Aug 042017

Peacock Visual Arts present Ignore the Management, an exhibition by Michele Horrigan and Sean Lynch. With thanks to John Morrison, Marketing & Communications Manager, Peacock Visual Arts.

For some years now, through both artistic and curatorial activities, Michele Horrigan and Sean Lynch have investigated the multifaceted nature of the public realm. With a focus on their native Ireland, their activities find and develop models that challenge the societal measures and institutional values that aim to manage and orient human behaviour in our increasingly technocratic world.

Sean Lynch presents two videos at the W OR M project space in Aberdeen’s historic Castlegate.

Latoon focuses on an unusual story of a whitethorn bush close to Lynch’s studio in Limerick. In 1999, folklorist Eddie Lenihan campaigned to have a multi million-euro roadway redirected in order to save the bush, which he had argued was an important meeting place for fairies – the bush’s destruction would lead to supernatural havoc on the new motorway.

Years later, Lynch interviewed Lenihan at the site about the dangers of fairy culture, the incessant march of progress and the hope that the bush will somehow survive this onslaught.

Also on exhibit is Campaign to Change the National Monuments Acts, a video that investigates the legal status of metal detectors in Ireland.

Following national controversy around the finding of the Derrynaflan Hoard, a medieval treasure trove uncovered in the 1980s, the state hastily placed a blanket ban on the public use of all devices used to search for archaeological objects – this legislation effectively destroyed any fledgling metal detectorist community.

Lynch advocates for a change in these authoritarian laws, where ideas of nationhood, individual freedom, and the need for new forms of community-led heritage are explored in a journey narrated by his long-time collaborator Gina Moxley.

For several years, Michele Horrigan has been following an exploratory trail of investigation around the mineral ore bauxite. Imported from Guinea in Africa into Ireland’s largest industrial complex in Horrigan’s hometown of Askeaton, bauxite is then refined and smelted to become aluminium, the world’s most versatile metal used in computer parts and engines, drink cans and airplanes.

Amongst her collection of archival and photographic material relating to this process, Horrigan presents two disparate gestures, an aluminium sculpture and a dance performance, each further questioning the role of the personal in relationship to the pervasiveness of global manufacturing.

Working at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Aberdeenshire, Horrigan made an aluminium replica of the apex of the Washington Memorial, remembering the shape given to the Masonic all-seeing eye of imperialism made from what was the world’s most precious metal in 1884. Then, in a field close to a refinery with chimney stacks divulging a steady stream of smoke, Horrigan is seen glibly re-enacting dance scenes from the 1983 movie Flashdance, where a heroine works in Pittsburgh’s mills while at night pursues her real dream of dancing.

Here, the title of Horrigan’s artwork, Stigma Damages seems pertinent. Used as a legal term to describe possible loss or suspected contamination due to environmental circumstance, both her actions seem to exist as a consequence or personal reaction to the rest of material on show, as a sensibility borne out of the disaffection of the individual against global flow and capital.

Sean Lynch and Michele Horrigan have exhibited throughout Europe and North America, including the Venice Biennale. Since 2006 they have organised Askeaton Contemporary Arts in southwest Ireland, initiating artist residencies, exhibitions and publications with over one hundred artists from around the world. During their time in Aberdeen, they will present several workshops as part of Free Press, a new publication project curated by Peacock Visual Arts, in partnership with Station House Media Unit and Aberdeen University Library Special Collections.

Exhibition: Ignore the Management // Michele Horrigan and Sean Lynch
Date: 9 September – 21 October 2017
Opening: Friday 8 September 2017, 6-8pm. All welcome.
Location: the W OR M, 11 Castle Street, Aberdeen

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Jun 162017

By Suzanne Kelly.

An open art exhibition in any other city in the UK is likely to be a laid-back affair in terms of censorship and over-regulation.

It is likely to attract people who are interested in art practice, ideas and would go without a hitch.

Organiser Jean Paul Baptiste simply wanted to allow artists who are outside the established Aberdeen arts hierarchy a chance to show.

Aberdeen ArtCentre & Theatre Gallery was the selected venue, and all went well – at first.

