Mar 292012
 

Curriculum for Excellence has afforded Harlaw Academy pupils the opportunity to embrace Citizenship in more diverse contexts that ever before, and a Staff Working Group on Citizenship was set up almost 3 years ago.  For the last year the group has included pupils, who have played a major role in the running of the group and decision-making procedures. Depute Head teacher Aileen Hunter tells Voice readers.

Pupils in the group were very interested in forging a link with pupils in a school abroad, and unanimously favoured the work of  RSVP Charity which has as its Trustees several representatives in Aberdeen. This charity supports children in the Bugarama region of Rwanda by providing a daily meal at primary school, and sponsors older children to receive a secondary education at boarding school – “Education today for Zero Aid Tomorrow.”

Harlaw Academy has agreed to sponsor 5 children to attend boarding school for 6 years and the Citizenship Group’s responsibility is to ensure that adequate funds are raised to cover the costs of sponsorship.

Harlaw pupils are allocated to one of 5 Houses – Albyn, Carden, Holburn, Victoria, Waverley – and, as from January 2012, each house sponsors a child – Jeremy, Jean-Pierre, Giselle, Emmanuel, Esther. The initial cost per sponsored pupil was £20 for their starter pack at boarding school, followed by £10 per month for fees for 6 years.

The launch of the partnership with RSVP Charity reached its climax on 19th March 2012 when the entire school population celebrated AFRICA DAY.  In the lead-up to the event fund-raising event were organised, for example “Harlaw Spring (and Summer) Clean”, Forest Walk, end-of-term Talent Show, Rowing Challenge, “small change” collections at House Assemblies.

Each of the 5 House Captains selected an African country for their house to represent – Madagascar, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, South Africa.  The Head Boy and Girl, and the Senior Management Team represented Rwanda.  On Africa Day pupils were encouraged to dress in the colours of their country’s flag and contribute £1 to RSVP Charity.  One pupil dressed as a “mummy” and collected £25 from staff and pupils in the canteen.

Staff from all curricular areas devised class-work to articulate with the Africa Day theme in preparation for an exhibition of material in the school hall which was open to all staff and pupils throughout the day.  Each house was responsible for a display of material.

Pupils worked in house groups in class on activities such as population pyramids, investigation of an issue of concern and how it is being resolved (animal extinction, poverty etc), African singing, African literature, mining, African masks, African dancing, African Flags, water-carrying race, letter to Pittodrie Football Club requesting used football boots which will be taken to Rwanda.

  The Harlaw PTA expressed great interest in the project.

Canteen staff baked cup-cakes and a large cake iced in the colours of the Rwanda flag.  The school technician filmed and photographed pupil presentations, fund raising events, assemblies and displays.

Africa Day was preceded by a series of Assemblies led by the House Captains who introduced their sponsored child and gave a brief profile of their chosen country.  The Head Boy and Girl led 3 Assemblies that gave pupils and staff information on Rwanda and the RSVP Charity, and highlighted the background to why the children need our support.

We were thrilled that Jean Main (a trustee of RSVP Charity ), Simon Mbarushimana (also a trustee, formerly a  sponsored Rwandan child and now a doctor at A&E in Aberdeen) and our school chaplains attended one of the assemblies.

The events and projects detailed above are all  documented in photographs, video footage and a display in the school’s Meeting Room.

The launch of the project, including Africa Day, was reviewed by Senior Management of the school who commented on the scope of awareness-raising among the entire school community.  The Harlaw PTA expressed great interest in the project.

The Citizenship group will review the launch at their next meeting in April, and continue to plan for the next stages in the project – direct communication with the sponsored pupils, the prospect of a visit to Rwanda by staff and pupils, and strengthening the links with the school community and RSVP Charity through Jean and Simon.

Dec 012011
 

Old Susannah looks back at the week that was, who said what to whom about what, and wonders what Saint Andrew would have made of it all.

Happy St Andrew’s Day! Old Suz is having haggis and whisky, or ‘swishky’ as the man at the next table is calling it. St Andrew’s Day reminds us of our national identity, more on that later. I read that Aberdeen is climbing up the list of ‘best places to live in the world’ and has reached the dazzling height of No. 52.

Well done everyone! And that’s before we get our glowing stadium at Loirston or our giant glass worm. We’ll be number 51 in the world before you know it.  Apparently factors like our low crime level feed into how the ratings are calculated. Congratulations to us all for living in this desirable paradise.

