Jane Spiers to step down as APA Chief Exec

Jane Spiers, chief executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts, is to stand down in the spring of 2022.

Janes time in charge of the cultural charitable trust has been one of great highs and lows. Perhaps the biggest project in her time was the 10M redevelopment of the Music Hall. Her team also launched three city festivals. True North, Granite Noir and the Blue Light youth arts festival all brought new cultural opportunities to the city.



Of course the Covid-19 pandemic was a huge challenge for the former book publisher. She worked tirelessly to make sure that APA remained solvent and to safeguard jobs. It reopened it's venues in recent weeks, and its great to see it in a relatively healthy state.

She spent a great deal of time as chief executive working to increase diversity. Both the work shown on stage and the increased engagement. Her work to further engage with the city's varied communities has been hailed by Aberdeen City Council culture spokesperson, Marie Boulton. She said, "Jane’s commitment to inclusivity in the arts is exemplary. She has significantly increased the range and diversity of people we reach through education and community programmes."

In 2019 Aberdeen Performing Arts was named Business of the year at the AGCC Northern Star Awards. Furthermore, Jane Spiers became the first woman to win a Lifetime Achievement Award.

"If I listened to my heart, I’d never leave Aberdeen Performing Arts"

On announcing that she was moving on, Jane seemed torn on the decision. She told us, "If I listened to my heart, I’d never leave Aberdeen Performing Arts but after a lifetime working in the arts, my head is telling me it’s time to step away. I’ve lived my dream job for the last ten years and it will be hard to say goodbye to my wonderful work family especially after what we’ve been through together in the last 18 months."

Craig Pike, Chairman of APA was keen to point out her leadership skills. He said, "She has been an inspirational and compassionate leader, never more in evidence than during the pandemic, tirelessly advocating and fundraising to keep us solvent, safeguard jobs and always with the welfare of her work family in mind."

Aberdeen Performing Arts will now being the search for Jane Spiers' replacement. If you like to know more about their recruitment process, check out the APA 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.


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.


Take One Action is back to inspire a better world

The Take One Action film festival returns to Aberdeen on 22-24 October, hoping to inspire us to push for a fairer and more sustainable world. The Scottish charity, founded by film lovers, aim to bring audiences together through film screenings and conversations. They also hope to inspire audiences to take action for themselves.

This year they'll present challenging and urgent international cinema exploring social and environmental justice. And so, the hope is that audiences will have deeper conversations about the world we live in. Also, and perhaps more importantly, this could make people feel able take actual action to improve lives.

Belmont Cinema will play host in Aberdeen this year, and films have been made available on a pay-what-you-can basis. Organisers are keen to make the festival as accessible. Therefore all films are captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences



Tamara Van Strijthem, Take One Action's Executive Director, spoke of how pleased they were to be back presenting the festival. “After so many months apart, we are excited and grateful to be inviting audiences to celebrate the power of community and connection through world-changing cinema. COP26 in November represents such a crucial moment for our planet’s future. Subsequently, our programme offers a much-needed opportunity to pause and reflect – and to question just how we’ve arrived at the topsy-turvy reality we call our own.”

Take One Action is funded by The National Lottery and Scottish Government through Screen Scotland and also supported by Film Hub Scotland.

We're looking forward to this year's festival, so thought we'd let you know what to expect.

What films are on show for Take One Action 2021?

Living Proof

Emily Munro | UK | 2021 | 95min | English | Ages 8+ | World Premiere

Fri 22 Oct | 20:00 | Belmont Filmhouse | Tickets

A stunning new archive documentary that looks for the roots of the climate crisis in Scotland’s post-war history.

In the year that Scotland hosts COP26, the film asks was climate change inevitable? Director and curator Emily Munro searches for the roots of the climate crisis in our postwar history. In this new documentary, archive footage from the National Library of Scotland portrays a country shaped by demands for energy and economic growth. In addition, the eclectic soundtrack amplifies the voices of the past in powerful, and sometimes unsettling, ways.

