Dec 032015

Inside Fur screen2With thanks to Flo Blackbourn.

International animal rights organisation, Animal Justice Project, is hosting a Nationwide tour of award-winning premiere documentary, Inside Fur, which takes viewers undercover inside the secretive fur industry in Norway and China.
On 8th December 2015 at 7pm the film premieres at A19, Taylor Building, University of Aberdeen.

The 57 min. documentary directed by Norwegian film director, Ola Waagen, follows the work of undercover investigator and psychologist, Frank Nervik, as he goes deep undercover to dupe fur farmers into believing he is entering the industry to farm animals for their skins.

Nervick reveals harrowing, never-seen-before footage using covert cameras in both Norway – one of the largest fur producing countries in the world – and China, the number one fur producer.

Major fur export markets include China, Russia, Canada, and the EU. Norway is a major fox fur producer, along with Finland and Poland. Skins from these countries are sold under the Saga brand through the Saga Furs auctions. The UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany and Italy are among the countries that have banned parts of or their entire fur industry, though these countries still allow imports.

The European Fur Breeders Association (EFBA) has an affiliated national fur breeder association in Norway, as well as Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

Norway’s controversial fur industry – which involves over 200 fox and mink farms – has been exposed by several leading animal protection organisations in the country, revealing numerous and severe violations of the law, as well as wounded and suffering animals. State authorities in Norway have stated that there is ‘shocking’ evidence of animal abuse.

In May 2015, the Norwegian government announced that it would slash financial support to the industry and, this month, over 7,000 Norwegians took the streets in Europe’s largest anti-fur event to call for a ban on fur farming. The Government is now considering banning fur altogether following this event and the launch of a groundbreaking report on the industry.

Fur is currently a hot topic in Britain also, and the film tour follows closely an airing of the investigatory BBC1 television program ‘Fake Britain’, which exposes well-known high street shops such as TK Maxx and House of Fraser, to be selling real mink, raccoon, raccoon-dog and weasel fur fraudulently labeled as ‘Faux’.

Animal Justice Project Spokesperson, Flo Blackbourn states:

“This film, Inside Fur, is very relevant right now, as we are entering the season in which fur trim and the occasional fur coat are increasingly seen on the high street. This film is important viewing for anyone who has an interest in animals and the fashion industry, as it exposes the truth of the fur industry and the immense cruelty involved.”

Animal Justice Project is an international organisation working in Europe and the United States to end the use of animals in laboratory research and other forms of speciesism.

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Aug 132015

Phil Moar, Account Manager, Citrus Mix.

BA 25 birthday2A city centre shopping mall is looking to take shoppers on a trip down memory lane as part of its 25th birthday celebrations next month.

Bon Accord & St Nicholas will celebrate the milestone on August 22 with a day of special events that will see staff, both old and new, retailers and its visitors come together to mark the anniversary.

As part of these celebrations, the centre is appealing for help from local businesses, collectors and museums as it aims to install a pop-up 90s museum in the heart of the Bon Accord mall.

It is hoped that the focal point of the mini exhibition will be a range of 90s cars which will be on display on the big day in August.

To accompany this, the centre is on the hunt for quality pieces of 90s memorabilia that will help create a look back to life as it was when the centre was first opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 1990.

From sporting memorabilia, to music collections, computer games and clothes, it is hoped that a selection of iconic pieces will be present to allow shoppers to reminisce about times gone by.

Craig Stevenson, manager of Bon Accord & St Nicholas, said:

“We’ve been thinking of various ways that we can mark our 25th birthday next month and we’ve decided to try and bring a bit of the 90s back to the Bon Accord mall to highlight the special milestone.

“We often speak to shoppers who have been visiting us for the good part of the last 25 years and many regularly mention shops they remember. From nipping into Woolworths for a pick and mix to visiting C&A, there is always a warmness shown towards looking back on what was within the centres before.

“With this in mind, we want to create something that gets people thinking back to the time when we opened and we think the pop-up museum will help do just that. We’re delighted that Alford Transport Museum has donated the car towards the exhibition and we’re looking for help from any specialist collectors, museums or businesses which may have items that could sit within the display.

