Dec 192021
 

In her tenth annual Christmas Satire Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne ‘Old Susannah’ Kelly revisits the events of the past year and revisits last year’s satire, ‘A Night At Storybook Glen’. 

In that tale last year we learned how Angus performed on his first shift at the night security guard at Storybook Glen. Tonight we join Angus at his new job.

Angus straightened his tie, gave his lapels a pull to straighten his jacket and stepped off the No. 19 Hydrogen bus onto Union Street. Then he promptly slipped on the permanent temporary wooden decking, cracking his head on the wooden parklet (in other words a bench with a planter container filled with vandalised plants, fast-food wrappers and cigarette butts).

“Oh! ma heid!” he muttered, getting up and staggering towards the Souless bar, where he intended to have a quick weak beer before his 9pm shift at The Aberdeen Museum & Art Gallery would start.

Celebrating his new job since leaving Storybook Glen seemed a good idea.

“What’ll it be?” shouted the bar person over the heads of the noisy shouting/hugging throng.

“Ah’ll jist hae a Nanny State Shandy, mak it a half,” he smiled.

Just then a round-faced ginger-haired man in foggy spectacles popped his head around the bar.

“Oh no, my old pal Angus here wants something a wee bit stronger, don’t you pal? I hear you’re that new night security guard at the Musuem; you’ll be wantin tae stay awake.

“Here, have one of my Torry snowballs,” he said, pushing a glass to Angus.

Angus cocked his head to one side, and looked at the drink a bit dubiously.

He suddenly remembered the last time he’d had one of Pablo’s cocktails was last year at Storybook Glen’s drinks marquee, where he wasn’t sure whether half the things he’d seen that night were real or not.

He hadn’t been able to sleep properly for days afterwards, and found himself talking as long and as nonsensically as any ACC councillor.

“Pablo, ta aa the same, but Ah’m startin’ ma new job i noo, an’ need tae look sharp. By the wye, how did ye ken Ah’m on nights i noo?”

“Both the Night Time Economy Manger an’ the Alternate Night Time Economy Managers told me. Now just get that down yer neck an’ you’ll have a crackin’ time at the museum.”

Thinking both ‘fit’s an ‘Alternative Night Time Economy Manager’ and ‘Ach why nae?’ Angus downed the drink, thanked Pablo, and went on his merry way.

Who knows? Who cares? It’s a free dinner at the Marcliffe.

The snowy streets were dark, and here and there a fallen over pensioner, woman in high heels or people with mobility issues moaned for help as they slipped, slid and fell on the wooden pavements.

‘Anither normal night in the Deen’ Angus thought, watching brawling men spilling out of a pub swinging at each other and shouting.

Before long, turning down the beautifully illuminated street sign that read ‘elmo tree’ hanging over Belmont Street (one of twelve English-made signs a snip at £400k the lot), Angus found himself approaching the front of the Art Gallery.

He could see the curator standing just inside the doorway.

“It’s 2 minutes and 17 seconds to nine – I hope you’re going to be more punctual tomorrow night Angus!” the curator impatiently simmered, tapping at his watch.

“Angus, I think you met Tom, Dick and Harry; they’ll take it from here. I’m off to the award ceremony.”

“Thank you sir,” said Angus

“Err, which award ceremony is that?”

The curator gave a sign and an eyeroll, answering:

“Who knows? Who cares? It’s a free dinner at the Marcliffe.” And off he went.

Angus said ‘hullo’ to the three guards who stood before him. He had met them on his interview.

Angus heard a ‘SPLAT’ and the whole museum suddenly got eerily darker

They were all retired, but like so many people these days, chose to work minimum wages for the fun and excitement of it rather than enjoying their retirement.

Tom spoke first.

“Fine seein’ ye Angus; welcome. Ah ken ye’ve got yer flashlicht, an’ ere’s the keys.”

Dick chimed in:

“An’ ye’ll be needin this instruction manual; tells ye aa ye need tae ken aboot workin here at nicht. Can get a bittie spooky, ken – “ he broke off.

“But ach, ye’ll be jis’ fine.”

Finally Harry spoke, thrusting a bag at Angus, saying:

“Ye’ll hae a gran’ time Angus, jist dinna mind ony noises ye hear or onythin’ funny ye think ye micht be gan on. Sometimes the lichts play funny tricks.

“An’ if yer feelin’ i cauld, jist hae some o’ this BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin or Sink the Bismarck – we thocht ye micht like a wee gift fae us on yer first day.”

They toured the museum, now devoid of the last of its visitors. Tracey Emin’s artwork, basically a neon sign,made entirely by others based on a scrawled few words of hers through neon light which reflected strangely on a nearby copy of Michelangelo’s David, a statue of Robert the Bruce, and a few paintings.

‘Fit is it wi’ Aiberdeen thinkin neon signs should be elevated tae expensive artwork an’ road signs?’ Angus thought.

For a fleeting moment the light almost made it seem as if the statues could talk – and wanted to. He shook his head and the effect was gone.

The four men meandered through the museum’s many rooms and floors, they passed priceless artworks by Scottish masters, portraits, battle scenes.

They stood under the great glass oculus window when Angus heard a ‘SPLAT’ and the whole museum suddenly got eerily darker as the light seemed to lower.

The three other security guards laughed.

“Aye, ye looked spooked already pal; that’s jist a seagull splattering the windae wi’ sh*te.” Tom laughed.

Dick said:

“Aye, it came as a huge surprise tae the architects that seagulls sh*te near the sea. Fa wid hae thocht?”

“Didnae stop them gettin’ plenty o’ awards though – fer gettin’ rid o’ the auld marble stairs veneer, an putting a pottycabin on the roof. The original architects are nae thrilled at aa” added Harry.

Tom broke across him:

“Ya mean the original architects widna be thrilled.”

“At’s fit Ah’m sayin’,” Harry answered.

Angus thought the three exchanged a quick glance, but then they ushered him onward.

Peering at the Inventory, Angus thumbed through

They were now in the basement, or ‘Subterranean Treasure Hub No 19’ as a sign read. Huge mountainous shelves were piled high with items the museum had collected.

There were old sewing pattern books, pieces of granite, an old A-Z, unsold copies of the Evening Express from 1973, some old glass jars and more. Angus couldn’t help wonder why anyone in their right mind would keep this junk.

Almost as if sensing Angus’ misgivings about the quality of these items, Tom volunteered:

“Tae some fowk thon auld boots wi’ hols in em, auld used tin cans an’ the like are jist rubbish.”

‘Too right’ thought Angus.