These statistics may or may not include the small minority of people who aren’t rolling in dosh like most of us are. The statistics on crime may or may not be being ‘massaged’ – after all, the top brass get nice bonuses if the crime levels are low. How could I think such a thing? Well, the newspapers this week may have something to do with it.

We’ve had a charming man just sent to prison; he kicked a four-year-old child in the head. Fair enough, they had been having an argument apparently.  You know what these toddlers can be like.

Another similar humanitarian’s gone down for 3 years for robbing children of their pocket money and jewellery, threatening to ‘slash’ some of them. The fact the victims were boys, girls and an autistic person just show that this particular thief was running his business in a non-discriminatory way.  He should be congratulated really. To be even more inclusive, this particular robber tried putting on a ‘Scouse’ accent.

Perhaps his career is inspiring to young people – a nine year old’s been caught stealing a car as well.  You’re never too young to learn.  I wonder if he at least brought a child safety seat on the job with him?

We’ve had older people robbed, conned and abused. Yes, in our 21st Century world, Aberdeen is the 52nd best place to live.  I’d say ‘safe as houses’, but we’ve had burglaries and fire-raising in the news as well.  Still, statistics don’t lie, and if there are experts who say we’re no. 52 in the planet, who are we to question it.

I heard something about some disruptive elements holding something called a ‘strike’. I just hope this won’t affect our place in the world quality standing. I can’t for the life of me see why anyone in such a highly-ranked city would have any reasons for unhappiness, although frozen salaries, cut pensions, closed schools, closed recreational facilities, cut school lessons, cut services and cuts to care homes might play a small role.

Someone should look into this.  Maybe if we just all looked at the brand new festive lights on Union Street, the rest of it wouldn’t matter so much.

That nice Mr Jeremy Clarkson had a solution for these ‘striking’ workers – he apparently said on air that he’d have them all shot in front of their families.  He thinks they get great pensions.  Please be a bit patient and don’t judge Mr Clarkson too harshly.  He’s got to work for a living, and probably only has a modest pension to look forward to.

It is not like him to be intolerant of other people, and as it’s the season of good will (or is it the season of ‘buy one get one free’ – I can never remember), let’s let Jeremy off the hook. We should be more tolerant, like he is.

Perhaps it’s time for some definitions.

Nationalism: (noun), The belief that a person or thing’s national origin is its most important and most defining characteristic.

Incidents of racism and nationalism are on the rise – not just in the UK at large, but here in 52nd best city, Aberdeen. Still, it’s important to remember just how important a person’s nationality is. If Donald Trump hadn’t reminded us that he has a granny from Skye, we might not have given his development the wink and the nod.

Pretty soon we’ll have the number one golf course in the world near the 52nd greatest city: it will be like paradise on earth. Believe it or not, on my mother’s side I can trace my direct ancestry all the way back to King Duncan, King Alexander and St Margaret of Scotland.

Armed with this information, I intend to ask Alex Salmond to give me privileges as well.  Maybe someone will even sell me some land in Westhills for a fraction of its value. National origin is where it’s at.

Of course if someone’s not Scottish, it’s OK to discriminate against them and you can always tell someone’s national origin by looking at them.

We know what a pure Scottish person looks like because of their Scottish characteristics. These Scottish traits come from the Egyptian princess Scota (for whom the country may be named). They also come from the Phoenicians who sailed here, the Celts who came here and the Vikings, Danes, and Norsemen who raided now and then. These pure Scottish traits also come from the Picts, and the Romans (whatever they may have done for us).

Later on continental settlers from travellers and sailors to kings and queens came from the continent. St Colomba came from Ireland, and the movement of people between Ireland and Scotland was massive. So yes – be proud you’re Scottish. After all, it’s not like a Scot is some kind of foreigner or something.

We could learn a lot from that nice lady on Youtube who had a wee bit of a go at foreigners coming over here to live.  It’s only been going on for three and a half thousand years or more as far as I can tell.  The lady in question is now helping the police with their enquiries.

St Andrew, for those who didn’t know, came from Galilee, and was Jewish-born convert to Christianity.  He had this crazy idea of preaching his religion (something to do with ‘turning the other cheek’, loving one another, and so on) to people in every country he could manage to travel to.

He travelled extensively in Europe and is also revered in half a dozen countries and the Greek Orthodox Church.  No doubt he’d be proud of the nationalism that seems to be taking hold of a few people here.  What he’d say to the giant worm or the monolith plans for Union Terrace Gardens is another matter.

