Apr 232015

By Julia Ghisoni.RowiesRollsPancakes

Fa is it maks the best rowies?
Is it Murdoch Allan or Thains?
Or the Aberdeen Buttery Co.?
Or Aitken’s, I jist dinna ken
Far div ye ging for proper pies,
In proper pastry casings?
Ye dinna get them in Gregg’s
It’s Chalmer’s, Thain’s or Aitken’s ?
Pies wi’ chicken curry
Scotch pies, mince an’ tattie
There’s naethin’ sae fine for yer denner
Than a steak pie in a saftie.
The finest wee baker in Cults
Is soon tae be no more
Will Sainsbury’s sell decent pies
Fan Kelly shuts his door?
Div ye min The Baker’s Oven?
Mitchell Muil, Strathdee?
Low’s the baker in Torry?
Granite City Bakery?
Pies wi’ beans an’ tatties
Pies wi’ macaroni
Bridies, stovies, sassidge rolls
Pies wi’ mince an’ skirlie
The Gordon Baker, The Bedford
The Greenfern an’ The Byron
The Newton Dee an’ JG Ross
Oh fit rare, fit fine min.
There’s naewye like the ‘deen
If ye wint fine pies, it’s a caiker
Bide awa’ fae Gregg’s
An’ support yer local baker
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Oct 202014

614717_147651478707521_945393330_oWith thanks to Mike Tyers.

Interesting Music Promotions are delighted to announce a special tribute night in honour of John
Ten years on from his untimely death, we will honour his memory and legacy by having a whole evening of eclectic music, lots of fun & a dance floor rammed full.

This Saturday 25th October #KeepingItPeel, no less than 7 local acts present great value for a reasonable ticket price, and represent the variety and that enthusiasm for the unique and unusual which John Peel will always be remembered.


Longstanding friends of IMP, “the best band you have never heard of” are utterly sublime, producing a unique post rock/electronica/dancey vibe.

Min Diesel:

Local indie band who are definitely moving out of the lofi into even more interesting music territory.

“An impatient Dinosaur jr (or) Shellac with more soul” – The Fly

Debut album out very soon.

Autumn Hang (Dub Set):

Another local who is prolific at turning out cd’s and is starting (quite rightly) to get more live shows. His set tonight will be electronic based but we will “expect the unexpected” as we always do and we will delight in what he offers up.

Kitchen Cynics (special Peel tribute):

Local music genius. There, I’ve said it. Expect something poignant and great for this special event.

Sonically Depicting:

A new experimental band featuring Haylan Jay & John Cavanagh ( he of the walking music encyclopaedia & Scottish BBC). They are so new we don’t have a link to this project…yet.

Best Girl Athlete (Minty Fresh Records / Fitlike Records):

Without doubt one of NE Scotland’s best comedy acts, they are also very fine in the music they produce. Best new duo in Aberdeen in our opinion …Simply do not miss. They have  just signed to the really cool American label Minty Fresh Records as recently highlighted in a superb review of them in the Evening Express.

Strawberry Wine DJ’s:

Spinning some Peel faves and beyond. Amazing music knowledge and depth, and always hearing great new (old) music from their nights at Cellar 35.

All proceeds after artist expenses to appropriate local or Scottish music charities to enhance musical inspiration.

Saturday 25th Oct 2014
Tunnels 1
8 till late

Early bird tickets £7.50 available from – https://www.wegottickets.com/event/277357



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Jun 272014

David Innes reviews Hidden Aberdeenshire: The Coast by Dr Fiona-Jane Brown.

Hidden AberdeenshireHard on the heels of her well-received 2013 volume Hidden Aberdeen, Dr Brown shifts her authorial focus beyond the city boundaries to the traditional county of Aberdeenshire.

More precisely, she visits its coasts abutting the North Sea and Moray Firth, along the way unearthing tales and anecdotes from the area’s fascinating history.

An immediate tip of the hat to her for recognising that Aberdeenshire is a geographical and cultural entity, not a post-1974 local governmental fiefdom, a welcome approach for those of us who rant as Andrea or Norman refer crazily to ‘Banff, Aberdeenshire’ or ‘Gourdon, Aberdeenshire’ on STV News.

Publishing in the same pocket-friendly format as Hidden Aberdeen, and maintaining its economical but fact-packed 450-word/two-page feature format, it is, like its predecessor, extremely readable and informative. Organised in discrete geographical areas, it will be easy for readers to visit most of the places in each section in a long half day, or even less.

