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.


Stuck Up - the Nuart Aberdeen event you can be part of

Nuart Aberdeen have called on the people of Aberdeen to be part of a record breaking new street art project. 'Stuck Up' is a worldwide collaboration which will take place in the city centre this July.

Aberdeen Inspired have earmarked a half kilometre wall for the world’s largest paste-up wall. 'Stuck Up' will feature curated pieces from a selection of Nuart artists. Partner Flying Leaps will provide archive revolutionary street art posters. The wall will also feature submissions from artists, poets and creatives from around the world.

Organisers are asking local folk to contribute to 'Stuck Up', making this a truly collaborative paste-up wall. It will run from the East Green into the Tunnels. They hope that the finished wall will the biggest of its kind in the world.

A wide angle shot of the Aberdeen Market wall where Stuck Up will be posted

Martyn Reed is Director and Founder of the Stavanger based arts organisation Nuart. He told us, “Paste Ups are more often than not regarded as an artwork in their own right. Artists usually create them in a studio before they transplant them on the streets. The practice also crosses over into notions of the more familiar fly-posting. This is when art becomes the vessel for political sentiments and social calls to action.

“In many ways, Paste-Ups demand little more than a tabletop, scissors, magazines and /or paper. They are as much related to ‘craft’ as to the rarefied world of contemporary art.

“Perhaps what the world needs right now is a less ‘stuck-up’ and judgmental look at the collective capacity of our communities to engage in shaping public space. We are returning to a more honest involvement in art as we create it within cities.

“Art can be humble while still making an impact; as much craft as high concept, while still grabbing attention and changing minds. The more accessible the initial process of making art becomes, the more likely it is to reach a wider audience.”

A crowd of people look up at the street art above
Photo by Chris Sansbury

Nuart Aberdeen will take place over the whole summer for 2021. The socially distanced event brings back the fun and colour of Nuart without crowds. In previous years people visited the city centre in one weekend.

Aberdeen inspired Chief Executive Adrian Watson commented on the 'Paste Up' project. He said, “This is an exciting opportunity for local artists, creatives, schools, poets, companies and even groups of friends or families to get involved with Nuart Aberdeen this summer."

“Classes can get together to create a poster from their school. University students can perhaps recreate some of their work in poster form. Colleagues can have fun creating a poster of unique work for the wall. Perhaps these posters reflect the challenges they have faced over the last fifteen months."

Nuart Aberdeen is all about making art accessible and open to everyone. ‘Stuck Up’ is a safe and novel way to involve local people in creating an original and unique piece of work for the city as part of this year’s production
Adrian Watson

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson, said “What a fantastic opportunity for local people to be part of Nuart Aberdeen this year. The wall, which we hope will be the biggest ‘Paste Up’ gallery in the world will be a unique piece for the city and regardless of age or ability."

"The public will create their posters and to submit them to be included. Then the team will post them alongside posters created by international artists. I’m looking forward to seeing all the submissions. It will be so interesting to see what the people of Aberdeen and the North-East say and create for the wall.”

How to take part in Stuck Up

As long as they are not massively offensive Nuart will use all submissions for the wall. As a result you can easily get involved by creating your own posters, poems, print outs, photos and collages. Send them to: STUCK UP, THE ANATOMY ROOMS, MARISCHAL COLLEGE, SHOE LANE, ABERDEEN, AB10 1AN.

The wall will be produced during the month of July 2021. Read about Indie's McCue's Look Again project.


New Look Again project to light up Aberdeen

Aberdeen's Look Again project will host a gallery of animations bringing light and colour to the city this week. The Robert Gordon Uni backed event has launched a new exhibition in its St.Andrew Street Project Space.

‘Roy Gets Sad’, features the work of Indie McCue. The Gray’s School of Art graduate has created a set of vibrant animations that explore social inclusion and acceptance. The Look Again Seed fund supports the event. In addition, they support emerging creative talent in the North East.

Robert Gordon University invited artist Indie McCue to explore their Art & Heritage Collection. His research included art pieces created by artists from Gray’s School of Art, stretching back to the 1960s. Furthermore, McCue focuses on social inclusion and the search for acceptance in society.

Artist Indie McCue says; “My  personal  experience of social inclusion and exclusion has been exaggerated by the Covid 19 pandemic, much like the general population. The pandemic has provided a new digital space for social inclusion. However, we need to work hard to be accepted face to face. Gray’s School of Art’s Look Again project has offered me support as an emerging artist. Now I would encourage everyone to come along to see the exhibition for themselves.”

“Within my work, I explore a character called Roy who embodies difference and searches for belonging and purpose only to be devastated at each step by those who judge the alternative. Roy strives to find a place of solace, fun and friendship through this series of animations that I hope people will connect with and enjoy.”

