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Cowdray Hall keeper retires after 34.5 years with ACC

Our Cowdray Hall Keeper Lillias Rennie retired last week, after working a total of 34.5 years (must not forget about the half) with Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeen Art Gallery & Musuems.

We'd all like to wish her a very happy retirement and thank her for all her hard work over the years.

Here's a photo of Lillias handing over the keys to Ali Leith.

 Lillias and Ali


Graduate from Gray's School of Art, will exhibit work at Aberdeen Maritime Museum

Rachel Grant, a young local sculptor, a recent graduate from Gray's School of Art, will exhibit work from her recent degree show.

Inspired by the women that worked in the region's herring industry in the 19th century, Rachel used fish bones to create an 8ft wall installation, evoking the hard labour of women who worked in the fishing industry over the centuries.

On display at Aberdeen Maritime Museum from Friday 17th August to Saturday 24th November 2012.


Aberdeen Maritime Museum nominated three times

We have been nominated three times in the 2012 Arts & Business Scotland Award! Twice for the Maritime Museum's Education Suite with Maersk North Sea and once for the 3D film of the Tern Alpha platform with TAQA Bratani.


Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums
Silver Commission

In 2012 Aberdeen Art Gallery will present a major exhibition celebrating Aberdeen silver and shedding new light on the once flourishing and international trade. The intention is to present a comprehensive showcase of the work of the Aberdeen silversmiths from the 17th century to the present day and will include loaned objects from private and public collections from the UK and abroad.

To mark this important exhibition the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums wishes to commission a substantial new piece of innovative metalwork for the contemporary metalwork collection held by Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections. This collection already includes work by Hiroshi Suzuki, Junko Mori, Malcolm Appleby, Michael Lloyd, Adrian Hope, John Creed and a Bird Bowl by Graham Stewart commissioned in 2000 to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Friends. The successful commission will be incorporated into the exhibition and widely promoted.

The Commission Fee is £6,500 to design and make a new piece of work. The work must be completed and delivered to Aberdeen Art Gallery by 31 December 2012.

The deadline date for applications is 30 April 2012.

For further information and to apply please download the forms below:

Silver Commission Information - How to Apply

Silver Commission Application Form


Granite Festival Success

The month of May saw a packed programme of activities and events to celebrate the Granite Industry. Visit the  page for information on all that took place.


Awarding the BP Portrait Award

The BP Portrait Award, the international contemporary portrait competition has made a welcome return to Aberdeen Art Gallery this year. The exhibition comes to Aberdeen Art Gallery every second year and is a very popular show with our visitors. So, I was particularly pleased that we could secure it this year to conclude our special programme of events commemorating our 125th anniversary year. And this year it has an extra-special interest for me, as I had the pleasure and privilege of joining the judging panel.

One cold day in March, I and my fellow judges made our way to an arts centre in the East End of London, where over two days we viewed every entry and selected this year's prizewinners. We watched the whole of life in its many shades and colours and an array of painting styles - from photorealist to symbolic and expressionist - pass before us over the 2 days of judging.

We saw all 2,177 entries on the first day, making an initial selection. As we judges sat in front of a white wall and watched, each painting was brought before us in turn by a superb team of art handlers. A decision was made whether we would like to see it again the following day. As long as one person wished to see the work a second time it got through to the next round.

BP portrait banner

The selection was completely anonymous - the name of each artist was not disclosed and choices were made purely on the portrayal of the subject and the standard of painting technique. The rules of the competition state that the portrait must be painted from life, but the details of the subject were not divulged, unless in the title - or in the case of some of the celebrity sitters like Boris Johnston or the "Dragon" Theo Phaitis, they were already very well known.

On day two we debated, discussed, disagreed and agreed, refining as we went along until the final selection of 58 works emerged. As a curator it was important for me that the selection worked well as an exhibition, illustrating both the quality of portrait painting today and a variety of painting styles. I think the final exhibition does that supremely well. Seeing the exhibition afresh in Aberdeen I was struck by the dominance of a rather sombre colour palette, reflecting, I feel, the current mood of the nation. The exhibition is also an accurate reflection of the themes explored by this year's entries: the family ties that bind us, beauty and ugliness, friendship, illness and death, the awkwardness and innocence of childhood, the transition from youth to adulthood. To my mind all works show considerable skill and craftsmanship and remind us that even in the age of the digital camera, which ostensibly makes capturing an individual's likeness as swift as clicking a button, there remains a quality of illumination that only the painted portrait can achieve.

BP Portrait

My fellow judges - Sarah Howgate (Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery), Ishbel Myerscough (artist) Sir David Scholey CBE, (Senior Adviser, UBS Investment Bank and former Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery) and Des Violaris, (Director UK Arts and Culture, BP) - were great fun to work with. And the National Portrait Gallery's Director, Sandy Nairne, did an excellent job of keeping us in order and ensuring that by the end of day two we had successfully chosen the winners from this terrific group of entries.

So, who were the winners? The winner of the BP Portrait Award 2010 is Daphne Todd for Last Portrait of Mother, a devotional study of her dead mother and somewhat controversial choice. The second prize went to Michael Gaskell for Harry and the third prize to David Eichenberg for Tim II. There was also a BP Young Artist Award for the work of an entrant aged between 18 and 30. This was won by Elizabeth McDonald for Don't Be Too Serious (Camillo Paravicini).

Dont be so Serious

Do you agree with our choice? Please come along and have a look, even if you don't come into the Art Gallery regularly. The exhibition runs until 22 January 2011and all visitors have a chance to cast a vote in the Public Choice.