“But,” continued Tom, “we ken they’re valuable, cause the city accepted thon donations an’ officially logged them here in this invinterry.”

They had gone through a door labelled ‘SECURITY’ and Tom pointed to a printed document marked ‘Inventory’. This was a few hundred pages in size.

Peering at the Inventory, Angus thumbed through it read a few lines as the other three men stepped into an ante room marked ‘NO ENTRY NOT EVEN YOU – KEN!’

“Afore we leave ye tae it, we’re, errr… jist gan tae git a few things we … err … left ahind, like ma piece box an ma shoppin’ fae Poondland.

“Noo, Angus, ye lisnin? – ye can ging onywye ye like in i museum, but nae past ess door.

“Nivver! – nae metter fitivver happens! Ye hear ma?”

Angus just shrugged, and left them to it. As he heard banging, and scraping noises from that room, he thumbed through the inventory:

ABDMS095514 Gilda Le Fevre Label, 1920-1980
ABDMS095515 Jane Doe’s Thimble, 1920-1940
ABDMS095516 Jane Doe’s broken Thimble, 1886
ABDMS095517 Pattern for Six-Section Hat, 1936-1980
ABDMS095518 Pattern for Six-Section Hat, 1936-1980
ABDMS095519 Oval Hat Pattern, 1936-1980
ABDMS095520 Jane Doe’s Brim Pattern, 1936-1980
ABDMS095521 Jane Doe Sewing, 1990
ABDMS095522 Photograph of Gilda LeFevre, 1990
ABDMS095523 Photograph of Jane Doe, 1936-1980
ABDMS095524 Photograph of Gilda LeFevre and Employees, 1990
ABDMS095525 Photograph of Gilda LeFevre and Employees, 1990
ABDMS095526 Photograph of Pantomime, 1944
ABDMS095527 Photograph of Pantomime, 1944
ABDMS095589 Results Past, 2017
ABDMS095590 Comment No 20.
ABDMS095591 Comment No 15.
ABDMS095592 Comment No 16.
ABDMS095562 Valuable Gift, 2011
ABDMS095533 Income Tax Record, 1944-1945
DISAGBS000057
DISAGBS000058
DISAGBS000059
DISAGBS000060
DISAGBS000061
DISAGBS000062
DISAGBS000063

“Fit’s a hat maker’s broken thimble daein in a museum?” He asked

“Nae idea, but ye can be sure it’s worth a fair few bob.” Tom shouted back

“Fits somebody’s auld tax record daein’ here?”

“Nae idea.” answered Dick

“Fit’s ess aboot? – items ca’d ‘Comment 20’ an’ hunners o’ blank lines?”

“Dinnae fash yersel loon, the important museum curator staff an’ cooncil will understan’ aa thon technical stuff.”

“Hey – how come there’s aa this stuff marked ‘missin’?” Angus asked.

Tom, Dick and Harry had stepped out of the back room.

Each now had on a huge backpack. Tom had a suitcase on wheels.

Dick had a big cardboard box with what looked like a gold frame sticking out of the top of it, and Harry had a big sack.

“Angus, jist bide here, watch i telly, hae a drink an’ a nap, and we’ll see ye aboot 9 the morn’s mornin. Dinna worry aboot onythin’ an’ pey nae heed tae ony noises ye think ye micht be hearin’.” Tom said

“Aye, an’ read thon instruction manual if onythin’ … errr …  unusual pops up. See ye the morn.” said Dick.

“An’ mind fit Ah tellt ye. BIDE OOT O’ ESS ROOM…. Guid Nicht!” said Harry, shutting the door to the forbidden room.

The three turned to leave when with a clatter a selection of silver spoons fell out of Dick’s coat’s sleeve. Scooping them up Angus said:

“Hemen, hing on, looks like ye drapped summin. Ah think ah got ’em aa. See yiz the morn …  an’ thanks for the drink an’ yer help.”

The three men traded furtive looks and off they went out the security guard entrance. For some reason they turned off the light outside of the exit door, and the street outside was in darkness.

Angus watched as they pulled on their covid masks (‘for safety no doubt’ Angus thought), and drew their hats and scarves over their faces, their uniforms covered by their long dark coats. They threw their bags and boxes into the back of the van. Jumping in, they sped off into the night.

“Hey, ye’ve nae switched yer heidlights on”- Angus called after them, but they had sped out of sight.

Angus sat down and opened the bag he’d been left; pulling out a bottle of Tactical Nuclear Penguin he thought ‘At least this will be a bit more normal than Storybook Glen was’.

He thumbed through the inventory half-interested by the repeated words ‘missing’, ‘damaged’, ‘stolen’. On the desk he saw an old Press & Journal; its headlines read ‘Wood to save Torry by turning it into an industrial zone – Hoorah!’ and ‘Exclusive whitewash of oor role in Trump Menie development’.

Folding the paper up into a pillow, he put his head down and soon was fast asleep.

# # #

Angus slowly woke from a dream

He thought he heard voices.

Grabbing his flashlight and having a quick swig from his hip flask, followed by more fortified beer, he stealthily made his way to where the sound was coming from.

Approaching the centre of the building, he stopped to listen; he heard men and women chattering, the pop of a champagne cork, and glasses clinking.

Angus stood out of sight around a corner. The lights were on, and a few dozen well-dressed men and women were milling around the entrance foyer.

“.. so we donated 400 grubby auld cigarette cards, an’ got a 10k tax break; it wis hilarious!”

“I ken, right?,” said a woman’s voice “We donated some auld bits o’ stationery we were gan tae fling oot – seriously, an auld eraser, some index tabs. Chucked in a cigarette lighter or twa, and ken? We didnae hae tae pey tax fer a year. I’m affa gled ye suggested it; thanks again!”

Laughter ensued. Glasses clinked.

“Fit a crackin’ award ceremony; wis richt fine hearin’ Stew tell mair o’ his hilarious jokes doon the Marcliffe. Cooncil pickin’ up the tab Ah’d expect, aye?”

Angus kept hidden out of sight; he realised that these people were some of the town’s great and the good – and a few councillors.

“Hey, div ye still hae thon siller punch bowl roon at yer place? Ah widna mind a shottie o’ it in a couple o wikks fer the big ONE Christmas perty, if ye can spare it?”

Angus stayed out of sight and caught snippets of further conversations.

“Looks a richt sotter, dis it nae? Lik tuppence o’ mix. A metal box on tap o’ a MacKenzie mesterpiece? Nae cohesive use o’ materials, nae relation tae the existing proportions or aesthetic. It wis bound tae win awards. Did ye ken MacKenzie’d daen the Waldorf?

