Aberdeen Art Gallery set for a thrilling year ahead

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

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

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

Shadows and Light – The Extraordinary Life of James McBey

11 February – 28 May

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

Travelling Gallery


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

The Testament of Alexander Jaffray

4 March – 3 September

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

Where Ideas are Born

1 April – 11 June

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

Making a Splash! A Century of Women’s Beachwear

10 June – 14 January

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

Quentin Blake – Illustrating Verse and Book Covers

8 July – 17 September

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

Constructed Narratives: Lennox Dunbar, Ian Howard, Arthur Watson

14 October – 28 January

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

About Aberdeen Art Gallery

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

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

Aberdeen lens heroes: Chris Henderson

In the first of a new series, our Lens Hero is Aberdeen photographer Chris Henderson. His project to share portraits of swimmers and surfers is a big hit with fans on Instagram.

Those that have been following us long enough know that we started out as a photo sharing group on Instagram. We’ve been racking our brains to honour that history in a new and different way. After speaking with a few local photographers, we thought it would be pretty cool to introduce photo essays. A way for us to highlight local photographers who we think you’d like to follow.

So first up is the hugely talented Chris Henderson. He’s a wedding photographer for his day job, but also shares outstanding portrait photography on his personal Instagram account. We love to see his photos on our timeline. One of our favourite projects has been to photograph local photographers and wild swimmers on the waters edge at Fittie. Maybe out of their comfort zone, but always in a hero pose, catching that early morning light. Over to Chris to explain.

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Chris Henderson

I started this project largely by accident. I’d been sitting at home, yet again contemplating buying a Leica. Instead, however, decided I needed to actually get out and use the gear I already had. Generally speaking, any time I find myself contemplating a new piece of photography gear, it’s because I’m not taking enough photographs with my current set-up.

So to give me something to photograph, I put out a request for portrait volunteers on my Instagram stories and was very pleased when Victoria got in touch. She said if I didn’t mind getting down to the beach for 7am, I could photograph her in her wetsuit. It sounded interesting, so we arrange to meet up.

– Victoria

The light at that time in the morning was really interesting. It was also great being outdoors in the fresh air, especially after numerous lockdowns and being unable to travel outside of Aberdeen. I took my Pentax 67 along with my Fuji X100s as backup. In the end I actually preferred the look of the images I got on the wee Fuji.

– Freya

I was really pleased with the results, so I decided to carry on with the project and arranged to meet another group of swimmers around sunrise. In the end they were running late. The light was amazing though, so I ambushed a couple of other swimmers who were coming out of the sea and asked if they’d be up for it. Thankfully they said yes. Those are still some of my favourite photos from the series. Once my original subjects arrived we had about 30 seconds to get their photo before the blazing sun broke over the horizon and the flattering light was gone.

– Thalia

Once I’d photographed a few swimmers, the word seemed to get out about who I was. It became much easier to find willing subjects. I kept an eye on the forecasts for clear mornings that coincided with the tides being right. I wanted to have some sand to stand on to take the picture. And so I’d head down to the beach for sunrise without pre-arranged subjects to photograph, just to see who I’d run into.

– Erica

That pre-sunrise light was unlike anything else I’ve worked with, and I was hooked. On mornings where the light was particularly special, it pushed me to approach complete strangers and ask for portraits. This is something I’m usually quite shy about. It was also really refreshing to be photographing people who were coming out the sea. People who where not looking their best in a conventional sense, but were still really open to being part of the project.

– George

This project really helped me keep creating through a difficult winter where almost all of my paid work had been postponed into next year or cancelled. It also opened me up to approaching total strangers for portraits, something I still struggle with but it’s getting easier, and I’ve met so many interesting, lovely people. Because I’m a very weak swimmer, I’ve still not ventured into the water myself yet. However I plan to continue documenting Aberdeen’s swimmers and surfers this winter too.

Campbell –

Thanks very much to Chris Henderson for his time and for sharing his wonderful photographs. Please go follow him on Instagram. This is the first Lens Heroes, a series of photo essays highlighting the work of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire photographers. We’re going to share more of these photo essays over the next few months. We’re always interested to find out what you like, what you don’t like and your ideas for new projects. Get in touch.

About POST

Kevin Mitchell and Chris Sansbury founded POST from a desire to cut through the noise to share the great things that happen in Aberdeen. They therefore focus on community, culture and the interesting people of the city. The local artists, businesses and charities; photographers, musicians and entertainers; the people at a local level that make a positive impact on our city each and every day. So they use video, audio, writing and social media to amplify the voices in our community, and to ultimately give a platform to Aberdeen folk to engage and tell their own stories.

Recent work includes interviews with We Are Here Scotland founder Ica Headlam; Paralympic gold medalist, Neil FachieChef, an Aberdeen rapper who is pushing for success; an article by film director Mark Stirton about the state of high-rise buildings in the city; coverage of Nuart Aberdeen and TEDx Aberdeen, as well as coverage of British Art Show 9.

So visit postabdn.com now to read a great selection of interviews and articles.