Oct 112013
 

By Steve Cameron.
GBHall1

The parish of Glenbuchat lies north west from the River Don, between Glenkindie and Strathdon. In the 19th century its population peaked at around 570 people who had ‘a strong sense of identity and fostered a powerful social spirit’.

Community activities included an annual highland games and picnic, St Peters Fair, a Literary Society, a Mutual Improvement Society, and Glenbucket Male and Female Friendly Society providing support for members falling on hard times.

At some point in the last 200 years the name started to appear in records as Glenbuchat. The Glen was proud of its tradition of ballads and violin and pipe music.

Towards the end of the 19th century, by which time the parish population had fallen to around 400, the people of the glen felt a need for a building in which to hold meetings and social events. Raising funds was not easy, but eventually the hall was built by public subscription, with donations received from the Laird, who also donated the land, and the shooting tenant.

The opening bazaar took place in September 1899. From that time until the First World War the hall was used regularly for a range of educational, training and social activities and events.

During and following the war, activities and fundraising dropped dramatically, and the building showed signs of wear and tear. Thanks to donations from the Women’s Rural Institute the hall was repaired and refurbished in 1924. It is likely that activities continued as before, but no record survives from this period.

Glenbuchat2At the end of the Second World War fresh efforts were made to put the hall back into use and to carry out necessary works. However, it took nine years to raise sufficient funds to add lavatories to the building. From 1946 to 1962 there were regular activities, with many fundraisers for various good causes.

The latter part of the 20th century saw the population dwindle to fewer than 100, and activities in the hall diminish as social change saw less demand for the activities on offer.

By the end of the century, the building once again looked shabby.

Fortunately, a small group continued managing the hall and the Millenium ‘stirred old feelings of public responsibility for the hall …for community activity’

In 2005, the Glenbuchat Hall Community Association was formed to support the hall and activities.  The Objects of the Association were to

  • secure the establishment, maintenance and management of the Hall.
  • promote and maintain the traditions and culture of the Glen.
  • benefit the inhabitants of Glenbuchat and surrounding district.
  • associate with inhabitants, local authorities and voluntary organisations in a common effort to advance education and leisure with the purpose of improving the lives of the said inhabitants.
  • act as a focal point for environmental matters concerning the Glen

In 2007, around thirty residents gathered for two working weekends to undertake refurbishment and temporary repairs. In the last decade, the programme of social events throughout the year has grown, with current annual footfall estimated as more than 2500.

In 2010, the Association undertook a public consultation, which identified an aspiration to sustain the hall for future use, including adult education, a focus on environmental issues, wider access to the surrounding environment, increased arts and recreation facilities, development of a heritage group, and increased availability of the hall to other organisations. From this the Glenbuchat Hall Community Hub project developed.

HallCraigton1Thanks to considerable local fundraising, and generous grants from a number of bodies, the Association has installed air-to-air heat exchanger heating and has refurbished the hall with new toilets, disabled access and a kitchen.

The Association is developing an outbuilding as an additional smaller meeting room or entertainment space. When completed, it will be made available to selected organisations as a base for accessing the locality.

In 2013, the Association has hosted a community hall re-opening party, a film night and music events including the Cairngorm Ceilidh Trail where young musicians can develop and perform. There’s been a wedding reception, a private party, and the hall has acted as a major venue for North East Open Studios (NEOS) arts fortnight. It’s also the focal point of the community for Hogmanay celebrations and has been used for Burns suppers in the past. A Sound Festival collaborative project Framed Against the Sky used the hall as one of its venues.

Currently the Association has appointed installation artist Gill Russell as artist-in-residence for three months. We have had some fantastic musicians on our stage including Catford, As The Crow Flies and recently Son Al Son, an exciting collaboration between Cuban and Scottish musicians making fantastic salsa music.

Current plans include developing the programme of music events, including touring traditional music acts and contemporary music. Plans are afoot for a festival to celebrate the fiddle music of Alexander Walker 150 years after its original publication.

Future visiting acts will include The Locust Honey String Band on 4 Nov and an exciting trio comprising  Leah Abramson, Rayna Gelert and, from Petunia and the Vipers, Patrick Metzger, on 17 March.

Glenbuchat1Fresh from outstanding reviews at last year’s Celtic Connections The Dardanelles will be appearing on 23 April.On 16 May we have one of the finest American roots music acts around with Cahalen Morrison & Eli West, reviewed twice previously in Aberdeen Voice.

Although building works ruled out a spring fair this year, this very popular event will no doubt return in 2014.  The Heritage Society is formed and is planning a range of activities, and the Association hopes to follow the current artist in residence programme with further residencies.