“D’ye think they’d let some hacks come alang an’ stick a metal box on tap o’ the Waldorf?”

Further laughter followed; Angus heard more glasses clinking.

“Fa’s carin’ fit it looks like?” a woman’s voice could be heard asking,

“The point is it wis a much-needed consultation an’ construction job – an’ fit’s mair vibrant an’ dynamic than a few extra crisp Jane Austen’s in your wikkly brownie?”

“The £36 mil wis weel spent – Ah mean, it’s nae like ony o’ us or we’re faimilies will hae tae pey for it.”

“A shame it didna help like we thocht it wid though … tae push the £180 million revamp o’ thon gerdens, Ah mean that wis the original plan, wis it nae?”

“Ach weel, at least the gerdens are aa dug up noo; thon space-hoggin, unprofitable trees awa – well maist o’ them, an’ thankfully some shops are gan in. Mair consultation, mair construction, an’ … errr …. some mair goodies up for grabs an’ aa.”

“Mind, ‘at was richt sleekit o’ ye tae announce with nae prior warning that the gallery wid fa’ tae bits if it didna get a new roof an’ a new a’thin else. Weel done.”

“Aye, an’ thon lottery ticket sellin’ racket wis genius an’ aa.”

“Foo lang dis onybody think ess new buildin’ work will stan’ up? That windae better be water ticht, an’ let’s hope that despite fit it looks like, that box winna ivver cause ony funny stresses or load issues ower time.”

“But twa years owerdue – how’d ye sell ‘at tae the public again?”

“Get this.” A short balding man said.

“We got the P&J tae say – an’ Ah hae tae laugh – we were ower spent an’ owerdue because ‘We had to get it right!’”

The room erupted in laughter.

Just then the doors burst open and three people, looking a bit the worse for wear staggered in, arms over each others’ shoulders, singing.

“Here’s oor Wullie!” one of the revellers shouted.

“Aye, an’ the Alternative Night Time Manager sure seems tae hae livened him an’ Al up a bit, aye?

Angus guessed it must still be snowing, as the newly-arrived trio were covered in white powder. The conversations continued.

“So fylst the average mannie in the street says ‘oh fit a bonny buildin! ‘it’s won an award’ or ‘we get tae see a heap o’ local artwork’ an’ aa that crap, we get some tax write affs for donating tat, a wee thank you fae the commissioning an’ construction folk, AND…”

The voice paused for a moment

“An’ aa the priceless airtwork, siller an’ nick-nacks ye could ivver want or need tae decorate wi’, or use tae pad up yer retirement fund.”

An anxious woman’s voice was heard next

“But will fowk nae twig that it’s aa o’ us fa’s donating absolute rubbish? Will they nae catch on that the good stuff’s naewye tae be found?”

The man who’d just spoken answered her,

“Nah, nah, dinna worry yersel; hae anither scoof o’ bubbly. Aa the donations are anonymous – unless somebody’s gan for a big publicity stunt; an’ naebody’ll ivver ken fa donated aa thon auld muck.

“Efter aa, thon auld bits o’ auld crap, unsellt papers, broken thimbles an’ fit hiv ye, are of course – should onybody ask – IMPORTANT PIECES O’ OOR HERITAGE.

“Onybody says stuff’s gan missing? Weel: fa’s gan tae clipe? Certainly nae oor local papers – by the wye, gled tae see yiz aa here the nicht an’ hope yer likin’ yer Marischal Square offices. We were happy tae help ye get thon rent breaks an’ perks; fit’s a few mill between chums? The morn, Ah’ve some mair stories for ye tae rin, but the nicht’s a social occasion. Here’s tae us!”

“HERE’S TAE US!!” the room answered back.

As Angus slowly crept away he heard a voice:

“Love how the granite an’ marble looks in yer gerden; lucky for yersel it’s aff limits an’ yer nae subject tae ess right tae roam stuff like the rest o’ us, as befits a mannie in yer position….”

“Ye’ll be in the hoose o’ heroes afore lang; oor very ain king o hydrogen…”

“…chose affa weel indeed… nah, nae The Shamen – drug references, ye ken? The beer brewing fowk – nah, too critical o’ Donald an’ made a few ither controversial missteps as weel …. St Machar the founder? Nah, nae famous enough. If we’d brocht up Glover fowk micht start askin’ aboot eez hoose an’ its contents…. nae punk musicians obviously – that would hae a toxic effect… an’ certainly nae St Fittick…”

Angus decided not to tangle with this crew and silently backed away into the darkness of the museum.
Reaching his guard room again, he tried to make sense of what he’d just overheard. ‘Far’s tha instruction manual?’ he muttered, and finding it started to read.

Rules:
1. Ye see nithin, ye ken nithin
2. If summin’s wrang an’ ye want to report it tae the line manager, dinna!. Mind, ye’ve got a job an’ jobs are hard tae come by. The cooncil’s the biggest employer roon here.
3. If ye feel ye need tae report summin an’ canna trust yer line manager, jist tell the local papers. They’ll keep a lid on it for us. Better still, see Rule 1.
4. If ye can follae Rule 1, we’ll be sure ye get a nice pat on the heid fer daein fit yer tellt, ken fit ah mean?

However, the various drinks he’d had this evening were starting to make him feel woozy, so he reached for another one, and had a few swigs from a few bottles.

He was putting his head down as the loud voices seemed to go away.

He thought he heard the museum’s door shut, and soon it fell silent.

Angus went back to sleep, the words ‘hoose o’ heroes’ echoing in his mind.

Alas, Angus had only started this security job before the museum refit! The B.R. Premier Oil Lamp (now missing) was actually a magic lamp. When it had been in the museum, at midnight it’s magic brought ALL of the collection to life, kind of like that Ben Stiller series of films.

This included the (now missing) painting of the Gods on Olympus, 1798 by William Williams, including the (missing) Apollo and Daphne, also by Williams.

The architect who so carefully planned the Art Gallery, Mr Mackenzie, once roamed the halls when they were under construction shouting and screaming about his jewel being cannibalised and desecrated to the other gallery inhabitants when the magic lamp brought him to life; but he is heard no more.

The (missing) portrait of Sir Thomas More [sic] by Francesco Bartolozzi RA, After Hans Holbein, came to life and spoke with eloquent logic.

Back then the (now missing) Scottish Maid by an unknown master sat down to enjoy a (now missing) Still Life With Candlestick & Bread by Oskar Kokoschka with the handsome (now missing) James, Fifth Earl of Fife by Alexander Brodie.

