Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums reveals 2020 exhibitions programme

Dame Zandra Rhodes. Photograph by Simon Emmett

The programme of special exhibitions for the coming year at Aberdeen Art Gallery and Aberdeen Maritime Museum has been announced today (Wednesday 18 December).

Working with local, national and international partners, Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums are bringing must-see exhibitions to the city, giving local people opportunities to see world-class art and design close to home, and driving tourist visits to the Granite City.

Notable highlights of the special exhibitions programme at Aberdeen Art Gallery include the first major solo exhibition in Scotland by internationally acclaimed artist Haroon Mirza, who brings his exploration of waveforms in sound and light to Aberdeen, a celebration of iconic British fashion designer Dame Zandra Rhodes in the year of her 80th birthday and a welcome return for the popular BP Portrait Award.

In 2020, three major exhibitions will be presented in the BP Galleries at Aberdeen Art Gallery:

Haroon Mirza: Waves and FormsSaturday 21 March – Sunday 7 June 2020

The first major solo show in Scotland by the acclaimed artist Haroon Mirza, Waves and Forms highlights the artist’s ongoing exploration of waveforms: how they are perceived, the emotional and physical responses they create and the various ways in which we relate to them. The galleries will feature new and reconfigured artworks that test the interplay and friction between sound waves, light waves, water and electric current. Mirza’s artworks are united by an enduring preoccupation and engagement with diverse disciplines including physics, shamanism, artificial intelligence and astrology.

Presented in partnership with hrm199, the studio founded by Haroon Mirza and the John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton.

Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of FabulousSaturday 4 July – Sunday 20 September 2020

Celebrating five decades of iconic design, Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous is the largest ever exhibition dedicated to British design legend Dame Zandra Rhodes. Her unique use of bold prints, fiercely feminine and instantly recognizable patterns and theatrical colour palettes have sealed Dame Zandra’s place in design history. Her pink hair, statement makeup and wearable art jewellery continue to stamp her personal identity on the international world of fashion. This comprehensive exhibition explores 50 years of a fascinatingly varied career, presenting influential looks, original textiles and archive material.

Organised by the Fashion and Textile Museum, London.

BP Portrait AwardSaturday 10 October 2020 – Sunday 23 January 2021

The BP Portrait Award is the world’s most prestigious portrait painting competition. For over 40 years the Award has encouraged artists to develop portraiture in their work, attracting some 40,000 entries from artists in more than 100 countries. Aberdeen Art Gallery has a long relationship with the National Portrait Gallery and BP, having hosted the BP Portrait Award exhibition in the city since 1993. Its return to Aberdeen is keenly anticipated.

Organised by the National Portrait Gallery

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson, said: “Following the successful re-opening of Aberdeen Art Gallery, we are thrilled to be announcing this exciting programme of special exhibitions for 2020. As well as offering local people a range of opportunities to see world-class art in their home city, these high-profile exhibitions will be an important driver for tourist visits to Aberdeen, by people who want to experience the city’s vibrant year-round calendar of exhibitions, festivals and other cultural events.”

In addition to the BP Galleries, the recently completed redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery has created a further two special exhibition spaces. Gallery 2 will present work by local schools, groups and societies. Gallery 3 is a flexible space which will be used in a variety of ways including hosting Artist-in-Residence opportunities as well partnerships with national organisations featuring both historic and contemporary loans, work by local artists, and new media, textiles and works on paper from our collections.

Highlights of the exhibitions programme in Galleries 2 and 3 include:

Saturday 22 February – Sunday 24 May 2020

The Bill Gibb LineExplore new narratives across poetry and fashion, inspired by Aberdeenshire-born international fashion designer Bill Gibb. Writer and performer Shane Strachan has collaborated with Fashion and Textile Design students at Gray’s School of Art to explore Gibb’s life and work. The resulting exhibition and film celebrate the personas we adopt when we dress up in an outfit or inhabit a poetic voice. To coincide with the exhibition, a major two-day symposium exploring Bill Gibb’s legacy and his links to the north-east of Scotland takes place on 19 and 20 March, organised jointly by AAGM and Gray’s School of Art / The Robert Gordon University.

The Bill Gibb Line: commissioned by Look Again Festival 2019, supported by RGU Art & Heritage Collections.

Saturday 21 March – Sunday 24 May 2020Artist in ResidenceAs part of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums’ commitment to supporting creative practitioners working locally, this three-month Residency will give an artist, designer or maker the chance to get to know and be inspired by the city’s collections, visitors and stories and create new work. They will offer a range of opportunities for visitors of all ages to learn more about their creative practice through talks, workshops and open studio visits.

Saturday 6 June – Sunday 29 August 2020Aberdeen Artists SocietyA welcome return to Aberdeen Art Gallery for Aberdeen Artists Society who present a selected exhibition of members’ work in Galleries 2 and 3.

Saturday 12 September 2020– Sunday 10 January 2021James Giles Portraits (working title)A celebration of the life and work of Aberdeen artist James Giles RSA (1801-1870) to mark 150 years since the artist’s death. Giles was a versatile artist. Although he specialised in portraiture and landscape painting, he was also a successful landscape architect, designing a number of public gardens and monuments in Aberdeen. His patrons included the Aberdeenshire aristocracy and Queen Victoria. The story of Giles’ rich and illustrious career is told through a selection of portraits of the artist at various periods of his life.

At Aberdeen Maritime Museum, the exhibitions programme is inspired by the depth and variety of the Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums collection, allowing us to display even more treasures to the public and highlighting particular strengths and areas of interest in the collections.

Previously announced and continuing until Monday 13 AprilCartomania: A Victorian Photographic PhenomenonCartes de visite were the first form of affordable mass-produced photography. These images of families and friends, royalty and celebrities of the day were wildly popular during the Victorian era. Queen Victoria herself helped spread the craze by building her own collection. Cartomania explores this early photographic phenomenon through the work of pioneering photographers such as the celebrated Aberdonian photographer George Washington Wilson. This fascinating exhibition looks in detail at the collecting craze, explores the social impact of photography, changing fashions and how you can date your own cartes de visite.

Saturday 25 April – Sunday 1 November 2020Making a Splash! A Century of Women’s Beachwear

Seaside fashions have been influenced by decades of social and political change, the Hollywood film industry and innovations in design and materials. This exhibition showcases highlights from our 20th century beachwear collection including bathing costumes, playsuits, sundresses and accessories.

Caroline Clark, Director Scotland of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, added: “After such a major redevelopment, we’re delighted that the new special exhibition spaces at Aberdeen Art Gallery will be filled by an exciting and eclectic programme of exhibitions over the next year. Visitors from near and far will have the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful array of local and international art and design in what is now a world-class setting.”