All of this demonstrates how we are attempting to reach out to the wider community.

Community halls throughout the country face difficult times but in rural locations they are a precious resource. In Glenbuchat we are fortunate to have the hall as a focal point for community activity and  hope we can continue to engage both the local and wider community. That ‘strong sense of identity and powerful social spirit’ described in the opening paragraph lives on in Glenbuchat!

Associated Links:

Sep 012013
 

With his Martin Stephenson-produced album Working Man’s Dream (Pictish Pop Records) on release and its Easter Ross blue collar honesty being well-received by critics, Davy Cowan was kind enough to take time off from creativity and promo to talk to Voice’s David Innes.

Davy Cowan 168a‘Home’ sounds very questing and personal. Can you enlighten us a little?

“It’s more about a feeling or a kind of longing for something familiar rather than an actual place. My father passed away two years ago and  it made me think a lot about life in general, about the meaning of life, our reason for being here and what purpose we have as people. I think it’s about an ongoing search, about finding your roots and spiritual identity.”

So, is ‘Town That I Love’ about Dingwall or Invergordon, or is it one of these ‘everyman’ songs about returning home?

“I suppose this song was inspired by all the different and colourful characters that seem to exist in every town. It looks at all the day-to-day things that go on – doing the shopping, avoiding the traffic warden and dodging the gossip from the local fishwives. So yes, it’s about where I come from and live, but I suppose it’s relevant to most people’s home town. It’s much the same everywhere, I imagine.”

The Yobs was your first band. Very punk! Do those no-frills influences and that youthful energy still find their way into your songs?

“I like to think so. I still feel as passionate today when I find a hook, a lyric or a riff on the guitar as I did the first time I saw Stiff Little Fingers play at the Ice Rink in Inverness back in the early 80’s.

“It’s the whole spirit that punk rock created that made it so exciting, I think it was a natural progression from artists way before that, like Willie Nelson, Neil  Young, Bob Marley, Dylan and Bowie. You can hear it in their music – they all had that same energy and drive. Punk was the catalyst that made everyone feel they could be part of something special, whether or not you could play an instrument.”

Your Celtic band Coinneach seems to have been a big part of your life. What are your favourite memories from touring with them?

Davy Cowan 168b“The old Ford Transit mini bus which we converted into our own little tour bus….catching the overnight ferry from Newcastle to Holland.

“We toured all over Holland, Germany, France and Belgium, had some amazing experiences, we saw some beautiful places and met all kinds of weird and wonderful people, forging some great friendships and alliances with people, most of which are still ongoing today. 

“We really did have some magical mystery tours in those days!

“Our last gig back in 2004, at the Hogmanay party in Union Street Aberdeen with Hue & Cry and Deacon Blue, playing to around 4000 revellers is something I’ll never forget. It was a great way to bring that whole band chapter of our lives to a momentous conclusion.”

Tell me about working with Martin Stephenson – what did he get out of you as a producer that you might not have expected from yourself?

“Martin has this uncanny knack of getting the best out of you anyway. He seems to feed directly into the creative stream and encourages the artistic side to emerge from a song. He put me through my paces vocally. I think that if you’re used to playing in loud environments over the years you tend to shout over the top of the noise to have your voice heard.

“Martin helped me find my true voice from deeper within, almost like re-learning my whole singing technique. I really think I would have struggled to find that if it wasn’t for Mr Stephenson.”

When can the NE public expect to see you play live here?

“It’s been a while since I played the NE. I’m thinking about doing a series of busking tours around major UK cities to promote Working Man’s Dream. My idea is to busk outside major venues in each city, for example The Royal Albert Hall in London, The Royal Concert Hall,  Glasgow and of course The Music Hall Aberdeen! The idea is to take the music to the people on the street.

“I’ll be outside the Music Hall in Aberdeen at 3pm this Tuesday (3 September) for a trial run!”

You have the choice of all the leading musicians, alive or not, to back you for a one-off gig – who will be in the Davy Cowan Fantasy Big Band?

“Oh now, that’s a difficult one.

“OK, this might sound a bit disjointed but here goes.

“Keith Moon on drums, Lee Rocker from The Stray Cats on upright bass, Jools on piano, Hank Williams  and Emmylou Harris on backing vocals, Martin Stephenson on the washboard, Joe Strummer on rhythm guitar, Nigel Kennedy on fiddle and Gerry Jablonski on lead guitar. Oh, and not to forget Old Lizzie from The Gellions in Inverness on percussion. How does that sound?