150 years of moving image heritage can only offer us a glimpse of human history. However, the proliferation of video today makes the moving image a crucial way to document our impact on the planet. Are we heading into new territory, or are we caught in a cycle of familiar promises?

https://youtu.be/6J29qHOMm8k

The Ants and the Grasshopper

Raj Patel & Zak Piper | USA | 2021 | 74min | English/Tumbuka | Ages 8+ | Scottish Premiere

Thu 23 Oct | 17:30 | Belmont Filmhouse | Tickets

How do the roots of change grow?

Anita Chitaya seems unstoppable as she works tirelessly to transform farming practices in her village in Malawi and turns gender discrimination on its head. But in her battle against drought and extreme weather events, she takes on her greatest challenge yet: persuading Americans that climate change is real.

She visits rural farms and urban food cooperatives across the US, navigating deep national divisions. In addition, she appeals to those in a position of privilege to embrace change with the urgency the climate crisis demands.

The Last Forest

Luiz Bolognesi | Brazil | 2021 | 76 min | Yanomami | Ages 12+ | Scottish Premiere

Sat 23 Oct | 20:00 | Belmont Filmhouse | Tickets

A mesmerising journey into the heart of Brazil’s Amazonian forest, in the footsteps of the Yanomami.

From missionaries to gold miners, the Yanomami people have endured centuries of violence at the hands of white colonisers. Developed in collaboration with the community itself, The Last Forest blends observational footage and dreamlike staged sequences to explore the Yanomami’s creation myths, their relationship to nature, and their ongoing struggle to preserve their natural environment.

Co-scripted by Yanomami shaman Davi Kopenawa, the film unfolds in lush cinematography, multi-layered soundscapes and ethereal musical sections. The film exposed the environmental and political threats affecting Indigenous Peoples in present-day Brazil. However The Last Forest is first and foremost a homage to the strength of a community coming together. People honouring its traditions and stand up for its rights - and its future.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LKBRCaUUc0

The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel

Joel Bakan & Jennifer Abbott | Canada | 2021 | 106 min | English | Ages 12+ | Scottish Premiere

Sun 24 Oct | 17:30 | Belmont Filmhouse | Tickets

An urgent takedown of corporate greenwashing that pulls no punches.

Finally, the filmmakers behind 2003’s global hit “The Corporation” return after almost 20 years with their “Unfortunately Necessary Sequel”. They investigate how the corporate takeover of society is being justified by the sly rebranding of corporations as socially-conscious entities. Furthermore, The New Corporation lays bare the disturbing realities of companies’ desperation to achieve profit at any cost. From the climate crisis through to racial injustice and surging inequality.

Far from a sigh of despair, however, this punchy documentary celebrates the groundswell of movements taking to the streets in pursuit of justice and the planet’s future. It also provides a providing a rallying cry for social justice, deeper democracy, and transformative solutions.

What you need to know

Where: Belmont Filmhouse Cinema
When: 22-24 October 2021
Price: Pay what you can (£0 to £10)

Living Proof | Fri 22 Oct | 20:00
The Ant and the Grasshopper | Thu 23 Oct | 17:30
The Last Forest | Sat 23 Oct | 20:00
The New Corporation | Sun 24 Oct | 17:30


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.


An athletic Ayanna Witter-Johnson on her knees like she was at the start of a race. She has her cello strapped to her back.

True North rises up

True North returns to the Granite City this weekend. The festival, presented by Aberdeen Performing Arts, promises a mix of fantastic live music and acoustic performances. As well as their headline shows, you can expect vibrant fringe events across the city. This year, True North is celebrating freedom of expression, diversity and community with their theme - Rise Up. This is especially poignant at a time when city venues are only just beginning to open up to audiences for the first time since the Covid19 emergency began.

Stick around because we're going to take a closer look at the headline events, as well as some of the exciting free fringe shows. We're sure you'll find something that makes you want to get out there and experience True North for yourself.



