Jul 182014

With thanks to Kirsty Young.

Berliners 3 1978 oil on canvas 119.5 x 188 cm (Private Collection)

Berliners 3 1978 oil on canvas 119.5 x 188 cm (Private Collection)

Aberdeen’s first exhibition of paintings and other works by major Scottish artist Alexander Moffat opens at Peacock Visual Arts next month (Exhibition opening on Friday 15 August 2014, 6 – 8pm).
Paintings as Arguments: Five Decades of Cultural and Political Change in Scotland, which runs 16 August – 20 September 2014, will question the role of art and culture in the independence debate.

The project opens enquiries into important changes and achievements in cultural expression and education, artistic means of production and dissemination in Scotland and their international contexts.

Moffat, an artist-activist opposed to establishment conventions, played a major role in the cultural changes sweeping Scotland and the world from the 1960s onwards. His main aim as an artist, curator, teacher and writer has been to place Scotland and Scottish art in a relationship with the rest of the world.

As the country prepares to answer the question of whether it wants self-government or not, Peacock Visual Arts asks what contribution have the visual arts made in taking us to the point where a referendum on independence is even thinkable, no matter the outcome.

What has been the role of the “success story” of Scottish art in increasing self-awareness of Scotland’s cultural distinctiveness? What are the cultural arguments for, or against, independence?

The exhibition will contain a number of large-scale oil paintings from both private and national collections. It will also showcase documentary material from the last five decades, including books, magazines and photographs.

An evening of debate, followed by music from the renowned composer, musicologist, and music historian John Purser, will allow audiences to voice their opinions and to learn more about the exhibition and its contents from Moffat and Alan Riach, Professor of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow (Wednesday 17 September 2014, 6:30pm at Peacock Visual Arts).

Peacock is publishing a book, a conversation between Moffat and Riach, which illuminates many of the major cultural changes that have taken place over the past half-century. This will be available to buy once the exhibition has opened its doors on Friday 16 August 2014 at 6pm.

Exhibition Runs: Saturday 16 August – Saturday 20 September 2014.
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 9:30 – 5:30pm
Free Admission.

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Jul 112014
Gardenstown Yes strimmers

Bill Fraser, Richard O’Neill and Mark Wilson get to work with their strimmers. Photo credit: Newsnet Scotland​

Gardenstown garden strimmers have carved a giant ‘Yes’ into Mhor brae. With thanks to Paul Robertson.

Anyone visiting the coastal village of Gardenstown will be hard-pressed to miss a new addition to the landscape – the word ‘Yes’ carved into the Mhor brae.

Four Gardenstown garden strimmers – Kevin Barclay, Mark Wilson, Richard O’Neill and Bill Fraser – scaled the hill at the weekend and spent hours carving the 25 metre tall letters into the grass.

The foursome have committed to maintaining Gardenstown’s new landmark with regular outings with their strimmers.

Richard O’Neill said:

“It’s a bit of fun but it’s also a a very bold and deliberate statement.  We have people who’ve heard about it coming here to Gardenstown to see the big Yes and para-gliders from all over the country are flocking here to get aerial shots.

“It’s helped put Gardenstown on the map and we hope that people who come to see our handiwork will follow up by putting their cross next to Yes on September 18.”

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Jul 042014

CND 2 futuresFeatWith thanks to Gavin Mowat, Constituency Assistant to Christian Allard MSP.

Following Tuesday’s release of the Trident Commission’s report, North East MSP Christian Allard has asked whether the three Westminster parties can be trusted to push for global nuclear disarmament when they all remain committed to the costly renewal of Trident.

The report supports the UK government’s commitment to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system while at the same time promoting nuclear disarmament across the world.

Mr Allard said the report failed to acknowledge that the world has moved on from the days of the Cold War.

He said that supporting the renewal of the outdated Trident weapons system was irresponsible and counterproductive in the campaign against nuclear weapons.

The French-born MSP pointed out that while the Scottish Government is committed to getting rid of Trident nuclear weapons, the Westminster parties remain devoted to renewing the weapons system, a position at odds with a commitment to nuclear disarmament.

