aberdeen-based design agency Design and Code.


Read About Gray’s graduate Indie McCue. His gallery of animations in partnership with Look Again added a touch of couloir to Aberdeen City Centre.


TEDx Aberdeen ticket lottery launched

Organisers have announced a ticket lottery for their 31 July TEDx Aberdeen event. Applications are open from now until 5 July.

What is TEDx Aberdeen?

TEDx is a programme of local, self-organized events that bring people together to discuss big ideas. Held in the spirit of ideas worth spreading.

Aberdeen Art's Centre will be the venue this year's live event. It will feature ten speakers from the city and beyond. The series of live 18-minute talks will focus on the theme, New Ways of Seeing Old Things. It is hope the talks will inspire the 100 attendees. Especially in a year where we look to our future beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

From unlocking secrets with forensic science, to using artificial intelligence to improve sustainability in the agri-food sector. Tackling climate change through the power of learning and challenging our consumption of news and the perception of truth. From reinvigorating forgotten and declining communities, to mastering moodset, to the Aberdonian habit using the word ‘fine’ - TEDx Aberdeen has curated a thought provoking line up.

How to be part of the audience

Ticket applications are open now. Organisers will ask applicants to explain in a couple of sentences why they would like to attend TEDx Aberdeen. As well as the number of tickets they wish to apply for. They will then email successful applicants a link to purchase their tickets. Tickets cost £30 each. This includes access to the full day event featuring 10 speakers from across the North East community, lunch and refreshments. Tickets can be purchased individually or up to four in ‘household bubbles’.

Audience Experience Coordinator, Nicole Chidester told us a little more about the event. She explained “TEDx events are unique in the way they are organised, curated and attended. TEDx event programmes comprise speakers and video content to inspire connections, conversations and the power of ideas to spark change. People leave TEDx events feeling inspired and motivated.

“We’re really excited about our speaker line up. I know they can’t wait to share their ideas on 31 July.

“We also can’t wait to hear more about the people who want to attend TEDxAberdeen. Our audience are the final element to the success of the event. As a result of their attendance and willingness to participate, TEDxAberdeen come alive.

A COVID safe event

Nicole explained that this will be a COVID safe event, telling us, “organising a face to face to event in the middle of a global pandemic has been a learning experience! We’d like to thank prospective TEDx attendees for their patience as we navigate the constantly changing situation. We have worked closely with our host venue Aberdeen Arts Centre. Together we'll ensure we adhere to Covid-19 guidance for events and host the maximum number for our event.

“We’re also working closely with student volunteers from the North East of Scotland College events course. The pandemic has curtailed their work experience. So we're now delighted to be in a position to provide some students with a chance to manage elements of the event process.”

Find Out More

The ticket portal will close at 10pm on Monday 5 July. Then, successful applicants will be notified by 9 July and supplied with a link to purchase tickets.

For more information on the speaker line up and ticket application form, visit tedxaberdeen.com or find TEDx Aberdeen on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.


TEDx Aberdeen isn't the only big event happening in July. You can now take part in Nuart Aberdeen with your own paste-up artwork. You can now read all about it here.


Final artists announced for Aberdeen street art festival

Nuart Aberdeen have announced the final artists for this year's socially distanced event. The Aberdeen street art festival made its long-awaited return the city last week. Local talent Katie Guthrie, aka KMG making a welcome return to her hometown to create the first two murals of the 2021 run.

Henrik Uldalen and duo SNIK are the final artists for Nuart Aberdeen 2021. Organisers have added them to the group of already announced, Helen Burr, KMG and the pioneer of ‘balloon graff’ Fanakapan.

Henrik Uldalen

Henrik is a self-taught artist whose creative production revolves around classic figurative painting, presented in a contemporary manner. He explores the dark sides of life, nihilism, existentialism, longing and loneliness, juxtaposed with fragile beauty. Though he's a figurative painter, his focus has always been the emotional content rather than narratives. Henrik often presents his work with a dream or limbo-like atmosphere. Using elements of surrealism and expressionism.

Internationally acclaimed artists SNIK took part in the 2018 festival. They then created one of the cities most loved murals. ‘Hold Fast Hope’ faces out to the harbour from a wall on Virginia Street. Both are delighted to be returning to Aberdeen. The city hold fond memories for them. They told us, “This is our second visit to Aberdeen and our fourth wall for Nuart. We couldn’t be happier to be painting again this year. We can’t wait to be involved again, up a lift and painting a wall for such a great city.”

SNIK

SNIK combine the creation of hand cut, multilayered stencils with haunting, ethereal portraiture, born from a male/female dual perspective. The duo’s work has been commissioned on walls the world over. Their post-industrial scenes loom large over passers-by in locations as diverse as Miami and Hong Kong.

Away from city streets, the pair have become revered by urban contemporary art collectors in recent years. This is thanks to rare releases of editions that can take up to a year to produce. The smaller scale and intricacy of layered stencil work requires incredibly precise cuts and careful compositional thought. This work has captured the attention of critics, art lovers and collectors alike.

Commenting on the announcement Adrian Watson, Chief Executive of Aberdeen inspired said “The focus this year has been on bringing UK based artists to the city over a period of time which helps to ensure that that we can deliver the productions as safely as possible.

“Henrik Uldalen and SNIK are talented artists who will bring interesting work to the walls of our city.  It’s particularly rewarding when artists want to return to our city as this shows the warmth of the welcome they received first time round.

Nuart Aberdeen is curated and produced by the Stavanger based arts organisation Nuart, spearheaded by Curator and Director Martyn Reed, one of the worlds most respected and critically acknowledged authorities on the culture, he added “Nuart Aberdeen captures the imagination of people in a special way and we leave it to Henrik and SNK to create their art and the hope you the viewer will see something positive in what we’re trying to do.”

A covid safe event

Nuart Aberdeen 2021 has returned as a COVID secure series of individual street art productions which will take shape on the city’s walls throughout June and July. Artists will produce work supported by a local production team during the extended festival period.

With the first two productions complete Aberdeen Inspired are confident the plans for the event ensure the safety of artists, the production team, volunteers, and the public. As a result of covid, elements which would attract large scale gatherings, like the guided tours and public launch will not take place. This is to keep the public safe. Nuart will, however, provide resources and information to allow members of the public to conduct their own self-guided tours. The public can enjoy their tour at a time that suits them. In addition, it will be in accordance with the latest COVID-19 restrictions and regulations.