The excellent bibliography is a welcome additional resource for those who wish to dig a bit more deeply beyond the details in the book’s chapters.

It has been said of Hardy’s Return Of The Native that Egdon Heath, the windswept wilderness on which the action takes place, is the dominating and defining character. Whilst the sea, its shore and fertile hinterland provide the canvas, Hidden Aberdeenshire celebrates the people who have enriched history and folklore of these lands over the centuries.

Fascinating insights are given to the lives of flint miners, smugglers, heroes of shipwrecks, a war artist who chronicled the foreign exploits of TE Lawrence, Peterheid loon and unlikely Prussian hero Field Marshal James Keith and the proprietor of an ironically-named Blue Toon whorehouse.

You will warm to the outcry raised by St Fergus’s villagers when a well-meaning restorer removed the extra minute from the village clock, smile at the account of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle being given a keeker in a boxing bout aboard a Peterhead whaling boat and be reminded of how impressive a modern cultural icon is the Pennan phone box.

Just about all human life is within this extremely-readable compact volume’s pages, another triumph for the author. More please.

Hidden Aberdeenshire: The Coast
Dr Fiona-Jane Brown
Black & White Publishing
ISBN 978 1 84502 757 5
96 pp

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Mar 282014

Aberdeen and its hinterland in the 19th century, from the research published in Fishermen, Randies and Fraudsters, had its fair share of criminals hell-bent on pursuing their career of choice no matter the misery or inconvenience caused and generally undeterred by the sanctions likely to be applied if caught.  Review by David Innes

Fishermen Randies And FraudstersBurglars, pickpockets, drunkards, whores and murderers all feature as Archibald paints a picture of urban and rural lawlessness and the increasingly difficult task faced by the authorities in attempting to keep some sort of order with so few resources and tight budgets, 200 years before central police forces, remote control rooms and controversy over corroboration.

These were the days before highly-organised law enforcement, sophisticated communication technology, forensics and general respect for those attempting to keep order, yet some of the crime solutions Archibald features show ingenuity, bravery and doggedness.

There are also examples of enforcement officers’ stupidity and occasional willingness to partake of petty crime themselves.

Nothing changes, it seems.

Archibald even includes an interesting civil case concerning the whaling industry and ownership of a whale wounded by one ship but finally pursued to the kill by another, a tale that exposes the hardship and brutality of this profession as well as the colossal rewards at stake.

Fishermen, Randies and Fraudsters gives a well-researched  overview of those far-off times, the individuals concerned and the increasingly-difficult job of detection of miscreants which led, almost inevitably, to the establishment of modern, organised police forces. Whilst it is informative and insightful, the narrative might have been presented in a more lively way, but that is a minor criticism of a worthy addition to NE history.

Fishermen, Randies and Fraudsters

Malcolm Archibald (Black & White Publishing)
ISBN10: 1 84502 744 2 ISBN13: 978 1 84502 744 5
256 pp

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Mar 282014

Neil Stirton, sales manager at Deeside BreweryA popular north-east brewery has launched two of its beers in Sainsbury’s stores to meet increasing customer demand for its Scottish craft beers. With thanks to Rebecca Buchan.

Deeside Brewery, based in Banchory, will offer its Macbeth (Scottish pale ale) and LAF (California steam beer) from this month at twelve Sainsbury’s stores across North Scotland.

After a rebrand in 2012 and a move to larger purpose built facilities at the beginning of 2013; the business now employs three people and has experienced a period of rapid growth with production levels recently doubling from 1440HL per year to 2880HL per year (514,300 pints).

Earlier this month, the brewery’s newest product, Deeside craft lager was acknowledged as runner up in the Best New Retail Product category at the Grampian Food Forum Innovation Awards.

This recent success follows an ongoing relationship with Aldi which saw the brewery supply a number of its products to the chain as part of Aldi’s summer and winter beer festivals. Each festival took place in 49 stores and saw over 150,000 bottles of ale sold from a number of Scottish breweries.

Mike Bain, managing director of Deeside Brewery, said:

“Getting balance right between availability and exclusivity of our products is important. Our beers are currently available in various delis, specialist drinks shops and a number of high end venues across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire and this relationship with Sainsbury’s is a real opportunity for us to engage with a number of craft beer drinkers out with the local area.