“From football memorabilia to collections of 90s fashion, games and music, we’d be really interested to hear from you.”

Throughout the last 25 years, the centre has continued to innovate and grow to where it stands today. Currently home to a number of the UK’s leading retail brands, the Bon Accord mall includes Scotland’s largest Next as well as Aberdeen’s only Topshop and Topman standalone stores.

At the heart of its future development are expansive plans to create a new leisure hub within the centres. At the core of the blueprint is a proposed 28,000 sq ft cinema complex and seven new restaurants totalling 30,000 sq ft.

Those interested in donating items or a collection to Bon Accord & St Nicholas, please contact the centre on 01224 647470 or email

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Aug 072015

With thanks to Phil Moar, Account Manager, Citrus Mix.

Jigsawmodel (3)

One of the UK’s most iconic fashion brands has welcomed the first shoppers to its new store within Bon Accord & St Nicholas.

Jigsaw clothing has opened its first dedicated outlet in the north-east, giving shoppers visiting the Bon Accord mall the opportunity to browse its full range of stylish women’s clothing.

The fashion company, which has been a mainstay of the British high street since 1969, has over 40 stores throughout the UK and is the latest addition to Bon Accord & St Nicholas as the centre prepares to celebrate its 25th birthday later this month.

The popular mall was opened in 1990 by Her Majesty the Queen and has since cemented itself as a main stay of Aberdeen’s retail scene.

Currently home to a number of the UK’s leading retail brands, the Bon Accord mall is also home to Scotland’s largest Next, as well as Aberdeen’s only Topshop and Topman standalone stores.

Craig Stevenson, manager of Bon Accord & St Nicholas, said:

“The opening of the Jigsaw store within the Bon Accord mall is a fantastic addition to the centre’s retail offering and we’re delighted to welcome one of the country’s most established and respected brands to the city.

“The opening is timely as we prepare to celebrate the centre’s 25th birthday and I’m sure it’s addition will be warmly received by our shoppers. The store’s design has a unique look and feel about it and will further enhance our ground floor line-up as a go-to fashion destination.”

Peter Ruis, chief executive of Jigsaw, added:

“We are delighted to have arrived in Aberdeen, a long held ambition for the brand and in response to many requests from loyal Jigsaw customers. We have created a bespoke store that reflects all the confidence of the modern Jigsaw and reflects the proud values of the local area. In partnership with Bon Accord, and their ambitious plans around the future of the centre, we look forward to welcoming customers for decades to come.”

Bon Accord & St Nicholas are at the heart of Aberdeen city centre’s retail sector, offering 840,000 sq ft of prime space and home to around 100 stores. Scotland’s largest Next, Aberdeen’s only Topshop and Topman standalone store as well as the City’s largest New Look and River Island are among the key retailers.

The centres, which attract an average of 270,000 visitors a week, are owned by BMO Real Estate Partners and managed by specialist retail agency Savills. For further on the centres visit

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May 292015

0926_Aberdeen-3D-mainWith thanks to Phil Moar, Citrus:Mix.

Bon Accord & St Nicholas has kicked off its 25th birthday celebrations with the announcement that it is adding an iconic fashion brand to its growing list of stores.
Jigsaw clothing is set to open within the Bon Accord mall this autumn in what will be the chain’s first dedicated outlet in the north-east.

The fashion company has been a mainstay of the British high street since 1969 and provides a range of womenswear, menswear, children’s clothing and homeware from over 40 stores throughout the country.

It’s the latest addition to Bon Accord & St Nicholas, which is set to mark its 25th birthday with a year-long programme of events.

The popular mall, which will officially celebrate the milestone on August 22, has been at the heart of Aberdeen’s retail scene since it was opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 1990.

Party plans for the remainder of the year include a student only event, a dedicated ladies night alongside various pop up shops and summer previews which will see the centre and its visitors come together to celebrate the birthday in style.

Craig Stevenson, manager of Bon Accord & St Nicholas, said:

“We’ve been looking to add Jigsaw to our offering at Bon Accord & St Nicholas for some time now and it’s great to finally be able to announce its imminent arrival for autumn this year.

