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Art Gallery welcomes its first artist in residence

By David Porter

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Sound and performance artist Maja Zećo has been announced as Aberdeen Art Gallery’s first artist-in-residence following the Gallery’s landmark redevelopment.

Maja Zećo
Maja Zećo

With the venue set to reopen to the public on Aprils 26, the artist will use this new opportunity to create new works inspired by two artworks on display in Aberdeen Art Gallery: Meditation by Barbara Hepworth and Eastre, Hym to the Sun by JD Fergusson. Eastre is the Saxon Goddess of spring, who represents the triumph of the sun after the gloom of winter.

Eastre, Hymn to the Sun
Eastre, Hymn to the Sun

Maja Zećo is an interdisciplinary artist who creates immersive art through performance, sound art, video and installation.

Born in Sarajevo and resident in Aberdeen, in 2019 Zećo was awarded a PhD from Gray's School of Art, Robert Gordon University in collaboration with the Music Programme of the University of Aberdeen.

This first residency should have taken place at Aberdeen Art Gallery in spring 2020 but was postponed when the Gallery closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The aims of the residency are to-

Enable the selected practitioner to draw on the Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums’ collections to carry out research, learn new skills and create new work.

Inspire public interest in creative practice and making.

Create links between the collections and contemporary art, craft and design practice.

Covid-19 restrictions mean that the residency will take place mainly on online.

Maja will share her progress with the public through social media, online talks and discussions.

Fergusson's Eastre and Hepworth's Meditation will inspire the artist's engagement with the outdoors and new imaginings about the future, in a spirit of hope and recovery from Covid-19.

Local residents may catch a glimpse of shimmering gold inspired by the artwork Eastre, as Maja performs on the beach and in the city’s parks in the coming days and weeks.

Speaking as news of her residency was announced, Maja Zećo commented: “During my time as Artist in Residence, I would like to develop new pieces of immersive performance art that will imagine our common future.

"While modernist artists often conveyed optimism about technological developments, expressed through stylisation and abstract forms, society today is more anxious about what the future will bring.

“The pressing issues of Covid-19, climate change, Brexit and problems in public services contribute to this, while wellbeing apps on our phones provide constant feedback on our activities, creating a relationship of dependence and re-assurance.”

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson said, “As part of the award-winning redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery we made a strong commitment to support local artists and the creative sector in Aberdeen and the wider north-east of Scotland.

“I’m very excited to see how Maja uses this opportunity to develop new work, as well us giving us new perspectives on the magnificent collections Aberdeen Art Gallery is home to.”

In Conversation with Maja Zećo:Thursday, April 29 from 5pm-6pm focuses on Meditation by Barbara Hepworth.

Thursday May 27 from 5pm-6.30pm focuses on Eastre, Hym to the Sun by JD Fergusson.

These free online sessions are a chance for the public to meet Maja, to hear about her work and her inspiration and to ask questions about her Residency.

Follow Maja’s progress on Aberdeen Archives, Gallery & Museums’ social media channels: @AbdnArtMuseums.

Visitors can see both ‘Eastre’ and ‘Meditation’ on display in Aberdeen Art Gallery when it re-opens to the public on Monday, April 26at 10am.

For visiting information go to www.aagm.co.uk

You can arrive at any time on the day of your booked visit and stay as long as you like.

Free tickets will be available to book or you can choose to scan the QR code at the door when you arrive.

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