“Entering into this agreement with a national supermarket is a real testament to the team at the brewery who work hard to produce new and exclusive products for the craft beer market and will ultimately aid future business growth. We are confident we will be looking at further expansion through exclusive relationships with distributors as the quality of our products is appreciated and reflected by consumer demand.”

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Mar 142014

Fishermen Randies And FraudstersWith thanks to David Innes.

Malcolm Archibald’s true crime volume Fishermen, Randies and Fraudsters (Black & White Publishing) has been published and is on sale.

Archibald’s latest book looks at crime in and around Victorian Aberdeen, and from the few pages thumbed so far, it’s clear that the city and its hinterland, even then, was full of rapscallions and scamps ready to part you from your wallet or your ears from your head.

A review is on its way, but we’ll do the author the courtesy of finishing his book first. Hey, we’re pros here at Voice.

Malcolm will be signing copies of Fishermen, Randies and Fraudsters at Waterstones, Union Bridge, Aberdeen on Saturday 15 March at 1300.

That’s the day before the cup final and an ideal opportunity to score yourself a copy to read on the bus to Glasgow, where 39999 rapscallions and scamps are gathering. The 40000th? That’s you, neither rapscallion nor scamp.

For more info and extract, click here:

Mar 062014

Peacock Visual Arts to host a moving exhibition documenting histories, stories and memories of military conflict in Northern Europe.

Newburgh I, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. 2012 500

© Marc Wilson Newburgh I, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, 2012.

Terry O’Neill Award winner Marc Wilson is bringing his stunning series of photographs ‘The Last Stand’ to Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen. The exhibition will open to the public on Friday 28 March 2014 at 6pm.

So far 53 of the 80 images in the series have been photographed, focusing on military defence structures that remain and their place in the shifting landscape that surrounds them.

Over the years many of the wartime defence locations have disappeared from view, either subsumed or submerged by the changing sands and waters or by more human intervention. At the same time others have re-emerged from their shrouds.

Marc has so far travelled over 15,000 miles to 109 locations to capture these images along the coastlines of the UK, The Channel Islands, Northern France and Belgium. He has recently spent 8 days photographing in Orkney and Shetland and is soon to visit the Western coast of France down to the Spanish border, Holland, Denmark, and Norway.

This poignant exhibition at Peacock Visual Arts follows on from shows at The Anise Gallery, London and The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds. The work has been featured on BBC online, TV and Radio and The Guardian.

The objects and zones of defence Wilson photographs serve as ‘a visual marker to the shadows of conflict’ (Wayne Ford) and are as such an important part of the fabric of our recent histories and memories.

Over the intervening years some of these ‘markers’ have been lost to the passage of time and shifting sands. Very recently on the Northern coast of France, at Wissant, the vast wartime defences were pulled apart and removed by the authorities. Marc was lucky to have photographed these defences last year but today there is nothing but the sand and tides in this place. No physical reminder of the past remains.

Yet at the same time in late 2013 some defences along the coast of the UK have re-emerged from the dunes after an extreme storm. These defences, although often submerged by waters or subsumed by sands are never really lost to us.

The exhibition at Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen will show a selection of 22 images from the series, including those from locations in Scotland, The Northern Isles, Northern France and England.

Exhibition Runs: 29 March – 10 May 2014.
Opening Times: Tuesday – Saturday 9:30 – 5:30pm
Exhibition Opening on Friday 28th March, 6 – 8pm.

Free entry. All welcome.

Dec 192013

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionarySeason’s Greetings!  No doubt you’ve bought your presents, decked your halls with boughs of holly, sent all your Christmas cards, planned your Boxing Day television viewing, and ordered your turkey.

The holidays are upon us, the pre- pre-Christmas Black Friday sales have turned to pre-Christmas sales which will in turn morph into Boxing Day sales. Hoards of shoppers will claw and elbow each other to get the last Size 14 Per Una black lace dress or the last Barbie’s Dream House from the shelf, all in the spirit of the season of good will.

Happy bargain hunting. No need then for any further lines from me on the true meaning of Christmas.

Of course there are local shops with handmade / unique / different gifts that could be bought to support local traders, but then again, selecting gifts from ma and pa shops requires a bit more time, thought, and sometimes a bit more money.

If you ever worry about who’s made the trainers or clothes you’ve just bought (or how animals were treated in the process), I wouldn’t bother. No less than an RGU lecturer I had some years back explained to his eager class how much better off third world workers are now.