“The store itself will be located within a unit on the ground floor of the Bon Accord mall which will really reinforce this part of the centre as a fashion destination for shoppers. The outlet is set to stock its full range of stylish womenswear, menswear and children’s clothing and I’m sure excitement will continue to build between now and its opening day.

“The announcement is timely as the centre enters its 25th year and we’re currently busy finalising a programme of special events to mark what is an important milestone for all involved. With plans for a student event, a ladies night and various other pop up shops and previews, there really will be something for everyone.”

Peter Ruis, chief executive of Jigsaw, added:

“This is Jigsaw’s first stand-alone store in Aberdeen and we are really excited to be part of this new era for the Bon Accord & St Nicholas Centre. As ever with Jigsaw, the store design will be unique to this location.”

Throughout the last 25 years, the centre has continued to innovate and grow to where it stands today. Currently home to a number of the UK’s leading retail brands, the Bon Accord mall includes Scotland’s largest Next as well as Aberdeen’s only Topshop and Topman standalone stores.

At the heart of its future development are expansive plans to create a new leisure hub within the centres. At the core of the blueprint is a proposed 28,000 sq ft cinema complex and seven new restaurants totalling 30,000 sq ft.

The innovative design includes the creation of a new entrance from Upperkirkgate at Drum’s Lane, leading to an external courtyard and providing access to the upper level of the mall where the new leisure area would be situated. The plans work within the existing footprint of the Bon Accord mall.

Craig Stevenson added:

“At the core of Bon Accord & St Nicholas’ success really has been its willingness to innovate and grow, with various developments over the years at the heart of this. It’s fitting that the new expansion plans, which will be the biggest the centres have ever experienced, will continue to gather momentum throughout our birthday year.

“In a way, we’re looking back to look forward and we’d be delighted for as many people as possible to join us in doing this over the next 12 months to allow our 25th year to be the biggest and best yet.”

Bon Accord & St Nicholas are at the heart of Aberdeen city centre’s retail sector, offering 840,000 sq ft of prime space and home to around 100 stores. Scotland’s largest Next, Aberdeen’s only Topshop and Topman standalone store as well as the City’s largest New Look and River Island are among the key retailers.

The centres, which attract an average of 270,000 visitors a week, are owned by F&C REIT and managed by specialist retail agency Savills. For further on the centres visit

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Jul 172014

Suzanne Kelly aka Old Susannah gets to grips with current events in the Granite City and wider world as Commonwealth Game fever hits the deen.

DictionaryTally ho! I’ve been doing a bit of travelling lately; I’ve even gone to places so remote that  the Scottish referendum vote isn’t the only subject of conversation. I was on a journalism course, and some very odd ideas were put to the students.

It was suggested that the news  has a responsibility to investigate and report on stories instead of pandering to advertisers and the wealthy. (No, I didn’t see anyone from Aberdeen Journals Ltd. there).

Like everyone else, I could barely contain my excitement when the Torch arrived in Aberdeen.

I saw a restaurateur on the day; he was extremely excited indeed, as the police and security in their wisdom blocked off the street his restaurant was on.

Of course there are a few minor things going on in the deen, like 33 year old Pauline Judge walking scot free from a jail term for distributing child porn images and reports of two girls having their drinks spiked in a local bar.

But no matter, everyone is looking with awe (or something more akin to shock) at the beautiful parade uniforms Scottish athletes will wear in the Commonwealth opening ceremony, is it possible that we should be paying more attention to other issues? Certainly not. However, here are a few definitions for your consideration.

Parade Uniforms: (English Compound Noun) costumes used for marches, displays, events to signify important traits such as nationality, importance, grandeur, pride.

As you’d expect, the main talking point of the week is the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Scotland kit.  It’s breathtaking and memorable while making a statement. Some would say it’s as breathtaking  as being punched in the gut. Visually striking? Unkind critics compare it to being ill on a chintz sofa after downing a bottle of mustard for a drunken bet.

