Lily & Mim - A Department Store (In Photos)!

2014 saw one of the most ambitious exhibitions in Aberdeen's recent history with Lily & Mim being a high concept trip fed to the masses via a consumerist pill that was easily swallowed but had people gagging for more. Or at least thats how I saw it! 

So to recap a little for anyone who missed the show, London based visual artists John Walter brought together a group of well established artists from down south and threw them into a giant empty building with some Aberdeen based artists, the idea being each artist had to create a unique retail experience for the viewers but instead of parting with pounds all you had to give up was your time. And the rewards for this? Seeing some world class art displayed in a most unconventional setting across 2 floors of the now defunct RGU Union building. If you've ever tried to find a decent space to do something creative in Aberdeen then you'll understand what a result that was, and of course it took a couple of years of hard negotiations to make it happen so props to Sally and Smart for that!

Anyway if you really want to know about the show and who did what then I recommend reading this post about the show here as I want to look more at the work from the show in this post. So scroll down and you'll find a selection of snaps that hopefuly give a better idea of what the show was like and I've included some of the special VSS Shopping channel videos by Chris Titmas, worth a watch as you never know what you never wanted and more! Sadly photos dont quite capture the fun and exciting nature of the show, it was a full on sensory experience, both entertaining, enthralling and at times a little scary! But I think best of all it was ambitious, from concept to execution it was full on and a real team effort, it brought a host of people together from Smart, Aberdeen City Council, RGU, Peacock Visual Arts & MAKE, Seventeen and of course the public who visited the show and took part in the numerous workshops that took place. In the words of Tenacious D "Thats fucking team wooooooooooork!"

Of course I wasn't able to document everything in the show but you can check out some more pics on Instagram and here's hoping the friendships made in 2014 lead to some exciting projects for all the artists in 2015!

A photo posted by John Walter (@twopeacocks) on

A photo posted by John Walter (@twopeacocks) on

A photo posted by John Walter (@twopeacocks) on

Zine Scene # 1 - Jazz Quotes & Strange Powers!

Zines, cheap to make, super accesible and something you either dig or you dont. And I dig! Almost every visit to Analogue books in Edinburgh would involve scanning through the zine section and picking out a few interesting looking ones to take home. On my last visit to Analogue I picked up a couple of beauties from Lindstrom Effect and John Brown & Matt Swan. 'Jazz Quotes' uses simple shapes and fake quotes to create a zine for cool cats. 'Strange Powers' showcases the penmanship of John Brown & Matt Swan who both fill their pages with detailed doodles and cool characters. Instead of taking a bunch of snaps of the zines I decided to make a short video which you can watch below. Sadly Analogue has now closed for business, a real shame as they were a fantastic shop but they lasted longer than they ever expected so big ups to them! You can purchase Jazz Quotes..... ok you can't its not available online, try your local indie zine cafe and you can purchase Strange Powers here. I had so much fun making this film I've even gone and designed my own zine, coming soon!

Top 5 of Everything from 2014!

2014 was a year with some real high points for the visual arts in Aberdeen and Scotland as a whole with the Common Wealth games shining a huge spotlight on Scotland across the globe along with the faded memory of the independence referendum. Gigs, albums, art shows, sculptures, performances and travels all helped make 2014 a memorable year and I just wanted to highlight some top 5's which made it so good. 

Top 5 Artists

It's been a big year for artists from Aberdeen with a ton of new talents graduating from Grays School of Art including Caitlin Hynes, Ben Martin and from past years with Amber Robertson and Natalie Kerr both doing great things this year. Along with keeping an eye on local talents its fun to see whats happening in the wider world and Instagram has been pretty handy for finding new artists and following their work as they make it. Finally visiting actual exhibitions both in Aberdeen and beyond has led to some great discoveries, I'm sad to not have made it to the Edinburgh or Dundee Degree Shows this year but ill be doing my best to check em out this Summer and as always a trip to London usually gives me a ton of visual stimulation, both in the galleries and in the streets. So here's five artists who have expanded my mind this past year!

Ade Adesina. I first met Ade during his degree show in 2013 and I've been following his work ever since. An incredible talent, Ade has a unique vision thats impossible to not get lost in. A run of successful solo shows has kept Ade busy this year but 2015 is set to be even busier with a big exhibition in Edinburgh on the cards along with a host of other projects including a video documenting his journey so far which we have been collaborating on over the past few months! An exceptional talent and probably one of the nicest guys you will meet. Can't wait to see what 2015 will hold for him! Check out some previous blog posts about Ade here and check out his website here.