Aberdeen Citizens Party: (noun) A facebook site with some 35 friends.

A wide range of rather strong opinions can be found on this site.  The Citizens Party is against Halal slaughter of animals (so am I).  It is all for capital punishment, and says that since 80 percent of people (really?) want the death penalty brought back it should be done.  I guess if a few innocent people get killed like happens in the USA, then the families can be given some kind of compensation payment. Fair enough.

This page is apparently run by one Patrick Wight; I’m told he has some form of hilarious act wherein he pretends to be a camp homosexual hairdresser named ‘Patrice’.  I really must catch that some time (perhaps around the time I want to define ‘tolerance’ more fully).

Old Susannah was surprised to read this on the Citizens page:

“Lets hope that a campaign of direct action can save Union Terrace Gardens and prevent the environmental damage which is to be inflicted upon it by Ian Wood and his yes men. The right to protest peacefully is a fundamental part of our society. We tend to forget that many of the human rights we cherish today are a direct result of protests by ordinary people who were prepared to go onto the streets ..”

I of course don’t want anything to stand in the way of Stewart getting his much-needed parking spaces, and Ian getting his eventual statue.  However, I found the above just a little bit of a contradiction to what a Patrick Wight wrote to Aberdeen Voice:-

“Message:
Not affiliated to any political party?
Your having a fcuken (sic) laugh!
Your promoting the day of action rally by the political left and the unions who want to wreck economic recovery and cause public misery across Britain.”

So – a protest is fine, but not a day of action rally by the unions.  I can’t quite work out why we have unions anyway, since we’re number 52 in the world.  It might have had something to do with workers in the past not having great rights (or any rights).  It might have something to do with the infamous New York City sweatshop fire in the Triangle building–  all the workers had been locked in and none escaped the fire.

But that was then and this is now.  Public sector workers have ‘gilt edged’ pensions; Jeremy Clarkson said so.  Let’s all get behind the Aberdeen Citizens Party and protest against the gardens, but complain about unions having a day of protest.  Makes sense to me.

Next week:  more definitions, including ‘slacktivist’ – someone who likes the idea of supporting a cause, as long as it doesn’t mean doing anything much.

Nov 082011
 

By Jonathan Hamilton Russell.

This is my third article on Libya over the seven month period of the ‘revolution’.

The reason that I have written these articles is the general silence and passive acceptance that has taken place on developments in Libya as they have unfolded, and my wish to raise awareness.

I am also greatly concerned in a period when we should have learnt from world wars and numerous conflicts across the world that war is not the solution and leads to untold misery.

Yet war has become our most favoured form of foreign intervention. My intention had been to leave writing a further article until a new government was formed however the atrocities that have taken place at the end revolution have led me to writing the present article. I  realise much of what I  report goes against what many people have come to believe, but feel it essential to report on what I  have read.

My previous arguments have been that rather than relying solely on military intervention, negotiations should have taken place with the prerequisite that elections were held under the auspices of the United Nations. Everyone could have had a say regarding the future of Libya: including those who supported Qaddafi’s green movement who have been effectively disenfranchised.

The African Union and Venezuela offered to broker negotiations and Qaddafi and the then Libyan government on frequent occasions wanted to have a cease fire and negotiations. I also argued that all those responsible for torture and war crimes whether Qaddafi’s regime, NATO or the revolutionary militias should be put before an international court for their crimes.

On the 4th February following International pressure the International Criminal Court have stated that they will be investigating war crimes perpetuated by Qaddafi Loyalists, the National Transitional Government and NATO. Interestingly this has not been reported in the British media but is whatever a significant step forward in terms of justice

If you do nothing else please watch the following video.

Journalist Lizzie Phelan was in Tripoli before during and after its fall. She explains the support for Qaddafi including a 1.7 million demonstration in Tripoli in support of Qaddafi  in July, of an entire population of around five million in Libya.

She also reports on how the media was falsely reporting, the democratic nature of Qaddafi’s regime, how many women took up arms and of mass murder by NATO. Have a look on You Tube and compare footage of the numbers demonstrating for Qaddafi and those for the revolutionary fighters.

Seamus Milne in the Guardian has argued that intervention by the West rather than saving public lives has in fact increased deaths at least tenfold. Off course we can never know what might have happened if the then Libyan Government tanks had reached Benghazi. What we do know is that in towns that Qaddafi’s troops did retake, reprisals if any were minimal.