Lilla Pearl

Click here to view the BP Portrait Award 2010 exhibition information.

Images top to bottom;
Blue Coco (detail) Shaun Downey © the artist
The True Self-Portrait Carlos Muro © the artist
Don't Be Too Serious (Camillo Paravicini) Elizabeth McDonald © the artist
Lilia Pearl Thea Penna © the artist

Christine Rew
Art Gallery & Museums Manager


Spin goes on display after another Art Fund Collect Win for AAG&M

Spin by Japanese artist Ritsue Mishima, is an outstanding piece of contemporary craft which Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums curator Kate Gillespie won for the Gallery through nationwide initiative Art Fund Collect.

Spin is a hand-blown, spiralling glass piece is characteristic of Mishima's creations which are often concerned with movement and light.

She formed the vibrant sculpture by spiralling solid canes of hot glass around a blown glass base. This technique creates movement, as if the piece is literally spinning in space. Mishima describes her work as: "originally being conceived as a celestial body, as part of a cosmos, where everything is dynamic, eternally rotating."

Mishima draws inspiration from forms found in nature. Exploring the effects of light she uses transparent, colourless glass to give the sensation of pureness and luminosity. Spin captures and releases light and colour to create harmony within the context it is viewed.

Born in 1962 in Kyoto, Ritsue Mishima executes her highly original designs in collaboration with Murano-based craftsmen.

Art Fund Collect is an initiative aimed at championing contemporary craft and increasing its presence in UK collections. It is run by membership charity the Art Fund and the Crafts Council, the national development agency for contemporary craft in the UK.

Ahead of private buyers, short-listed curators had one hour to go around the fair and pick an object to acquire on behalf of their museum or gallery. Final selections were submitted to an expert panel of judges, who decided which curators should win a share of the £75,000 funding pot to acquire their chosen object outright.

Last year, Kate walked away from Art Fund Collect with Neckpiece, a beautiful 18 carat gold, enamel and garnet necklace by Umbria-based British jeweller Jacqueline Ryan, acquired for £26,550.


Thousands attend Aberdeen Art Gallery's 125th birthday party

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Over two thousand people visited Aberdeen Art Gallery to join in its 125 birthday celebrations on July 7 2010.

Within an hour of the Lord Provost of Aberdeen Peter Stephen opening the gallery at 10am, 500 people were enjoying the party.

There was party games with lots of prizes, birthday cake and party bags for partygoers who join in the fun. Everything was free and the activities were open to all ages, throughout the day until 4pm.

There was a special 125 gift presentation by the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums to mark the occasion.

A very special 125 birthday cake which takes the life of the gallery as its inspiration was been made by Aberdeenshire social artist Merlyn Riggs. She presented her participatory art piece The Occasional Tea Room as part of the celebrations. Visitors were able to enjoy afternoon tea and cake in a specially erected tea tent within the gallery and listen, eat and talk in unique and relaxed surroundings.

The City Council's Arts Development team were on hand throughout the day to help everyone with Victorian-themed craft activities; including making bookmarks, photo frames and badges. Face-painting and special 125 celebratory tattoos were also on offer.

There was a Victorian photographic studio set up, so party guests could get dressed up and have their souvenir Victorian family portrait taken by a professional photographer.

The Granite City Chorus provided an assortment of songs over lunchtime.

The origins of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums can be traced to 1873 when John Forbes White and a number of local art collectors decided to hold a public exhibition to display their collections.

From this developed a plan to establish a public art gallery for the benefit of citizens, an objective that continues to drive the programmes of activity within the Museums and Galleries service today.

Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Mark 125 with a Dyce

Dyce 125To mark the occasion of th 125th Anniversary of Aberdeen Art Gallery, Deryck Renton, Chairman of the Committee of the Friends, presented to the Lord Provost the Friends gift to the Gallery.  The committee decided, from a list submitted by the Gallery, that the occasion warranted the outright purchase at £35,000 of a recently discovered painting by William Dyce RA HRSA (Aberdeen, 1806-1864) Portrait of a Lady (The Artist's Wife).

The oil painting is described as an exciting discovery of an unknown work perhaps of his wife and is a fine example of his portrait style from mid career when arguably his work was at its strongest. It is a work entirely of its time and comparable to the best portraiture of the period. The Lady in question is very attractive and the detail of the lace on her dress is quite exquisite.

Award-winning architects have designs on art gallery

Award-winning architects Gareth Hoskins Architects of Glasgow have been chosen to create a design study to ensure Aberdeen Art Gallery is fit for purpose for the 21st century. This marks the first stage in an exciting project to modernise and enhance the gallery as it celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2010. The firm's clients include the Victoria & Albert Museum, The National Trust for Scotland and the National Museums of Scotland.

Given the Art Gallery's pivotal position close to His Majesty's Theatre, the Belmont Picturehouse, citymoves, the Central Library and Union Terrace Gardens, the ongoing development of a cultural quarter will be enhanced by the development.

This design study phase will be financed by the Marguerite McBey Trust, which was established in May 2001 to disburse the bequest of Mrs McBey to fund projects which promote contemporary art and the work and life of her husband, the celebrated artist, James McBey. The Trust also supports the wider work of the Art Gallery & Museums Service. The Marguerite McBey Trust is chaired by Dr Ian McKenzie Smith CBE, past president of the Royal Scottish Academy.

There will be an opportunity for members of the public, cultural organisations and business partners to be involved in shaping the outcome of the Design Study.




News Archive

News - 2009

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