Got to admit it was rather strange to be standing in the old One Up shop minus everything that made it such a special place. Instead it contains a few desks, some shelves and a selection of posters for up coming events in Aberdeen. If you hadn't heard the space is being used by the Aberdeen 2017 City of Culture bid team as their HQ.
When I first heard about this I thought it seemed like a bit of a slap to the previous occupants who in their own way were a cultural hub for the city although not enough to stay in business sadly. But there's no point in making bones about what used to be as space is precious, especially in a city like Aberdeen where oil prices and greed have created a rental economy which can only be matched by London for its ridiculousness! And this is a major problem in a city with such a rich artistic culture, the lack of affordable studio space. Wasps seems to have a waiting list as long as your arm and is occupied by corpses who never seem to see the light of day or people who could probably use the 3 spare rooms in their West End mansions as studios but that wouldn't be as cool.
Some how Jim & Craig managed to find a space which met our needs at the time and so we banded together, a group of like minded strangers and started 26 Collective Studios. Over time the collective idea took off and through a wide range of events we managed to establish ourselves as a group, bridging the gap a little bit but with very limited space. And even the space we do have has been used for the better of the common artist with exhibitions by Mark Rennie and the 4 month corridor Mural Project to name a few.
And it feels like some of the hard work and sweat has paid off as the collective were invited to paint the first ever Aberdeen 2017 mural. The actual painting took place on Saturday and was based around a design by newest collective member Chris. It was a group effort though with everyone chipping in from the layout of masking tape to the actual painting of the window, apart from me, I did very little but I did take some snaps!
But it turned out really good and its had a profound effect on my outlook towards the City of Culture bid and what it stands for. Initially I was going to write a post a few weeks back about what Aberdeen needs to be a viable cultural city and why this will never happen. I guess the apathy got to me for a minute. But after reading the initial aims outlined by the Culture bid, more studio space, gallery space, events, engagement etc, all good things and some key issues which need to be addressed, hopefully it will benefit the wider creative community as apposed to those who already have studios and opportunities.
So make sure you pop past next time your in town, have a chat, find out what they are up too and why not ask what you can do too as I believe it will be the grass roots artists and collectives who can win this thing!