“But I suppose for just now I’ll just keep plugging away on my solo mission and as long as I can keep writing and keep enjoying the music, I can’t think of any better way of spending the rest my working life. Onwards and upwards!”

Thanks to Davy for his input and to Donna and Mr Martin G Stephenson himself for their assistance.

Accompanying the promo copy of Working Man’s Dream was a most unusual and welcome personal letter from the head Daintee himself, outlining his vision for his Barbaraville label/collective in which he reveals, that he’s created the label ‘…to try to help support artists who I feel should be heard beyond the village’. Music to these ears. Go buddy go!

The Boat To Bolivia tour gig at The Venue in 1986 will live long in the memory of anyone who was there. Respect, Martin.

We have a review copy of Working Man’s Dream and a review is imminent.

If you’re in the city centre on Tuesday afternoon, pop along to hear Davy and to offer him encouragement.

www.davycowan.com
www.daintees.co.uk/barbaraville

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Aug 162012
 

As another demolition threat looms over Union Street’s once great Capitol, new Aberdeen Voice writer Murray Henderson looks at the fortunes of Aberdeen’s slumbering star of the silver screen.

“Aberdeen’s most prestigious cinema.  Its facade is of classical proportion. In the centre, soaring above the entrance is a simple pediment, which originally carried the name “Capitol” in neon letters. Inside, grand staircases swept up to the lofty circle and stalls foyers.  In the auditorium was the great Compton Organ, whilst Holophane lighting glowed seductively.  The Capitol is unique, an outstanding building which deserves a full restoration.”1

– The Theatres Trust.

The Capitol Cinema once captivated Aberdonians with the latest movies and an Art-Deco interior direct from a Hollywood set.

It is one of the few remaining ‘super cinemas’ from the pre-war boom, akin to the Brixton Academy or the Edinburgh Playhouse.

Though the last film was shown in the 1960s, the Capitol continued to host rock concerts2 as late as 1998.

A hammer blow to the Capitol came in 2002 with the arrival of Chicago Rock/Jumping Jacks and their proposal for two separate nightclubs.  

Despite public objection, Historic Scotland backed the plans and the council voted in their favour,3,4 enabling sweeping modifications to be made to the building.

The auditorium was split horizontally in two and an all new identity, which destroyed much of the original character, was imposed.  The Theatres Trust condemned the alterations as “brutal” and “a disgraceful failure of the historic building control system,” comparable only to one other in the UK, the Philharmonic Hall in Cardiff.5

In 2009, the Chicago Rock/Jumping Jacks owners entered receivership and the clubs were closed.  The credit crunch, the smoking ban and cheap supermarket alcohol were cited as reasons for their demise.2  In 2010 another planning application was submitted for full demolition of the Capitol’s auditorium and an eight storey hotel and office development being built in its place.  The plan was granted approval though never implemented.

As details emerge about the new proposals, the future of the Capitol is once again in the hands of developers and a city council which believes there is neither the money nor the public demand for its restoration.2

According to the British Film Institute (BFI), this story is common across the UK.  Traditional cinemas have been unable to compete with the multiplexes and their closures have contributed to the decline of many city centres.  The BFI attributes this to the multiplex’s larger screen size, improved sound quality, better choice of films and greater all-round convenience.

But typically, their design is uniform and unadventurous, with many resembling industrial warehouses.  Inside, multiplex auditoria are bland, blank voids, utilising the ‘black box’ concept in which the viewer has the least possible distraction from the screen.6

Despite the dominance of multiplexes, there are pockets of resistance.  The old mining town of Bo’ness had, in the dilapidated ‘Hippodrome’, Scotland’s first purpose-built cinema.  After languishing in a state of neglect for 30 years, the cinema was recently restored in spectacular style and this year proudly celebrated its centenary.

According to the Theatres Trust, community stewardship is often a theatre’s best chance of salvation.  However, this takes hard work, dedication, and significant funding, which can come from grants or philanthropic sources.  If the theatre is saved, the hard work continues in maintaining a programme of events and ensuring it is financially viable.7

This model is driving another success story in Glasgow in the Britannia Panopticon, the oldest surviving Music Hall in Britain, which at one time also functioned as a cinema.  With members of the public as curators, a charitable trust has been set up with the goal of full restoration.  Regular shows have resumed and the importance of the building is now being realised by the wider public.8

These examples show that a niche does exist for cinemas like the Capitol. Their distinctive architecture gives a true sense of theatre befitting the drama on screen which the drab, corporate, multiplex cannot rival.  Their survival depends not only on the extent of historical alterations made to them but, perhaps more importantly, on how much they are valued by the public and city councils, as part of our heritage.

