Young artists get chance to be creative in Canada

Three young artists from the North-east of Scotland are embarking on a unique journey to Canada after receiving Creative Travel Awards from Aberdeen City Council.

Amber Robertson, Kirsty Russell, and Gillian McKechnie were successful in applying for the awards and they will each spend up to eight weeks in Calgary to hone their skills and work practices.

The Creative Travel Award was founded in 2014 as the Diamond Jubilee Commonwealth Travel Bursary, with the aim to encourage young artists to develop skills and experience in Commonwealth countries, which they could then use to further their creative careers on their return to Aberdeen.

Aberdeen City Council, worked in partnership with Robert Gordon's University, Citymoves and Aberdeen Performing Arts to develop the Creative Travel Award so that young artistic people can spend time creating new work, attend training or take part in a residency or mentoring scheme in another city in a Commonwealth country.

Calgary Arts Development has been working with Aberdeen City Council since 2014 to play host to artists from the Granite City.

Deputy Leader of Aberdeen City Council Councillor Marie Boulton said: "This award is a fantastic opportunity for three young artists to experience life in a major international city undergoing a cultural resurgence. Calgary has revamped its cultural image and re-energised their creative sector; we want to send young artists to Canada to learn new skills, develop their practice and to be inspired. It is these opportunities that can help take a young artist to the next stage of their career and development, and Aberdeen City Council is proud to be supporting this vital funding."

Successful dance applicant Gillian McKecknie has wasted no time and has headed out to Canada to expand her knowledge of teaching methods in dance over an eight-week residency in Calgary. She has devised a full programme of activity working with associate lecturer and freelance choreographer Melanie Kloetzel on a site specific work called 'Rooms' which will showcase in Calgary in September. This will be followed by shadowing a weekly Parkinson's class that she aims to develop in Aberdeen on her return. Pulse Dance Studio will mentor Gillian in Hip Hop dance alongside Blueprint for Life, an organisation in Calgary which supports disadvantaged young people. Gillian intends to continue to develop her skills working with young people in Aberdeen on her return. There will also be an opportunity for her to volunteer at Fluid, a physical theatre festival held in Calgary in October 2015.

Gillian is looking forward to learning from her experience in Calgary. She said: "I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to go to Calgary and experience the dance scene around the city. Teaching methods is something I have explored in Aberdeen over the past year and it's exciting to be given this opportunity to further my knowledge and develop my skills whilst in Canada.

"I am working alongside various organisations that focus on different age groups and different styles of dance, with the aim of bringing these experiences back to Aberdeen to create new opportunities that will help expand dance around the city. During my time in Calgary I am attending weekly classes for people with Parkinson's disease and I am confident that this will be one of many new opportunities which I will be able to offer on my return to Aberdeen."

To find out more about Gillian's experience visit:


Amber Robertson and Kirsty Russell were successful in getting a six-week residency to research Temporary Studio, a project they have been developing in Aberdeen.

Through this residency these emerging artists aim to develop a manifesto for Temporary Studio in Aberdeen. They will initially research their idea by meeting and discussing the development of new and existing arts organisations in Calgary. Then by asking critical questions of emerging groups and artists, and by making connections between Aberdeen and Calgary, they will develop the next steps for their project. They will work alongside the host organisation TRUCK, taking inspiration from them as an established art organisation in an industrial city.

Artist Amber Robertson said: "We are so thrilled to have been selected for the Creative Travel Award and can't wait to go to Calgary where we will work alongside our host organisation TRUCK for a month. During our research trip we hope to gain first-hand experience on how TRUCK, along with other art spaces in Calgary, run and are sustained.

"Kirsty and I co-founded Temporary Studio in Aberdeen in January 2015 and have already had positive and encouraging feedback to what we are doing. We believe our trip to Calgary, an industrial city similar to Aberdeen, will aid our growth and allow us to develop a more informed and professional approach which we can utilise to begin to establish Temporary Studio on our return."

The Creative Travel Award is funded from Aberdeen's Common Good Fund.