Indie McCue

The Look Again Project

You can view The Look Again gallery through the window on St.Andrew Street and it is free for everyone to enjoy. In addition, the gallery will offer the chance download QR codes and to interact with a series of computer games.

We spoke to Hilary Nicoll, Co-Lead for the Look Again Project. She said, “Robert Gordon University is committed to supporting the creative sector in the North East. In fact, this Look Again project is one way of animating vacant space in the city centre with art, design and creative projects.

Covid-19 has brought its challenges for those working in the creative industry, like others. As a result, our Look Again projects continues to support grass roots artist and our window gallery, has demonstrated that it is possible to showcase new talent in the north east.
Hilary Nicoll


Find out more

Look Again is a creative unit based at Gray’s School of Art, RGU in Aberdeen. The group hosts a range of events and exhibitions throughout the year. Furthermore, the team designed the events to connect, highlight and strengthen the creative sector in Aberdeen and North East Scotland. The group receives support from Creative Scotland and Aberdeen City Council.

To find out more about the project visit their website. In addition, check our post about the long anticipated return of Nuart Aberdeen for 2021.


Nuart Aberdeen - Herakut's Mural at Aberdeen Market

Nuart Aberdeen makes a long awaited return for 2021

Nuart Aberdeen will return to the city for a Covid-safe series of outdoor events starting in June, and continuing over the summer of 2021. As a result, we can look forward to a full summer of new street art murals around Aberdeen city centre.

Organisers cancelled the 2020 event due to the global pandemic. Also, many had assumed the same would happen this year. However, producers of the event have announced that a return of the city’s flagship street art festival is imminent, albeit in a slightly different guise. In a change from previous years organisers have set a theme for artists to explore; Memory and the City.

Photo by Chris Sansbury

In previous years all the artworks we revealed by organisers over one weekend at the end of April. However, this year, starting in June, one artist will come to the city at a time, supported by Nuart’s local production team. Organisers are hoping that the extended festival will attract visitors to the city in a covid-safe way. This will be the fourth year that the Nuart festival has come to Aberdeen, and hopes are that this could be the best yet.

Nuart haven’t wasted any time by announcing the first artist in their 2021 line-up. Renowned painter Helen Bur is making her way back to the city. The Aberdeen public loved her twin works the now demolished Greyfriars House at the Gallowgate. She’ll be exploring the Memory and the City theme.

We are very exited for Nuart Aberdeen's return to the city. Last year’s cancellation was necessary but a real blow. Also, we’re pleased organisers have re-worked the event in order to avoid massive crowds…maybe we can all get back together next year!


Read More

Check out our previous story about Nuart Aberdeen walking tours. These were a brilliant way to explore the murals, and find out the stories behind them.


Temp Check: Creative and podcaster Ica Headlam

2020 has been harder for Ica Headlam than most…but has also seen him make the push from podcaster to campaigner. Originally from London, but settled in the the city for more than 15 years, his show Creative Me Podcast has shone a spotlight on the work of many of Aberdeen’s artists, musicians and creative businesses, putting him at the centre of a renaissance of our creative scene. This year he launched We Are Here Scotland. This is a platform to help lift up the voices of artistic people of colour throughout Scotland.

With so much going on in his life, we thought it was time to catch up with him and find out how he’s doing.


Hey Ica. Thanks for taking some time out to be probed by our questions. Traditionally we start with a question that’s easy to ask, but not always easy to answer honestly…how are you doing right now?

I’m doing good thanks. 2020 has been one of those years where we all just can’t wait to get to the finish line. We all hope better things in the new year.

2020 has been a rough year for many people, but you more than most. Tell us a little about what has been going on in your bubble.

Well as you know I caught Corona Virus in late April this year. This resulted in treatment at ARI for five days. It’s been a long road to recovery in terms of living with Long Covid health issues and Chest X-Rays as I developed pneumonia scarring on my lungs. But in comparison to my health earlier this year I am doing much better. I returned back to work in mid-October.

Being a huge fan and supporter of podcasts for a long time I just really wanted to document in my own way what was happening in the place I call home.

Creative Me Podcast has been on the go for 3 years now. What made you decide to start podcasting?

Being a huge fan and supporter of podcasts for a long time I wanted to document in my own way. What was happening in the place I call home. My particular interest is very much rooted in art, creativity, and community engagement. It’s crazy to think how quickly three years has gone by. However it’s something that I’m very passionate about. Having conversations with people in North East of Scotland who love what they do

I’m maybe opening myself up for a hiding here, but what do you think makes a great interview?

