Wednesday 11 March 2020

Scotland By Rail - reopened renovated Aberdeen Art Gallery

A day out by rail to Aberdeen, delivering paintings to Gallery Heinzel's 30th Anniversary exhibition before visiting recently reopened Aberdeen Art Gallery. When I was up in Aberdeen more frequently I used to visit gallery often. In 2015 it closed for refurbishment and remained closed until reopening a few months ago in Autumn 2019. I remember my final pre-closure visit, looking at my favourite paintings and trying to store them up in my memory, feeling rather sad that I wouldn’t see them again for years. And worried about what I whether I’d like the makeover.

I needn’t have worried.

Outside, the gallery looks as it always did, until you look up and see the extra floor. Two storeys have become three. Inside the old large central area remains but is lighter brighter and with its added top layer.

We started in the cafe – really good lunches, baking, coffee. Really nice staff.

Then the gallery – spacious, fresh, light and bright (I’ve already said that). Lots of room for children to move in and lots to interest them. Sketchbooks and pencils laid out beside many of the gallery benches – do a sketch then leave it for the next person. A number of interactive screen areas are dotted around, something which personal preference normally makes me blank from my vision. I tried them today though and they were pretty good.

The shop doesn’t feel too big and is very nicely stocked. The gallery attendants were extremely friendly throughout. There are lockers for your rucksack and a space to leave buggies.

All the galleries are laid out in really interesting ways. The artworks are diverse and top quality, as I already knew. I don’t really know how to write reviews without overusing ‘great’ and ‘brilliant’ and ‘nice’ so I'll direct you to Susan Mansfield's 5 star review in The Scotsman.

It’s just a great gallery. Do get the train up for a visit.

Here are some photos: 

look at that wonderful John Piper - Dunnottar Castle

When you need a bit of fresh air you can go out onto the two roof terraces for pigeon-perch views.

Dismayed to see mass tree felling in Union Terrace Gardens though. Why do we think it’s okay to keep destroying and destroying mature trees whenever we want to ‘develop’ a space? Read about the long saga of Union Terrace Gardens makeover here. (including pics of how many mature trees there were). 46 trees felled apparently - P&J article and another here.

Anyway, when you need a bit of fresh air and nature and close-up pigeon views, exit the gallery and turn left to walk down Schoolhill for about a minute until you get to St Nicholas Cemetery on your right. The pigeons were seriously tame so if you aren’t too keen you might want to stay standing up and not eat anything. Sitting snacking on a bench Oren and I enjoyed watching one hop onto my boot and wobble its way up to my knee.

Snack over, quick trip to excellent Oxfam bookshop on Back Wynd, then back to the gallery:

Eric Ravilious

Ravilious, Coastal Defences, watercolour

I love the Graham Sutherland on the far right

Paul Nash, John Piper...

Sylvia Wishart

Frances Walker

little oil masterpiece by JD Fergusson


etching equipment


How to get there:

Trains to Aberdeen from the south (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee) mean a beautiful coastal approach (watch out for whales and dolphins) and from the west mean winding through rolling farmland between gentle hills from Inverness. Great journeys.

Timetables & Buy Tickets here.

Many thanks to ScotRail for their support of my Scotland By Rail work.


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