The Salon des Refusés is alive and well and living in Aberdeen
[I am delighted that Aberdeen artist, Brian, has contributed this amusing little piece!]
Greetings from the Granite City, friends!
Here’s what happened when I got the old brushes and paints out last week to contribute to Aberdeen’s lively arts scene:
I submitted two paintings to the Peacock Visual Arts Winter Exhibition in Aberdeen, which opened on 11 November. Now Peacock’s is partly funded by the council and they have had an on-going bust-up over a plan to move to new premises. Anyway, the exhibition organisers promised to hang all work submitted, so I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to hand in work which would annoy some people, and would never have gotten through ANY selection process. So I battered out two paintings the night before the handing-in date, on the controversial issue of Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens.
You may not know the background to this issue, so here it is in a nutshell:
Multi-millionaire Aberdonian Sir Ian Wood (who owns a massive engineering and construction group of companies) offered the city council a £50m ‘donation’ towards ‘rejuvenating’ the city centre – ie. destroying the historic city centre park and concreting it over with a hideous ‘piazza’ and retail centre. Such a massive civic engineering project could only be undertaken by a really big contractor. But guess what, the UK’s 3rd biggest such company is right here in Aberdeen – The Wood Group, run by Sir Ian Wood. Now, rather than laugh such a monstrous idea out of court, the council – which is so broke it has this year closed down EVERY community centre and most arts projects in the city – throwing hundreds out of work – voted to run with it! Then there was a big stooshie, so the council spent £300,000+ on a public consultation, which came out showing 55% – 45% against the scheme. The council said this was a ‘marginal’ majority and carried on with the scheme regardless. Needless to say most people are raging about this.
Back to the paintings. I did two pictures, one featuring the Council Leader Kevin Stewart, the relentless driving force behind the scheme. The other features Queen Elizabeth II and her Golden Jubilee Fields Challenge 2012 – which is a national campaign to “…permanently protect outdoor spaces for future generations…”.
Anyway, I thought this was a jolly good theme for my pictures, and that loads of other local artists would too! However, not a single other work of art in the exhibition had any ‘political’ or challenging theme. Also, since ‘all work must be for sale’, I put a price tag of £50m on my lovely colourful pictures, which rules out the exhibition organisers getting their 40% commission on a sale, which is the whole point of the exhibition from their point of view.
So, you can imagine my delight on opening night to see the prominent place in the gallery where the organisers selected to hang my pictures… enjoy!