Highland Cattle came out of (now missing) paintings and huge, beautiful artworks were filled with life.

During the day, some of that magic could be seen by visiting school children, some of whom might once have been inspired to make similar work. Some of these pieces could have provided historical information to artists, researchers and family historians. And heck, some people might just have enjoyed looking at these now missing windows on another world and time.

nasty glass-box architecture rose

But today no one will see their beauty or magic again: save the people who know where these and 1,577 items are that belonged to Aberdonians.

While this is a satire with no relation to anyone living or dead, should anyone in possession of stolen valuable, irreplaceable art taken from the public ever read these lines, may they encounter the karma they have earned.

As to those who were paid to protect the art that belongs to all of us, but whether by ignorance, negligence or deliberate acts stole, turned a blind eye or otherwise allowed this betrayal of trust, may such judases eventually get their karmic rewards too.

Anyone who knows where any of the missing 1,577 items are but who is keeping quiet is an accessory after the fact to theft. Time to unburden yourselves and fess up.

In Angus’ dreams hundreds of valuable portraits disappeared out of the museum into nowhere. Bits of old papers, bus tickets, broken biros were put in gilt frames in place of the fine art and hung on the gallery walls. And he dreamed people were in awe of the elevated rubbish because they were told it was art.

He dreamed that the things of real value in his beloved city were being stolen, bulldozed, built over, sold cheaply and cheap, nasty glass-box architecture rose over what was once a collection of historic, unique buildings.

He dreamed the land once loved by heroes and literal saints was now governed by incompetents, venal, greedy self-serving sneaks, egotistical ward- and attention-seeking narcissists and sex offenders.

He dreamed that the historic was written off as old-fashioned and the cheap, profiteering projects destroying the greenbelt and its wildlife, as well as the once-unique city scape, were hailed in a bought-and-paid for biased press as ‘vibrant’ ‘dynamic’ and ‘job-creating’.

He dreamed that same press had abandoned any pretence of journalistic independence, integrity and impartiality by taking millions from the taxpayer and were happy to mislead the public when it suited them if there was money in it.

Then Angus saw it was morning and that he wasn’t dreaming.

Angus decided he’d had enough. He picked a few causes to fight, some wrongs to try to right, and he set off to lobby, to investigate and to run for office.

He might not succeed, but he was going to try.

# # #

Follow up on the 2018 Christmas Satire ‘The Snowman’

The above video Aberdeen Voice satire covered some of the awful events of 2019 worldwide. There are at least two happy endings – the Russian caging of beluga whales is over, and the cages destroyed: public pressure did this.

And happily Donald J Trump is out of office and in court – many courts – and may soon be convicted of crimes.

Here’s to a little people power: just what Aberdeen needs. Elections are in May. You can still register to run.

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Aug 242021
 

When the granite stairs went temporarily missing from the custodianship of Aberdeen City Council and its contractor Balfour Beatty, questions arose over how the city looked after its valuable property. The conclusions are shocking. By Suzanne Kelly

Aberdeen City Council cannot say with certainty where 1,500 valuables in its possession are.

This information was acquired in response to a freedom of information request by Aberdeen Voice following the confusion over the whereabouts of the Victorian granite steps which are part of Union Terrace Gardens.

The request was to cover items in the Aberdeen Art Gallery, Town House including gifts from outside organisations, and in entities such as Provost Skene’s House.

The city responded as follows:

“Although c. 1500 items have a ‘missing’ status, we have assigned around 3100 items with temporary numbers; many of which have become disassociated from their accession number e.g. the label with the number has become separated from the object.

“It is highly likely that there is an overlap between these two categories and we will be able to reconcile in the future by undertaking research in to the extensive paper files pre-computerisation. The remaining temporary numbers are items stored in the buildings but not accessioned into the collections.

“Many of the ‘historical loss pre-TMS’ records refer to a ‘missing’ date of 2020. It is important to note that these items were missing before we began using TMS in 2002, however, their status was confirmed as ‘still missing’ in 2020 as data cleaning work was undertaken.

“A number of items have been recorded as ‘missing’ and requiring further investigation during the decant of the art gallery in 2015. As we were moving thousands of items between buildings we suspected an admin error occurred in the recording of blocks.”

The city is meant to supply, electronically is the preference, an inventory of the valuables in question, but they advise they are having difficulties with the spreadsheet.

The city said no insurance claims have been made in the past 5 years.

The request is on the ‘What Do They Know’ Freedom of Information request website, visible to any other reporters or newspapers that are interested in Aberdeen City Council, where the city’s reply was posted on 29 June.

What Do They Know helps anyone who wants to make FOI requests or look at existing FOI requests. They run on donations and can be found here https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/

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Nov 082019
 

Duncan Harley takes a tour of the newly refurbished Aberdeen Art Gallery

It rained and there was a bag search on the way in to the gallery space, but fortunately we had arrived late and there was no queue. The drenched security operatives cheerfully let me through since I had no bag and just a stick.
A cursory glance into my companion’s crowded handbag convinced them that she was no una-bomber and off we went to see the pictures.

It was day one of the re-opening of the newly refurbished Aberdeen Art Gallery and a tiny sense of foreboding clouded the event – the renovation had included the discovery of plague skeletons – there were 92 of them.

And the original quite splendid white-marbled staircase had it seems been consigned to the dustbin of history.

Clutching our, now soggy, Eventbrite passes we made our way into what might once have been a familiar space.

Various dog-tagged staffers welcomed us into the new space. Commemorative tin-badges were handed out and a quite splendid map detailing the various new gallery spaces immediately made clear that the old, and perhaps dowdy, gallery space had gone to that dusty place where such things go to die.

Seven years and £35m in the making, the new interior is quite breath-taking.

Where the staircase stood, there is now an open central space linking three floors.

Not an atrium in the true sense but not far off in terms of lighting, and acoustically splendid.

Opening morning was accented by a set of coloured musical notes titled ‘The Big Picture’. By Judith Weir – a formidable composer with Boston Symphony and various operas under her belt.

Conducted by John Horton and directed by Roger Williams, the celebratory piece, written specially for the opening of the gallery, took the form of a synaesthesia where listeners were invited to experience five colour-themed movements (Green, Blue, Gold, Red/White and finally Colour) in a cantata for two choirs plus an instrumental ensemble spread amongst the gallery floors.

The resulting sound experience was quite breath-taking, especially when heard for the very first time in a public space.

As Judith’s Big Picture gently reverberated around the building, we headed for the upper floor before making our way down the staircase and through the various new gallery spaces.