It is clear that in its current situation, the Capitol Cinema has a considerable mountain to climb if it is to join the Hippodrome, or the Britannia.  But cinema’s greatest stars do have the habit of making the most unlikely comebacks.  In the Capitol’s case, the show is not over until the curtain comes down.

References        

  1. Theatres Trust “Guide to British Theatres 1750-1950”
  2. Aberdeen Council Planning Decision Notice for Application, Ref: P101757
  3. Aberdeen City Planning Committee Minutes 18th April, 2002.
  4. Aberdeen City Council Meeting Minutes Town House, 1st May, 2002.
  5.  www.theatrestrust.org.uk
  6. British Film Institute Website
  7. email correspondence with The Theatres Trust.
  8. email correspondence with the Britannia Panoptican Music Hall.
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Feb 242012
 

By Mike Shepherd.

The polling cards are out for the Union Terrace Gardens referendum and you have until March 1 to vote. The hype means you’ll have been bombarded with leaflets, pamphlets, news items and radio adverts.
If ‘connectivity’, a ‘21st century contemporary garden’, or ‘street-level access’ are key factors in deciding your vote, look no further; vote for the City Garden Project.

If you are undecided or swithering then read these very good reasons for voting to retain Union Terrace Gardens. 

1. Your vote will preserve the look and feel of the Granite City. Union Terrace Gardens are an integral part of the heritage of Aberdeen. Planned by the same architects who designed the Art Gallery and the frontage of Marischal College, they show an architectural harmony in the city centre which would be destroyed by a modernistic City Garden.

2. Your vote will not result in a ghastly modern structure replacing our park. Although described as the City Garden, it is in fact a mixture of buildings, flyovers, underpasses and parkland. The design has a passing resemblance to 1960s-style new town architecture. At one public meeting, someone said that the underpasses in particular were likely to end up as urban no-go areas. I have even heard a supporter of the scheme conceding that it will look dated after about five to ten years.

3. Your vote will stop a multitude of new glass box office blocks being built in the city centre. Council documents show that consideration has been given to plans to build a central business district in the city centre and encourage office block construction. The building of the City Garden Project, “will encourage development in the city centre sooner, and on a bigger scale, than might otherwise be the case without public investment in enabling infrastructure.”

4. Your vote will improve our much-loved park. Jimmy Milne, oilman and MD of Balmoral Group, has said:

“I and many of my business contemporaries, are committed to establishing a fund which will help bring the gardens back to their former glory. Without destroying our heritage, and without putting Aberdeen City further into debt, it would not be difficult to breathe fresh life into the park. Improved access, new planting, cleaning and restoration, park wardens and live events could all be relatively easily and cost effectively achieved.”

5. Your vote will ensure that the mature trees in Union Terrace Gardens will be saved. All 77 trees will be kept, including the twelve elms, some of which are at least 200 years old.

6. Your vote will stop our Council borrowing £70m they can’t afford. Aberdeen City Council, £562m in debt, is being asked to borrow £70m through a risky tax scheme to help fund the City Garden Project. If there is insufficient money to pay back the loan, Council funds will be required to service it.

7. Your vote will avoid significant disruption and pollution in the city centre for the near three years it will take to build the scheme. The technical feasibility study for the project estimates that the equivalent of 3,947 dump trucks of earth and 4,605 dump trucks of granite will be excavated from the Gardens causing ‘large environmental impacts from noise, transport, dust and energy use.’

8. Your vote will avoid the major traffic problems caused by the movement of heavy lifting equipment, dumper trucks and lorries in and out of the city centre. It is estimated that the City Garden will take almost three years to build. It is likely that there will be major traffic problems in the city for much of this time. City centre business will be impacted by this and may never recover.

9. Your vote will avoid much, if not all, of the Council’s cultural activities being displaced to the underground building in the City Garden. The council funds institutions occupying cosy, intimate venues such as the Music Hall, Lemon Tree and Belmont Cinema. A review of council-funded cultural activities will be made with a view to possible relocation to the underground concourse.

10. Your vote will avoid any consideration that the future of the HM Theatre could be in doubt. Two major performance venues will be built in the City Garden only yards from HM Theatre. Councillors have asked if this will have an impact on the future of HM Theatre. No specific assurances have been given.

Aberdeen could change forever if the City Garden is built, and probably not for the better.

We have the chance to keep the leafy, green heart of the Granite City. 

