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.


We Are Here Scotland in the spotlight

Back in late 2020, we interviewed Aberdeen creative and podcaster Ica Headlam. He had just established We Are Here Scotland, a creative fund designed to practically support creative people of colour (POC) throughout Scotland.

Nearly a year later, having achieved funding through a successful GoFundMe campaign, We Are Here Scotland are just about to close applications for their first round of funding of creatives. We wanted to chat to Ica further about We Are Here Scotland. We wanted to know the background behind the fund, some of the challenges he has faced, and what he can offer creative people of colour. As always, Ica was keen to share his experience.



What is We Are Here Scotland?

Tell us a little about We Are Here Scotland. How did the idea came about and develop into a real life fund?

The idea for We Are Here Scotland came from my experiences of presenting Creative Me Podcast. And also, of course, being a person of colour here in the north east of Scotland.

Being born in the early 1980's I've always recognised the importance of representation. However I didn't see much of that in Scotland across the artistic and creative industries. I wanted to create something that not only allowed for there to be recognition of black and POC artists and creatives, but also as a means of supporting the community in practical ways too. This is where the Creator's Fund comes into play.

I had numerous private conversations and a number of Instagram Live events. After that it became very clear to me that many people in the community needed help. Both in terms of funding and practical support. However, getting this from larger organisations always seemed like such a daunting and monumental task.

Bearing that in mind, I felt that there should be a fund that not only made it easier for people to apply for, but also provided some follow through in terms of practical support via mentoring and guidance from industry professionals to help those who are awarded funding.

What are some of the challenges you've faced in launching the fund?
Well we launched the fund in mid-November last year whilst still in the pandemic. Given the climate it was a slow burn, however we eventually reached our target of £6000 in June this year. Recently that amount has grown to £7,490. This has allowed us to support more black and POC artists and creatives across Scotland.

What advice would you give to creatives of colour starting out just now? In particular, advice about raising funding and dealing with the challenges that their industry may throw their way?

With regards to funding, I think it's important to explore all the viable options available to you as a creative. It's about finding out what opportunities are happening in your local community as well. For example, does your local authority have funding opportunities for creatives? Is your local art space/gallery looking to commission artists etc?

In terms of the challenges you may encounter? For me I always find that it's important to have a good support network around you. This industry isn't easy to navigate. Over the past year I've heard from people in my community who have had horrible experiences within Scotland. So, I would say it's also important to hold people accountable. We can't minimise problematic attitudes and behaviours in the hope that it'll all be forgotten about. Especially in the current climate.

Systemic misrepresentation in the arts

Do you think there's a genuine willingness within Scotland's creative industries to actually stamp out their systemic representation problems once and for all?

Well I'd like to think so. But the past year has shown me that within Scotland's creative industries the conversation of representation and systematic change can easily turn into a tick box exercise. It's becoming on trend now for some predominantly white led businesses and organisations to be seen to be amplifying black and POC voices. The thinking is in doing this, organisations show evidence to potential funders that they are actively engaged with supporting the community.

In all honesty I do think that some people prefer the status quo of things. Some people don't want to be challenged. They don't want to reflect on certain issues that requires them to actively engage in meaningful conversations or progressive thought.

Is there anything people working in creative industries can do to pressure their organisation to be better?

I think people need to be more vocal about the systemic issues within the creative industries. However, it shouldn't just be black and POC doing this all the time.

I think we have gotten into this mindset in society that if it doesn't personally impact on you or your mental health then do you really need to say anything. Yes ,you absolutely do need to challenge and hold people accountable especially in this industry. People need to ask important questions within their organisations. Ask about meaningful representation and what that can look like for marginalised groups.

Who in benefiting?

Who are some of the creatives that you have helped? Tell us a little about them and the work they do.

When I first started We Are Here Scotland. I used to do a lot of Instagram story shout outs. We've given this a little more structure with a spotlight feature on our website. This feature will introduce people to a number of talented artists and creatives across Scotland. The first artist in our spotlight is the acclaimed Scottish-Caribbean poet and performer Courtney Stoddart. You can check out her interview here.

What are your future plans for WAHS?

We have a number of projects that I'm really excited about beyond the Creator's Fund. Hopefully we'll be in a position to secure funding to develop these projects. We ant to provide more opportunities for black and POC artists and creatives in Scotland.

The Creator's Fund is still live until Sunday 31st October at 11:59pm you can apply for the fund here: https://www.weareherescotland.com/creators-fund


Thank you so much to Ica for again taking time to talk to us. He has a special ability to focus on his project and achieve his lofty goals. That has always been an inspiration to us here at POST, so it's great to catch up with him again.

We Are Here Scotland | Find Out More

You can fine We Are Here Scotland at a number of places around the web. Please go follow them to stay up-to-date on their progress.

We Are Here Scotland | website | Twitter | Instagram

We also very much enjoyed this episode of Just a Chat With...Ica Headlam

https://youtu.be/7sI4vD0oO5Q

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.


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

Gray’s School of Art Graduate Degree Show 2021

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

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



Tom Andrew

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

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

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

Leanne Daphne

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

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

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

Maria Laidlaw

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

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

Other Highlights

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

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

What you need to know

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

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

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


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


New Look Again project to light up Aberdeen

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

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

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

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

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

Indie McCue

The Look Again Project

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

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

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


Find out more

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

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


The Fittie, Aberdeen

Using art and culture to improve life in Aberdeen

Lesley Anne Rose is the co-founder of Open Road, a creative operation based in Aberdeen. They use art and culture to improve health and wellbeing and the local environment. Her work at the Fittie Community Development Trust recently caught our attention. We asked her about Open Road's background, her hopes for the development and how we can build a better future for communities.