We also know that that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that there have been considerable reprisals by the Revolutionary militias as well as the deaths inflicted by NATO bombing. Estimates of those killed range from 10,000 to 50,00 with  many more injured in a population of around five million.

Amnesty International has evidence of mass abduction and detention, beating and routine torture, killings and atrocities carried out by the revolutionary militias. Human rights watch have identified a number of mass graves and discovered 53 bodies with hands tied of Qaddafi fighter’s, some who had clearly been in hospital, near to the hotel used by Qaddafi loyalists just before he was he was murdered. In Sirte over 500 fighters and civilians were killed in the last ten days

There was knowledge by the revolutionary militia and NATO, as evidenced by militia fighters speaking on the BBC that Qaddafi was in Sirte in the last few days of fighting.

Two weeks after the death of Qaddafi the British Government is already planning to send a delegation to Libya to sell arms.

The statement by NATO that they did not now that Gaddafi was in the 80 strong convoy that was bombed while trying to escape Sirte was almost certainly untrue, as was the assertion that the bombings and drone attacks was done to protect civilians as they were fleeing not attacking anyone.

A reporter on the BBC said the carnage was horrific.

What I believe has happened has been a concerted attempt by the revolutionary militias and NATO to destroy Qaddafi’s Green movement supporters in Libya so that they cannot become a force in a future Libya. Mustafa Abdel Jalil the National Transitional Council Chairman and previously Qaddafi’s Justice Minister tried to put the blame of Qaddafi’s death onto Qaddafi’s own snipers despite the horrendous mobile footage that was published on the net all over the world.

Peter Boukaret the head of Human Rights Watch in Libya has seen revolutionary militias burning homes in Tawerga where the majority of people were black Libyans who were seen as supporters of the Qaddafi regime, so that they can never return to their home town.

Under International law combatants should be released at the end of a civil war but the Washington Post has reported that 1,000 Qaddafi loyalists are packed in dingy jails and have faced abuse and even torture. Amnesty International have criticised the EU for leaving 5,000 Sub-Saharan refugees camped in appalling conditions on Libya’s border

Will Self on the BBC has pointed out that arms are still being sold to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco who have equally poor human rights records. He also pointed out that arms on both sides of the Libyan conflict were supplied by Britain.  Two weeks after the death of Qaddafi the British Government is already planning to send a delegation to Libya to sell arms.

It could be suggested that it was in the interests of Western Leaders for Qaddafi not to live as at any court hearing he could have informed the world of the arms and human rights deals brokered with the likes of Sarkozy and Blair.

The future of Libya is most certainly in the balance. Abel Hakim Belhaj kidnapped by MI6 and tortured in Libya is threatening legal action against the UK Government, and who is the leader of the militias in Tripoli, has already warned that they will not be taking orders from the National Transitional Council.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil Chairperson of the National Transitional council’s attempts to mollify the Islamic militias is to say that a future state will be based in Shariah law and that polygamy not allowed previously in Libya would be allowed.

The intervention in Libya was never about saving civilians.

This in itself would suggest that women’s role in Libya will take a considerable backward step. Kevin Rudd the Australian Foreign minister has warned that Libya could become another Iraq. There could well be further conflict before any elections take place.

What I would conjecture is that though there will be on-going violence, it is more likely that what will happen is that elections will eventually take place and the winners will be those that are sympathetic to the west. However as corruption increases as in Afghanistan and many people’s living standards fall,  that within ten years the Islamic parties as the only alternative will gain electoral or even military victory.

One factor not reported in our media is that Qaddafi through the African Union and with other Middle Eastern states had been pushing for a new currency – the Gold Dinar.  This would have been a threat to the Euro and the Dollar. This would have soon come into effect and would have enriched African countries and had a negative effect on western countries. This in itself was a major reason as to why they wanted to get rid of Qaddafi as he had large stocks of gold.

Britain’s new defence secretary Philip Hammond told the BBC:

 “I would expect British Companies to be packing their suitcases for Libya”

UK trade and Investment a British Government body has estimated that oil, gas and reconstruction works will be worth over 320 billion dollars over the next ten years.

Daniel Kaczynski a conservative MP and Chair of the parliamentary Libyan committee who has written extensively on Qaddafi  and who has been a major influence on British Policy on Libya has suggested that Libya pay back the costs of British military intervention. Previous to the revolution the majority of contracts were going to Russia and China.