VOTE: RETAIN UNION TERRACE GARDENS

Feb 172012
 

Last Saturday, 58 members of The Aberdeen Chorus of Sweet Adelines headed south to Edinburgh to take part in their second audition for this year’s version of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. With thanks to Linda Allan.

Having had very positive feedback from some of the programme’s producers in the first audition in the autumn,  the ladies were ready to brave the “fearsome 4” judges as well as a live audience in the magnificent Festival Hall.

The Chorus added some more polish to the ballad “At Last” and donned their “Black and Sparkle”  ( some of the visitors to the Kinross Service Station car park will never be the same again!).

The day passed in the Festival Hall with photo and video shoots, interviews, warm ups, run-throughs, wee glimpses into the Hall at some of the other acts, lots of chat, and endless trips to the facilities to check apparel and make-up – all of this punctuated regularly by the most awful foghorn sound of the dreaded buzzer bursting through from the stage.

As the day wore on and the programme schedule slipped further and further behind, it became quite clear that this Chorus was not going to see the Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen again till well into the “wee sma’ oors” – about 3:30am for some of the ladies!!  Never mind – more time to eat another snack, have another photo shoot on the staircase – and watch some performing dogs being interviewed and getting their costumes put on for their act.

There was time too to serenade the (very enthusiastic) public at audience change-over times with some Chorus songs.  It has to be said that the BGT crew members and Festival Hall staff were extremely pleasant, helpful, positive and encouraging, despite what must have been an extremely stressful day for them too.

A visit from the very pleasant and charming Ant and Dec added to the excitement

Then – at last – the intrepid songsters were escorted down endless flights of stairs, along miles of corridors, past mounds of cables and whole forests of cameras and microphones till arriving behind the curtain of the big stage where acts, comments from the judges and the scary buzzer could clearly be heard.

There they stood in excitement for – ages – along with a flea circus, 4 lycra-clad Scottish pipers in rather dubious pink, blue, and green all-in-one skin tight costumes, a very nervous singer experimenting rather gingerly with a microphone, and some curiously clad individuals with strange accents and weird instruments.

A visit from the very pleasant and charming Ant and Dec added to the excitement, as in between various stages of their duties, they ran the gauntlet of the rows of waiting ladies “high-fiving” as they went!  There was also to be more chat and filming with the duo just before going on stage, and later on some of the ladies of the chorus were able to pose with them for photos and autographs at the stage door.

So then – at last (again)- the culmination of the day – an entry on stage to a packed auditorium and the ‘fearsome 4’. There was some further filming, with some questions from the judges to the Director of the Chorus Gwen Topp and the Chorus President Debbie Pern, and then the ballad “At Last”.All judges acknowledged the technical expertise of the Chorus, and the polish and quality of the singing

So how did it go?  The Chorus sang extremely well. One judge liked the Chorus, 2 judges liked the song “At Last”. One judge commented on the lovely involved faces.  All judges acknowledged the technical expertise of the Chorus, and the polish and quality of the singing. In the end two voted for the Chorus to go through, and two voted against.

  As with everything the Chorus undertakes there are valuable opportunities for learning.

Because the judge who had the casting vote in a tie-breaking situation had voted against the Chorus and had in fact used the buzzer, the Chorus will not be going through to the next stage. The genre of music, in which the Chorus excels, was unfortunately simply not to their liking. They simply did not get it!

How does the Chorus feel?  As with everything the Chorus undertakes there are valuable opportunities for learning.  The experience gained from the preparation for the event, the process of being involved in performing at such a big event and dealing with uncertain procedures and ever-changing timelines is very valuable for any performer, and plays an important part in developing performing skills.  Listen, learn, and move on!

What now??  The Chorus will continue to work for the next important events in its calendar, including visits from international coaches and preparation for the annual competition in May in Birmingham.

Tribute must be paid to GwenTopp, Chorus Director and Debbie, Chorus President, for their work both in preparation for the event and also for their magnificent handling of interview questions at the various sections of the day.

Both succeeded in giving heart-felt, eloquent responses which went a long way to promoting not only the Aberdeen Chorus and The World Wide Organisation of Sweet Adelines, but also the value of singing in a group as great fun, a wonderful hobby, a promoter of well-being and a source of support and friendship to those who take part. This message has the potential of reaching many thousands of people, should the clips be televised.

Oct 142011
 

With thanks to Kylie Roux.

Exhibitions:

The Black And White Show – Various Artists
Preview Friday 9 September, 6 – 8pm, all welcome!