At Open Road we believe that culture and creativity inspired by people and place transforms lives. 

The Covid-19 pandemic, movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, as well as the local and global impacts of climate change have sparked turmoil, disruption, re-evaluation and, at times, chaos. The stories we tell about ourselves about the world have been tested and re-written. Long-silent voices are being heard. The push to make the world, and all of our lives, more equitable and sustainable grows ever stronger.

The impacts of these times on the cultural sector have been seismic as social distancing prevents us coming together
Lesley Anne Rose

The motivation, means and momentum for innovation and unstoppable change are all in place. The impact of these times on the cultural sector have been seismic as social distancing prevents us coming together. New ways to distribute and show work open up and deep inequalities within organisational structures and privilege come under scrutiny. Within the drive for change the power of storytelling, the need for creativity and the role of culture in holding space to heal the past, connect in the present and vision for the future has been keenly felt. 

Owning our identity and history

We know that whoever owns our stories, news, art, and culture, also owns our identities and history. Our aspiration is to empower and enable individuals, communities, cities and countries to own their stories, give voice to their visions and take steps towards healthier and more sustainable futures for themselves and each other. 

Our place and believe that the North is a place of ‘other’ where we do things differently to the South. Extremes of light and dark, global oil and the closeness of Scandinavia influence us creatively, socially and economically. All of these factors, along with the need for compassion, have underpinned a new business plan we have spent the last six months creating. This plan is underpinned by our new mission to be a creative, entrepreneurial organisation rooted in North East Scotland (‘the North’), but with a global vision. We use arts, culture, heritage and the natural landscape which contributes towards health and wellbeing, tourism and environmental sustainability. 

When we saw the launch of Creative Scotland’s Culture Collective, we knew that we could use it to make a positive difference to Aberdeen. 

About Culture Collective

Culture Collective is a pilot programme from Creative Scotland. It aims to build a network of creative practitioners, organisations and communities. They'll work together to create a positive difference locally and nationally in response to COVID-19. The programme focuses on community engaged creative activity, supporting projects where creative practitioners and communities work collaboratively. Importantly they are responding to the impact of COVID-19, providing employment opportunities for creatives. They'll actively engage people in shaping the future cultural life of their community.

Photo by Glen Rankin

Open Road is working with the Fittie Community Development Trust (FCDT) a charity established to support the harbour-side community in Aberdeen. The people of Fittie set up the FCDT to buy an old Gospel Hall and develop it as a venue for the wellbeing of residents and benefit of visitors. Wider Trust aims include community development and partnership working. 

Fittie residents are both long-term and recent. In summer Fittie can receive up to 1,000 visitors a week which creates a complex relationships between locals and visitors. Fittie sits at the mouth of a global oil port. Complexity also exists between the heritage of the past. The current reality of a city pivoting away from an economy dependant on oil and gas. And, as a coastal community, the impacts of climate change on the future of the village.

Bringing on creatives to the project

With the aim of addressing the impacts of COVID-19 and wider social, economic and environmental influences on community and city, our project will contract three creative practitioners to each work in residence for up to a year. One will create a programme of creative initiatives and participatory events to bring the Hall and community connections back to life. Another will further a project focusing on stories of migration in Aberdeen, linking with visitors, other communities and Aberdeen harbour. The third will focus on the impacts of climate change for coastal communities and the transition to net-zero carbon emissions. 

Community cohesion, the movement of people and climate change are all inter-linked. Through collectively developed briefs the artists will reach across the generations of residents. Linking these aspects of community heritage with the impacts of the current pandemic and environmental issues with a vision for a new future. The project's focus will be The Hall.

Creatives are being encouraged to work across, but be respectful to the physical footprint of the community and consider practices such as community mapping. Planning will be responsive to on-going COVID-19 guidelines with digital spaces all part of the plan. We're also bringing on an early career creative producer on board to help us deliver the project. 

Telling the Story of Change

One of our aims is to help people, communities and organisations tell their stories and the story of change. Story telling helps us answer questions so we can tackle problems with courage, risk-taking and creativity. Stories connect people to their passions, to shared identify and hope. They bring re-conciliation and an understanding that we are not the same as before, as well as help re-build for a better future. This is needed on individual, collective, organisational and sector levels.

Through our Culture Collective project we aim to tell the story of change within our community and set this against a local, national and global narrative. This will include live events, podcasts, filmed content, story sharing and other creative outputs. We will link our activity with the wider Culture Collective network, Climate Reality Leadership, the road to COP26 and beyond. 

Granite Fittie Community Hall basking in the sunshine, with a blue bicycle in front of it. Markings on front show it was built in 1951.
Photo by Chris Sansbury

In doing so we aim to raise the profile of the cultural sector in Aberdeen and its potential to work with and make a difference to communities. We'll also provide much needed paid opportunities for freelancers within the sector. 

With recruitment in progress, we are right at the start of this journey. We're excited to see how it develops and are looking forward to sharing progress as we go. 


Find out more

Huge thanks to Lesley Ann for taking the time to share her thoughts. You can find out more about Open Road on their website, Twitter and Facebook. Art and culture in Aberdeen is one of the main focuses of POST and we'll check in on this project in the future.

Also, check out our conversation with Ica Headlam. He is an Aberdeen creative who shines a spotlight on the work of many others. His focus on Aberdeen’s artists, musicians and creative businesses put him at the centre of a renaissance of the city's creative scene.