There are already significant land and property claims being made by Libyans who lost their property under Qaddafi this will have a significant knock on effect pushing those who have lived in the property and land into poverty

The intervention in Libya was never about saving civilians. It has been about regime change and a grab for lucrative resources and ending Qaddafi’s nearly met aim of creating a Gold Dinar as an alternative currency to threaten the Euro and the Dollar. 

In carrying out this policy the revolutionary militias aided extensively by NATO have carried out and continue to carry out genocide of ideological nature against those many Libyans who continued to support Qaddafi.

Oct 092011
 

By Alex Mitchell.

Art Deco: a style in the decorative arts as defined by a major international exhibition held in Paris in 1925.   It had been planned for 1915, but was postponed because of the First World War.   The exhibition was a celebration of modernity, of modern materials and techniques.   The expression ‘Art Deco’ describes the style which predominated there; a jazzy application of a visual vocabulary derived from Cubism, Futurism, Functionalism and other recent movements to a variety of decorative, fashionable and commercial purposes.

There was a shift in emphasis from the Fine Arts to the Arts Decoratifs.   Artists now applied their aesthetic skills to all areas of design, ranging from architecture and interior decoration to fashion and jewellery.   Oddly enough, the expression ‘Art Deco’ did not come into use until a much later exhibition in London in 1968.   In its own time, the style was generally referred to as moderne (not to be confused with’modernist’) and sometimes as ‘jazz’ or ‘jazz-style’.  

Although it applies to the decorative arts and interior design of the 1920s and 1930s, the description ‘Art Deco’ can be extended to analogous styles in architecture, where it is characterised by smooth, sleek, aerodynamic or ‘streamlined’ motifs, reflecting the contemporary preoccupation with speed and the setting of new land, sea and air speed records.

Sunbursts, sunbeams and sun-rays are another very characteristic Deco motif, reflecting the new fashion for sunbathing and the perceived benefits of natural light and fresh air.   The ‘Deco’ style created clean simple shapes suitable for mass production in factories using modern materials such as plastic, chrome and aluminium.   Even mundane objects like vacuum cleaners and radios were given the Deco treatment, adorned with smooth, streamlined surfaces and sleek lines resembling those of racing cars and aircraft.

Following its revival in the 1960s, Art Deco has been seen as the natural sequel to the Art Nouveau of the 1890s, of which the early work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) provides several examples, e.g., the Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow.   Art Nouveau drew much of its inspiration from the natural world of plants and flowers and is characterised by a sinuous, curvilinear style.   A local example of Art Nouveau is the cast-iron Ventilator at the Holburn Street end of Justice Mill Lane.

But Art Deco is more a product of the machine age, and is characterised by flat, geometric shapes.  

Mackintosh at first incorporated a significant degree of Art Nouveau ornamentation in his work, but he later pared down these decorative elements in favour of a starkly elegant and geometrical aesthetic, e.g., the vertical emphasis of his notorious ladder-backed chairs.

Art Deco and other aspects of Modernism as applied to architecture were in conscious rebellion against pre-1914 styles such as Victorian Gothic, Scottish Baronial and Edwardian Baroque, which came to be seen as dark, stuffy, cluttered, over-decorated, pompous and impractical. It was now felt that design should reflect function, that function should dictate form, and that buildings serving modern purposes such as railway stations or schools should not be disguised so as to resemble medieval cathedrals or castles.

Modernism came to favour asymmetrical compositions, unrelievedly cubic shapes, metal and glass framework often resulting in large windows in horizontal bands, and a marked absence of decorative mouldings or ornamentation.  The pendulum of fashion had swung from the one extreme to the other, from Gothic extravagance and whimsy to a style, or absence of style, often described as ‘Brutalist’, if not as ‘Stalinist’.

Art Deco may be seen, at its best, as a via media, a happy medium between the over-ornamentation and clutter of the Victorian-Edwardian era and the stark, totalitarian style too often characteristic of the 20th century.

Art Deco emphasised stylishness attuned to domestic use and popular consumption, and was characterised by geometric patterning, sharp edges and flat, bright colours, often involving the use of enamel, bronze and highly polished chrome.

The simplicity of the style can be seen as Classical in spirit, apparent in the extensive use of Egyptian, Aztec and Greek motifs.   This reflected the widespread interest in the discovery of the tomb of the Egyptian boy-king Tutankhamun in 1922.