There are thankfully a few familiar images amongst the thousand or so exhibits. Eric Auld, Joseph Farquharson, Glasgow Boys and Monet feature. But in the main, the new space is full of new pleasures and a somewhat brave set of decisions.

Photography is allowed – and why should it not be. Accessibility has also been splendidly addressed and the artwork on display boldly embraces most tastes.

Tracey Emin vies with George and George. Martin Parr vies with the old masters who painted Finzean sheep and Victoria’s kilted Albert. And a multitude of previously unseen works inhabit the walls, Dick Turpin amongst them.

And the justice on the cake? The new gallery is free to enter and as often as you like. All we need now is an Aberdeen Museum.

  • Duncan Harley is author of two books about the North-east of Scotland. Both – The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire and The Little History of Aberdeenshire – are available from Amazon.
Oct 062017
 

With thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

A new exhibition of breath-taking contemporary Scottish photography explores our relationship with the ocean and the growing problem of marine pollution.
It highlights how this global problem impacts the environment right here in the N.E. of Scotland. Bibo Keeley’s exhibition takes inspiration from the oceans – and the worrying state they are in.

Bibo gives the background to her work:

An estimated 12.7 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year. Plastic does not bio-degrade, so it lingers in the ocean and it is killing animals and plants alike at an alarming rate. The natural order of things is seriously under threat.

The bad news is that our lives are closely connected with that of the ocean. For example: 50% of the oxygen we breathe and which regulates the climate is produced in the sea, mainly by plankton. However, according to The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society the plankton populations have been diminished by 40% since 1950. If the ocean dies, we all die.

Bibo said: ‘I have been visiting Aberdeen beach for about 20 years and I noticed that the amount of litter on the beach is on the increase. I started to document this with photography and I also travelled to other coastlines of Scotland to do the same. I found ocean litter on every single beach, no matter how remote – on the Isle of Lewis, on Skye, at Cape Wrath and on Orkney just to name a few.

The changes that the oceans make on our coastline are slow and almost imperceptible. In contrast, the negative impact on nature due to man’s interference is evident and happening with increasing speed. We – the population of planet earth – really need to slow down our negative impact on the environment.’

Bibo Keeley’s exhibition also includes:

– An installation of some of the beach litter which the artist collected from Aberdeen’s beaches.

– Videos (produced by artist Brian Keeley) showing Bibo Keeley’s personal connecting with the ocean; singing a love song to a dead seal , singing to a stranded oilrig,

– A video documenting Bibo Keeley’s recent participatory slow walking performance on Aberdeen Beach.

Bibo Keeley’s quote on the slow walking performance:

“When we slow down our breathing and our speed and manage to just be in the present moment, we can experience a shift in awareness – it’s a good way to connect with nature”

For Bibo’s slow walking performance, she was supported by Dr. Amy Bryzgel (art historian, author and senior lecturer in Film and Visual Culture at Aberdeen University) who participated in the walk along with the students of her Performance Art course. Dr. Bryzgel’s next lecture in Performance Art will take place in the exhibition space of Mother Ocean at Seventeen on Tuesday 3 October 2017 at 14.00.

Bibo invited the participants in her recent slow walking performance at Aberdeen Beach to have an inner dialogue with the ocean, or to think of ways in which they could reduce the use of unnecessary plastics in their lives; or to just relish the luxury of being allowed to take the time to slow down.

Imagine if every one of us felt so connected with the ocean that they made a conscious decision to help to save and restore the ocean”. – Bibo Keeley

 Dr. Bryzgel reflected on the performative walk on the gww (The George Washington Wilson Centre for Visual Culture) website about her experiences.

“it took us 90 minutes to walk what usually would have taken about 1-2 minutes at a normal pace ..… There was something really unifying about doing the performance together. For a brief moment, we became part of a community that shared something very unique.”

The exhibition ‘MOTHER OCEAN’ runs at Aberdeen’s Gallery Seventeen (Lower Gallery) from 3-7 October 2017.

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Apr 112017
 

By Fin Hall.

Nuart Aberdeen has finally arrived. A first for the city, sees a collection of street artists, organised by Aberdeen Inspired gather to paint, talk and show films etc over the Easter

Old and rarely used doors on the streets within the city centre, mainly around the Merchant Quarter, are being painted in different styles by different artists.

Among the artists participating in this current international project is Julien de Casabianca, a French/Corsican artist.

His Outgoing project features images of paintings in art galleries, often taken by members of the public on their phones, the main subject from said painting isolated via photoshop, then printed onto paper.

This paper is then pasted on buildings, walls etc in public spaces.

To this end various primary schools were invited to send a group of children to Aberdeen Museum Treasure Hub in Northfield, a building which stores many of the works of art that have been relocated from the Art Gallery during the refurbishment that is currently ongoing.

I was in invited by Aberdeen Inspired and NuArt to catalogue this process, working with Manor Park, Riverbank and Walker Road schools.

On arrival, the children were told what the general purpose of their visit would entail, before being split into two or three groups. I would stick with one of the groups each time. This took place on three Thursdays in March.

In the first part of their session, the children would be in an almost classroom like situation where they were given practically free rein to express themselves art wise.

They had a large wall mounted monitor complete with a white screen where they could copy images from the Art Gallery’s digital representation of the art works in it’s collection, or just draw whatever they wished; there were props and dressing up clothes so they could utilise and get their friends to take photos of themselves, or take selfies, with their iPads.

Also, there were word searches and sheets of A4 paper which had a pre-printed frame on, so they could draw whatever took their fancy. It was interesting to watch and see how they reacted and the choice they made. Some would throw themselves wholeheartedly into it, others just sat quietly and concentrated on drawing.

After about 45 minutes, the group I was with were taken through into the first of two storage rooms, with their iPads, to view and photograph the paintings, or rather, parts of paintings, be it a figure, an animal or something like a tree.

the youngsters had ever seen such paintings, and they were quite amazed

This room contained paintings of various sizes and from various eras, stored in racks which slid out when pulled. These works of art were paintings done on either canvas or or other fabrics, but not paper.

Some of the works they weren’t able to capture because they are still under copyright, or were covered in protective tape and plastic, but many others were available.

This was the first time that many of  and interested in them. I had to explain to them that they should concentrate on just part of a painting, and not fill their screen with the whole thing, some of which, as you can imagine were rather large.

After that they were led into a smaller room where paintings and drawings done on paper, were stored in drawers. Some of these drawers were already pulled out and at just the right height for the children to stand over, making sure that their device covers were either removed or held securely up, and snap until their hearts’ content.