A monochromatic medley of prints. Enzo Mari, Mike Giant, Scottie Wilson, John Byrne, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Donald Urquhart, Adam Bridgland, David Shrigley, Kenny Hunter, Rob Churm, John Bellany, Jock Mooney, Shepard Fairey and Alan Davie. Not to be missed.
Exhibition runs 10 September – 22 October 2011

Inchoate Landscapes – Toby Paterson
Preview Friday 9 September, 6 – 8pm, all welcome!
Toby Paterson’s Inchoate Landscapes draws around his newly completed suite of seven prints, creating an exhibition that sets them in the broader context of his practice and interest in the built environment.
Exhibition runs 10 September – 22 October 2011

Events:

Peacock @ Multiplied Art Fair, London
Friday 14 – Monday 18 October –  Christie’s South Kensington, London 

Peacock are one of only 40 galleries from around the world that are going to be exhibiting at this the UK’s first and only fair devoted exclusively to Contemporary Art in Editions, Multiplied Art Fair at Christie’sPeacock will be showcasing Inchoate Landscapes, a new seven-piece suite of prints by award winning artist Toby Paterson, as well as works by Kenny Hunter, Donald Urquhart and Adam Bridgland all recently completed in our printmaking workshops. 
Opening Hours –  Fri & Mon 9am-5pm, Sat & Sun 11am-6pm.

FREE entry – all welcome!

IMP Presents SOUND @ PVA
Fri 28 – Sun 30 October (Fri 7.30 – 11pm, Sat and Sun 3.30 – 11pm)

A festival within a festival. Not so much boutique as ‘guest house’.

Some of the best new music in Scotland (and some from further afield) over 3 days in the intimate surroundings of our gallery.  
Tickets available from One-Up Records (01224 642662)
& Aberdeen Box Office 01224 641122/ 
boxofficeaberdeen.com

Hurricane Lamb at Duff House
Ongoing until  31 October at Duff House, Banff.

Hurricane Lamb is a collaborative project from Gray’s School of Art (RGU) and Peacock Visual Arts. Inspired by Duff House and its history, the exhibition features new work by Michael Agnew, Andrew Cranston, David McCracken, Georgia Russell, Lennox Dunbar, Paul Housley, and Donald Urquhart.
Exhibition runs until 31 October 2011

 Get Creative:

Peacock VIsual Arts – Summer Animation Classes
October 12, 19 | 10 – 4pm | age 10+ | £35/session

Ever wondered how Wallace and Gromit move? Or what makes Pingu go?
Well this summer we’re planning some animation workshops to show you just that!
Each class is £35 and a one off – but if you’re keen to keep coming back, you’re more than welcome to book on as many as you like!
Call 01224 639539 for more information or to book a place.

Open Submissions – The Winter Exhibition at PVA
It’s back! After a 2 year break, we would once again like to invite artists to submit work for the Christmas show. Previous years proved to be hugely popular, attracting many visitors and making it is a fantastic opportunity to have your work seen. And this year there are prizes on offer so even more reason to submit. Visit www.peacockvisualarts.com for more details.
Submission deadline Saturday 5 November 2011

Note: Aberdeen Voice updates Peacock info periodically, but there may be recently added events not included in this post. Please contact Peacock direct for the latest information.

Peacock Visual Arts
21 Castle Street
Aberdeen
AB11 5BQ
Tel: 01224 639539
Mob: 07947 490626
Oct 092011
 

By Alex Mitchell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Deco-influenced buildings in Aberdeen are:

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

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

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

The 1930s Medical School at Foresterhill.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contributed by Alex Mitchell.

Sep 122011
 

With thanks to Kylie Roux.

Exhibitions:

The Black And White Show – Various Artists
Preview Friday 9 September, 6 – 8pm, all welcome!

A monochromatic medley of prints. Enzo Mari, Mike Giant, Scottie Wilson, John Byrne, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Donald Urquhart, Adam Bridgland, David Shrigley, Kenny Hunter, Rob Churm, John Bellany, Jock Mooney, Shepard Fairey and Alan Davie. Not to be missed.
Exhibition runs 10 September – 22 October 2011

Inchoate Landscapes – Toby Paterson
Preview Friday 9 September, 6 – 8pm, all welcome!
Toby Paterson’s Inchoate Landscapes draws around his newly completed suite of seven prints, creating an exhibition that sets them in the broader context of his practice and interest in the built environment.
Exhibition runs 10 September – 22 October 2011

Events:

Hurricane Lamb at Duff House
Ongoing until  31 October at Duff House, Banff.

