Aberdeen Round-Up

Spectra, Snug and spaces for artists, we reflect on a recent visit to Aberdeen. 

A walk round Aberdeen city centre with Outer Spaces showed us a number of premises, from shop fronts, offices and a former arcade, that have currently been activated by artists as studio, exhibition and project spaces. 

Since 2021, Outer Spaces has provided artists across Scotland with temporary, rent-free space to make and exhibit new work without the pressure of a prescribed outcome. In Aberdeen, they have partnered with Robert Gordon University, Look Again and Peacock to provide space for expansion and the development of ideas. A recent partnership with Able Deen meant that they could support the accessibility of Spectra, Scotland’s festival of light. 

Now in its 10th year, Spectra took place on 8th – 10th February across sites in Aberdeen City Centre. Over 100,000 people attended to enjoy light installations in sites such as Aberdeen Museum and Art Gallery, Marischal College and Union Terrace Gardens. Winds of Change, a large scale projection by artists Heinrich and Palmer will remain as part of the Museum and Art Gallery’s permanent collection. 

To celebrate the 10th anniversary, SCAN member Look Again Aberdeen worked with artist Craig Barrowman to deliver Northern Lights, an augmented reality experience that visitors could access via their phones. Working with creative practitioners with roots in Aberdeen, a trail or QR codes meant that visitors could access new instagram filters, bringing the street in front of them to life.

Look Again host events, exhibitions and an exciting year-round programme, including pop-up events in spaces across the city and exhibitions designed to connect and strengthen the creative community in North East Scotland. 

Alongside network development and the distribution of microgrants, involvement with large scale projects like Spectra, which attracts such large audiences, helps Look Again to create real opportunities for the local creative community. 

Peacock marks 50 years of printmaking with a special exhibition drawn from the Peacock Archive Collection at Aberdeen Art Gallery. Established in 1974, Peacock has played a pivotal role in the cultural life of the North East. On display are iconic and vibrant works by founding members and artists, pioneering printmakers and influential teachers who established this important workshop. 

Further down Union Street, Peacock’s freshly opened Print Room space (an Outer Spaces site) provides an educational space for those new to printmaking to have a go for themselves, whilst taking inspiration from artworks produced in the workshop. 

On a cold wintery Friday, we were lucky to find out about Snug, a cosy, welcoming space for adults, hosted by artists. Visitors are welcome to come in and make use of the free art materials or just take some for themselves with a hot drink and a book or a jigsaw. Funded by the ACVO Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, Snug is part of Arkade Studios, Housed in the Anatomy Rooms, a building full of artists and creative organisations. 

We also had a chance to meet Kirsty Russell, one of the artists who is part of Tactics For togetherness. TfT started as an exhibition in reponse to British Art Show 9 in Aberdeen in 2021, and has evolved in Communal Powers, a shared library of books, tools and other equipment that can be made available to artists. By increasing access to resources, TfT aim to help artists save money and build connections, whilst reducing environmental impact.  

The spirit of generosity around sharing, learning, space, ideas was the thread which ran through all of our stops in Aberdeen and we are looking forward to returning in the Summer. 

Header image: Butterfly Dream by Anne Bennett, installed in the Remembrance Gallery, Aberdeen Museum and Art Gallery