The net result is that selected photographs the children have taken will be chosen to be the ones used by Julian to paste up in the East Green – an area other artists will be utilising, and where the official opening ceremony on Saturday 15th April will take place.

This part of he city already has several doors from the Painted Doors project already in situ. So it is the perfect location for the hub of the event.

Saying that, there will be several events taking place in the few days leading up to that. See the NuArt website for details.

All in all it was a pleasure to be involved with the schoolchildren.

The Treasure Hub is available for group and organisation tours. It is well worth visiting. So, this coming week get out and about in the city centre and see this unique event.

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Apr 072017
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

Youngsters from Aberdeen schools have delved into the city’s prestigious art collection to get inspiration for their special involvement in Nuart Aberdeen.
Pupils from Manor Park, Woodside, Riverbank, Seaton and Walker Road primary schools got the opportunity to explore a wide range of art at the Treasure Hub in Northfield, currently being kept in safe storage while the Aberdeen Art Gallery undergoes its multi-million pound redevelopment. 

The sessions were held as part of The Outings Project, a participatory public art project founded by the globally renowned artist Julian de Casabianca.

The artist, who is participating in the inaugural Nuart Aberdeen festival, will work with the youngsters to paste their selected characters at specific sites in Aberdeen city centre.

Pupils had the opportunity to examine a number of paintings from the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums Collections, from Portrait of a Lady (The Artist’s Wife) by William Dyce to La Perla de Triana by John Phillip, among others, choosing and photographing their favourite characters to share with the Aberdeen public.

They will then enlarge and paste them up in the city centre under the guidance of Julian, as well as in their own schools and neighbourhoods – getting the change to turn the streets into temporary art galleries during the festival, which is taking place from Friday April 14 to Sunday April 16.

The artworks that the children accessed for this project aren’t currently on display, giving the public a wonderful opportunity to enjoy them in a new way.

It is hoped that the project will help children feel involved in the festival, especially as their efforts will also be displayed in their local areas, as well as encourage new audiences to engage with the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums collection.

There are a number of fun ways for youngsters and families to get involved in Nuart Aberdeen including street printing and chalk drawing workshops, walking tours and an Easter Sunday Street Art hunt.

Nuart Aberdeen will officially open on Saturday April 15, when Herakut’s monumental mural on the façade of Aberdeen Market will be unveiled before the guided Street Art tours begin.

Local breakdance group Bring It Boys will perform a ‘Street Art’ inspired routine created especially for the event.

Also on Saturday, the street printing workshop with Berlin-based collective Raubdruckerin will teach participants how to transform old clothes with street inspired graphic designs from the area in and around Castlegate.

The Chalk Don’t Chalk workshop, being held on St Nicholas Centre’s Rooftop Garden on Sunday April 16, gives children of all ages the “freedom of the city” to create their own chalk street art pieces, with professional artists on hand to teach and guide children on their designs.

Belgian street artist Jaune has been busy hiding his mischievous bin men and women around Aberdeen city centre for the Easter Sunday Street Art hunt also on Sunday. Children can follow the hints provided to find six hidden artworks and win a special Easter Sunday prize.

Elaine Farquharson-Black, director at Aberdeen Inspired and partner at sponsor Burness Paull, said:

“It was wonderful to see the children enjoying the sessions at The Treasure Hub and getting so involved. Nuart Aberdeen is a legacy project for us and we are really looking forward to seeing their paste-ups in the city centre and their local communities.

“This particular project was the brainchild of Julian de Casabianca and it was intended for local children to feel ownership of these images. It is also hoped that they will bring their families to enjoy the Art Gallery when it re-opens in 2018/19 because it will feel, quite rightly, as if they are artists, in the same way as those displayed in our local art space are.

“We would like to extend our thanks to Aberdeen City Council for supporting school staff during these project, as well as community staff who will help with the next stage, and of course, the Aberdeen Art Gallery staff who facilitated the sessions at the Treasure Hub.

“There will be a range of fun events that youngsters and their families can take advantage of during Nuart Aberdeen and I would urge everyone to check out the programme and enjoy what is on offer.”

An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said:

“We are absolutely delighted that our schools and pupils are participating so enthusiastically in the latest festival offering in Aberdeen’s cultural calendar. We have placed a huge emphasis on culture and education and to bring the two together at the Treasure Hub and for the children to work with a globally renowned artist is absolutely fantastic.”

For more information on Nuart Aberdeen please visit http://www.nuartaberdeen.co.uk/

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute. Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and driving footfall to the zone.

More information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired is available at www.aberdeeninspired.com

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May 192016
 

artgallerypicBy Scott Shaw.

I was the longstanding Insurance Officer at Aberdeen City Council and had held that position for nearly 17 years. My main duties were the running of a small insurance section which handled all the councils insurance claims such as pavement slips/trips, road pothole claims, council motor fleet accident claims, fire and employers liability claims etc.

Part of my duties also involved liaising with council insurers over insurance issues/covers which also involved insurance tender work at 5 yearly intervals. I am a fully qualified associate of the Institute of Risk management.

During March 2012 I had very good reason for believing that wrongful activity was occurring on a key insurance policy used to insure the high value art collections of Aberdeen Art Gallery and this activity had been longstanding.

The value of the Art Gallery collections are huge and at March 2012 was £240 Million. I blew the whistle, which is more accurately defined as making a public interest disclosure under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. I was suspended immediately after doing so.

The wrongs concerned key insurance covers.

The disclosure activated the Councils Whistle Blowing Charter which fell under the responsibility of the former Head of Legal & Democratic Services and a formal investigation was conducted by the Councils internal auditors, Price Waterhouse Coopers.

I met with PWC on 25th June 2012 at PWC’s Aberdeen office where I presented further evidence regarding the wrongful conduct of the underwriting unit of the Councils insurers, Zurich Municipal.

The concern I raised was that a letter from the underwriters, in response to my request for clarification, presented information which was (to put it mildly) inconsistent with the terms of the actual active insurance policy in that it sought to reassure that theft was not limited to ‘forcible or violent entry to or exit from the premises’.

No such assurance is apparent in the pertinent section of the actual policy.

My suspension lasted an entire year which is incredible to say the least and at the end of that year I was dismissed and handed a PWC investigative report, the contents of which I considered to be inaccurate and in parts unfounded. This report was then used by the Council at Tribunal Court in Aberdeen where I firmly believe it misled a court and denied me fair judicial hearing.

The report was unfairly weighted against me and included what I consider to be inaccuracies with regard to the content of emails and time events. The most worrying aspect however, was the omission of the aforementioned letter from the underwriter, despite this having been examined by the report writer, which was key to my case.