Commenting, Mr Allard said:

“It is disappointing the Trident Commission has concluded that renewal of Trident is compatible with a position of pursuing global nuclear disarmament.

“Trident was a Cold War era deterrent that is no longer practical or effective in this day and age. Its renewal will also come at enormous cost to the people of Scotland.

“I would ask: can you trust the three Westminster parties to work for a nuclear-free world if they are so determined to renew their current stock of nuclear weapons?

“It is an untenable position that does not make any sense. Only by voting Yes in September can the people of Scotland make sure that Trident is removed. We can set a positive example of nuclear disarmament for the rest of the world and inspire other nations to follow suit.”

Jonathan Russell Chair of Aberdeen and District CND commented:

“The Trident Commission report has failed to see the logic that if your potential opponents see you are building a new era of Nuclear Weapons, so will they.

“You cannot say that you are against nuclear weapons while at the same time building new ones, this is totally hypocritical.

“If the same energy was put into getting rid of Nuclear Weapons rather than building and maintaining them, we could get rid of these ghastly weapons which threaten mankind.

“For those of you who want to get rid of nuclear weapons but are undecided about how to vote at the Independence Referendum, having read this report I would say that the only way is to vote Yes.  It is not going to happen otherwise.”

More info/links:

Trident Commission report
CND reaction to the report

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Jun 202014

!cid_ii_hwjpk29x0_146abad5fafb9080Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) Aberdeen are inviting support to help make history with a nationwide mass canvass this weekend.

There will be canvassing events happening in more than 40 towns and cities across Scotland on Sunday, from Dumfries to Shetland, with hundreds of people participating.

In Aberdeen we are aiming to have 50-60 people knocking on doors in Seaton from 2-4pm, speaking with ordinary people about the independence referendum.

We want to encourage as many people as possible to get involved, whether as a one-off or as the start of a summer of campaigning.

Even if you’ve never canvassed before, it’s a great time to get involved.

We’ll provide all the materials, and there will be an optional training session from 1-2pm if you’d like some tips.

Everyone will go in pairs, and if you’re really nervous then you can team up with an experienced canvasser.

Everyone is welcome, including children. If you have limited mobility but still want to participate, there will be a stall where you can chat with people about independence.

Location: Meet in the car park below the skyscrapers on School Road, opposite the shops (AB24 1TF). Look for the RIC Aberdeen banner.

Optional training: 1-2pm
Canvassing: 2-4pm
Socialising: 4pm onwards!

Transport info: Bus 13 goes along School Road and stops by the car park. A lot of buses go along nearby King Street – get off by the roundabout with School Road (1, 2, 60, 61, 62, 62A, 63, 67, 68, 251, 290, 291, X40, X60, X67, X68).

Contacts on the day:
Ross (07926571726)
Doug (07813085896)
Sean (07596751594)
Myshele (07931235745)

In Solidarity, RIC Aberdeen.

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Jun 202014

With thanks to Paul Robertson.

Yes-FraserburghLocal Yes campaigners set up shop at the latest Fraserburgh Super Saturday at the weekend.​

The event, which is organised by the Fraserburgh Development Trust and the Fraserburgh Forward Business Association, was another success for the town – with a range of local businesses setting up temporary stalls in the town’s Saltoun Square.

​Councillor Hamish Partridge, an SNP councillor and local businessman, hailed the success of the event:

“These Super Saturdays are a great way to get people back into the Broch town centre and generate interest in the town. This weekend’s event was yet another success with hundreds of folk passing through the Square and providing a boost for local businesses.”

The local Yes campaign also got in on the weekend’s action, setting up a temporary shop on the corner of the Square and being on hand to answer people’s questions on everything from fishing to support for small business in an independent Scotland.

Local campaign organiser Ross Cassie commented:

“The Yes shop was queued out the door with folk interested in what an independent Scotland could mean for the town.”

“This event goes to show how important it is to support local small business. Small and medium businesses make up around 90% of Scotland’s businsesses and employ 50% of the workforce. It’s important to support that – which the Scottish Government has been doing with a Small Business Bonus, which offers business rates relief. Our argument is that with the full powers of independence, we will be able to do so much more for our small employers.”