Real Nice Co. Although a collective which encompasses guest artists their murals ebb and flow with the cohesion of one mind, a collective unit acting as one for a singular outcome which is to be as rad as possible! Main constants in the Co Katie & Mike each bring their own styles and manage to add some magic to the many walls they've painted so far. From their first mural at the old RGU Union to the epic piece they completed for the Perth Musuem, Real Nice Co bring a consistent top form approach to each project which has helped them get some recognition from sites like Juxtapoz. You can check out some posts about Real Nice Co here and keep up to date via their facebook page here

Scott Myles. It was through visiting the Below Another Sky exhibition that I discovered the work of Scott Myles and the more work I see online the more I'm getting into his bold fonts and messy printing style. Through misprinting and the use of words and phrases Myles work packs a punch that resonates with the viewer. Certainly one to keep an eye on and if you get a chance then I highly recommend going to see his work which is currently on display at Peacock Visual Arts and Aberdeen Art Gallery til mid January. Some info about Scott Myles can be found here

Never2501 & Basik. My final 2 artists of 2014 have collaborated on numerous murals over the past couple of years, introducing Never2501 (above) & Basik (below). Both of these artists bring incredible styles to their public murals at once recognisable as their own which includes elements of ecology, heavy use of repetition and a limited colour palette which is cool to see in the sometime over saturated world of muralism and street art. Check out their websites via Never2501 & Basik and ill be keeping a close eye on them both over the coming year!

Top 5 Art Shows

It's been a real challenge to pick just 5 art shows which have tickled my senses. Obviosuoly Smart Gallery have curated a ridiculous amount of great shows this year from Jen Bradleys 'Unrecorded' to the Glass House market, Smart have firmly set some big goals to beat for 2015. Peacock Visual Arts celebrated a remarkable milestone turning 40 and celebrarting with the exceptional XL show bringing together a vast amount of work from the past 12 months, celebrating where they've come from and looking firmly to the future! And travelling has been a big part of my art experiences of 2014 with some key trips to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Norway brining new artists and work to my attention, you can't really beat walking around Stavanger and bumping into a David Choe piece or seeing the scale of a ROA painting in the flesh. Trips to Dundee are already in the pipe line and who know's where ill go in 2015 but its sure to be fun!

The Last Stand by Marc Wilson at Peacock Visual Arts. Stark coastal photographs capturing the fading architecture of WW2 battlements might not sound that inspiring to most but these buildings dotted along the Scottish coast have always fascinated me and Marc's work capture a bit of the beauty they hold along with battlements in England, Wales and France. A key part of Marc's process for capturing the images was trying to take each picture at the same time and in roughly the same conditions, a slight haze or sea fog adding to the idea of something fading away, slowly being forgotten. Thankfuly Marc has colletced his photographs in the form of a photo book which you can purchase here. Check out an overview of the show here

NuArt Festival in Stavanger. Although not strictly a single event over the past 7 or 8 years NuArt Festival has grown and grown with new artists adding to the already vast fabric of murals which adorn a multitude of buildings and sites around Stavanger. From up and comers to big name graffiti and street art pioneers, NuArt set a template which many cities around the globe are now adopting after seeing the value in supportive public art programmes although one of the most interesting things we saw on our trip was the big debate where art world heavyweights like Juxtapoz editor Evan Pricco takes on artists to debate the merits of public sanctioned murals vs illegal murals. No quite sure who won the debate but it raised some interesting points. NuArt is an annual event and I'm really looking forward to seeing more next year along with the group exhibition which we somehow managed to miss this time around. You can find out more info here and check out some snaps here.  

Deluxx Fluxx Arcade by Faile x Bast at Summerhall in Edinburgh. Faile have been at the forefront of the street art scene for over a decade and still manage to push the boundaries. Their collaborative arcade hall Deluxx Fluxx Arcade takes their trademark motifs and designs along with those of Bast, another veteran of the street and together they've created this immersive arcade experience, one which anyone who's been down to Cadonas in Aberdeen could relate too. Except a lot of the games have been programmed with no real gameability, its more about the content and graphics than scoring points or levelling up. But that doesn't detract from the visual overload of the whole thing, its machine upon machine, each one custom designed and programmed and the UV room was hands down one of the coolest spaces I visited in 2014. And the fact this show marked the artists first exhibition in Scotland is worth noting! It was also my first visit to Summerhall, I will be going back for sure in 2015! Check out Faile & Bast and some more pics from the show here