In the old days, they would work for free. Now they can live and work in factory dormitories miles from their families 24/7 and earn a pound or two a week – which is more money than they were used to. Result!

This particular lecturer’s idea seemed to be that this is progress, and we’re doing our bit to help the third world. I was pretty much the only person in the class who asked the question ‘but what about ethics’? It’s best not to question people in a position of power (a lesson that is somewhat lost on me), and much better still to agree with them completely if they have the power of giving you a good grade.

If you’re lucky enough to get rewarded for putting your principles aside during these ‘Business 101’ type lectures from an early age, pretty soon you’ll have lots of good grades, and you won’t be troubled by any nagging doubts about what’s right and wrong, making it easier for those in power to get you to agree to more and more business-friendly, ethic-free dogma.

You’re not allowed to make fois gras in the UK for cruelty reasons

Anyway, back to your Christmas shopping. If your fur trimmed coat was made from cats and dogs kept in unspeakable conditions and skinned alive by veritable slave workers, or if the fur was pulled from a suffering rabbit to make you a nice pink sweater, well, you’re just helping to create a more competitive, capitalist world.

Well done you.  (At least I didn’t mention fois gras production.  But since you ask)

Fois Gras is produced by force-feeding mature male geese by shoving tubes filled with food down their throats as they spend their last weeks in tiny cages so they can’t even stretch their wings, let alone fly. Their livers and stomachs sometimes burst; they are traumatised beyond words.

You’re not allowed to make fois gras in the UK for cruelty reasons, which is bad for capitalism. Still, a few places still persist in importing the stuff and tout it to the would-be elite.

While you put your presents under the tree, none of which were probably made in the UK let alone locally, you might do well to wonder if there is some connection to you buying £4 jeans and the guy next door losing his job to a foreign company that can produce goods cheaper. It’s almost as if there was a connection of some sort.

The question of ethical goods, working conditions and animal treatment are, of course, the sort of spurious concerns of those who would slow the free market economy. As mentioned, an RGU professor was keen to tell his students how buying cheap Chinese goods was canny, and ethics had nothing to do with it.

Old Susannah recently had a conversation with someone about our entrepreneurial hero, Donald Trump.

I wanted to make sure the business woman in question knew about a few minor details which unfairly make The Don look a bit tarnished. There is the BBC proving his links in the US to organised crime figures. There are the lawsuits, the investors who have lost millions, and of course the small matter of the Trump University leading to charges of racketeering against DT.

The Trumps of this world don’t get where they are just on their good looks alone

I was wondering whether local companies might not look good allying themselves to the Trump course or hotel, if they wanted to stay free of any association to what unkind people are calling sleaze and corruption.

The shocked reaction I got from this woman was:

“well, that’s just how business works. I’ve had to do many things that were not strictly speaking legal, but that’s just how it is”  

I wonder if she’d had the same RGU lecturer as I had?

There are those who think that corruption only applies to cases where envelopes of unmarked bills are changing hands.  That kind of corruption is largely a thing of the past, except of course in cricket and football.  There are far more subtle, inventive ways to operate.

So, is it OK to bend the rules, ignore dishonesty, engage in a bit of friendly racketeering or animal cruelty if there is money to be made? Absolutely. The Trumps of this world don’t get where they are just on their good looks alone. And so, to help the budding entrepreneur, shopper, or business student, here are a few definitions from Christmases past, present and yet to come.

Cronyism: (Eng. Noun) To show favouritism based on relationships such as family, friends, work colleagues.

Cronyism charges were levelled against the BBC; the National Audit Office believes something may be amiss with some of its latest payouts to the most senior departing BEEB execs.

Some of these poor overworked execs have had a tough time; one only lasting a matter of months before going.  As you pay your licence fee this month, you might be forgiven for wondering how much of it is going on the £25 million or so in payouts for 150 leaving executives.

Some people were given more than their contracts said they should receive by their colleagues, but that is probably just generosity, not cronyism. Oddly, former Barclays bank supremo Marcus Agius came into the spotlight as well for his role within the BBC doling out taxpayers money.

I guess banks are used to doing what they wish with public funds, since we decided to give them all of our money not so long ago, and that was money well spent.

Obviously this cronyism thing is something that only goes on with left-wing media types

Former BBC deputy director Mark Byford was so traumatised by leaving that he had to be given a token sum of £300k to keep him ‘fully focused’ on his work before he left; his package was worth a million or so. What a brave guy to soldier on.