The writer of the report was also allowed to destroy all the supporting e-mail documents he alleged to have examined in his report (thus removing an audit trail) which contravenes documentation retention surrounding fraud / whistle blowing investigations.

It has taken me literally thousands of hours and extensive use of the Freedom of Information statute to validate the disclosure and to expose the activities of PWC with regard to this matter. The covering up of wrongs is highlighted itself as being wrongful activity under the Protected Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

Based on all the evidence I have gathered and studied, it is apparent to me that, for decades, Aberdeen City Council had been diddled out of fire insurance cover on what is effectively the largest fire insurance risk north of Edinburgh.

If that was not bad enough this activity went right around the UK with Councils up and down the Country not having fire insurance cover on their high value art collections.

The FOI returns I have show that over 95% of UK Councils had inadequate fire cover.

There were other wrongs on the arrangement dating back to 2003 including wrongful activity in relation to specific covers including the important theft cover.

It took me over 2 years to produce a 160 page investigative report into the matter which validated the disclosure and on 9th November 2015 this report was presented to the Chief Executive Officer of Aberdeen City Council and the Deputy Provost who sits on the Councils Audit, Risk and Scrutiny Committee.

In late December I had managed to arrange a meeting to discuss the report and during this meeting (which included Councils Head of Legal ) the Deputy Provost suggested the Police should be notified due to the nature and historic matters concerning the insurance arrangement.

The months ticked by and after several prods and chase-ups, I received a nine line e-mail from the Council’s Legal Head and a four line letter from the Councils Chief Executive Officer declaring their satisfaction with the insurance arrangement and the Price Waterhouse Coopers report – this outcome being contrary to discussions at the meeting of 20th December 2015.

I have now taken the matter up with the head of complaints at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountants (Cipfa) who are the professional body of the PWC Senior Manager (who carried out the PWC investigation/report) and also the CEO of Aberdeen City Council. For any interested reader, Cipfa publish the findings of misconduct/ethics hearings on their web page which is www.Cipfa.org

A recent Freedom of Information enquiry I sent to all 32 Scottish Councils indicates that for PIDA whistle blowing cases in local government approx 70% find no wrongs.

It is my firm belief that this figure is far too high and likely to be due to extensive nullification/turning a blind eye/cover ups of said disclosures.

I have presented my case to members of the Scottish Parliament and requested that the Scottish Parliament look at the matter. This they failed to do back in 2013 when a Public Petition was raised in the Scottish Parliament specifically concerning possible cover ups of whistle blowing disclosures. This petition can be seen on www.scottish.parliament.uk under PE01488.

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Apr 082016
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

ABERDEEN ART GALLERY DRUM CASTLE

Griffin Coe, fine art curator at Aberdeen Art Gallery views Floorpiece, 1996 by Maureen Bell, Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections

Four centuries of art – from 17th Century paintings  to contemporary DVD installations – have been unveiled at Drum Castle in Aberdeenshire in its latest venture with Aberdeen Art Gallery.

The contrasting exhibition called Northern Lights shines a light on key works on loan from the city gallery while it remains closed for refurbishment.

And it’s hoped that Northern Lights will contribute to another dazzling year for the National Trust for Scotland property which saw visitor numbers grow by a quarter after launching its gallery space last year.

Dr Alison Burke, property manager of Drum Castle, says:

“I am delighted that the partnership between Aberdeen Art Gallery and the National Trust for Scotland has resulted in a second exhibition at Drum Castle. It is an honour to welcome this fascinating exhibition that includes four centuries of art within the historic environment of Drum Castle.

“Last year we did exceptionally well and saw a 24% increase in visitor numbers which means an increase in our income to help us conserve the castle and the estate, but it’s also about more people coming to Drum and finding out about Aberdeenshire’s oldest castle.

“Many visitors said they felt closer to the art in a domestic setting; they felt they could get up close and personal with the works. Other feedback was they liked the juxtaposition of viewing a contemporary collection in an historic location.

“The 2016 exhibition includes some of the most iconic works of Aberdeen Art Gallery and is called Northern Lights, themed around light and I think there is something for everybody.

“From historic art, we move on to influential art from the 20th Century, iconic works by Turner, McIntosh, DVD installations and scultpture; Drum is helping play a part in keeping these iconic works accessible to the public while Aberdeen Art Gallery is being refurbished.”

There are more than 30 paintings, sculptures and digital video including a new addition to the collection, Watercolour by Elizabeth Blackadder and works by Joseph Farquharson, Joan Eardley, John Byrne, John Bellany, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and SJ Peploe and the challenging performance work, Gralloch by Henry Coombes.

ABERDEEN ART GALLERY DRUM CASTLE

Skull portrait at Drum

Its launch comes as some of the castle’s own important art is back in place after undergoing restoration.

The Irvine family were staunch supporters of the Stuart cause, and the Jacobite portrait painter Cosmo Alexander collection at Drum has undergone a refurbishment, revealing a fresh face of ‘The Hidden Laird’ who hid in the tower to evade Government forces.

Alexander Irvine of Drum fought alongside Bonnie Prince Charlie at the Battle of Culloden, retreating to the castle after the battle and was hidden in the secret room within the walls of the ancient Tower by his sister Mary Irvine for  three years.

Aberdeen Art Gallery is due to reopen following a major refurbishment in the winter of 2017 and has shared its collections with venues across city and shire to ensure the public can continue to enjoy the works.

Northern Lights showcases many of the Gallery’s iconic paintings in addition to challenging, cutting-edge pieces of the 21st century, side by said, says Olga Ferguson, fine art curator at Aberdeen Art Gallery.

“The overarching theme is Scottish art and artists but each room has its own theme,” says Olga.

“A breadth of art is shown, both works by Scottish artists and those with a Scottish connection, in a display where modern art mingles with earlier, traditional paintings. Each room has its own individual variation upon a theme, subject or style which offers a snapshot of the story of art in Scotland.

“There are 30 works of art and the contemporary pieces in particular contrast with what one would normally expect to find in a National Trust for Scotland castle.”

Deputy Leader of Aberdeen City Council Councillor Marie Boulton added:

“It’s wonderful that while Aberdeen Art Gallery is closed as part of a multi-million pound redevelopment we continue to offer a programme of art and music to residents and visitors to the city, and indeed across the UK and abroad.  By working in partnership with the National Trust for Scotland we are able to offer visitors to Drum Castle the opportunity to see a selection of some of our most popular artwork in a wonderful new setting.”

