What legacy will BAS9 leave the people of Aberdeen?

British Art Show 9 (BAS9) finished its run at Aberdeen Art Gallery this weekend. And so, gallery staff will carefully pack up the show for now. Then soon, organisers with ship the show to Wolverhampton for its next leg. It has faced challenges over the past few months, opening during a global pandemic doesn't help. The themes of healing, care and reparative history have maybe not always been obvious to a public with Brexit and Covid-19 weighing heavily on their mind. However, the work was bold and undeniable.

We wanted to speak to a few people about BAS9. Have a think about what legacy we hope that the show will leave our city. It costs us a lot of money to put on grand shows like this in Aberdeen. I think it's reasonable for us to expect a lasting legacy. Artists, fans, local venues and the city's communities should feel we have all gained something permanent from our experience.



What legacy should BAS9 leave?

Artists and fans should feel a greater connection with Aberdeen Arts Gallery. Smaller galleries should see a surge in interest from a public keen to see more modern art, particularly from local artists. Communities should feel seen and included by the gallery. A gallery that in earlier years may have not found the need to reach out.

One of the things that we've enjoyed is being part of is the community of ambassadors for BAS9. Not everyone loved everything about the show. We loved the video and documentary work, but it's been brilliant to talk to talk to other ambassadors about their views. We've all had very different experiences of the show, and that divergence has been fascinating. It feels like the beginnings of something very exciting in the city. A group of people confident enough to say what they like about art. But perhaps more interestingly, to enjoy hearing others speak about their experience. This should not be wasted.

Reema Shoaib

First of our contributors is Reema Shoaib. Reema runs ChaiTime a Facebook community which she created to build inclusivity in arts and the creative industry between Britain and Pakistan. It was amazing to hear her experience. She was able to use the work of artists from minority communities from the show to engage with some of Aberdeen's communities.


The British Art Show 9 exhibition commenced just when Aberdeen was waking up from the hibernation of the Covid-19 pandemic. BAS9 is perhaps the biggest thing to happen in the city, since the lockdown. Aberdeen is the only Scottish location, and also the host city selected to launch the tour. The prestige of the exhibition along with the theme of contemporary art exhibits, something never before seen at this scale in Aberdeen, all garnered interest and curiosity from locals. I am truly honoured to play my part part in the Ambassador’s group. It was wonderful that Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum’s City Coordinator recruited me for the show.

ChaiTime founder and BAS9 ambassador Reema Shoaib

My list of tasks included creating a collaboration and understanding for the show within the ethnic communities and foreign nationals living in Aberdeen. A city that houses the highest number of ethnic minority communities than any other city in Scotland. I view this task as a nod to the council’s Cultural Strategy 2018-2028 of creating engagement in arts and culture that truly reflects the cultural diversity of Aberdeen.

My job was made easier by the sheer magnitude of the exhibition. Couple this with the fact that I was promoting something backed by the City Council and the Art Gallery. Furthermore, it had names attached to it like Hayward Gallery Touring. Finally the honour that we were the first city to host the exhibition. This all joined together to make a compelling case to take to Aberdeen's communities.

Sharing with all Aberdeen's communities

There were 33 artists in the show at Aberdeen, presenting a mix of film, photography, painting, sculpture and live performances. Another significant factor of BAS9 was the healthy inclusion of international work as well as artists from minority communities living in the UK. The knowledge that people can view art work from their own region or community upped the interest of our local communities. It definitely encouraged them to come and enjoy the exhibition.

The knowledge that people can view art work from their own region or community upped the interest of our local communities
Reema Shoaib

The fact that the exhibition was free to view was an essential difference. BAS9 had no tickets attached, except to check-in with the QR Code as per the safety guidelines. I feel that also helped motivate people to easily come and check it out.

BAS9 has indeed proven to be a source of inspiration for most of the city’s arts and cultural activities, now and moving forward. Already we can see the offshoot in the form of the splendid LookAgain series Beyond BAS9. This is a series of events, workshops, exhibitions, talks and tours all taking the art scene forward.

The legacy of BAS9 will and should converge into more such activities and people. Additionally, Aberdeen Art Gallery should keep in touch with the communities jolted by the show. There should be more reaching out to them through such engagements. Contemporary art shows are definitely something new to the city. However, in my opinion, the people of Aberdeen have graciously accepted this opportunity. The gallery should develop this interest further.

Rita Kermack

Next up we hear from Rita Kermack. Rita is an artist, graduate of Gray's School of Art and a member of the Aberdeen Artists Society. She thinks that the last three months have proven that Aberdeen is well able to host massive shows like the British Art Show.


One of the successes, in my opinion, was the network of support and associated events that were organised on the local level. The fact that this was possible shows that Aberdeen’s art and culture scene is alive and active. Despite this, the city is often referred to as a cultural desert by those who are not directly involved in the various initiatives. There is a lack of visibility. A lack of presence on a day-to-day basis, compared to what’s going on in Dundee for example. The engagement with BAS9 has brought the various agencies into the foreground. It has made them more visible to the general public. Hopefully, BAS9 is a catalyst for further growth in that direction.

Artist and BAS9 ambassador Rita Kermack

In terms of visibility, BAS9 has encouraged us all to come together to collaborate, support and debate. Some of that had been going on already in the background but having this common focus, maybe, added strength. A stronger network and mutual support amongst AAGM, collectives, agencies and individuals as well as Gray’s School of Art and NESCOL has been built. This could advance the creative industries in the city and shire to a level that attracts not only visitors but also sponsors.

Hosting prestigious exhibitions on a frequent basis can create a fertile environment for art education in the city and shire
Rita Kermack

Hosting prestigious exhibitions on a frequent basis can create a fertile environment for the art education in the city and shire. Collaborations with Gray’s School of Art, NESCOL and schools will help raise the profile and recognition of art and design as a valuable career path within the Northeast. This is necessary to grow the creative industries here. To provide jobs to encourage new graduates, emerging and early career artists to stay in the city.

The ambassador program

The ambassador program created many varied opportunities for community members and local artists. I was able to be involved and get to know the people behind AAGM. This experience gave me a great boost, having just graduated from Gray’s. Also, the work experiences I gained are invaluable.

Reaching out to communities in such a personal, tangible way will break barriers. It will promote the gallery as an interactive place for learning and exploring. A place for everyone.


We're adding more to this article soon

We'll be adding thoughts from more people over the next few days. Follow our social media channels for updates. If you would like to read more about British Art Show 9 and where it's going next, you could check out the exhibition website.


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.


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

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.