As to this outfit  being  memorable;  well, I suppose a hernia operation  is memorable as well.  I for one think this makes a great statement, and I’m not alone in that. The other person who agrees with me is Jilli Blackwood, the designer who posed for the papers in an equally stylish, classic outfit.

In this all-inclusive age I think it’s wonderful that we’re giving national commissions to people who have no sense of colour.  Competing nations will quiver in fear as our men in blue floral big blouses and sickly mustard orange kilt socks parade. Yes, this tartan and floral mixture conveys the power, strength and winning spirit we want to demonstrate to the competition.

Commonwealth Games: (English Modern compound noun) Collection of sporting events held every 4 years between nations of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Old Susannah understands that some people will spend most of their lives trying to run, jump, skip, or play volleyball better than anyone else in the world. The only thing more wonderful than that is that there are people who will feverently hope the nationality of the world’s best is the same as their own nationality.

To some people this might look like nationalism. But we know it’s all good-natured fun, fun that must be taken very seriously indeed.

having Atos as the partner will let the world know that Atos are really a nice bunch of kind, gentle people

We’ve got the parade uniforms to show the world what we’re all about. I’m sure we’re all equally thrilled about this latest development in the happy progress of the Glasgow games. Sadly, there are a small number of petty people out there who would nit-pick the tiniest details.

Kevin McKenna of the Observer is one such mean-spirited soul:

 “..what a mess they have made of it so far. Events such as this seem to attract a specific strain of humanity: that which is happiest in a uniform, a name badge and making life as difficult as possible for those they are paid to serve. The controversy over the parade uniform is the least of it.

“These people seriously thought it desirable to blow up some of the city’s unlovely but iconic high-rise flats as the centrepiece of the opening ceremony. …despite having had years to prepare for the day, their bizarre ticket-issuing policy led to an online meltdown.

“Driving through one of Glasgow’s edgier neighbourhoods the other day, I encountered evidence of perhaps the most crass and ill-judged action of the Games organisers: the decision to accept Atos as one of the main partners for Glasgow 2014.

“Atos is the outsourcing conglomeration whose fit-for-work tests on behalf of the Tory-led Westminster administration would have been deemed to be unrealistic by the Spartans. …To witness Glasgow 2014 banners bearing the hated Atos logo hanging from lampposts in these streets is simply an insult to residents who have been treated so inhumanely by this shower of government-appointed bovver boys.

“Perhaps when the true extent of the emergency funding of Glasgow 2014 is revealed afterwards we will also get the chance to ask the organisers to justify this decision.”

I’m sure the idea to have an explosion at the opening ceremony was just a bid to make people from war-torn countries feel more at home. I’m equally sure that having Atos as the partner will let the world know that Atos are really a nice bunch of kind, gentle people, and not the barbaric, unscientific, dishonest, cruel, life-ruining profit-driven paperpushers that they might  be mistaken for.

Such a shame that people like McKenna think that these issues are more important than winning medals.

It would be very wrong indeed for anyone to point out that most Commonwealth Games to date have lost colossal amounts of money. If some few millions go missing here, or are spent on some over-inflated construction deals, it will be worth it if ATOS and Scotland’s partnership gets the recognition it deserves.

But the Commonwealth Games in modern times are far greater than an excuse for countries to come together to compete against each other. Just consider the money involved.

Commonwealth Games Values: (Modern English Compound Noun) – the principles and tenets espoused by the Glasgow 2014 Committee.

You have to hand it to them; here is the official mission and value statement from the Games’ website:

“Our mission is to organise and deliver the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in a way that fully realises the aspirations of the Glasgow Bid and the contractual obligations of the Host City Contract, on time and on budget.

“Our Vision is to stage an outstanding, athlete centred and sport focused Games of world-class competition which will be celebrated across the Commonwealth, generate enormous pride in Glasgow and Scotland, and leave a lasting legacy.”