In my experience, a great interview happens when you put the guest at ease. When you make them comfortable with opening up about who they are and why they do what they do. I take a very simple approach with my conversations. I treat it like I’m just catching up with someone over a cuppa. Having a respectful conversation that hopefully doesn’t come across as one sided.

[pours cuppa]

So tell us what have been your biggest frustrations in recent times?

There have been stages when I would question as to whether the podcast was resonating with the target audiences. That is to say artists and creatives in the North East of Scotland and beyond. However, time has shown that when you keep being consistent with what you’re doing, good things will come back to you. People will recognise your hard work in one way or another.

How important is community to you?

It’s very important to me. Communities DO THINGS. They put on events, showcases and exhibitions. Community is something that I have seen a lot of. Especially this year during the pandemic. Small local businesses across various industries amplifying each other’s voices.

You’ve recently started a campaign to support and amplify the voices of people of colour in Scotland. How do you hope to help shine a beacon on these voices?

I hope We Are Here Scotland can exist beyond an online platform for championing people of colours within Scotland’s creative industries. This is why I have registered the platform as a Community Interest Company. I also set up the We Are Here Scotland Creators Fund. It's is a GoFundMe campaign which I established to provide practical support for creatives. Those that may require financial assistance for new equipment, exhibitions, residencies, or collaborate projects.

I get inspired by people who step out of their comfort zones and follow through with ideas that they are passionate about.

You (like me) seem to collect side projects. What do you think that says about you?

I think it tells me that I like to keep myself busy. My brain is always ticking over with ideas or thinking about what’s next. I think I’ve always had an inquisitive mind set too. I want to find out ways of doing things. The way things work. This is especially when it’s something I have an interested in.

Who inspires you?

This is a hard question as I can’t say just once person. However, for me people who step out of their comfort zones inspire me. Those follow through with ideas that they are passionate about. It takes a lot of courage and nerve to put yourself out there and remain consistent with it. There are so many people I know who have done this. That inspires me to keep doing what I do.

Has 2020 changed you in any way?

Oh for sure man not just physically since having Covid but also within my mindset. Like I love everything that I do. However, I also very much value the time I have with my wife Beth and our daughter Izzy. This is why podcasting or meetings for We Are Here doesn’t take place on weekends or when I’m on holiday. When I was unwell in hospital I honestly thought I wasn’t going recover. That very much changes your outlook on life in terms of health. Who you are as a person and how you want to live your life moving forward.


Thanks again to Ica to take some time out of his busy schedule to have a chat. I you’d like to know a little bit more, you can go read about (and donate to) the We Are Here Scotland Creators Fund. The Creative Me Podcast has recently done a series of episodes with North Lands Creatives interviewing artisans about their relationship with glass.

Read more about the experience of running a creative business. Check out our conversation with Gary Kemp, founder of Doric Skateboards.


Enjoy a splash of colour with a Nuart Aberdeen walking tour

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hSlhswL-es

The Nuart Aberdeen walking tours are a brilliant way to see Aberdeen, and the spectacular street art that adds a splash of colour to our cityscape.

The worldwide popularity of urban art has grown massively since the turn of the century and this is no small part due the Nuart Festival, held every year in Stavanger, Norway.

Since 2001 artists from around the world have adorned the city’s buildings with beautiful and diverse works that have garnered admirers from around the globe.

Photo @notnixon

In 2017, Nuart spun off a new festival in Stavanger’s twin town of Aberdeen, Scotland and each April, artists are invited to the city to work on permanent legal sites which contrast stunningly against the city’s grey granite buildings. An opening weekend of celebrations, talks and events is seen by many as a kickstart to the summer months ahead.

Every Thursday at 6pm, and Saturday and Sunday at 1pm, whatever the weather, Nuart Aberdeen hold free tours of the city centre’s street art. They are fun, interesting and packed full of gossip about the creation of the artwork and the artists behind them. They last about 90 mins and if you haven’t already, you should get yourself, your friends and family along to one soon and discover Nuart Aberdeen!


Are you offended by the word “slave”?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1WGhQVKuRk

An Aberdeen artist has had a run-in with a housing officer for painting his trademark SLAVE pieces on a legal graffiti wall at Donside Village and was told never to paint it again because it “threatens residents in the area”.

He told us “It’s not like I have ever written slave in an offensive manner.”

Fellow artist ‘V-Lad’ who runs this legal wall space for Wallspot was told to cover the work before the police were involved. The pair’s solution was to change the pieces into a message about censorship and a discussion about enslavement in the 21st century.

What do you think? Was SLAVE being a little insensitive, or was the housing officer overstepping their authority? Does the resulting discussion bring the issues to a wider audience? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.