The local Yes campaign is encouraging local businesses to attend a special referendum event for business. The event will take place on August 22 at the Leisure Centre in Peterhead and will be an opportunity for local business people to ask what an independent Scotland might mean for their businesses.

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Jun 132014

WomenIndependence2With thanks to Paul Robertson.

​Following on from a special meeting of the Scottish Government’s All-Women Cabinet Meeting in Edinburgh this week, a local SNP councillor has claimed that w​omen in the north-east stand to benefit from a revolution in childcare and employment rights in the event of a Yes vote.

Councillor Fiona McRae has hailed the Scottish Government’s proposals for 30 hours of free childcare per week for all three and four year olds, along with guarantees on raising the minimum wage, protecting the welfare state and ensuring a fairer pension system.

Cllr McRae said:

The Scottish Government plans for a revolution in childcare which will benefit many families in Scotland. The prohibitive cost of child care means that many women who want to work, or who want to increase their hours find it impossible to do so.”

“It is one of those rare things these days in politics – a genuinely life-changing policy, which will save families thousands of pounds in childcare costs, create new job opportunities and raise living standards for thousands of women who would otherwise be taking reduced hours or leaving well-paid positions when they have children.”

Along with proposals for a comprehensive childcare system, the Scottish Government has committed to raising the minimum wage in line with inflation – a move which will benefit thousands of women in low paid jobs.

Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford​ commented:

“​Had the minimum wage kept pace with inflation, our lowest-paid workers would have been more than £600 a year better off. The proposals put forward by the Scottish Government will directly benefit everyone in a low-paid job significantly, and help address the scandal of working families living in poverty.”

“In the north-east, those who work for low wages will be among those who benefit the most from a Yes vote in September.”

Local women are also invited to attend a special event next month aimed at undecided women voters. The Women for Independence event will take place in Dalrymple Hall, Fraserburgh on July 26 from 2pm.​

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Jun 062014

1656206_672162342847660_436365328_nWith thanks to Paul Robertson. 

Banff & Buchan campaigners for independence have thanked visitors following a good turnout at a Yes Coffee Morning in Macduff on Saturday, May 31.

Dozens of residents turned out to ask questions, speak to political representatives, and learn more about the benefits of independence for Scotland at the event in Buchan Street Hall.

Among those in attendance was local Yes campaigner Ross Cassie, who welcomed the turnout and said that momentum was now clearly with the campaign for a Yes vote.

He said:

“It was a great day with a fantastic turnout. Many people who have not previously engaged in the political process are energised by the debate we are having just now. There were a lot of undecided people who came to find out the truth – and the truth is that Scotland is uniquely well equipped to be a successful, independent country.

“We will be heading out around Banff and Buchan in the weeks ahead to make sure that undecided voters get the answers they want and the information they need to cast a Yes vote for an independent Scotland on 18 September.”

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Mar 182014

4 YesWith thanks to Dave Watt.

With the Scottish Independence Referendum just 6 months away the positive case for a YES vote in September comes to Aberdeen on Friday 28th of March, with the visit of 4 major YES figures.

Author Alan Bissett of the National Collective is joined by Scottish Greens leader Patrick Harvie MSP, Alan Grogan, head of of Labour for Independence and Natalie McGarry of Women For Independence as they tell us why they believe we need a Yes vote.

Each of these acclaimed speakers will give a brief description of their vision for an independent Scotland and why they’re voting Yes before the audience is given the unique opportunity to put their questions to some of the most prominent figures in the Yes campaign.

This event is a perfect opportunity for those who remain undecided to listen to and then question leading Yes figures as to why Scotland should vote Yes in September and their views as to what an Independent Scotland will look like following a Yes vote.

The event begins at 19.30 at the MacRobert Lecture Theatre, Aberdeen University on Friday 28th of March.

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Feb 142014

acyc-youth-council-logo1With thanks to  Liam Yeats, Press Officer, Aberdeen City Youth Council.

On the 18th February, Aberdeen City Youth Council, in association with Aberdeen University Students Association, will be to be hosting its first hustings for the independence referendum.