The gallery decided that exhibiting sculpture in an area where a lift used by people with mobility issues was an impossibility.

This decision came after the show started. The fact that all around the world it is possible to have both disability access and sculpture co-exist was lost on the administration.

Then members of the public (how many I would like to know for openers) made a complaint about some of the artwork. So great was the trauma for the complainers they complained to the gallery and the city council. Perhaps they’ve written to the PM – we should be told.

So, this being Aberdeen, the thing to do was to cover the work up temporarily – not to justify the artistic merits of the work which are blatantly obvious to anyone with or without an arts background.

Who were these anonymous offended people who thought their own opinion was more important than the rest of the public, the artwork and the show? Please do come forward, if you’re out there. Aberdeen Voice will allow you space to explain why you wanted to ban artwork.

The gallery said:

“This is a joint message from the Operations Manager of the Arts Centre, George, and Baptiste, the curator of the exhibition. 

“First, let us thank you for your interest. The current exhibition has been most exciting for the artists and the venue. We had an immensely successful launch night, where the art provoked discussion, reaction and a good time for those who attended.  

“We understand that you have gotten in touch regarding some matters that have been raised around the exhibition itself and are looking for comment. 

“Concerning a couple of the works being removed from the floor space, this was the result of an error in communication. The Centre hosts events in the Gallery where the exhibition is and uses it to access the lift when the exhibition is closed.

“Though sculptures were practicable for the night of the launch, they were not practicable on a daily basis, at all times, as multiple events can run through the course of one day. This could mean damage to the sculptures themselves, and could impact on health and safety. The fact that standing sculptures were going to be present was not ascertained clearly, and next time there will simply be better planning. 

“Please see this link for a virtual tour of the opening night. We hope it captures for you the essence of the evening, and the current exhibition.”

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Aug 262016

Marie Velardi-Future Perfect 21st Century-2006-2015-Kochi BiennaleWith thanks to John Morrison.

Peacock Visual Arts proudly presents Lost Islands & Other Works, an exhibition of drawing, sculpture, and installation by Marie Velardi. For her first solo show in the UK, this exhibition brings together recent and significant works to consider the nature of impermanence and movement of time from various perspectives.

Within her practice, Marie employs fact and fiction to both imagine and question the future.

Works closely examine movements of the earth, such as the continuous shift between land and sea, or inhabited islands disappearing into the ocean due to rising water levels. Marie’s use of fiction to present a timeline of the 21st century as described in sci-fi literature and film, offsets our reality to incite a powerful yet playful protest about the uncertainty of our future, and the condition of the earth today.

During the exhibition, selected artists, initiatives and academics will be invited to actively respond to the exhibition to explore ideas around unpredictable worlds, landscape, and sustainability.

Marie Velardi was born in Geneva, Switzerland. She lives and works in Geneva and Paris. Her work has been exhibited in France, Germany, Belgium and Italy. In 2014-2015 she represented Switzerland at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India. She has won various awards; among them the ‘2015 Scholarship of the City of Geneva’ for her on-going research project called Terre-Mer.

Marie Velardi // Lost Islands & Other Works

Runs: 27 August 2016 – 8 October 2016
Venue: Peacock Visual Arts

Jun 302016

Gary Shand George Sq sculpture prior to oiling 2By Duncan Harley.

Inverurie has a new and exciting piece of artwork courtesy of north east based chainsaw sculptor Gary Shand.

When Aberdeenshire Council Landscape Services Officer Ken Regan realised that he had a dead elm tree on his hands he decided to approach Gary in the hope of persuading him to transform the 25ft high stump into a piece of public art.

“I had seen carved tree stumps in the parks of Barcelona … the notion that folk could almost randomly stumble upon them appealed and when this opportunity arose it seemed appropriate to create one for Inverurie” said Ken.

Sited in parkland on George Square outside Inverurie’s St Andrew’s School, the sculpting process immediately drew comments from local residents. Carving a tree trunk with a power-saw is after all a very public process.

Says Gary,

“It was really interesting overhearing the comments. At the beginning folk were mainly asking what it was for and what did it mean. Towards the end of the week I detected a sense of ownership. Folk had literally adopted the piece as a part of their local environment.”