Peaness | Lemon Tree | Thursday

Playing on Thursday 23 September and kicking off True North 2021 will be Peaness, who will be bringing their catchy, fuzzy, harmony-driven indie-pop songs about love, friendship, frustrations, Brexit and food waste to the Lemon Tree. Formed in 2014 in Chester university digs, the trio have secured nationwide and international shows with bands such as The Beths, Kero Kero Bonito, The Cribs, We Are Scientists, The Big Moon and Dream Wife. They will be joined at the Lemon Tree by Swim School and Lavender Lane.

Ayanna Witter-Johnson | Lemon Tree | Friday

Headlining on Friday night at the Lemon Tree with a Night of New Voices is the soulful, eclectic Ayanna Witter-Johnson.  A singer, songwriter, cellist, composer, producer and arranger with phenomenal musical prowess, mesmerising vocals, uncompromising lyrics and mastery of the cello. Ayanna unapologetically imprints her unique musical signature into her music. Heir of the Cursed, Katie Mackie and DJ Rebecca Vasmant complete the line-up.

John Grant | Music Hall | Saturday

Former Czars frontman John Grant is the headline act on Saturday evening. Described as ‘the misfit’s misfit’, this singer-songwriter is too weird to be mainstream, too mainstream to be weird; too sad to be happy, too sharp not to crack a mordant joke about it. Grant's superpower is to compare his impressionistic childhood experiences against their amplified adult consequences. SUpport act for the night is acclaimed Scottish folk singer, Rachel Sermanni.

Ransom FA | Lemon Tree | Saturday

Aberdonian grime rapper Ransom FA will head up late night at the Lemon Tree on Saturday. The fast-rising artist, was a contestant on the UK TV show, The Rap Game, where he battled other budding rappers for a record deal. As well as sharing the stage with some of the words best grime artists he has also turned his hand to presenting documentary series for BBC3. He'll be joined by Sean Focus and DJ HomeAlone.

Corrine Bailey Ray | Music Hall | Sunday

Closing out True North 2021 is Sunday's headline act, Corrine Bailey Ray. She is performing a specially curated concert called "A Celebration of Stevie Wonder". The evening will see the Grammy and MOBO award winning singer joined by special guests to perform many hits from the back catalogue of the legend that is Stevie Wonder. It promises to be an extraordinary evening of music. Previous True North curated concerts have celebrated the likes of Neil Young, David Bowie and Kate Bush amongst others. They are a firm favourite with Aberdeen audiences.

Jo Gilbert | Lemon Tree | Sunday

A spoken word event specially commissioned by Aberdeen Performing Arts and headed up by award winning poet and three-time slam champion Jo Gilbert will explore the festival’s theme of Rise Up. Four local spoken word artists will produce new work based around this theme and showcase their work at the Lemon Tree on Sunday. The event promises to challenge and inspire in equal measure.

Fringe events

True North are holding a number of free acoustic events across the Granite City. We picked out some young Aberdeen acts you should definitely be keeping an eye out for over the weekend. Get yourself into the city centre and find your new favourite Aberdeen singer.

Rachel Jack | Spin | Friday

This Aberdeen based singer-songwriter has been turning heads in the Scottish music scene for the past 18 months. Her debut 2020 EP, The Calgary Tapes was followed up in March this year with Magazine Girls. You can check out our Temp Check interview with Rachel Jack here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhIclAdoiI4

Aiysha Russell | Spin | Saturday

This young Aberdeen singer first hit the limelight at The Voice Kids in 2019, proving to be a big hit with judges. Following that, she last year performed Sam Cooke's classic It's Been a Long Time Coming live at an Aberdeen Black Lives Matter march which was a real moment for those in attendance.

Calum Bowie | Waterstones | Saturday

With a background in busking, Aberdeenshire singer Calum Bowie has become something of a TikTok sensation, growing a fan base that's pushing him on to success. He's capitalised on that hard work with a string of single releases and surely an album on the way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Da3zu_gqGVw

Olivia Thom | Union Café | Sunday

Glasgow based Aberdeen quine Olivia Thom's 2020 debut EP is lead off by her truly magnificent song Fine Wine. Her alt-folk sound mirrors her musical heroes Stevie Nicks and Joni Mitchell. We’re very much looking forward to future releases.