The Bestiary by Phlegm at  in London. One of my highlights from a pretty amazing trip to London and Bristol has to be seeing the Phlegm show. Tucked away behind a rather unassuming shop front, The Bestiary was a full on wall to wall collection of incredible works by Phlegm along with a few guest pieces by street art names like Banksy, Invader and Descreet! The show was like a through the looking glass trip into the mind of Phlegm, filled with his unique characters popping out of the walls, 2D becoming 3D and each drawing coming to life in its own special way. Phlegm is a unique talent who's becoming well established in the street art scene and his murals can be seen on walls around the world! Check out more of his work here and you can check out my pics from the show here

Lily & Mim - A Pop Up Store curated by John Walter with Smart. One of the highlights of 2014 came in the form of Lily & Mim which labelled itself a pop up shop but one with a twist! Curated by London artist John Walters with the help of Smart saw a roster of world class and local artists take over the rather huge RGU Union building, turning the rather unique space into a multi sensory multi artists experience, spread across 2 floors. Everything about the project was ambitious, years in the planning and everything went perfectly on the opening night. A real unique experience and hopefully the start of some next level collaborations between London & Aberdeen creatives! Check out some photos and more info about the artists involved here

Top 5 Gigs & Albums

It's been a pretty interesting year musically as my tastes have changed and evolved over the years my record collection get more diverse and ecclectic. Its been fun to follow Aidain Moffat during his 'Where You're Meant To Be' tour and also to catch the man from Apparat playing as part of Moderat in London early on in the year. Along with some firm favourites I've also discovered some great new producers like The Range and been blown away by some amazing local talents. So on a musical tip here's my top 5 musical moments from 2014!     

Floating Points. At the start of the year I found myself trawling through the releases on boomkat and found this gold embossed cover staring at me, drawing me in with its moon like sphere. This happened to be the cover for 'Wires' by Floating Points, an 11 minute opus which takes the listener on a journey through laid back soulful grooves which pulse forward and peak in an explosive finale which will leave you wondering how hes managed to craft such an incredible tune. 2014 has seen Floating Points release a series of 12s on his Eglo Records label and each new record brings sounds which are familiar yet stand out from the plethora of DJ & producer tracks floating about the web. Have a listen to 'Wires' here

Tycho at The Art School, Glasgow. Tycho were one of those lucky discoveries that came about from clicking on the next video that showed up after watching something on youtube. Their 3rd album Dive is a real nice trip into instrumental surf synthwave and new album Awake see's the band refining their sound embarking on their first World Tour. After a little drama I finally managed to secure some tickets for the Glasgow show which was pretty amazing, a full audio and visual treat with full screen projections bathing the band in colours and psychedlic videos. If your not familiar with Tycho then I highly recommend checking them out and you can see a fuller run down of the gig here.

'Where You're Meant To Be' by Aidan Moffat. Aidan John Moffat is one of my favourite songwriters from his increidble work with Arab Strap to his collaborative album with Bill Wells, he perfectly articulates the trials of modern life. And that doesn't mean its all doom and gloom! 'Where You're Meant To Be' saw Aidan and his band embark on a rather special tour which brought them to some of the farthest reaches of Scotland, a series of gigs free to attend but each show was a modern celebration of Scottish folk songs which have been given a little up date, a 21st Century contextualisation. The results are fantastic, retaining all the charm of the original compositions but adding a healthy dose of sex, violence and mobile phones! We made a special effort to visit the Isle of Lewis, a place I hold dear, and were lucky enough to see the performance at Ness Football Clubs HQ, we even managed to get a lift back to Stornoway with the band as there are no buses on a Sunday in Lewis! A brilliant series of gigs and a great experience to meet and chat with one of my musical heros, there should be a film coming out soon about the tour and you can listen to some of the songs here

Chewed Corners by µ-Ziq. I've been familiar with Planet Mu boss Mike Paradinas aka

µ-Ziq for some time but its only in the past few months that I've really sat up and taken notice. Although released in 2013 I only heard Chewed Corners in 2014 and I've been hooked on his unique sounds since with the album on regular rotation on the turntable. Its a combination of almost classic rave with a soulful human quality, switching tempos but still pummeling you with layers of synth and bass. Along with the full length album he's also released 2 incredible EPs 'XTEP' & 'Rediffusion' which should be on my turntable any day now. Along with releasing his own music Mike has also done some cool mixtapes most recently for the XLR8 Podcast series, you can check it out here. Its been far to easy to overlook Mike's work, suprising as those who seem to know rave about him and of course Planet Mu is one of the UKs top electronic record labels so worth checking out their releases. Check out some exclusive tracks and unreleased material on Mike's soundcloud page here and get lost in his incredible work!

