Six Aberdeen artists commissioned to make new works for Aberdeen Art Gallery

Six local creative practitioners have been awarded commissions to create new works for Aberdeen Art Gallery’s collection, it was announced today (Friday 28 May). The commissions celebrate Aberdeen Art Gallery’s success as a joint winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020.

The 2020 prize money of £200,000 was split equally between the five joint winners. Aberdeen Art Gallery’s share is supporting a series of small-scale ‘micro-commissions’, open to creative practitioners of any discipline living in AB postcode areas. This includes visual artists, craft-makers, musicians, writers, sound artists, poets and filmmakers.

In a year when protesters made their voices heard around the world, particularly in support of the Black Lives Matter movement against racial injustice, the micro-commissions are an example of how Aberdeen Archives, Gallery & Museums is addressing lack of representation and diversity in its collection.

As the name suggests, micro-commissions are for small-scale work, produced quickly in response to the collection, creating new works that relate to existing objects and themes or that highlight gaps within the collection. Proposals were invited that say something about an artist’s lived experience in Aberdeen, addressing themes that might include social justice, climate change, identity, diversity, well-being, migration and diversity.

There were over 50 submissions in this second round 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’m thrilled to welcome a second group of creatives into the micro-commissions programme which has been made possible by Aberdeen Art Gallery’s Art Fund Museum of the Year prize money.

“With over 50 excellent applications, the breadth and diversity of the creative sector in Aberdeen made the role of the selection panel even harder in Round 2.

“We are all really looking forward to seeing the next projects develop and offer new perspectives on the historic collection. With themes ranging from self-identity to climate change and neuro-diversity, to our sense of place in Aberdeen, the commissioned artists will explore the collection and the buildings in creative and inspiring ways.

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

The selected creative practitioners / projects are:

Lynne Hocking-Mennie (£850)Lynne is a handweaver and scientist who combines ancestry research, genetic data and material explorations to create handwoven textile objects that explore heritage, connection to place and identity. Much of her work explores her family's connection to the weaving trade in north-east Scotland over at least seven generations. Lynne will create work embedded in ancestral weaving practices that supports exploration of the interconnected relationships between class, means of production and global-local consumption of woven fabrics created in Scotland.Juliet Macleod (£3,000)Juliet Macleod makes contemporary wheel-thrown porcelain inspired by the sea. This commission will enable her to make a piece addressing how climate change is affecting our coasts as coastal communities make up 41% of the total Scottish population. Macleod plans to use abstract mark making, brushwork and colours that are in response to sea-related works in the Gallery collection – those of Frances Walker and Joan Eardley in particular.

Joshua Macpherson (£850)Joshua Macpherson is a painter and illustrator working out of Fraserburgh. Perception, memory, and shared narratives are common themes of his work. His micr-commission project will reflect on the worker of the North Sea fishing industry, many of whom have been offering their labour to this community while isolated from their homes and families.

Kimberley Petrie (£850)Kimberley Petrie is a writer and spoken word artist from Aberdeen. She is absolutely thrilled to be one of the recipients of an Aberdeen Art Gallery micro-commission, saying that the Gallery has always had a special place in her heart since her Grandma took her there as a child. She will create three new pieces in response to her favourite artwork, ‘Flood in the Highlands’ by Edwin Landseer.

Florence Reekie (£3,000)Florence Reekie is a self-taught realist painter who is inspired by societal relationships with clothing and fabric. Reekie will use the micro-commission opportunity to discover more about Aberdeen’s rich history in textiles. Using the AAGM collection to research the subject further, she will also develop ideas around fashion pollution, garment workers and throw-away culture.Joe Stollery (£850)Joe Stollery is a composer currently studying for a PhD in Music at the University of Aberdeen. His project for the Art Gallery will be to take a certain number of exhibits and create short musical interpretations of them for a small chamber group. The project acts not only as a means to express the composer’s general interest in engaging with other artistic media, but also aims to highlight and reflect upon his day-to-day experiences as a high-functioning autist.