Razz Mattreezy | Siberia | Sunday

Born and raised in Aberdeen Matt Reid, AKA Razz Mattreezy, spent lockdown writing and recording. His debut single only came out in March 2021, but he's already building a follow along the way. His smooth soulful vocals over smooth keyboards make for a cool chilled sound.

What the organisers say

Ben Torrie is Director of Programming and Creative Projects for Aberdeen Performing Arts. He told us, “We are thrilled to announce the lineup for True North 2021, which feels like a huge step in the return of live performance at our venues. It feels really good to be able to bring the festival to a live audience once again. It means a lot to us to be able to put this on for people in Aberdeen, and to shine a spotlight on so many talented performers and musicians is a privilege that has never been so important.

“The theme of this year’s festival is Rise Up. It’s a positive message about rising up to bring people together, marking the re-opening of our venues, and celebrating the power of music to help us stand up for the things we believe in. We could not be prouder of this festival at this time.”

What you need to know

Where: Music Hall, Lemon Tree and venues across Aberdeen
When: 23-26 September 2021
Cost: Various prices including free
More Info and tickets: Event Website
Social media: Twitter | Facebook

True North is back and rising up to mark the return of live music and standing up for what you believe in. They'll celebrate freedom of expression, diversity, community and equality with an inspirational and vibrant line up of musicians over one unforgettable weekend.


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 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.

The goal is to 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 Paralympic gold medalist, Neil FachieChef, an Aberdeen rapper who is pushing for success; an article by film director Mark Stirton abut the state of high-rise buildings in the city; coverage of WayWORD, Nuart Aberdeen and TEDx Aberdeen, as well as British Art Show 9. Visit postabdn.com to read a great selection of interviews and articles.


WayWORD Festival returns to Aberdeen

WayWORD is returning to Aberdeen from 19-26 September. The literary festival, which organisers first launched in 2020, will shine a spotlight on unconventional forms of expression. Online and in-person visitors can expect an especially inspiring line-up of poets, artists, writers and creators for author events, workshops, performances and discussion panels. A talented group of young people are behind the WayWORD festival, while University of Aberdeen play host.



Organisers aim to bring under-explored arts and artists in to view. This year’s line-up includes workshops in animation, Bothy ballads, and creative writing to improve mental health. Headliners include Val McDermid, Karine Polwart, Irvine Welsh, Alex Wheatle, A.L. Kennedy and Kirstin Innes. With more than 40 events covering topics such as nature, beauty, witches, poetry, music, comedy, Gaelic playwriting, dance, painting, and sound art, there is something for everyone at WayWORD’s 2021 festival and all tickets are FREE!

Our WayWORD Highlights

We've picked out a few of the events taking place throughout the week that have caught our attention. There are nearly 50 separate events over eight days, so make sure you check out the WayWORD event website to see what takes your fancy.

New York Times best-selling author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé | Sunday 19 Sep

The festival opens with an author discussion with a University of Aberdeen graduate. At just 22, Àbíké-Íyímídé is already a New York Times bestselling author for her debut novel. Ace of Spades is a high-school thriller that tackles institutionalised racism as well as homophobia in the black community.

Irvine Welsh in Conversation with Alan Warner | Wednesday 22 Sep

Irvine Welsh's debut, Trainspotting is perhaps Scotland's most well known books of the 1990's. Danny Boyle adapted the supposedly un-filmable novel into one of the greatest British movies of all time. Welsh is outspoken, forthright and a sometime pain in the arse to those in power. Alan Warner, one of Scotlands best loved literary figures, teaches at University of Aberdeen. He has penned nine novels, many winning awards along the way. His latest novel, Kitchener 434 explores delusional male behaviour. The pair, who recently collaborated on The Seal Club along with John King, will discuss life and writing and conclude with a Q&A session.