Chainsaw sculptor Gary Shand

The design stage involved consultation with St Andrew’s School pupils. Drawings were produced and, as Gary puts it “the ideas were put into the blender.” The image of the children with arms around each other, lifting each other up and reaching for the sky was the result and “Aspire” was born.

With a background in forestry and a lifelong interest in the creative arts, Gary was an obvious choice for the project. “In fact we were fortunate that he was able to commit to the work” said Ken Regan.

Alongside his “Stump Sculptures” Gary creates bespoke pieces, often from elm, suited to the average size home.

“Dutch Elm disease has been a mixed blessing” he says.

“it’s not quite so good for forests but is useful if you are a carver … Elm is an ideal timber for outdoor sculpture and providing you keep it moist, which is easy in Scotland, it will last forever.”

Given that the Romans utilized elm for water-pipes, Gary is not far wrong.

Samples of Gary’s work can be seen at www/

Images and text © Duncan Harley

First published in the June 2016 edition of Leopard Magazine

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Jun 022016

knowing_not_knowing_post_imageWith thanks to John Morrison.

Peacock Visual Arts proudly presents knowing not knowing, an exhibition of prints and sculptural works by artist Jamie Davidson.

Drawing on a three month period of research in Japan this body of new work develops visual themes explored in Jamie’s previous solo show.

The installation of prints and sculpture reflect a simplicity of form and sensitivity to material seen in the traditional architecture and craftsmanship throughout Japan.

This is particularly evident in the construction of their temples and gardens where boundaries between interior and exterior gently give way to each other. Here in the shadow between the two spaces, a crossing over, or passing through subtly evokes our own sense of being in the world.

Starting with a simple shape and by allowing the sculptural work to develop at the same time as the print series knowing not knowing recalls, in abstract form, many aspects of Jamie’s experiences whilst in Japan.

About the artist:

A Graduate of Moray School of Art, Jamie Davidson previously trained and worked as a carpenter. Inspired by the natural and built environment, Jamie’s sculptural works are also informed by his many years of experience with traditional materials. In 2013, Jamie won the Saltire Society International Travel Bursary for visual arts, which funded a research trip to Japan in 2014.

Date: 17 June 2016 – 30 July 2016
Opening: Thurs 16 June 2016, 6-8pm
Venue: Peacock Visual Arts

May 222015

Aberdeen-based artists Brian and Bibo Keely have turned a major life event into an exhibition of portraiture and sculpture which is optimistic, personal, educational and aesthetically wonderful.  By Suzanne Kelly

Brian and BiboWhen local artists want to exhibit, more and more of them are going to Glasgow and Edinburgh. There are several reasons for this. Many feel disenfranchised from a conservative Aberdeen arts matrix populated by those who hold the purse strings, those with money and those in government. Outside of Aberdeen arts flourish from the grassroots in an artist-led organic fashion. It is rumoured that here for instance, those who created Aberdeen’s lamentable ‘City of Culture’ bid invented contrivances of their own without input from our existing musicians and artists – to the point that one Culture supremo had to have WASPS explained to them (briefly, WASPS is the largest organisation helping artists work in affordable studio space in Scotland).

Art that comes from personal experience, from research and work independent of a pro-government agenda will always trump art sponsored and commissioned (whether directly or tacitly) by those in power. It is no wonder the arts community Scotland wide decided that ‘gigs on rigs’ and a one off concert for ships horns, orchestras and horses were events that had little real merit or support from the local practicising artists. We have seen several arts practitioners pack up and move south. This trend must be reversed – possibly the best thing that could happen is for a clean sweep of the existing cabal of people handing out grants from our arts fund to people they very often know. In the meantime if artists are not voting with their feet and moving (like Fraser Denholm, creator of excellent film ‘Run Down Aberdeen’), they are certainly taking their work south where it can be shown in galleries that are often artist-led, to be seen by fellow artists and a more international (and dare I suggest it) less conservative audience.

