Aberdeen Art Gallery looks ahead to must-see exhibitions

Aberdeen Art Gallery today (Tuesday 16 November) announced a programme of must-see special exhibitions for the coming year. The rich and varied programme celebrates iconic fashion, the vitality of contemporary art, grass-roots textiles, Aberdeen’s proud tradition of social care, and remarkable Viking-age treasures.

Tickets are now on sale for Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous, which opens at Aberdeen Art Gallery on Saturday 27 November. The exhibition was originally scheduled to take place in Spring 2020, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is the largest ever exhibition dedicated to the British design legend.

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson, said: “Aberdeen Art Gallery has returned to 7-day-a-week opening, giving us all more opportunities to visit, explore, enjoy and be inspired by the unmissable programme of special exhibitions. From contemporary artists such as Zandra Rhodes, Kenny Hunter and Frances Walker, to Viking-age treasures from the Galloway Hoard, I welcome this rich and varied programme. Not only does it deliver show-stopping exhibitions such as Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous, but it also celebrates our creative communities here in Aberdeen. New works by locally-based creative practitioners have been made possible by the Art Fund Museum of the Year award. We’re thrilled to be marking major anniversaries for Voluntary Services Aberdeen and Aberdeen Stitch and Textile Group, as well as continuing our long-established relationships with Aberdeen Artists Society and Peacock Visual Arts.

“As society continues to open up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, civic spaces such as Aberdeen Art Gallery are vitally important to our own personal wellbeing and to our city’s recovery. This exhibition programme announced today gives us lots to look forward to in the coming months.”

The exhibitions programme for the remainder of 2021 and looking ahead to 2022 includes:

Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous
Saturday 27 November 2021 – Sunday 20 March 2022
BP Special Exhibition Galleries – Level 2
Admission £9 / £7 concessions – booking now open at www.aagm.co.uk

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. At 81 years of age she continues to be a revolutionary force in fashion and textiles. Her recent limited collection for Ikea channels her confidence, charm and celebrates individuality in all its forms. This must-see exhibition explores 50 years of a fascinatingly varied career, presenting influential looks, original textiles and archive material. 

Exhibition organised by the Fashion and Textile Museum, London. 

Kenny Hunter: Sculpture Court
From Saturday 11 December 2021
Sculpture Court – Ground Floor
Admission free
For sculptor Kenny Hunter the monument is a form in flux. His new exhibition, Sculpture Court, is both a provocation and a reflection on the role of public artforms such as the traditional monument. Contrary to their direct and simple messages, Hunter will present them against the magnificent backdrop of Aberdeen’s Art Gallery’s Sculpture Court as ambiguous and open to varied interpretation. Examples of Hunter’s public sculptures can be seen all over Scotland, in the collection of Aberdeen Archives, Gallery & Museums, in the grounds of Aberdeen University, and he is working on a new commission for the Thomas Blake Glover memorial garden in Fraserburgh
Supported by Creative Scotland

Art Fund Museum of the Year Micro-commissions
Saturday 18 December 2021 - Sunday 6 March 2022
Gallery 3 – Ground Floor
Admission free

An exhibition of new artworks commissioned by Aberdeen Art Gallery using the prize money from the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020 award. These micro-commissions are small-scale and fast-paced responses to the permanent collection by locally-based creative practitioners. Each response took place in a period of social upheaval and a global pandemic. These new works of art are testimony to the personal experiences, the professional development, and the realisation of creative ambitions of the commissioned artists. 

Diamond Celebration: 60 Years of the Embroiderers’ Guild in Aberdeen
Saturday 18 December 2021 – Sunday 27 February 2022
Gallery 2 – Ground Floor
Admission free
Since 1961 members of the Embroiderers’ Guild in Aberdeen have shared a passion for stitching and all forms of textile art. Now celebrating 60 years and a new identity as the Aberdeen Stitch & Textile Group, this exhibition celebrates the creativity and the skill of the group’s talented members. It features a huge range of work including intricate hand and machine embroidery, patchwork, quilting, beading, felting, canvas work, goldwork and mixed media in traditional and contemporary styles.

Aberdeen Cares: Celebrating 150 years of Voluntary Services Aberdeen
Saturday 12 March – Sunday 29 May 2022
Gallery 2 – Ground Floor
Admission free

Since 1870 Aberdeen Association of Social Service, known locally as VSA, has stood next to the people of the city, offering care, support, and vital services to vulnerable people in our communities. To mark the organisation’s 150th anniversary, this exhibition explores VSA’s role in the history of social care in Aberdeen and highlights the impact of human kindness through poignant and inspiring personal stories, captivating archival photography, documents and objects associated with care giving in Aberdeen. 
Supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund

Frances Walker
Saturday 19 March – Sunday 12 June 2022
Gallery 3 – Ground Floor
Admission free
Frances Walker CBE RSA is one of Scotland’s most highly regarded living artists. A painter and printmaker, Walker studied at Edinburgh College of Art. She was sole teacher of art in Harris and North Uist in the Western Isles before taking up a position as Lecturer in Drawing and Painting at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen. She was a founding member of Aberdeen’s Peacock Printmakers. This exhibition features six new prints made by Walker at the print studio named in her honour at Peacock Visual Arts. Presented in association with Peacock Visual Arts.

Aberdeen Artists Society: Facing Forward
Saturday 16 April – Sunday 3 July 2022
BP Special Exhibition Galleries – Level 2
Admission free
A welcome return to Aberdeen Art Gallery for Aberdeen Artists Society, one of Scotland’s longest-established artist-led membership organisations. AAS aims to raise awareness of contemporary visual arts in Aberdeen and Scotland by providing a forum for visual artists and makers to exhibit and promote their work. These works in a wide range of media have selected from an open submission and are available to purchase.

Galloway Hoard: Viking-age Treasure
30 July – 23 October 2022
BP Special Exhibition Galleries – Level 2
Admission free

The Galloway Hoard, discovered in 2014, is one of the most important UK archaeological finds of the century - the richest collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland. Buried around AD900, the Hoard brings together a huge variety of objects and materials in one discovery. This stunning exhibition offers the first chance for visitors to see details hidden by the dirt and corrosion of over a thousand years, revealed by expert conservation, painstaking cleaning and cutting-edge research. The exhibition will show these cleaned, conserved objects, with AV and graphics giving behind-the-scenes insight into the archaeological and scientific details which have enabled researchers to begin to understand this unique find.
Galloway Hoard: Viking-age Treasure is a National Museums Scotland touring exhibition supported by the Scottish Government.

Jerwood Art Fund Makers’ Open 2021
19 November 2022 – 4 March 2023
BP Special Exhibition Galleries – Level 2
Admission free

Five new commissions by Anna Berry, Cecilia Charlton, Jahday Ford, Vicky Higginson, Francisca Onumah and Helena Russell. Launched in 2010, Jerwood Art Fund Makers Open (formerly Jerwood Makers Open) supports exceptional UK-based artist and makers within 1-10 years of beginning their practice to develop their creative ideas. The eighth edition launches a new collaboration with Art Fund and a partnership with Aberdeen Art Gallery, who are hosting a dedicated curatorial role to support the project. The exhibition launches at the Jerwood Space in London in January 2022, tours to Newlyn Art Gallery, Penzance in summer 2022 and Aberdeen Art Gallery in late 2022.

Image: Dame Zandra Rhodes. Photograph by Simon Emmett.