North-East Voices at The Blue Lamp | Wednesday 22 Sep

The Blue Lamp hosts an extravaganza of North-East words, music and film with writers, performers and musicians. The night will feature Shane Strachan, an Aberdeen writer and performer, North-East Makar Sheena Blackhall and also spoken word artist Noon Salah Eldin. Next up, Bothy Bass stars Affa Fine make an appearance. Twa loons fae Garioch fit like a bangin choon, ken? Finally, expect a performance from award winning Scots singer Iona Fyfe.

Producer and podcast host Dan Schreiber

Writing Comedy with QI's Dan Schreiber | Friday 24 Sep

WayWORD welcomes Dan Schreiber, QI elf and one part of popular podcast No Such Thing As A Fish. He is also a producer and writer on The Museum of Curiosity and Frank Skinner’s The Rest is History. With his long-standing role researching for QI, he'll be bringing over ten years of stories and knowledge about the industry and the art form.

Val McDermid | Saturday 25 Sep

Val McDermid is one of Scotland's best known novelists. She has sold over 17 million books around the world. Her best selling series of suspense novels, Wire in the Blood, was adapted for TV. Val joins WayWORD to introduce her latest work, 1979. The new series will follow new character Allie Burns, a journalist exposing the criminal underbelly of Scotland. The Arts Lecture Theatre at University of Aberdeen will host what will surely be one of the most popular events of the festival.

What the WayWORD organisers say

Students and young people from across the city have organised the festival with guidance and mentoring from University staff. Mabel Chambers has been part of the student committee organising this year’s programme. She said: “It has been really heartening to see such exciting events and festivals going ahead after so much disappointment last year. Despite the challenges of organising such a large festival remotely, it has been amazing to have so many creative and interesting people pull together to perform and organise this year’s program.”

Festival Director, Dr Helen Lynch added: “Last year’s festival was such a success that coming up with something to build on that was a real challenge. The young people have done an amazing job of keeping it fresh and imaginative while putting in a huge amount of practical work to bring it all together. The festival has more than twice the number of events we had in 2020 and yet the programme is coherent as well as varied. There really is something for everybody in 2021.”

What you need to know

Where: Online and at venues across Aberdeen
When: 19-26 September 2021
Cost: Free
More Info: Event Website
Social media: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

WayWORD is a student and youth-led arts festival for people of all ages. WORD Centre for Creative Writing and University of Aberdeen have organised the festival. Workshops, author events, panel discussions and performance nights are all FREE and live online, with BSL interpretation.


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 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.

The goal is to 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 Paralympic gold medalist, Neil FachieChef, an Aberdeen rapper who is pushing for success; an article by film director Mark Stirton abut 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. Visit postabdn.com to read a great selection of interviews and articles.


Clan announce Light the North farewell weekend

Organisers of the Light the North Lighthouse Trail have put tickets on sale for their Farewell Weekend. Gordon Barracks in Bridge of Don will play host to the event on 29-31 October. Trail adventurers will then get one last chance to see all 50 of the lighthouses, along with the 90 little lighthouses. The lighthouses have been painted by school kids, community groups and artists. After the final event, organisers will auction the sculptures to raise money for Clan Cancer Support.



Booking Details

Bookings are available for a 90 minute slot on each day:
Friday 29 Oct 10am – 5.30pm (last admission 4pm)
Saturday 30 Oct 10am – 5.30pm (last admission 4pm)
Sunday 31 Oct 10am – 4.30pm (last admission 3pm)

Tickets are £5.00 per adult (age 18 and over) and £3.00 per child (age 17 and below) plus online booking fees. You can purchase them at www.lightthenorth.co.uk/event/farewell-weekend/

*There is a quiet hour on Sunday 31st October from 10am – 11am. Organisers will play no music throughout the event site. This will make it suitable for adults and children with specific sensory needs.