Torry’s Anna Geerdes has had a very successful show in Glasgow’s Compass Gallery two months back; visitors from several countries and many Scottish cities visited and bought her surrealistic, beautifully-executed work. Also showing work that is beautifully executed, personal and relevant is Brian Keely, currently exhibiting in ArtVillage in Glasgow.  ArtVillage “revives historic High Streets that have suffered decline by creating vibrant, successful cultural centres” – which certainly sounds like the kind of initiative we need here.  Such initiatives are common in many cities south of the oil capital of Europe; it is a pity that while we have the occasional temporary ‘pop up shop’, there are empty spaces on our high street serving no purpose which could be given to artists’ collectives (such as poor Limousine Bull, which had to close because it needed a paltry sum to continue after an arts funding fiscal reorganisation:  no money could be found).  It is just as well we have a few less conventional venues which exhibit fledgling and established artists’ work such as our private galleries, BrewDog and Under The Hammer.  But we could and should be doing more.

On With The Show
But I digress.  The point of this piece is to highlight how heart patient Brian Keely has taken from his experience and created a collection of portraits, and how his wife Bibo reflects her experience in her sculpture.  The official programme explains further:-

portrait by Brian Keeley“Brian Keeley graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1984. He has worked extensively in community film and video, and as a digital video editor. He taught English as a Foreign Language in Germany for many years and, before his illness, he was a secondary teacher of Art & Design in Aberdeen.

“Bibo Keeley’s artwork has been exhibited in numerous collective exhibitions and also solo exhibitions, in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK over the last few years, and following this life-changing experience she has embraced her artistic career and in 2015 will begin a BA (Hons) degree course in Fine Art at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen.

“Brian & Bibo were married in the Intensive Care ward at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, Clydebank, when Brian was not expected to survive any longer.”

 A video of the exhibition can be found here

“Brian’s portrait paintings pay tribute to his wife Bibo, and to the medical professionals who saved his life during months in Intensive Care and and who helped him recover following his eventual heart transplant.

“Bibo’s sculptures respond to her experiences during this time, and her photography documents her husband’s recovery and recuperation.”

The many canvas portraits capture a number of personalities and characteristics of those who Brian and Bibo encountered in their dealings with the NHS, but there is an optimism, and a refusal to resort to gross exaggeration or distortion of facial features.  The portraits are fond portrayals.  Brian says of his experiences:-

brian keeley self portraitAlthough I already knew that I wanted to paint portraits from these photographs, I did not know if I would even walk again, let alone be able to hold a paintbrush.

“The photographs were an important way for me to connect with the subjects during this short window of opportunity between surviving the transplant and leaving Intensive Care.

“Painting these 25 portraits gave me a clear focus and a creative goal during my rehabilitation.

“It was an important part of my recovery, and I wanted to fix this period in time.”

Bibo’s sculptures seem to reflect the inner emotional rollercoaster the two of them must have been on; there is a demonic figure; there is a tender family grouping, there is a work which seems to show the transformation such major surgery must mean physically, mentally and emotionally.

In Brian’s words:-

“The exhibition seeks to raise awareness of the issue of organ donation, and the terrifying numbers of people who suffer from heart disease and heart attacks.

“These issues are particularly current as Anne McTaggart MSP is currently in the process of bringing a Private Members Bill to the Scottish Parliament that would see the introduction of a ‘soft opt-out’ system of organ donation in Scotland.”

This interest in the issues surrounding organ donation is of course personal, but Brian and Bibo are often found in Aberdeen at events where art meets social problems, be it exhibitions at Easter Anguston Farm, artists’ gatherings, and premiers of documentaries about important issues. They do what artists should do – look for issues and problems, react to them, help where they can, and create artifacts that reflect what is going on and how they feel. It is these kinds of artist that communities need more than someone whose art tells them how great things are in the eyes of their patrons. Let’s hope we are not about to lose more talent to cities that appreciate genuine talent more than we seem to.

Event info at:



Sep 272013

‘I want to be there, there being no top of tree, no glory or honour, simply working good and well, and producing stuff that will last the ages.’ (William Lamb, 1923)

As a young lad growing up in Montrose in the 1960s I first came across William Lamb’s work when my uncle used his old studio. Surrounded by statues of massive figures, disembodied heads and nude young boys, the place had a strange, neglected atmosphere. These days, his large bronze figures are proudly displayed in the town and the studio is open to the public.  John Stansfeld’s new biography can only add to the reputation of an important artist, often described as ‘a Scottish Rodin’. Graham Stephen reviews.