The craze for all things Egyptian coincided with the spate of cinema construction in the 1920s and 1930s, and was often incorporated into both exterior and interior designs, being very apparent in Odeon, Gaumont and other chain-cinemas of the period.

Sumptuous picture-palaces were built in Aberdeen during the inter-war period, the ‘Age of Deco’, including:

The Palace Cinema; the old Palace Theatre was substantially extended in 1931 to create its impressive Rubislaw granite frontage on Bridge Place, which itself stands on a ridge extending from Holburn Street to Crown Terrace. The Palace became a dance-hall in 1960. The building was owned by Scottish & Newcastle Breweries from 1993 until recently, and its shabby and neglected condition did them no credit.   It is now a nightclub, operated by Luminar, who have tidied it up considerably.

The Regent Cinema in 1927, by Tommy Scott Sutherland (1899-1963), was built on the site of the Upper Justice Mill, at the Holburn St. end of the ridge described above.   The Lower Justice Mill was down the brae in Union Glen; its mill-pond lay between the two buildings.   The two mills had been in operation well before 1320, when they were granted to the Burgh of Aberdeen by King Robert I, Robert the Bruce, and were still in operation 600 years later in the 1920s.

The Capitol had the most remarkable interior of all the Aberdeen cinemas, which included a Compton theatre pipe organ

The Lower Mill pond was drained and filled, the three streams diverted and covered and the site was levelled by excavating it back towards Justice Mill Lane.   The Regent cinema occupied the eastern part of the site formerly occupied by the Upper Mill; the western part of the site is occupied by the McClymont Hall.

The frontage of the Regent Cinema (latterly the Odeon) was of Rubislaw granite, decorated with bands of red terracotta, with a polished black granite base.   The vertical central windows, giving the impression of height, became something of a Sutherland trade-mark, later deployed to useful effect in the Kittybrewster Astoria and the Majestic.

The Regent opened on Saturday 27 February 1932, a few months after the Palace.   The building is now occupied by the Cannon sports centre and health club.   The new owners have renovated the exterior to a high standard, extending to the rear of the car park, where it abuts Union Glen.

The Capitol in Union Street in 1932, by A. G. R. Mackenzie, had a sparkling dressed granite frontage, slightly asymmetrical in layout.   Above the entrance were three tall windows with two shorter windows to the left and three such to the right.   The frontage was/is surmounted by a plain but elegant pediment which had the effect of concealing from street view the high, steeply pitched roof of the auditorium.

The Capitol had the most remarkable interior of all the Aberdeen cinemas, which included a Compton theatre pipe organ, and it was also the most influenced by Art Deco, both inside and out, e.g., the outer doors with their stainless-steel semi-circular hand plates, forming full circles when the doors were closed.

The Capitol opened on Saturday 4 February 1933.   Its more recent conversion for Luminar involved the horizontal division of the auditorium into two complementary night-clubs, one upstairs, one downstairs.   We are unable to say how this affects the Compton organ, or just what remains of the Art Deco interior.

Tommy Scott Sutherland went on to design the Astoria Cinema in Clifton Road, Kittybrewster, which opened on Saturday 8 December 1934.

This was followed by the Majestic in Union Street, (opposite the Langstane Kirk), which TSS regarded as his finest creation.   It had a fairly plain and austere frontage of Kemnay granite in the style by now known as Sutherland Perpendicular.
It opened on Thursday 10 December 1936.   By then, Aberdeen could boast one cinema seat per seven inhabitants, more than double the ratio in London.   (For more on this, see The Silver Screen In The Silver City by Michael Thomson, 1988.)

Other Deco-influenced buildings in Aberdeen are:

Jackson’s Garage in Bon-Accord Street/Justice Mill Laneof 1933, by A. G. R. Mackenzie.   This is a rare example of excellent commercial architecture of the inter-war period in Aberdeen, and has many Deco characteristics.   It incorporates the distinctive horizontal banding of windows and glazing, curving around the corner to Justice Mill Lane.   The Bon-Accord Street frontage has an impressive central section with three very tall vertical windows surmounted by a distinctive 1930s clock.   The building is now occupied by Slater’s Menswear.

The Bon-Accord Baths in Justice Mill Lane, of 1937, is one of the most characteristically 1930s buildings in Aberdeen, being a giant buttressed granite box.   Inside, there is an abundance of curved blond wood and shiny metal; the swimming pool roof is supported on concrete arches.   The window glazing is distinctively ‘Deco’.