Lighthouse sculpture sitting on grass with the Aberdeen skyline and blue skies in the background. Painted on the lighthouse is a sailing ship in heavy seas.
Light the North lighthouse by Glen Brooks at Greyhope Bay | Photo by Chris Sansbury

Fiona Fernie of Clan and Light the North

Fiona Fernie is Clan's Head of Income Generation and Business Development and Project Director for Light the North. She said “We can’t quite believe we are almost at the end of the ‘Light the North’ trail which culminates in our ‘Farewell Weekend’ and then our auction. North-east people have taken the trail to their hearts and been so involved in visiting all 50 lighthouses across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Orkney and Shetland. These lighthouses, designed and painted by professional, emerging and as yet undiscovered artists. They've shone their lights across the north east for 10 weeks. The have encouraged people to explore and discover the region like never before.”

Our North-east adventurers have shared their personal stories and photographs, which has been a joy to see.
Fiona Fernie

Fiona continued, "The ‘Farewell Weekend’ is a special event which makes it accessible for those who may not have had the opportunity to visit all the sculptures and gives them one last chance to be able to tick them off their list when they visit - whether that’s via the Lighthouse Trail app or in their sticker book. Each visitor will have a 90 minute slot to visit, take selfies and collect their final lighthouses."

Fiona concludes, “We want to take this opportunity to thank the amazing team at Wild in Art for partnering with us on the trail, the talented artists who created these bespoke and poignant sculptures and to our sponsors for their generosity and making this all possible. Last but not least to the people of the North-east - individuals, couples, families, businesses, schools and not forgetting the pets who have got out there, visited the trail and made a real difference.”

Charlie Langhorne from Wild in Art

Charlie Langhorne from Wild in Art also commented on Light the North. He said “Events like this can’t happen without the dedication of the local charities we partner with. Certainly not forgetting the artists who create these wonderful pieces of art as well as the generous sponsors. The success of this trail is testimony to the hard work and commitment from the team of staff and volunteers at Clan. They've battled through a pandemic to bring this amazing spectacle to the north east. Please support this wonderful local charity by attending the farewell weekend and bidding at the auction. This will help them continue to support the people in your communities who need Clan the most.”


More About Post Aberdeen

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 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. Their monthly newsletter, Your Aberdeen, takes a look at what's been going on in the city from all different angles.

The goal is simple. To 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 Paralympic gold medalist, Neil Fachie; Chef, an Aberdeen rapper who is pushing for success; an article by film director Mark Stirton abut 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. Visit postabdn.com to read a great selection of interviews and articles.


The return of Aberdeen Performing Arts

Aberdeen Performing Arts has announced that all of its venues will re-open to the public from Tuesday 7 September. APA closed The Music Hall, His Majesty’s Theatre and the Lemon Tree on 17 March 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic forced the world into lockdown. This resulted in the arts charity rescheduling or cancelling over 700 performances and placing 270 staff on furlough.



Jane Spiers of Aberdeen Performing Arts

Chief Executive Jane Spiers said: “We are so pleased, relieved and grateful to be opening our doors again after such a difficult 18 months.  We earn nearly 90% of our turnover through earned income and that was wiped out overnight. I can’t thank our loyal team enough, our furloughed team who stayed with us in spirit and the handful of retained team who ripped up their job descriptions and did whatever it took to keep us afloat. It’s a milestone moment for all of us and we can’t wait for curtain up. As we start to see people coming back to work it’s hard not to feel emotional. It’s much more than a turn of the key to get our three venues open again after so long and everyone is working so hard to get us there.”

“We are gradually phasing back and plan to offer a full programme again by November. For now, though, our immediate priority is to bring our beautiful buildings back to life and put measures in place to make sure that our customers and audiences feel safe and comfortable going forwards.

We’ve just put the finishing touches to a terrific Autumn/Winter season brochure. We’re so grateful to our audiences who donated so generously during the pandemic to help keep us going. There would be no show without you. Enjoy!”