People's-Sculptor3Lavishly illustrated, the book details Lamb’s artistic achievements and gives us insight to a complex man who, despite a reluctance to leave his beloved home town, once solo-cycled over 4000km through Europe on his trusty Raleigh, had a trial for Aberdeen FC and briefly became a playmate of the current queen.

From a variety of sources, most notably the Simms’ family archive, Stansfeld examines Lamb’s struggle to create superb work despite personal hardships.

Rooted in his community and landscape, Lamb chose to ‘starve among (his) own folk’ rather than dilute his native culture by moving away in search of a more lucrative market.

His portrayal of working men and women, real people often struggling with life and the elements, are a particular feature of his work.

The Lamb who enlisted in 1915 was a skilled stonemason, respected artist and all-round sportsman. He returned a broken man, temporarily struck dumb, physically and psychologically devastated and, tragically, with a permanently damaged right hand.

By sheer force of will he taught himself to work again with his left, skilled enough to win commissions to create the war memorials which funded his European travels in 1923. His surviving letters from this trip are one of the highlights of the book, an insight into a man with a meticulous eye for detail, realising that art would be his life, never taking the easy path.

Stansfeld’s detailed research unearths intriguing aspects of Lamb’s life. He was almost perpetually penniless, relying on friends to feed him, often on a daily basis. Any money he made was invariably used to fund materials, or help fellow artists like Ed Baird, another undervalued Montrose talent.

The local council, disturbed by his nude figures, suggested adding kilts for a major exhibition, and Lamb reacted predictably. He was a lifelong teetotaller, disgusted by his alcoholic father, supressing his probable homosexuality, living alone in a freezing attic. His attendance at fledgling Nationalist meetings held by poet Hugh MacDiarmid in the 1920s was more likely for the heat of the fire than for the rhetoric.

Lamb later took his revenge on the arrogant MacDiarmid by making his bust look ‘like him’.

Most intriguing is his commission to sculpt Princess Elizabeth in 1932 when he spends many hours alone with the future queen, playing house and crafting plasticine tea-sets, before returning to Montrose, and his ultimate decline.

In a rare speech in 1930 William Lamb described Scottish sculpture as ‘hopeless’, unappreciated and unloved by the majority of the population. Even today it would be hard to argue against him. This fine book should help to bring his achievements to a wider audience.

The People’s Sculptor: The Life and Art of William Lamb (1893-1951)
John Stansfeld
Birlinn Ltd

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Jan 172013

Constellations, an exhibition of work by German artist Bibo Weber will run at MUSA in Exchange Street from 15th January until  24th March, 2013.

An Aberdeen resident since 2009, Bibo creates sculptures and other artwork in a variety of media and techniques, using natural materials like driftwood and ceramic as well as non-organic materials and found objects.

Her artwork deals with our connectedness with nature and the transience of life, and is influenced by imagery of supernatural beliefs from different cultures and inspired by the forms she sees in the natural world around her.

Bibo often brings her sculptures into a natural environment in which she feels it merges with its surroundings and, by doing this, creates temporary installations.

A wide range of Bibo’s recent work, including sculpture, photography and ceramics, can be seen in Constellations, her first solo exhibition, which runs at MUSA from this week.

The main elements in Constellations are the tall wooden sculptures which are loosely based on the totems of North Pacific Native Americans.  A totem can be the symbol of a tribe, clan, family or individual, and it bears testimony to a close affinity to nature.

By using symbolic shapes and texture and the use of mainly organic material, Bibo’s artwork explores the spirit of people and nature, interspersed with imagery of the North East coast of Scotland as seen through the artist’s eyes.

The main material from which the sculptures are made is recovered wood which, once carved and shaped, is resurrected in the form of narrative constellations.

Bibo arranges and photographs these constellations to evoke specific encounters – similar to pictures in an old family album.
Some of these photographs, which are taken along the Aberdeenshire coastline, can also be seen at the exhibition as large-format prints.

