An innovative community portrait project that searches for the soul of Aberdeen - one of Scotland’s most historic cities. Led by video-artist Adam Proctor.

"The Silver City is a hard place to love.

Decades ago the city fathers made a faustian pact with men who found oil beneath the cold, heaving mass of the North Sea. A new breed of frontiersman led incredible machines out beyond the horizon to uncork the earth's crust.
Silver darlings and Aberdeen angus held little to tempt men away from an attractive private health policy and a five figure bonus.

And so a tension arose between industry and community. Granite spires are now shadowed by concrete monoliths which face the far oil fields.

Yet there is beauty to be found in this city of industry.
From a vantage point such as Torry Battery or Brimmond Hill you can watch ships, trucks & trains shoot through the veins of the city like a vast page from a Richard Scarry picture book.

And then there are the people. Aberdonians rub shoulders with another populace who come to study, service or work for the oil industry. Newcomers who bring colourful accents, customs & foods. Many are transient. Just passing through. But some settle enjoying the proximity of sea, mountains, casino and 24 hour supermarkets.

It is upon the wide vistas of the city and still faces of local and incomer that I have built this short film. Here are tourists, retired fishermen, bakers and schoolchildren.
The film contrasts the broad with the intimate, bustle with stillness, landscape with portrait.

I had no inkling at the start of this project that after 10 years I would be moving away from Aberdeen. So this has become something of a swan-song to the Silver City. Some people, including not a few Aberdonians, may think I have treated her a little kindly. But I have tried to show something of both the pride and frustration that the participants in this project harbour towards their industrious home."

Adam Proctor 2011

A National Galleries of Scotland education outreach project in partnership with Aberdeen City Council (Arts Development Team & Aberdeen Art Gallery).

Music by Tommy Perman

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