Hurricane Lamb is a collaborative project from Gray’s School of Art (RGU) and Peacock Visual Arts. Inspired by Duff House and its history, the exhibition features new work by Michael Agnew, Andrew Cranston, David McCracken, Georgia Russell, Lennox Dunbar, Paul Housley, and Donald Urquhart.
Exhibition runs until 31 October 2011  

Get Creative:

Peacock VIsual Arts – Summer Animation Classes
October 12, 19 | 10 – 4pm | age 10+ | £35/session

Ever wondered how Wallace and Gromit move? Or what makes Pingu go?
Well this summer we’re planning some animation workshops to show you just that! Each class is £35 and a one off – but if you’re keen to keep coming back, you’re more than welcome to book on as many as you like!
Call 01224 639539 for more information or to book a place.

Open Submissions – The Winter Exhibition at PVA
It’s back! After a 2 year break, we would once again like to invite artists to submit work for the Christmas show. Previous years proved to be hugely popular, attracting many visitors and making it is a fantastic opportunity to have your work seen. And this year there are prizes on offer so even more reason to submit. Visit www.peacockvisualarts.com for more details.
Submission deadline Saturday 5 November 2011
Etching Weekend Workshop
17 + 18 September | 10 – 4.30pm | £130/95 conc.

Learn the techniques and processes involved in the traditional art of etching. No experience required.
Call 01224 639539 for more information and to book a place.

Bookbinding Weekend Workshop
24 + 25 September | 10 – 4.30pm | £130/95 conc.

Learn how to create your own hand-crafted notebooks and journals that make colourful and unusual gifts. No experience required.
Call 01224 639539 for more information and to book a place.

Note: Aberdeen voice updates Peacock info periodically, but there may be recently added events not included in this post. Please contact Peacock direct for the latest information

Peacock Visual Arts
21 Castle Street
Aberdeen
AB11 5BQ
Tel: 01224 639539
Mob: 07947 490626
Sep 082011
 

With Thanks to Dave Macdermid.

In conjunction with this year’s Enchanted Castle event at Crathes Castle, which will run from Wednesday 23rd to Sunday 27th November, there are a number of fantastic prizes up for grabs in a new digital photography competition which is launched today. The competition is open to two age groups, namely 15 and under, and 16 and over.
You can enter both competitions online, via a link on Carlton Resource Solutions Ltd’s website at www.carltonrs.com/castle  and all entries for both categories will be visible so entrants can weigh up their competition!

The theme of the competition is ‘The North East’s Natural Beauty’ and, as Gerry Muldoon from EC organisers GM Events outlines, this can encompass a wide range of subject matter.

“Entries can be anything from landscape shots to wildlife or even the sky at night, the only prerequisite being that the image can be sent digitally.

“The winners will be  selected by Logan Sangster of Deeside Photographics in early November. 

The photographs will be on display throughout the five days of the Enchanted Castle at the Milton Gallery in Crathes and at Crathes Restaurant.  Huge thanks are due to recruitment specialist, Carlton Resource Solutions Ltd, the lead sponsor of the Enchanted Castle, for co-ordinating the photo competition and also to the organisations that have donated fantastic prizes for the winners.” 

Prizes for the senior competition include a family meal at The Milton Restaurant, an overnight stay at the Raemoir House Hotel and a £250 voucher for Deeside Photographics for a full family portrait.

The  organisers hope to see local schools getting involved and for everyone to delight in the region’s top photography talent and share their entries with their friends and family. Among the prizes for the junior competition is a new digital camera, courtesy of GM Events and family membership to the National Trust for Scotland.

The Enchanted Castle event itself will see the grounds of Crathes Castle transformed thanks to cutting edge light and sound technology and stunning choreographed effects, moods and backdrops that will be a ‘must’ for family members of all ages. 

An evening walk will take place in a truly magical ambience, and a host of complementary, themed attractions including storytelling sessions, fire breathers and jugglers, magicians and children’s enchanted craft activities, will all add much to the magical experience.

Tickets for the November event are now on sale at:
Aberdeen Box Office,
Music Hall,
Union Street,
Tel 01224 641122
www.boxofficeaberdeen.com
– and at:
www.nts.org.uk

Inclusive tickets for all the attractions cost £10 for adults, £8 concessions, £5 for Under 16’s and free for Under 5’s. Ample free car parking is available at Crathes Castle.
Full details can be found on  www.theenchantedcastle.info

In addition to Carlton Resource Solutions as headline sponsor, Scottish Enterprise, Aberdeenshire Council, Rural Aberdeenshire LEADER Programme, EventScotland, Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms DMO have all assisted in ensuring the Enchanted Castle will be one of the winter’s major events in the area.

Jul 152011
 

With thanks to Kylie Roux.