The Times reports on 16/12 that ‘BBC executives were paid millions of pounds in ‘sweeteners’ because of leadership failures at the highest level and a culture of cronyism’. Well, if friends can’t help each other, what are they for?

Obviously this cronyism thing is something that only goes on with left-wing media types. Thankfully here in the Deen we have the well-balanced ACSEF to be our business and moral compass.

For instance, I’m sure all the work it did to promote the granite web, spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer pounds in the process, were committed only after completely fair, anonymous tendering processes had taken place, even if they channelled many of the invoices through the Chamber of Commerce which refuses to let us know who did the well-paid work.

It’s not as if, say, a PR company that had ACSEF presence and clients interested in the web going forward would just be given work by ACSEF without any full tender process.

It’s not as if disgraced ex-policeman Ian Paterson was known as ‘patting Patterson’ in the circles he moved in without anyone doing anything to dissuade their colleague from his inappropriate behaviour.

In the bigger Scottish picture, it’s not as if a friendship with the First Ministers past or present would lead to any favouritism.  Where would we be, for instance, if the rich and powerful could just befriend and dine with our ministers, and get a little help with planning permission, or get appointments to government posts?

Thank goodness for our transparent, fair, unbiased government on the local and national stages, without a whiff of cronyism.

Amnesia: (Eng. noun) A form of illness, causing temporary or permanent loss of short- and/or long-term memory.

Police Scotland are suffering from a bout of amnesia; they can’t remember where they left a report they wrote on the City Council’s interesting finances.

The police surely didn’t find anything criminal going on

Back in 2008, Audit Scotland looked at how our then city administration seemed unable to make any profit out of selling real estate; we the taxpayer lost out on a few million pounds here and  there as Kate Dean and Co. approved sales of land / buildings for a fraction of their real value.

Then Chief Executive Paterson (not to be confused with ex, disgraced policeman Patting Paterson, who is now convicted of sex offences) vowed he would not to resign over the property sales crisis.  The next week he suffered a bout of amnesia, and promptly resigned, taking with him only a modest home in Ferryhill, which the city, apparently, sold to him for less than market value.

At least they were consistent.

Audit Scotland investigated, but could not decide if it was incompetence or criminality at work as deal after deal involving the same people (cronyism?) lost thousands upon thousands.

They turned the matter over to the police to investigate, and very little was ever said on the matter again. The police surely didn’t find anything criminal going on (cronyism?) or they would have arrested some of the city mandarins that they would have known from being on different committees and working groups with.

And in a classic case of amnesia, only a few years later, the police can’t find any record of the report they created. Or so they told me.

No wonder the police found no wrong doing. They can’t even find the report.

They might have the prints and DNA of children, people accused but acquitted of crimes, a few dangerous journalists such as Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney (creators of ‘You’ve Been Trumped’) on file forever;  but they cannot find a report into city council transactions worth millions of pounds.

Old Susannah isn’t getting any younger, and can be forgetful sometimes, too. But I have this ingenious method of looking for documents I’ve created on my computer: It’s called ‘search’.  If I type details of information I’m looking for from anything I wrote, the computer finds it for me in moments.

The Royal Bank of Scotland has been found guilty of turning healthy businesses into bankruptcies

I wonder if the police are clued up to this amazing way to look for infomation? Are they still writing their reports on vellum with ink? I can even look for items in my email, and some of you out there may be aware of this amazing technological development from the 1980s, too.

So, corruption according to some is only when you have envelopes of money flying around; I guess a little amnesia, washing of hands, selling taxpayer property for less than the real value, be it Aberdeen land or the Royal Mail, can’t be corrupt then.  Anyway, I’m sure it’s just one of those things, and no cause for concern.

Words such as ‘scandal,’ ‘coverup’ and incompetence would never occur to me when I think of how the former council sold land. But still, I wonder what the market value was of the house Doug ‘I will not resign over this’ Paterson bought from us when he retired, after presiding over these little property sales.

Fraud: (English noun) The act of committing dishonest acts for personal gain

With professors, like my old RGU don, striving to indoctrinate young (and in this case old) minds that all’s fair in business, perhaps it’s no wonder we have one or two instances of fraud around us locally and nationally.

From Carly Fallon passing off other people’s writing as her own, to restaurants offering bribes to those who give them good Trip Advisor write-ups (you know who you are), from companies using offshore tax dodges, fraud is definitely the new rock and roll.

