by Peacock Visual Arts
The flat grey slabs of the Granite City have long been awash in the oil industry that led to its economic boom of recent decades. But while the Earth is burning and the oil reserves of the North Sea decrease, Aberdeen has been turning its efforts towards other sources of energy while exercising a rebrand for its image as something other than the home of Big Oil shrugging in nonchalance. Part of this rebrand has seen money being allocated towards the arts, which has led to the inauguration of several cultural organisations and art festivals in the city.
Yet long before this turn towards culture was made, Peacock Visual Arts have been hosting incredible art events since 1974. Peacock Visual Arts has supported thousands of artists in the production of artworks since it opened its doors, ranging from prints to video works, photography, performance and site-specific public installations. At its core lies the idea of the multiple, work that can be reproduced in a variety of formats, analogue and digital, reconfiguring the relationship between the artist, the artwork and the audience, which can be outlined simply as – making, learning and showing. Their organisation is supported by Aberdeen City Council and Creative Scotland.
Peacock’s role in the city of Aberdeen, through its printmaking department, digital studio and gallery/project space The W OR M, has been to activate spaces where artists and the citizens, prompted by artworks, congregate around ideas and practices that interrupt everyday routines. Their making facilities include a digital fabrication studio, screen printing studio and relief printing studio.
In their print shop, they have a wide range of contemporary art prints for sale by local, regional and international artists, many of which have been published and editioned at Peacock Visual Arts.
Beyond Peacock’s seminal role in Aberdeen, the following are some staples to the Aberdeen cultural milieu, selected by Neil Corall, Marketing Manager & Digital Studio Manager, and Joe Coleman, General Manager at Peacock Visual Arts.
Opened in 1885 and regarded as one of the best Art Galleries in Britain It's been closed since 2015 but sets to re-open this November after a £34 million redevelopment. A great place in the city centre to while away a few hours with the added bonus of a nice cafe and host to world-class touring exhibitions.
Before Aberdeen was known as the Oil Capital of Europe it had a rich history within shipbuilding as well as fishing. The Maritime Museum manages to tell the stories of these chapters of Aberdeen History in an interesting and informative manner in a handy city centre location. Fun fact: the clipper ship built in Aberdeen "The Thermopylae" still holds the record for the fastest trip under sail on its maiden voyage to Melbourne in 1872.
Situated in a former jail and in one of Aberdeen's oldest buildings, The Tolbooth Museum is located on Union Street so couldn't be any more central and is brimming with history and artefacts of the darker side of Aberdeen. It also claims to be one of Aberdeen's most haunted buildings.
They describe themselves as "a multi-arts production and studio space" and are housed in the former Anatomy Department of the University of Aberdeen. They are a great destination for small independent shows as well as a much needed open studio space for makers and artists. They also host the odd gig or two and are worth visiting just to see the building they're in. Tucked around the back of Marischal College they are right bang in the city centre.
Run by local stalwarts of the Aberdeen art scene Jon Reid and Mary Butterworth, Kekun Studio is a great independent gallery space which supports and hosts work by emerging within the city. They also do a good programme of workshops and events. Still central but slightly out of the city centre their small home in Rosemount is well worth a visit.
A nice independent cafe space at the start of the West End of Aberdeen, their food selection is always top-notch and they offer a much-needed gallery space showcasing local arts and crafts as well as having an open call system for shows. Worth taking a walk to.
Aberdeen has laid host to the Nuart street art festival for the last 3 years and as a result, has a wealth of street art in the city centre. This is easily discoverable by walking around but there are also scheduled tours and maps to help you navigate all the spots.
Another great way to take in some free art in the city centre is Mary Butterworth's Painted Doors project. Encompassing work from 40+ Aberdeen based artists all spread, funnily enough on painted doors around the city centre. There's a map and a guide available to help navigate your way around.
A ten-minute walk from the city centre in the Transition Xtreme sports centre. This wall is free for any member of the public to use and offers a platform to express or practice some graffiti skills.
Not strictly part of the Nuart street art tour but a notable mention nonetheless, the arches in the central Union Terrace Gardens are well worth a look for some world-class graffiti.
Sweet Study Spots
Can be busy at lunchtimes but outwith that it offers a great relaxed environment to work inside or outside in an interesting part of the city, tucked behind Union Street. Their food ain't too bad either.
If you’re up in the Rosemount area of the city this hidden gem is well worth a visit for a quiet place to work, unless it’s lunchtime and things can get a bit hectic. In our opinion, the best sandwich spot in the city, their daily specials are always fantastic and its Crispy Garlic Chicken Sandwich is top-notch.
You've all heard of the worldwide phenomenon that is Brewdog but this is where it all began. Whether it's their original flagship bar and it's wood-fired pizzas or their Union Street HQ with it's fantastic "Cluck Norris" chicken burger and now their Union Square spot all venues offer a relaxed place to sit and work with some refreshments and free wi-fi.
A well-stocked central library which offers a quiet space to work as well as access to computers, the internet and photocopying it has a great central location and is also host to some interesting talks and events. It also has all importantly free public wi-fi.
Another local success story in the craft beer world, 6 Degrees offers a very laid back place to work and socialise in with a mind-boggling selection of beers for when the work is done. Its location makes it very accessible for Aberdeen University students on their way into town.
Situated off the West End of Union Street this award-winning quirky vegan-friendly cafe caters for all dietary requirements with a strong ethical mindset. They're open 8 til 9 almost every day and have plenty of tables to work at as well as free wi-fi. A very easy destination to spend a day.
With stunning views of the Aberdeen coastline, this extreme sports facility offers quiet spaces and free wi-fi within walking distance of the city but also with easy parking.
Alternative and Art Cinemas
Aberdeen's only art-house cinema screening independent and mainstream selections. They often host to film seasons and specialist festivals. Features the Kino Bar that often hosts pop up events and screenings.
The only other venue that springs to mind for independent screenings, they often host skateboard video premiers and other art-house offerings.
Adornments For Your Calendar
Originally from Stavanger in Norway, Aberdeen has been lucky enough to host Scotland's biggest street art festival for the last 3 years and as a result, has left a colourful mark on the city. Usually taking place in Spring the work remains available to see all year round.
Happening annually since 2015 Look Again festival manages to marry showcasing local artists alongside established heavy hitters in the art world. Usually takes place in June.
Although not going to be happening in 2019 Aberdeens festival of light Spectra illuminates the city with dramatic projections. Worth a look when it is on though and it's usually in February.
A good excuse to get out of the city and take in some of Aberdeenshire NEOS (or North East Open Studios) is an open doors event where artists, makers and crafty types encourage the public to come and visit them at their studios or workshops. Usually happens in September and a comprehensive map with bus guides and times is available.
Happening every year in September and organised by Aberdeen University and the City Council this day offers the public to see into buildings that are otherwise often inaccessible. A great opportunity to take in some architectural gems such as the Sir Duncan Rice Library or The Freemasons Hall.
For over 15 years the Aberdeen Jazz Festival usually happens in March and has treated the city to international stars, UK exclusives, new collaborations and old favourites. Featuring Jazz on the Green, Aberdeen's biggest free music event. Nice.
Aberdeen’s crime writing festival started in 2017 and gets bigger every year. A rich programme of author conversations, family events, workshops, late-night noir, exhibitions and much more. Usually, it happens in February.
Started in 2015 and has proved an increasing success The Granite City Comic-Con offers a day of artist talks, stalls, cosplay competitions and a full-on nerdvana for all your nerdy needs.