Amicable House, Nos. 250-252 Union Street, of 1933, by Tommy Scott Sutherland, built just west of his Majestic Cinema, embodies some Art Deco motifs and characteristics.   The Majestic was demolished in the early 1970s and replaced by the present bland, characterless office block.

The 1930s Medical School at Foresterhill.

The King’s College Sports Pavilion of 1939-41, by A. G. R. Mackenzie; one of the few Modernist buildings in Aberdeen before World War Two.

Tullos Primary School, begun 1937, but not completed until 1950, by J. Ogg Allan; one of the best 1930s buildings in the city.

I should mention the Carron Tea-room in Stonehaven, built 1937 and recently fully refurbished; it may be the finest Art Deco building in the north of Scotland.

Finally, the Northern Hotel, Kittybrewster, of 1937, by A. G. R. Mackenzie.   Its curved frontage is dominated by broad horizontal banding of windows and glazing.   The Northern Hotel is the most distinctively ‘Deco’ building in Aberdeen, and has recently been fully restored.   The interiors are well worth seeing.

For all that, the Northern Hotel is arguably more a thing of interest than of great beauty.   The Deco style seems to work better in pastel colours and in sunny locales.

I used to walk past the Northern Hotel regularly, and it never occurred to me to think of it as a beautiful building; striking, yes, beautiful, no.   By the time it was built, in the late 1930s, the new architecture of Aberdeen had perhaps slipped too far down that long descent from Victorian Gothic to Stalinist Brutalism; all the way from the splendid Flemish-Medieval Town House of 1867 to the irredeemably awful St Nicholas House of 1967.

These bitter-sounding thoughts were occasioned, quite some years ago, whilst walking from the Castlegate back to the Brig o’ Dee.   It occurred to me that every building I liked along the way dated from long before I was born, and that almost nothing put up in my own lifetime was any good at all.   I like to think that things bottomed out, perhaps as far back as the 1970s or ‘80s, and are now on an improving trend, but the evidence is still uncertain.

That said, ‘Deco’ influences are apparent in at least three recent buildings in Aberdeen, as follows:

The Lighthouse Cinema; I like those sleek glass curves along the line of the old Shiprow.

The huge block of student flats in Mealmarket Street/West North Street is distinctively ‘Deco’ in style, brightly coloured in pastel shades of blue, white and pink/orange.

Talisman House in Holburn Street is another symphony in tinted glass with its undulating green roofline, now complemented by Gillie’s new furniture store across the street.

Talisman House is certainly a big improvement on the old College of Commerce; but is the Boots/Currys building by the Brig o’ Dee an improvement on the former, much-unloved, Dee Motel?   At least the Dee Motel was a low-rise building, set well back and largely obscured by trees and shrubs.   The Boots/Currys building might be acceptable somewhere else but, on this prominent corner site, is too big, too far forward and too close to the historic Brig; and it completely dominates the view all the way down South Anderson Drive and out Holburn Street.

Contributed by Alex Mitchell.

Feb 112011
 

By Patrick V Neville.

In Aberdeen on February 5th 2011, around 100 people participated in a peaceful demonstration against the over-stayed presidency of Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak.

Amongst the flags and banners were images of the violence, which has left numerous people dead, and phrases such as -

“30 years of oppression is enough”

“We are all Egyptians today”

“We all need freedom and justice”

“British media: Stop calling a revolution a crisis” and

“No Mubarak any more”

Mubarak has stayed in power for 30 years against the wishes of the majority of the Egyptian population.

His regime has been described by many as corrupt and in the interest of maintaining power and money. This has been at the expense of the Egyptian people, who are extremely tired of the regime’s favouritism towards corporate entities, whether they are local or foreign.

This discontent arose from Egypt’s natural resources such as gas being sold abroad for less than the true value, jobs in Egypt moving to factories abroad and as a Mubarak cabinet member bought hazardous agricultural fertilizers from Israel without later charge, this names a few of the crimes committed by the Mubarak regime. Poverty in Egypt has also risen dramatically due to rising prices.

This type of leadership in combination with an ever-growing divide between the rich and poor was a time bomb waiting to go off.

I would like to say thank you to all the people in Aberdeen who attended the demonstration, which was held on St Nicholas Street, Aberdeen, for showing that we do not stand for exploitation of a nation’s people.