One of the works in this exhibition, Yamatanka, is a large, mixed-media, full-head mask which Bibo was inspired to create after seeing a performance in Aberdeen by a group of Tibetan monks from the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.

Yamantaka is the Tibetan god of wrath who overcomes death by adopting the appearance of Death and whose terrifying appearance is said to protect us from external evil.

There are also some of Bibo’s ceramics on display and, in keeping with the general theme of ‘natural environment’ these small sculptures and vases are inspired by the forms, colours and textures of kelp seaweed.

Over the last year Bibo has contributed to a number of exhibitions in London, Chichester, Edinburgh Paisley Dunkeld and Aberdeen and is planning another Constellations exhibition which will be held in the Duthie Park Winter Gardens later this year.

Constellations runs at MUSA, 33 Exchange St, Aberdeen, from 15th January until 24th March.  See

Further information.
Website –

Oct 152012

This Wednesday, a Mobile Sculpture Workshop at Scottish Sculpture Workshop (SSW) offers a great opportunity for 12 to 16 year olds to learn more about food and how it shapes our lives. With thanks to  Emily Wyndham Gray.

On Wednesday 17 October come along to SSW from 10am to 1pm for a morning of mobile sculpture making.

Join artists Jonathan Baxter and Sarah Gittins in the SSW workshops and studios and learn how to make your own mobile sculpture, inspired by food.

The workshop is FREE and materials will be provided, but do bring any empty food packaging and images of food.

If you grow your own food bring a photo of that too!

There are limited places available.  Please call or email to book on 01464 861372, or email This project is supported by Marr Area Partnership.

  • All In The Balance – Mobile Sculpture Workshop ( for 12 to 16 year olds )
    Wednesday 17 October 2012
    10am to 1pm
  • SSW,
    1 Main Street,
    AB54 4JN


Sep 172012

With thanks to  Emily Wyndham Gray.

Beginning on the 16th of September, Scottish Sculpture Workshop will be opening its doors to the public for NEOS 2012. This year, SSW will be hosting an open studio exhibition, showcasing the work of artists in residence and programme participants, as well as a variety of events and activities.

Cheesecake Making and Afternoon Tea, and will continue throughout NEOS with Still Life Drawing classes, woodcarving demonstrations, artist talks, a participatory paper-kiln workshop and will close with a performance by local group Dudendance on Sunday 23rd.

The Open Studio Exhibition, Sunday 16th September to 22nd September will feature work from artists who have been in residence, and from projects led by SSW over the summer. The exhibition will bridge areas of sculpture, ceramics, illustration, installation, photography and text-based work. Alongside the exhibition will be resident artists working in their studios, giving visitors an insight into the day-to-day of Scottish Sculpture Workshop.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to engage with the ongoing Sculpture in the Landscape Symposium; information revolving around the renovation of the Lumsden Sculpture Walk will be made widely available and any input on the development is welcome.

The results from SSW’s Makers’ Meal, which has been running since the beginning of July, will also be on display. Makers’ Meal is a project between local artists and artisans which has seen the setting for a meal crafted from the ground up, combining areas of woodwork, ceramics, and forging, with heavy emphasis on collaboration.

The work will be on show in the SSW studio over NEOS for anyone who would like to view the final collection before being exhibited on tour around the North East.

Contemporary dance collective Dudendance will be performing at SSW on Sunday the 23rd of September, 6.30pm, to conclude the Open Studios event. The group will be creating a site-specific performance piece, as a durational work in the open studio space.

Date(s) and Times:

Open Studio Exhibition
10am to 5pm, 16 – 22 September

Paper-Kiln Workshop and Woodcarving demonstration
10am to 5pm, Saturday 22 September

6.30pm, Sunday 23 September

Location: SSW, 1 Main Street, Lumsden, Aberdeenshire, AB54 4JN.
Cost: Entrance Free
Afternoon Tea, £2.50/person

For more information or to book a place on any of the workshops and classes listed above, visit our website, call 01464 861372 or email

Image Credits: All pics ©SSW