New opening hours

Box offices at His Majesty’s Theatre and the Music Hall will open on Tuesday, September 7. They'll be open Tuesday to Saturday, from 10am – 6pm. Coda Café in the Music Hall will be open from Tuesday, September 14. It opening hours of Tuesday to Saturday from 9.30am – 5pm. HMT 1906 café and restaurant will remain closed until the end of November. This will allow APA to increase circulation space in the HMT foyer/box office as part of COVID safety measures.

What's on

The first performance at the Music Hall will be Nick Cave and Warren Ellis on Sunday 19 September, with the first event, the National Whisky Festival, taking place on Saturday 18 September. The first show at His Majesty’s Theatre will be the 100th Aberdeen Student Show, Freezin’ which runs at the theatre from Tuesday 14 September to Saturday 18 September, while at the Lemon Tree the first show will be The Wandering Hearts on Wednesday 8 September.


Don't miss out on our interview with Aberdeen Rapper Chef. He spoke to us this week about a BBC Scotland documentary about the Aberdeen hip-hop and R&B scene.


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

Aberdeen high-rise buildings | The selective regeneration of our city

We interviewed movie director Mark Stirton last month about his career and how he has coped with lockdown. Shortly after we published he told us that he had something important to share about Aberdeen high-rise buildings and asked if he could write for us on the subject.

While a number of Aberdeen high-rise buildings have been awarded category A listed status, their residents continue to suffer awful living conditions. Over to Mark.

The selective regeneration of Aberdeen by Mark Stirton 

Someone sitting in an air conditioned office somewhere has decided that Aberdeen high-rise buildings like Virginia Court and Marischal Court are in some way historically important. Presumably whoever made this decision at Historic Environment Scotland has never actually been inside these buildings. Certainly they have never had to live in one. So, let’s take a closer look at these historically important buildings shall we?

First
Impressions


The first thing you’ll notice upon arriving in the area is that every single paving stone is broken. Not just one or two, all of them. So already, without actually entering the buildings, you can clearly see that this area has not been maintained in any meaningful way in quite some time.

But things get so much worse when we enter Virginia Court. Lift or stairs? Let’s try the lift first and as the door shudders to a close I notice that someone has scrawled something inside; ‘Please fix this door before an OAP gets stuck’. Sound advice and I immediately wonder if the doors will ever open again.

Fine, let’s take the stairs.

The steps leading up to the main stairwell are an immediate cause for concern. The problem is not that the banisters have been removed, which would not be so bad, it’s that the banisters have been partially removed. Nasty sharp metal struts have been left still in place and pointing outwards at exactly eye level for a toddler. Smart.

‘Please fix this door before an OAP gets stuck’. Sound advice …

Aberdeen High-Rise | The Flats


The stairwells themselves are pretty gruesome, with nasty big chunks of wall missing all over the place. But then, no one lives in the stairwells. It’s the flats that are the real eye opener here in this most important of buildings.

Where to start? Electrical wires hang out of the wall as if repaired by someone wearing a blindfold. Plaster is falling off the roof in big chunks. I can see cracks all over the place with massive gaps between floors and walls.


These gaps are more than just unsightly since they allow local insects to infest the lower flats. Without the addition of many rolls of flypaper to at least moderate the influx of midges, these rooms would not be considered fit for human habitation. Especially when you consider the rats.

Also problematic is the difficulty in heating a room that’s surrounded by walls that don’t reach the floor. Having said that, the storage heaters here have been imported from the 60s and would only heat you up if you sat on one.

This may explain why there is dry rot everywhere. One woman I spoke to, who was moving out, cited this exact reason for her moving; the health of her children was suffering just by being here. Is that a mushroom growing out of the floorboards? Yes, you can grow mushrooms here.

Yup, I saw rats. I didn’t hang around to photograph them, but I saw them.

Communal space or lack of privacy?


Anyway, let’s take our lives in our hands and try the balconies. Now maybe it’s beyond the understanding of a simple film director like myself to comprehend why rust and missing bolts everywhere is a perfectly safe way to leave a balcony, but to use your eyes and your common sense? I didn’t linger.