“Our Values – Ours is an inclusive organisation which epitomises the values of integrity, responsibility and endeavour and in which all our people are valued. We will engage our Games partners in the spirit of trust and openness. We will be passionate in our work, and encourage flair and creativity in all that we do”

I have to conclude the bit about ‘integrity and responsibility’ don’t apply to Atos.  As to the bit about the budget, well, Game costs, and here’s where you start paying:

“The OC [organising committee I suppose] has revised its Games budget as a result of the revised security budget which was approved in December 2012.  As the Police Service of Scotland will now have jurisdiction over these resources – and the associated £90 million budget…” 

Yes, that security budget appears to be £90 million pounds. If all of Scotland’s 5 million people attended, the organisers would spend £18 on security for each person.  I’ll bet you feel safer already (and that’s before you get to my photos from the Torch’s arrival in Aberdeen).

If security is only costing us £90 million, then what are the rest of the games budgeted as costing?

“… the OC’s budget is revised.  It now stands at £473m, of which £372m is provided from public funds. £100m will be generated by the OC from commercial activities including ticketing, sponsorship and broadcast rights…” (Ibid.)

Old Susannah is not sure why the police budget is spelled out as £90 million, when in the same paragraph sums of money are shown with the small ‘m’.  Be that as it may, there is a little table showing that the Scottish Government is throwing in a mere £302,117,278 pounds and the city of Glasgow will put in a modest £69,568,337.

It does my heart good to know that those kids queueing up for food bank meals, the pensioners who will be cold this winter, and those workshy people with serious illnesses will be able to watch the Games, knowing it only cost in the region of £371,685,615 – or £441,253,952 in total, or £88 for every living Scottish resident to hold these games.

Bread and circuses – what more can we want? (And no, you can’t have your £88).

And while we’re on the subject of smart, unobtrusive security that doesn’t overwhelm events, let’s look back fondly on the day the torch came to the deen.

Commonwealth Torch: (Modern English Compound Noun) A piece of wood making its way, lit on fire, through Scotland to show the world the Commonwealth Games are about to commence.

UTG security wallThe Stone of Scone, the Royal Jewels… nothing can touch the security that surrounded the day our beloved Torch arrived in Aberdeen. You may not have actually seen the torch, but you would have seen the giant screen, the cordon around UTG of steel barriers.

You would also have seen the serpentine crowd barriers put up to the only entrance to UTG we were allowed to use, it could have held hundreds, but I never saw more than say 20 people in it at once.

Perhaps if they had let people sit down on chairs during the hours of exciting festivities, they would have had more people.

UTG event entry securityI will try and find out, but it’s likely the city will have paid for all the policing, security, crowd barriers and anti-personnel missiles used to make this the relaxed, social, fun event it was. More here, including helpful information for Aberdonians that the weather here can be changeable. The things you learn.

Closing Union Terrace itself was a stroke of genius; the police/security estimated this would be needed when the gardens reached over 3,000 visitors, and 10,000 people would come to watch the giant screen.

Funny,  none of the police seemed to want to comment, but some of the paid security were unfairly critical of the extent of the security used. Obviously we did not allow anyone to bring plastic folding chairs into UTG – a riot would clearly have ensued. Likewise no catering was involved, and obviously no pets could be brought to this highly prestigious, fun, family event.

I’m sure it was all planned perfectly, with just the right amount of inconspicuous security. Others might wonder whether this was an excuse to test what level of security the public will put up with, to see how far policing can go. Some might wonder whether this was a sad display of over-inflated ego and pomposity on the police’s part.

UTG security railingsWe must remember how important this event was, and using this level of security for a stick of wood, for a few people in silly looking kilts and the odd pole vaulter, then were do we go when we need heightened security for real?

Is the idea to make local governments spend this kind of money on security for events (however important or unimportant), thus creating new marketing opportunities for Rapiscan Sytems and their ilk? Are we going totalitarian? Answers in an encrypted email please.

Since ‘transparency’ is one of the goals of the organisers, no doubt they will answer my questions about money, uniforms and security any day now.

Until then, happy Commonwealth Games.

Next week:  Big brother is watching, and keeping data permanently – all in the name of merchandising. More on this Inspired level of snooping then.

