Aberdeen Royal Infirmary isn't the first place I think of for incredible contemporary art shows and yet I find myself staring at a bright orange wall, almost overcome by its colourfulness and the array of audio & visual works on display. How I came to be standing in a room just off one of the main corridors I walked down as a sick kid is kind of important so ill go from the start.
At the start of December I got an email from Fraser MacDonald, co curator of the Suttie Arts Space asking me if I'd be interested in doing something for the blog about their current show. I've often seen some great work up at the hospital although my reasons for being there have never been that good. I'd recently missed Gemma Balfours show and going up to the hospital without an injury has always felt a bit weird. Anyway through various emails with Fraser and few non starts we finally set a date to meet up and have a look at their new space.
I instantly recognised Fraser, tall, bearded, deep Scottish accent, there's was something about him that I couldn't quite put my finger on. After a quick stroll down that all too familiar corridor I was suprised to see this gray cube where once a flat roof had existed. Fraser informed me this is the new custom designed Suttie Arts Space. The space is run and curated via the Grampian Hospitals Art Trust. A quick walk along any hospital corridor will reveal wall upon wall of art works from some pretty well known artists! GHAT are responsible for the up keep and curation of the hospitals vast art collection, holding some 4000 pieces at the last count. Through some rather generous donations and private funding the group were able to secure enough money to realise their vision for a custom build art space which is at one with the hospital in which it stands but also unique in its purpose and goals! Along with curating the various walls around the hospital the team now have a dedicated space where they can show new works from a variety of artists and also a range of mediums from the traditional wall hung pieces to the sculptural and visual works.
The double doors into the space allow for beds to be wheeled in, no barrier to sick patients being able to enjoy some art time. The idea is to bring the art to them and to provide a bright, open space which might bring some relief to those who are staying over at ARI. Having spent many a day on those beds, any excuse to get off the wards is welcome and seeing some first class art, well you can feel those ills recede, if only for a short while. Fraser and his co curator Tamsin Greenlaw have worked incredibly hard to get the space just right for the many user who will be passing through its doors, from in patients who will be taking part in classes and creative activities to patients and visitors who might just need a little time out from often stuffy wards. Also due to the nature of hospitals, the space will be open 24/7, not to say that you should be piling up to the hospital in droves at 1 am on a Tuesday morning but if you did then the space would be open!
Fraser was great to chat with explaining what he does and telling me a little about his own journey from down South to Aberdeen. It was at this moment I realised I'd filmed Fraser 2 years previous when he partook in the Guests at Grays programme. With a pretty impressive artist CV Fraser seems to be the perfect person to help co curate the space and has an eye for good work. Current exhibition 'Same Same, But Different' brought 3 incredible artists together with Stephanie Mann, Lotte Glob and Oliver Laric all showing work. Stephanies bright still lifes and orange walls were like instant sunshine while Oliver's video piece takes the viewer into a world of image appropriation and homage. Finally Lotte's incredibly organic and earthy sculptures sit like slabs of dry mud while the reflective silver and gold lines seem to reflect the light onto the wall, creating an almost shimmering water effect. All together its a fine selection of work which goes beyond individuals and makes for a nice collective viewing experience. I can't thank Fraser enough for getting in touch and also taking the time to speak to me about the work they are doing. Its always cool to meet new people and find out about new creative ventures although GHAT has been on the go almost as long as I have, ill definitely be keeping a closer eye on what's coming up!
Check out the short film I made below about the space and 'Same Same, But Different' which finished up on Sunday. But fear not as a new exhibition will be going in soon and if you follow their twitter page you can keep up to speed with the wealth of projects they have on! You can also find out a bit more about GHAT from Fraser in this video from Summerhall TV.