Upcoming Exhibitions:

Migrate, Replicate // Natalie McIlroy
Preview Friday 15 July | 6 – 8pm | all welcome!  

Natalie McIlroy presents Migrate, Replicate, combining large-scale video projections of Scottish landscapes, ephemeral architectural interventions and an intriguing soundscape of the Pied Butcherbird.
Exhibition runs 16 – 30 July 2011    

Drawing Connections // Hannah Redpath
Preview Friday 15 July, 6 – 8pm, all welcome! 
 

A new series of prints by Hannah Redpath produced during a one-year residency in the printmaking department at Gray’s School of Art. Exhibition runs 16 – 30 July 2011

EAF – Katri Walker // North-West
Opening Saturday 6 August | 3 – 6pm | Old Ambulance Depot, 77 Brunswick Street Edinburgh

As part of the Edinburgh Art Festival 2011, Peacock Visual Arts presents North West by Katri Walker. First exhibited at Peacock in March 2011, the audio-visual installation explores Scotland’s historic and contemporary relationship with Wild West visual culture.
Opening Saturday 6th August, 3-6pm with a BBQ & live performances by experimental musician Wounded Knee.
Exhibition runs 7 August – 4 September 2011,   Tue – Sun, 12 – 6pm.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED for NORTH WEST at the Edinburgh Art Festival
Peacock is seeking enthusiastic and friendly volunteers to join us for the Edinburgh Art Festival where we will be presenting North West by Katri Walker in the Old Ambulance Depot (just off Leith Walk). You will be an integral part of the festival team responsible for invigilation of the exhibition and general gallery duties.
All applicants are asked to work a minimum of six hours per week and must be able to commit to volunteering with us for the duration of the festival, 6 Aug – 4 Sep 2011.
Please note, all volunteer posts are unpaid. To find out more and how to apply please contact Angela Lennon on 01224 639539 or email: angela@peacockvisualarts.co.uk
Deadline for application is Friday 29th July 2011.

 

Events:

Hurricane Lamb at Duff House
Ongoing until  31 October at Duff House, Banff.

Hurricane Lamb is a collaborative project from Gray’s School of Art (RGU) and Peacock Visual Arts. Inspired by Duff House and its history, the exhibition features new work by Michael Agnew, Andrew Cranston, David McCracken, Georgia Russell, Lennox Dunbar, Paul Housley, and Donald Urquhart.
Exhibition runs until 31 October 2011  

Peacock At The Aberdeen Art Fair
13 + 14 August | 10 – 4pm | AberdeenMusic Hall

 Peacock is partaking in the inaugural year of the Aberdeen Art Fair – which promises to become an annual showcase event for the Scottish arts scene.

Exhibiting work by renowned artists including Frances Walker, Toby Paterson, John McLean, James Furneaux and Barbara Rae and a selection of handprinted posters from the Peacock archive – there’s sure to be something for everyone’s taste and budget!

Get Creative:

Collagraph Weekend Workshop
23 + 24 July| 10 – 4.30pm | £130/95 conc.

An exciting introduction to the printmaking process of Collography. Using thick card as a base, textures are glued to the block to build up and create an image before inking it up and then printing it using the etching press.
Call 01224 639539 for more information or to book a place.

Peacock VIsual Arts – Summer Animation Classes
July  20, 27 + October 12, 19 | 10 – 4pm | age 10+ | £35/session

Ever wondered how Wallace and Gromit move? Or what makes Pingu go?
Well this summer we’re planning some animation workshops to show you just that! Each class is £35 and a one off – but if you’re keen to keep coming back, you’re more than welcome to book on as many as you like!

Call 01224 639539 for more information or to book a place.

Peacock VIsual Arts – Monster Making Fun // Kids Screenprinting
2 + 9 August| 10 – 4pm | age 8 – 12 | £35/class

Get your little monsters to create their own little monster!
We’ll spend the morning drawing all the different body parts of a monster before learning how to transform them into colourful screenprints.
We’ll then use all the different parts to build lots of  monster designs…scary monster, happy monsters, mad monsters – whatever you decide!
Call 01224 639539 for more information or to book a place.

Screenprinting Weekend Workshop
20 + 21 August | 10 – 4.30pm | £130/95 conc.

Explore the creative possibilities of this colourful, graphic and immediate approach to making repeat prints. No experience necessary – just a few images and a bit of creativity.
Call 01224 639539 for more information or to book a place.


Peacock Visual Arts
21 Castle Street
Aberdeen
AB11 5BQ
Tel: 01224 639539
Mob: 07947 490626