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Jan 162014

Aberdeen Forward would like to invite you to our Swishing event on Friday 17th January 2014, between 6pm and 8pm, for an evening of clothes swapping, wine & nibbles.


For those who don’t know, swishing involves clothes swapping in an informal setting around other like minded ‘swisher’s’.

All you have to do is bring in 1 or more items you own that you no longer want and you can take away someone else’s items instead!

Bring your unwanted clothes along any time on the day and then come down on the Friday at 6pm for the Swish itself.

From 6pm-7pm, there we will be time to browse what’s on offer, over a glass of complimentary wine and a nibble or two and then, at 7pm sharp, we will open the doors and allow you to pick the items you want to take home with you.

When deciding which of your items to bring in please remember the following:

  • All items should be high quality, do not bring damaged or dirty items.
  • Donated items should be clean and either unworn or just worn once or twice. You want to bring something others will want to take away, not throw away!
  • No Casual T-shirts, Vests, Earrings, Underwear or Swimwear will be accepted.
  • Unfortunately, if you don’t take anything home, we cannot return the items you donated yourself, so please be sure the things you bring are unwanted items.
  • The Swish is based on a fair use policy; although no token system is in place, it is accepted that items of a comparable cost, quality and condition are swapped fairly.

We hope to see you there on the 17th January and if you would like to attend, please RSVP by emailing us or calling us on 01224 560360. Entry is £5 and wine and nibbles will be available from 6pm together with various non-alcoholic refreshments.

Nov 142013

On Saturday the 9th of November the ‘This is Me’ 2014 charity calendar had its official launch at The Albyn Bar in Aberdeen. Over 180 supporters and sponsors packed the venue to listen to presentations outlining the project’s aims and objectives.

Afterwards, Jacqueline Fulton, the project’s head, talked to Duncan Harley about the motivation behind the initiative.

this is me launch duncan harleyIn today’s society we all can feel the pressure to look a certain way. Airbrushed images bombard us constantly and it is very easy to be persuaded that the only way to be is to emulate them. Sometimes there are disastrous results when people become ill in the process, and then need help and support to combat what can be quite a lonely illness.

“I wanted to do something to promote positive body image in ladies to get the message out there that everyone is beautiful, whatever shape or size they are. I have had my own personal struggles with body image and am really against the airbrushing and the ‘one size’ models that are used in the retail industry” says Jacqueline.

The ‘This is Me’ positive body image project has made and printed a ‘Calendar Girls’ style calendar, using models of all shapes and ages who are proud to say ‘this is me.’

Jacqueline continued:

“Through working on this project I have learned to accept my body and am happier now with how I look.  I really hope that through this project we have been able to encourage and empower women to ‘BeYOUtiful’ and also raise awareness for eating disorders, which are not often talked about in our society.

“An eating disorder can be a very lonely illness however support groups such as NEEDS can offer a safe place to talk, thereby reducing the isolation.” 

If you or someone you know is affected by an eating disorder and would like support please contact NEEDS on:

Tel. 01224 557672

You can buy the ‘This is Me’ 2014 calendar from the online shop at .

‘This is Me’ is on twitter @ThisIsMe20134 and facebook

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Sep 182013

How does a Friday night of wine, nibbles and vintage clothes swapping sound to you? Why not avoid the hustle and bustle of a weekend shopping trip and come along to Aberdeen Forward’s famous swish where your unused clothes can be swapped with like-minded swishers in a relaxing and informal setting.

colouredthreadspicIf you want to grab a unique item or 2 whilst helping divert landfill, this Friday’s Swish is for you!

Starting at 6pm and finishing at 8pm this Friday, the event will provide you with a chance to clear out items you’ve never worn whilst getting a hold of some new pieces for your wardrobe.

When deciding which of your items to bring in please remember the following:

– All items should be high quality-please don’t bring damaged or dirty items.
– Donated items should be clean and either unworn or just worn once or twice. You want to bring something others will want to take away, not throw away!
– No Casual T-shirts, Vests, Earrings, Underwear or Swimwear will be accepted.

