A major art exhibition arriving in Aberdeen this summer aims to help the Granite City recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, say organisers and council leaders.
The ninth British Art Show will showcase some of the best contemporary UK artists and will include a specially-commissioned sculpture, created with the help of care workers, and a participatory project that will see a “plant protest” parade through the city streets.
The high-profile show, held every five years by Hayward Gallery Touring, will also put the spotlight on the renovated Aberdeen Art Gallery, chosen as a venue by tour organisers, who were impressed by the redeveloped building.
Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson said: “Aberdeen continues to develop a reputation for being a vibrant cultural destination and British Art Show 9 is an expression of our commitment to putting culture at the heart of the city’s Covid-19 recovery.
“We are very much looking forward to introducing people to the best contemporary art in the UK. We hope that it will be enjoyed by local people rediscovering culture on their doorsteps and – as we become able to travel more freely around Scotland – also by art fans living further afield. British Art Show 9 is a great reason to plan a visit to Aberdeen this summer.”
BAS9, which includes film, photography, painting, sculpture and performance, will open in Aberdeen on July 10 and run to October 10, before moving on to Wolverhampton, Manchester and Plymouth.
Impressed by gallery renovation
Aberdeen Art Gallery will host works by 33 artists in special exhibition galleries and across the whole of the building, including 15 new artworks never before seen in the UK, plus six new commissions and two site-specific works.
Brian Cass, senior curator of Hayward Gallery Touring, said he was delighted the British Art Show was opening in Aberdeen, its first time in the city.
“We always felt that with the redevelopment of the very beautiful and remarkable Aberdeen Art Gallery, which is so central to cultural life in the city, that their reopening would be an opportunity to present British Art Show 9 in the city.
“We were so impressed by the renovation… and we are delighted they have given over all of their gallery for British Art Show 9, so it will be a very significant presentation in the city.”
One of the new commissions for Aberdeen is a sculpture. Crude Care, by Florence Peake who has been working with local care sector workers to create the artwork, reflecting not just care workers, but also the city’s landscape and the mining of its natural resources.
Another highlight will be the Plant Theatre for Plant People project, with artist Grace Ndiritu. Involving outdoor workshops, meditation classes and bonding exercises around ecological activism, it will culminate in a “plant protest” performance parade through the streets.
Other highlights will include a work by Elaine Mitchener is a vocalist, composer and movement artist, as well as presentation around the research project, Climavore: On Tidal Zones which encourages a flexible diet. The artists involved have been working with locals on Skye and Raasay on issues around the salmon farming industry.
Care at heart of relationship with nature
The curators of BAS9 are Irene Aristizábal and Hammad Nasar. They said: “In framing the exhibition, we have grouped practices into three expansive categories: healing, care and reparative history; tactics for togetherness; and imagining new futures.
“While these themes were shaped at the end of 2019, the unfolding impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the protests against racial injustice make them even more urgent.”
Hammad added: “The proposition for Aberdeen would be placing care at the heart of our relationship with nature, and moving away from the exiting hierarchy that puts humans first. The presentation will be anchored in humanity’s need to develop alternative systems for ethical co-habitation in the world.”
Exhibition organisers will soon be recruiting a number of local Ambassadors to introduce the exhibition to Aberdeen audiences. A number of cultural organisations in the city will present associated activity, including Look Again who are offering professional development opportunities for emerging artists in Aberdeen and Plymouth – the first and last host cities for the British Art Show 9 tour.
The exhibition is supported Aberdeen City Council and Creative Scotland, who recently announced a grant of £85,000 from its Open Fund.
For more information visit www.britishartshow9.co.uk