The Royal Bank of Scotland has been found guilty of turning healthy businesses into bankruptcies, and then magically buying such businesses for a pittance and making profit, while the original owners have lost everything. Again, all’s fair in love, war and business.

More on Christmas next week, but if Father Christmas is making a list of who’s naughty or nice, one or two people in Aberdeen may find themselves on the naughty list.

Right, well it’s Christmas again.

I think by now we’ve established that not everyone looks like a supermodel, can afford hundreds of pounds of food and presents, and not everyone will be having dozens of close, equally-beautiful friends dashing to their homes in open sleighs to sing around 12’ tall, perfectly decked trees.

Don’t buy into a picture that doesn’t exist. But do, if you’re feeling stressed or unhappy about anything at all at this time of year, talk to a friend.

If you can’t talk to a friend or a family member, talk to one of the many services out there that will listen to you without judging you. Stress is particularly bad for people at this time of year, and it’s important to remember that worrying about things outside of your control will never solve anything, but will make you anxious or ill.

If there are things you can change and want to change about your work, life, home, then stop, figure out what you need to do, and start to make a plan for change. Don’t let your problems grow out of all proportion.

If you need a little bit of perspective, do some volunteering, fund-raising, join a group – do something new. You’ll be glad you did. There are people out there far worse off than you or I; be glad for what you’ve got, and don’t be tricked into thinking you need more material things to keep up with some imaginary Jones.

Sorry if this all sounds a bit obvious/preachy/oversimplified – but at the end of the day, it is definitely within your power to take stock, realise what you do have to be thankful for, and to fix what needs fixing. Please be happy, be safe, and have a Happy Christmas or whatever you might be celebrating. – OS

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Jul 212013

The Aberdeen Antiques and Arts Centre has been established at 24 South College Street since 2005, yet many people know little or nothing of its existence. Now it’s offering opportunities for artists to showcase their work for display and sale. With thanks to Suzie Reid.

Hiding behind a small, rather unimposing front door you’ll find that the Aberdeen Antiques and Arts Centre is deceptively large.

It houses antiques and
collectables, books, furniture, art, jewellery, vintage clothing, vintage and retro artefacts, up-cycling and much more.

There’s something of interest for everyone who ventures through the Centre’s doors, with its many wee Aladdin’s caves and an upstairs loft.

Twenty two booths and numerous display cabinets are occupied and stocked by a number of local traders.

So, what are these opportunities?

The Centre is inviting local sculptors, photographers, painters and jewellery makers, in fact artists working in all media, to fill a display space with their work, offering publicity and a potential sales outlet. If you have good quality examples of your work, this could be an opportunity for the right buyer to find you. Staff at the Centre would like to meet you, right now. Are you interested?

Very soon, the BBC’s Antiques Roadtrip will be visiting to film another episode and it’s hoped that a small exhibition can be set up before the end of July. Although Centre staff realise that this is very short notice, they’re sure it will be well worth the effort.

After the cameras have gone, the plan is to continue utilising this space as an outlet for local art. It will be a place to give visibility to unknown but ambitious artistic talent and to help artists become known and sell their products.

If this sounds like something that interests you, why not pop down to The Arches and introduce yourself and your work? Alternatively, you can contact the Centre at


They would love to hear from you.


The centre is open from 11am to 4pm mon – Fri, and 10am to 5pm on a Saturday.

70s Clock

Image 1 of 9

Credit: Fred Wilkinson.

Jun 102013

By Suzanne Kelly.

The life of the River Don corridor has been unveiled in a photography exhibition launched at St Machar Cathedral on Saturday 1 June.

It is the largest visual celebration of the area in recent times, the result of a group of Aberdeen photography enthusiasts who embarked on an exciting and dynamic community-led project to capture the past, present and future of the area.

Award-winning artist Alicia Bruce supported the group in selecting, editing and presenting the touring exhibition and the publication Surfing the Don.

Following the launch it will tour city venues, the Scottish Parliament and Europe.

Alicia said,

“I’m delighted to be working with talented photography enthusiasts a few footsteps from where I grew up. The River Don gets overshadowed by its sibling the Dee. It’s time the ‘Donny’ got a share of the spotlight. 

“This project caught my imagination as I lost many hours looking at photographs on the SURF Aberdeen Facebook group seeing the places I went on childhood adventures. I can’t wait to see everyone’s faces light up as they see their work printed large scale for the first time. There is so much talent within our group and I’m certain some of these photographers will go on to bigger things.”