If you would like to come, please give us a quick call on 01224 560360, email

The event is held at the Aberdeen Forward HQ, 2 Poynernook Road, AB11 5RW. Please arrive promptly for 6pm with your unwanted clothes at the ready!

Entry is £5 which includes a glass of fizz, nibbles and access to the Swish’. Non-alcoholic refreshments are also available including tea, coffee and juice.

Jul 052013

By Suzanne Kelly.

Each year Gray’s School of Art holds an end-of-year degree show; this has become a highly-anticipated social as well as artistic fixture in Aberdeen’s cultural calendar.

Jewellery, photography, fashion, painting, design, sculpture and ceramic work by graduating students is displayed then scrutinised, and while the atmosphere is enjoyable, it is still a serious business for fledgling artists.
This year’s overall creative quality was considered outstanding by students, faculty and visitors alike.

Societal issues seemed to dominate the graduates’ work, with design students in particular addressing the issues of our time and the future.

In many ways it is reassuring to know that such thoughtfulness, creativity and effort is being brought to bear on the world’s problems, ranging from the cities of the future to the needs of children.

Issues of mental health, hunger, poverty, freedom, violence and freedom were given artistic attention with some very creative observations and solutions advanced.  A striking work on depression used distorted and burnt images of men and women displayed on a grid.  A work concerning Aberdeen asked viewers

Steven Bremner’s work examined how the problems of today may well manifest in a future dystopia:-

“Our outlook on the future is somewhat skewed by the culture and imagery that we surround ourselves with. Images of violence and corruption shown on news media leave a sour taste in our mouths. Television and cinema give us visions of the future that are negative. Newer cultural outputs such as gaming and the internet are used exploitatively by their owners to seize our data without our permission or knowledge.

“All of these aspects of every day culture distort our view of the world and by extension, our view of future. That through societies actions or inaction, a Dystopian future is being created, a Dystopia being an undesirable future, the opposite of Utopia.”

His strong collages echoed a potential future metropolitan world – crowded, gray, problematic, cold.  A video was part of his work, which can be viewed here

Susannah Leake’s sensitive work was geared towards helping children deal with the problems of senility and illness in a grandparent via a child’s book.

‘Even Elephants Sometimes Forget’ is tender, thoughtful work (the imagery is of human hands painted to look like elephants); there was a blackboard on which a simple phrase was written.  Viewers were invited to memorise the phrase, erase it, and write it again from memory.

This simple exercise reminded those who participated what an ephemeral yet critical, personal faculty memory is.

The problems of the increasing ageing community and issues such as senility, and how children can be helped to cope with this problem in a grandparent will require consideration and solutions such as Leake proposes.

The range of work was itself impressive.  Lorna Glencross worked on the theme of ‘Death, Love, and all of the Above;’ she commented on her work:-

“My work this year has been focused in iconography and its power in ownership, religion and spirituality.  Death, Love and all of the above is a modern day shrine that has no specific religion or origin but gives the viewer a sense of calm and time to reflect…. My aim was to create something that was visually pleasing but asked questions about the fundamental issues we face in the future. Our relationship with science and our morals, aims and desires.”

Graduating student Ruaraidh Cable addressed the increasing use of computer generated images (CGI) which is reflective of the growing overlap and integration of the digital and the biological.  He commented:-

“I decided to look into the relationship between the digital and physical world. I noticed recently that in several major film releases there has been a trend to replace roles traditionally played by human actors with CGI creations.

“In many cases I felt that this fails to work effectively as the CGI characters lack the visceral impact that a human performer brings. The conclusion to this topic was two full sized wearable suits, one of which was from already existing content while the other was a character of my own creation.

“Both suits were created using a digital file as the starting point. The overall goal of this project was to show that digital and physical can complement each other rather than one obviating the other.”

There was a great deal of commendable work, and it is unfortunate that there isn’t enough space for commenting in detail or including images for all of these.   However, notable work from artists including John Nicholson, Zack Anderson, painter Jamie Steele, Ashley Morris, Rachel Furness, Holly Aitchison, Michael Loudon, and Stacey Geddes all memorably resonated and impressed.