Another issue with the balconies is that of privacy. You see, everyone gets a balcony. What you might not realise from the outside is that most rooms have access to the same communal balcony, including the bedrooms. So if you fancy a neighbour standing directly outside your bedroom door at night, you’re in luck. It’s an appalling design. One that points towards another dirty little secret of these buildings – they were never any good to begin with! Presumably the original 1950’s based theory was to allow for a sense of community. You know, talking to a neighbour on the balcony while discussing the merits of teabags or some such. In the less cosy reality of 2021 however, it just means someone can come along and pee outside your bedroom door at 4 in the morning.

So if you fancy a neighbour standing directly outside your bedroom door at night, you’re in luck.

Not that communicating directly with your neighbours is that big a problem since the uninsulated walls here are paper thin. It’s quite possible to have a conversation with next door without raising your voice.

Aberdeen high-rise | Walkways


Speaking of disasters waiting to happen, let’s examine the two walkways that once connected Virginia Court and Marischal Court. These have not been in use for at least 3 decades. Again, maybe it’s beyond my humble understanding as to why leaving these walkways unmaintained and subject to the harsh winds and rain of Aberdeen for decades is in fact, perfectly safe and nothing to worry about. But I do worry.

There seems to be an insane innocence to all this, a sort of, it’ll never happen here, attitude.

But it might. Consider the aforementioned banister struts sticking out of the wall. No children have lost eyes, yet, so it must be safe to leave like that. They won’t take action, apparently, until after someone gets hurt.

When Historic Environment Scotland granted these Aberdeen high-rise buildings protected status, Aberdeen City Council protested in a kind of ‘Hey we were just about to fix that problem’ sort of way. But make no mistake, the problems in these buildings are entirely down to the borderline criminal negligence of Aberdeen City Council.

New Council HQ


Let’s take an interesting example from Aberdeen’s own recent historical past shall we? Not that long ago Aberdeen City Council decided that their HQ just wasn’t up to snuff. They needed somewhere new and my goodness didn’t that happen quickly!

The old building was gone in record time, a new home was found across the road. It was renovated, cleaned inside and out, new offices fitted and oh look, some fancy lights. In fact the whole area was regenerated in a remarkably short time. Aberdeen City Council can move pretty damn fast when it’s their own comfort at stake.

And what happened to Virginia and Marischal Court? Where people actually have to live, while all this frenzied rebuilding was going on 500 yards away? Well they were left to rot.

Putting aside the hideous living conditions of the poor souls stuck here to one side for a moment. Something Aberdeen City Council seems to have little difficulty in doing. People are telling us that these buildings are in some way culturally important; they’re not but let’s play the game. That means they’ve been letting these highly important buildings crumble away. So even if you take the human element out of this equation, there is still some world class negligence going on here.

Where’s the rush to action that Aberdeen City Council are apparently capable of, given the right self serving conditions?

An important building like Virginia Court falling into complete disrepair? Who do we call about that? If it’s so important, where’s the money?

The Human Element


Except of course, it’s impossible to take the human element out of this discussion, at least not without being a complete sociopath, because real people have to live in these buildings and they need help. Lifts that open, safe balconies, insulation, a heating solution from this century, an absence of midges and rats, a measure of privacy, fewer mushrooms, you know, the little things.

Unfortunately, since being designated as culturally significant, there is now a delay in any major repair work going on in this area. So people, who live in considerably nicer accommodation than is available in Marischal Court, can argue at great length and in comfort, about the relative merits of Brutalist design concepts.

But the truth is that these Aberdeen high-rise buildings were never any good, interesting architecture aside,  and thanks to the inaction of Aberdeen City Council they’ve gone from bad to worse. Decades of simply looking the other way.

The people living in Virginia and Marischal Court need many things to be sure, but I can tell you what they don’t need, before some idiot turns up with a bucket of paint and a Council grant, they don’t need a mural.

Media Gallery


All photos owned by Mark Stirton.


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