Last year’s collaboration, an exhibition entitled Human Presence, helped generate increased footfall, with the castle welcoming 33,500 visitors.

The new curated exhibition continues at Drum until March 31, 2017.

Drum Castle is located 10 miles west of Aberdeen off the A93. The castle is set in extensive grounds with walks, picnic area, an historic rose garden, adventure play area, tearoom and shop. Normal castle admission charges apply.

For further information call 01330 700 335 or visit http://www.nts.org.uk/property/drum-castle-garden-and-estate/

 

 

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Jul 302015
 

Edinburgh based artist, Julia Douglas reveals blood shed behind creating ‘clothes peg dress’ on show at Drum Castle. With thanks to Esther Green, Tricker PR.

DRUM CASTLE ART EXHIBITION MARCH 2015

Highly Sprung by Julia Douglas is very much at home in the new exhibition space at Drum Castle. Pic: Newsline Media Ltd.

Castles have throughout history been places of bloody carnage and battles. Now an artist whose work is on show at a Scottish castle has revealed her own blood shed over creating the installation.

Julia Douglas’ Highly Sprung, a dress made out of 12,500 clothes pegs, is part of an exhibition of contemporary art in a newly created art gallery in Drum Castle in Aberdeenshire.

Creating the installation was a real labour of love for Julia, who spent long days over two months working on the project, the theme of which has become her signature style.

After breaking the pegs to separate the wood from the metal springs, she then linked the springs together to create the shape of the dress. It was an intricate but successful process and remarkably no glue, support or fastenings were needed to keep the dress structure in place.

Julia says:

“It was a very repetitive process, akin to knitting, but also just like housework, a job that you do over and over again. The process made my fingers bleed.”

But the blood shed was worth it as 15 years after its creation and Highly Sprung remains one of Julia’s personal favourites.

“All of my work revolves around the home and relationships we have with objects around the home; how they tell a story about the owners and their life,” she explains.

 “Highly Sprung is very much part of that theme, in fact this was the first one I did and I have continued with that theme ever since.”

Julia feels the homely setting of a country castle provides the ideal backdrop for the ‘Human Presence’ themed exhibition.

Around 20 key works from the permanent collection of Aberdeen Art Gallery have been loaned to the castle while the gallery undergoes a major refurbishment. Other works include Gallowgate Lard by Ken Currie, Restraining Coat 2 by Julie Roberts.

Julia says:

“I am absolutely delighted that Highly Sprung has been hung in this selected exhibition.

“I feel proud to have my work sit alongside prestigious artists like Alison Watt, Ken Currie, Gavin Turk and Julie Roberts, whose works I particularly admire.

“I feel that the domestic interior at Drum Castle, with its fireplaces, wooden panels and skirting boards, is an ideal location for an exhibition exploring human presence and hope that this different setting for the work will attract new viewers as well as inspire regular gallery goers.”

The Edinburgh-based textile and mixed media visual artist plans to take time out from her busy schedule to visit the exhibition at Drum soon.

Julia’s commitments include organising the Society of Scottish Artists’ Annual Exhibition of which she is co-ordinator. She also has plans to move to South West France and set up an artists’ retreat called Studio Faire and as a professional member of Visual Arts Scotland she will be creating new work for their upcoming annual exhibition.

Drum Castle is hosting the specially curated collection of modern art on loan from Aberdeen Art Gallery until March 2017. It is open Thursday-Monday from 11am-4 pm last entry and from October on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-4pm last entry. Situated on the A93, Drum Castle is 10 miles west of Aberdeen.

Apr 032015
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Tricker PR.

NEWSLINE MEDIA LIMITED

Dr Alison Burke, Drum Castle Property Manager with the haunting image ‘Gallowgate Lard’ by Ken Currie in the background.

The £30 million redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery has led to an innovative collaboration bringing contemporary art to an historic country castle.

The National Trust for Scotland’s Drum Castle at Drumoak, Aberdeenshire, is hosting key pieces of contemporary art from Aberdeen Art Gallery while the city centre attraction undergoes a major refurbishment.

Works from the city’s collection are being temporarily homed in a specially created gallery at the castle now open to the public  – part of a project to ensure works remain accessible to the public during the art gallery’s 18 month closure.

An area of the castle which has, until now, been unseen by the public has been specially adapted to host the works. The area, originally the castle’s long gallery, latterly the property manager’s accommodation, has been transformed into a museum-standard gallery and features more than 20 artworks on loan from the Aberdeen Art Gallery.

The curated selection is called ‘Human Presence’ and includes some of the gallery’s best known works, including ‘Gallowgate Lard’ by Ken Currie.

The exhibition will run for two years and complements the castle’s own artworks, including paintings by Joshua Reynolds and Henry Raeburn.

Drum Castle property manager Dr Alison Burke, said:

“When we found out that Aberdeen Art Gallery was going to be refurbished, and we were looking at developing a gallery space, we thought it would be amazing if we could bring some of the art work here.

“This is an exciting and innovative partnership. Drum dates back to 1323 and is one of the oldest intact castles in Scotland. Visitors can now take a journey from the art and artefacts of the old castle to our amazing new gallery with seminal artworks featuring mid to late 20th Century figurative painting and contemporary installation works on the theme of Human Presence.”

The Art Gallery redevelopment aims to transform Aberdeen Art Gallery and Cowdray Hall into a world class cultural centre, celebrating art and music in the North-east, and to provide a focal point for the creative industries and Aberdeen’s Cultural Quarter. The Art Gallery is due to reopen in 2017.

The partnership with Drum, alongside projects at Aberdeen’s Maritime and Tolbooth Museums, play a major part in keeping art in the public eye during the refurbishment works, says Deputy Leader of Aberdeen City Council Councillor Marie Boulton.

She adds:

“By partnership working we are ensuring that the city’s collection will remain accessible to the public during the redevelopment.

“Aberdeen Art Gallery staff working with the National Trust for Scotland have led to an exhibition being created, which will show work from the city’s collection in a specially created gallery at Drum Castle.

Among the highlights of the exhibition is ‘Highly Sprung’ by Julia Douglas, a dress made from 12,000 clothes peg springs; ‘Gallowgate Lard’, a ghost-like portrait by Ken Currie; and ‘Restraining Coat II (Female)’ by Julie Roberts, a painting which implies a human presence with no body in it.

Drum Castle is located 10 miles west of Aberdeen off the A93. The castle is set in extensive grounds with walks, picnic area, an historic rose garden, adventure play area, tearoom and shop. Normal castle admission charges apply.

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