Issue 205
September/October 2018


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Sep 25, 2018

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AUTUMN Festival of Haddo

AN ERA of new partnerships and new places dawns at Haddo House in Aberdeenshire. With Aberdeen Art Gallery remaining closed for the foreseeable future, due to an ambitious £ 30-million re-development, Aberdeen Artists Society, which has long held annual exhibitions there, has sought arts organisations with an imaginative approach to providing alternative locations.

A washroom, a pantry and an intriguing spot known as the 'Blue Room' at Haddo House are just some of the places the Haddo Arts Festival is making available to the society as part of its 2018 programme, where events start from October 6.

Aberdeen Artists Society treasurer, Roderick Scott, explained that in facing adversity finding exhibition space, artists have been producing some ground-breaking and original artwork, including 3D sculptures, film and image projections, some of which will be displayed in the rarely seen courtyard at Haddo.

In black and white: Haddo House and Hall (credit SO)

The project marks a new venture for Haddo Arts and the Society, which is organising the exhibition in partnership with the National Trust for Scotland. It's an opportunity for Haddo to update its links with the visual arts by building on its artistic past.

In 1827, James Giles, a famous Scottish painter, co-founded the Aberdeen Artists Society, together with the city's noted architect, Archibald Simpson.

Giles brought both a practical and an artistic approach to helping the Earl of Aberdeen design the Haddo landscape as well as recording it in sketches and paintings. Archibald Simpson's connections date back to 1822, when he was commissioned to carry out architectural alterations at the house.

Also new to the festival this year is an evening with a quintet of poets, including the RADA-trained Gerda Stevenson, who in 2014 was nominated as one of Saltire Society's Outstanding Women of Scotland.

Gerda recently published her book Quines, which charts the contribution made to Scottish history and society by the remarkable women of Scotland – singers, scientists, politicians, fish-gutters, queens, and dancers, a marine engineer and a salt seller.

It's likely that Quines is a book that might have piqued the curiousity of Ishbel Aberdeen, wife of the 1st Marquis of Aberdeen and Victorian chatelaine of Haddo. She was a staunch supporter of womens' rights who became the President of the International Council of Women and who, in 1931, presented a petition to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland calling for women to be ordained as ministers and have access to all other posts in the Kirk.

Gerda will be joining fellow poets Aonghas MacNeacail, Liz Niven, George Gunn and Sheila Templeton in an evening of poetry supported by the Elphinstone Institute and the Scottish Poetry Library. In Haddo Hall, on October 8. They'll be reading their poetry following the Haddo Baroque Ensemble's performance of music by the 18th century Scottish composer, James Oswald.

As author of the Caledonian Pocket Companion, chamber composer to George III in 1761 and member of a secret musical society of composers in London called the Temple of Apollo, Oswald published much of his work anonymously so this will be an opportunity to hear music by an enigmatic but highly talented musician.

Haddo Arts Festival events – which include Mendelssohn's oratorio, Elijah performed by the Haddo House Choral Society and a comedy night with Simon Evans, fresh from the Edinburgh festival, as well as a celebration of the satirical stage duo, Flanders and Swann – will take place in various locations including the Pheasantry, Haddo House Hall, library and chapel.

More information at www.haddoarts.com.

LUCY GORDON


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