Leave It All Behind by CS Buchan & Best Girl Athlete.A real highlight of 2014 has been collaborating with CS Buchan on his many projects. Not one to stand still, 2014 saw Charley take his Fit Like Records label forward adding new artists to the roster, securing a record deal with Chicago label Minty Fresh, organising the recent 'Nae Furets Here' event which brought the local doric dialect into the 21st century, Charley's protogee Best Girl Athlete has finished recording an album which is set for release in the next few months, released a split 7' single with Indian Red Lopez, recorded a live set for the Lemon Tree and I had the pleasure of filming the video for 'Leave It All Behind'. A day of frolicks and filming, lights, skateboard, action! Its been great to see Charleys work ethic pay off and to be able to play a small part in some of the events hes organised, shining a light on some incredible talents from across the north east and also giving me some creative challanges! I'm sure 2015 is gonna be even bigger and I can't wait to get stuck into the next project, got 3 on the cards with Charley alone! Check out CS Buchan, Best Girl Athlete and Fit Like Records for more.

So that's been some of my highlights from 2014 and now to start looking ahead!

Like a Phoenix from the Ashes, Stans Studio, Glasgow!

One of the most interesting art ventures in recent years was the Project Slogan gallery and studio. Serving a dual purpose as studio to Grays graduate and Slogan founder Sarah J Stanley but also as a gallery come party come hang out space for artists and like minded individuals, Slogan was a little bit special.

From the controversial window at the Torry space to the pay what you want cafe in Wasps, Slogan was a beacon for anyone who wished to consume their art in a different way, taking the emphasis away from the hushed high brow posturing of the major gallery and replacing it with a welcoming environment where a wide range of work was shown from high end installation pieces to low brow illustrations and paintings and a really strong emphasis on student shows. Slogan might have been Sarah's baby but we all nurtured it and it was good. 

Of course funding problems, lack of support from the Council and Wasps management all led to the eventual collapse of what was Aberdeen's main alternative gallery. And the void hasn't really been filled since, where else could you go for a freshly made sandwich, enjoy some Jack Teagle paintings, pick up a new zine and have a good chat with the owner before deciding how much you actually wanted to pay for your lunch? And the opening nights and parties were always fun filled events where you would meet cool people. Alas it is no more.

Thankfuly a move to Glasgow has led Sarah to start a new venture taking all the things that made Slogan so good and adding a bit of social awareness to create Glasgow's first pay what you want cafe. Ladies and gentleman, a big round of applause for Stan's Studio! Situated in the East End of Glasgow in an old hairdressers shop, it combines all the elements of Project Slogan but with a fresh start and a fresh energy that is incredibly exciting. Serving a range of cakes, home made soups and their own special blend coffee supplied my Mr Eion Coffe Roasters of Edinburgh. The shop is open to everyone and will be hosting a load of exhibitions over the coming year and already has a couple of small exhibitions under its belt.

Tonight will be the shops first Christmas party, the first of many I hope, just wish I could make it down.But if your in Glasgow and your looking for a delicious soup or a fresh coffee then Stan's has got you covered!

XL // Peacock Visual Arts at 40!

This year see's Peacock Visual Arts celebrate 40 years of existence, no small feat especially in an industrial city like Aberdeen. From its humble begginings as Peacocks Printmakers (Ltd) in the 1970s to the fully fledged Contemporary Arts Centre we have today has been a rather interesting tale taking in many branches and areas of expertise which has resulted in the Peacocks we know today. It might be worth checking out their history here.

Such a big milestone like turning 40 deserves a big show and XL is just that but its so much more. The idea was to celebrate Peacocks heritage and history but to also keep one eye on the future too, not an easy task. But through curating an exhibition of specially commisioned pieces from some of Peacocks most renowned artists but also including works created throughout 2014 by various artists through in the Peacocks print studio has led to a greatest hits collection. And I have to say a year in the life of Peacocks print studio is pretty damn good looking! 

Work comes from staples like Ralph Steadman and Frances Walker but also new additions from Adam Bridgland, William Moulding and Satterugly add a contemporary twist to the show along with one of Peacocks biggest collaborations to date with Below Another Sky artists adding work to the show, not to mention the incredible meachanical peacock created by the MAKE Lab! It can be easy to forget how much time and energy has gone into keeping Peacocks going but its shows like this that make it all worthwhile. Its a comprehensive show and certainly gives a great overview of where Peacocks has come from and also where its going and it looks pretty good.

XL will be on display until mid January but you can pick up one of the special laser cut postcard sets featuring work from the exhibition for £10 in the gallery and some print editions have also been made available via the new Peacocks Online Print Shop here so be sure to check em out and maybe add a little piece of the Peacocks legacy to your own home! 

Happy Birthday Peacocks.