Aberdeen Archive, Gallery and Museums award commissions to six city artists

Six local creative practitioners have been awarded commissions to create new works for Aberdeen Art Gallery’s collection, it was announced today (Tuesday 26 January 2021).

The commissions celebrate Aberdeen Art Gallery’s success as a joint winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020 for which it received a share of the £200,000 prize split equally between the five UK winners.

The Art Gallery’s share is being used to support a series of small-scale ‘micro-commissions’, open to creative practitioners living in AB postcode areas.

There were over 40 submissions for this first of two rounds of awards. Two projects will each receive £3,000 and four projects that will each receive £850.

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson, said: “I am delighted that Aberdeen Art Gallery’s Art Fund Museum of the Year prize money is being used to support our creative sector.

The selection panel was impressed with the quality and breadth of the proposed projects. The commissioned artists were selected for their unique response to the Aberdeen’s outstanding collection of art and history. They will use their awards to explore themes of identity and representation, with access to the superb collections and specialist curatorial expertise.

“Public engagement is an important element of these commissions and we hope that, Covid-19 restrictions permitting, there will be opportunities to share their work through a programme of talks, events, performances, workshops and displays.”

The selected creative practitioners / projects are:

Lise Bos, analogue photographer (£3,000)Lise Bos is a non-binary analogue photographer. They explain: “The darkroom has often been a refuge for me. I’ve really missed it during lockdown. I have ADHD, so it’s been extra challenging working from home, and I found I feel much better when I’m working on a creative project, so I’m incredibly excited to start working on my micro-commission. Having moved to Aberdeen from the Netherlands, I want to explore what makes people feel connected to the city, what makes them feel at home here.” 

Helen Partridge Love, ceramics and glass maker and Noon Abdelrazig, spoken word artist (£3,000)

Noon Abdelrazig is a Sudanese Aberdonian spoken word artist and medic, and Helen Partridge Love is a ceramics and glass artist also from Aberdeen. They plan to collaborate to draw attention through poetry and art to the slavery connections in the history of Aberdeen. Helen said: “I applied for the micro-commission because the criteria fitted perfectly to the idea, not the other way around. I am often deterred from applying for funding because briefs can seem like shackles to creativity but this one just floated into place.

Anne Marquiss, jeweller (£850)Anne Marquiss is a practising jeweller based in Aberdeen and says: “This special commission gives me a different opportunity to make a piece that will be shown rather than worn. It will be an honour to respond to individual women artists in the Gallery collection, conveying my interpretation of their thinking. I hope my piece will offer a signpost for tomorrow’s women, creating timely symbols of where we’ve come from and where we can definitely go.”

Jo Gilbert, spoken word artist and writer (£850)Jo Gilbert is a spoken word artist and writer from Aberdeen. Jo has won multiple poetry slams and has had work commissioned for festivals, art installations and film. Jo says: “As soon as I saw the micro-commissions, I wanted to apply straightaway. The Art Gallery has been many things to lots of people over the years, a cultural diary staple, a shelter, a refuge and a gateway to the arts amongst others. How exciting to be given an opportunity to not only write about the collection, but also have your work become a part of its story.”

Ursula Mathers, painter (£850)Ursula Mathers is an Italian-American artist who has exhibited her work internationally. She will explore the role of women in the Aberdeen Art Gallery collection, and says: "I am interested in responding to the theme of female identity by exploring women's work and the female experience in representational paintings and contemporary interpretations of the feminine aesthetic. I identify with this project as a woman, a mother and an artist, but also as an activist for women’s rights. It’s a critical time to re-evaluate women’s roles in society especially within the context of the Covid pandemic, when women are juggling so many responsibilities.”

Nicola Seal, potter (£850)Nicola Seal is a scientist turned potter. Nicola explains: “I have a long-term illness, which has limited my abilities to socialise in real life and, like others, Covid has exacerbated this. The internet is absolute lifeline for keeping in touch with friends and family, and for making new connections. I want to express my gratitude for these social connections through sculpture. I’ve been a huge fan of Aberdeen Art gallery since the renovations, we really have a world class Art Gallery in our city. When I heard about the micro-commissions, I knew I wanted to apply. The chance to get my work in the Gallery was just so exciting.”

Funding will be available for a further six commissions in Round 2, which is due to open in April 2021.

For more information including a recording of Round 1 Q&A session visit: https://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/AAGM/about-us/opportunities

Photograph show funding recipient Lise Bos