Aberdeen-born Alicia collaborated with a project team comprising local people from all walks of life, including postman Andy Coventry, Archaeologist Abeeer Eladany, her six year daughter old Nadine Ralston and photography graduate Blazej Marczak.

The images presented were taken on everything from professional cameras to camera phones. Project activities have involved regular collaborator meetings across the city, photo workshops, exhibition visits and online discussions.

Alicia added,

“It’s an iconic project for the River Don and we wanted to ensure we had a variety of iconic venues to showcase the work. St Machar Cathedral is the ideal venue to launch the exhibition. Its proximity to the river means visitors will view the images and, we hope, feel inspired to walk along the river.”

The exhibition is a community-initiated product of the Sustainable Urban Fringes (SURF) Aberdeen Project.

SURF Aberdeen is part of the Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme, and is jointly funded by Aberdeen City Council and the European Regional Development Fund.

SURF brought people, organisations and ideas together to initiate a renewed focus to the River Don corridor.

Many of the community members met via the project’s Facebook page, where they had been posting their photographs and celebrating their enthusiasm for the river and surrounding areas.

Sinclair Laing, SURF Aberdeen project manager, said,

“The River Don corridor cuts a beautiful swathe of blue and green through north Aberdeen. This urban fringe plays an important role by providing urban breathing space for Aberdeen’s people and wildlife. It also hosts important cultural and built heritage and helps to support opportunities for sport, recreation, employment and education

“This community-led exhibition project will help raise the profile of this valuable, yet often overlooked, part of Aberdeen. This is a stunning exhibition and I offer my congratulations and thanks to Alicia and the rest of the exhibition participants for their initiative, hard work and creativity.”

 Photographer Vicky Mitchell said,

“The exhibition means the chance to show off the beauty of the river and its importance to those who live in communities nearby. It also is giving me the opportunity to show my work to the people of Aberdeen. The project has been a great experience and full of lots of highlights such as working with some great people, securing some fantastic venues and spending even more time on the Don.”

Regular project contributors have been: Abeer Eladany, Alicia Bruce, Andy Coventry, Blazej Marczak, David Davidson, Darren Wright, Gregor McAbery, Katherine MacLean, Kirsty McAbery, Lynne Digby, Nadine Ralston, Sinclair Laing and Vicky Mitchell.

With additional exhibition contributors: Anita Welsh, Carrie-ann Holland, Craig Douglas, David Brazendale, Glenn Cooper, George Crighton, Ian Cairns, John Rutherford, Ken Dobbie, Mike Stephen, Nicola Youngson, Ruth Bone, Countryside Ranger Service, Susan Thoms, Stephen Bly and Hugh Mullady.

Tour dates

2 June – 6 July                       St Machar Cathedral – The iconic launch venue in the River Don Corridor.

7 July – 4 Aug                        Seventeen, Belmont Street – Supporting Aberdeen’s bid as UK City of Culture.

13 – 28 July                              Sir Duncan Rice Library, University of Aberdeen – Drawing parallels with Victorian wet-plate images by George Washington Wilson.

21 – 29 September                Natural History Centre, University of Aberdeen – A touch and feel exhibition incorporating taxidermied examples of local wildlife.

September 2013                    Regensburg, Germany – A cultural exchange made possible by Aberdeen Twinning.

 Other venues to be confirmed include The Scottish Parliament and venues along the River Don corridor itself

Alicia Bruce is an award-winning Scottish photographer and educator. She studied photography at Aberdeen College and Edinburgh Napier University. Her work is a collaborative process with the communities she photographs, addressing social and political themes and issues. Alicia’s photographs are held in various private and public collections, including National Galleries of Scotland.

Her education work is rooted in participatory practice. She regularly teaches in communities, schools and further education settings teaching courses for Street Level Photoworks, City of Glasgow College, Stevenson College, eca, The Fruitmarket Gallery and The National Galleries of Scotland. She is Freelance Specialist Interest Rep on Engage Council.

Alicia is an experienced and established arts educator, lecturer, and community worker. Her recent Valleys Project about an ex-mining town in Wales is currently being exhibited at Diffusion, Cardiff International Photography Festival alongside the work of David Bailey, Philip Jones Griffiths and Jeremy Deller. Alicia’s photographs were recently celebrated by The Scottish Parliament in a Parliamentary Motion.

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