At the event; representatives from both ‘Yes Scotland’ and ‘Better Together’ will debate the important issues around the referendum, with particular emphasis on those issues which effect young people.

The debate will take place at Aberdeen University and will be chaired by AUSA sabbatical officer Rob Henthorn.

This is a free event and questions from young people will be given priority on the night. Any queries should be directed towards the youth council campaign coordinator Euan Davidson (euandavidson94@gmail.com, 07455965090).

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Dec 262013

Salmond Letter Credit Duncan HarleyDuncan Harley has a review copy of “Scotland’s Future” – the book the Scottish Government don’t want you to read because it’s so awfully longwinded.

The Scottish Government has quite recently published a glossy 649 page guide to Scotland’s Future as a pdf and you can of course order a free hard copy.

If all 7.132 billion of the world wide population ordered a copy of “Scotland’s Future” even the Darien Disaster would appear insignificant in terms of the resultant Scottish national debt and the more recent history of Scotland.

If all 5.295 million of us Scots ordered a copy the English would no doubt be made to pay.

Billed as the answer to all questions regarding the independence debate it’s a riveting read indeed.

This correspondent can however reveal that to date however, few have actually read the longwinded tome.

Mrs Catto of Aberdeen commented:

“I don’t understand why they even published it. It’s too heavy.”

Mr Green from Methlick commented that:

“I can’t even lift the book, never mind understand it.”

Mr Brown from Hamilton said:

“I never asked for this, what is Salmond playing at? As a registered blind person there is no way I will read this.”

Most Scots however should, at the very least, order a few copies so as to tell their grandchildren that they looked hard at the issues and completely understood the way ahead prior to independence.

The White Paper on Scotland’s Future promised much more than either the document or the launch managed to deliver. Scotland’s current First Minister Alex Salmond and his sidekick Nicola Sturgeon MSP launched the white paper with a promise that “every child from age one to starting school is guaranteed 30 hours of provision for 38 weeks of the year.”

Bang on really in terms of independence speak. Bang on really in terms of impressing the world’s press.

A wet squid? A damp banger? Or just a wasted opportunity perhaps. History will no doubt reveal the truth.

Defence of the realm, the Scottish economy, Scottish EEC membership and the issues of tax, social welfare, diplomacy and healthcare are indeed however covered in some detail throughout the length and depth of the book.

High Girders Credit Duncan HarleyOn page 236 the slightly embarrassing publication details plans for the defence of Scotland in the event of invasion by a foreign power.

It seems that Scotland will be part of “collective defence arrangements involving the reconfiguring of the defence estate inherited at the point of independence to meet Scotland’s need and the progressive build up of Scotland’s army to a total of fifteen thousand regular troops over the ten years following independence.”

As if the reassurance offered was insufficient, the White Paper goes on to say that units of the Scottish Army will seemingly carry on the names, identities and traditions of Scotland’s regiments, including those “lost in the defence reorganisation of 2006.”

On Macroeconomic Policy we are advised that countries of a similar size to Scotland have enjoyed very low levels of borrowing costs via careful management of public finances.  Scotland will seemingly “establish a debt management function.”

Regarding firearms, the white paper advises that the Scottish Government will introduce full powers to introduce airgun legislation. Regarding drug use, the Scottish Government will introduce a drug strategy. Regarding Road Traffic Law, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding gambling, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding broadcasting, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding Channel 4, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding the National Lottery, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding culture and heritage, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding international phone charges, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding Royal Mail, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding the price of stamps, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding mobile phone charges, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding the question of a separate passport for Scottish Nationals, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding citizenship, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding crime and the dialling of 999 for assistance, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding the police, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding justice, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding oil and gas emissions, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding carbon capture and storage, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding farming and food production, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation. Regarding health and safety, the Scottish Government will introduce legislation.

The tome drones on and on about people down the decades wondering about how “a country blessed with such wealth, talent and resources could and should have done more to realise the potential we know exists for everyone.”

“constructive working together will continue after independence” says Alex Salmond in the introductory message.

In truth many of us Scots will have little idea what he means.

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