There might not be space for their work in this brief article, but it seems certain you will be seeing their work in the future, as well as their peers.

Unfortunately the fashion students’ work was either in the VIP tent and inaccessible to those without tickets, or unceremoniously hung on the wall unceremoniously in a large untended room  in the main building.

From the dozens of distinctive garments I was drawn to an ethereal and classic salmon-coloured chiffon, pleated and embellished with pearl-coloured beads.  Unfortunately, hardly any of the fashion work was clearly labelled, so crediting these designers is problematic.

Good design can help us deal with the problems the future will present; the clues to the future’s issues are in the present.  Fine art, crafts and wearables reflect our society, draw from the past and anticipate the future.

Our upcoming photographers will record our successes and defeats.  In a world where higher education is coming to mean vocational training with a focus on future earnings, the arts have never been more important.

Grays has this year successfully nurtured our future artists and creators, whose skills we need now to help shape a better future.

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May 092013

By Suzanne Kelly.

“Don’t expect too much; these are only 2nd and 3rd year fashion students” was the caveat for a recent show by Gray’s School of Arts fashion students.

They were all a year or two at least from their final degree fashion show, and could hardly be expected to do more from their outing as fledglings.

The Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen, headquarters on Holburn Street was the venue; the links between it and Gray’s stretch back many years now.

If anything, having such a beautiful setting and bringing collections in front of professional weavers and other craftspeople might well have proved daunting. 

No one – not even the course instructors, technicians and course leader knew quite what would happen.


The organisation, the students’ speeches, the elegant wine and canapé reception were polished.  But the calibre of the work on show was beyond all expectations.  There wasn’t a piece on show which couldn’t have been in a final year student’s collection.  Imaginative, daring, colourful works were all on show, but perhaps the biggest surprise was the number of pieces which could have instantly translated to retail.


A man’s slightly oversized tweed coat had an asymmetrical back seam; it moved beautifully.  A tweed tulip-style short-sleeve dress in an earthy gray-green featured brightly coloured orange silk insets at the hem, rising to differing heights towards the model’s waist; it was an elegant and wholly modern and refreshing use of tweed.

The orange inserts caught the eye and made for an amazing colour contrast with the muted colours of the body of the dress as the model walked.

Other tweed pieces for women were eminently wearable.  These outfits were sophisticated and ideal for work, and quite timeless.

A simply cut sleeveless dress featured dozens (if not hundreds) of delicate, possibly hand-painted hexagons of multi-coloured material, probably silk.  The overall impression these hexagons and colours gave was three-dimensional, kinetic, elegant, highly original and extremely. pleasing.

A long, romantic dress tightly fitting then cut with high, thick fringe at the skirt melded several types of fabric dyeing/printing together beautifully; the colours were muted but large patterns made it a very striking piece.

Memorable work came from every collection; there were beautiful blouses (a blue and white number seemed ready for high-end retail), skirts, asymmetrical coats…

Designers and Sponsors

The collections were Tweed Outerwear, Covered, Body of Space, This Place is Dreaming, Knack & Knave, Anarchy, Colour Against Conformity and Alternative.

As a final piece of professional fashion show tradition, goody bags were supplied containing gifts from Lush Cosmetics and literature from some of the sponsors, which were The Aberdeen Weaver Incorporation, The Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen, Amicus Apple, Lush, The Athenaeum, and Daniel McAVoy Photography.  The makeup for all the models was done by one person – Emma McMahon – who also had work in the show.

The Future

Gray’s School of Arts Libby Curtis spoke briefly at the end of the show; she genuinely seemed as surprised by the calibre of the show and the organisation as the rest of the audience.  A member of Aberdeen Weavers had very positive things to say as well.

Recognition is growing for the Fashion arm of Gray’s, and this trend seems set to continue.  At the final degree show last year, the list of awards, prizes and internships won by the graduates made for a long, impressive list.

This crop of students look set to raise the beam further.  They look set to succeed on a foundation which clearly encourages experimentation, creativity, and collaboration.  There seems to be no fear of tradition or elegance, and no reliance on sensationalism or gimmickry.  This will be a crop of students to watch.