An artist's view from the rigs: new exhibition at the Sir Duncan Rice Library

An artist's view from the rigs: new exhibition at the Sir Duncan Rice Library

A new exhibition depicting the changes in the oil industry in the last 10 years will go on display at the University of Aberdeen Sir Duncan Rice Library next week (Thursday, March 23).

Artist Sue Jane Taylor has documented the male-dominated world of oil and gas for three decades, working is some of the most remote and challenging industrial environments in Scotland. Her paintings, drawings, prints and film pieces bring a personal and poignant response to a unique period in history – the Age of Oil.

The ‘Age of Oil’ exhibition opens this month and will run until July. It has been developed in association with the National Museums Scotland, where it was first displayed in 2017, and documents the changes in the North Sea that have taken place over the past 10 years. The show focusses on Aberdeen Harbour, the Murchison and Brent Fields and, latterly, the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm project in the Moray Firth.

The exhibition also includes a selection of objects unique to this period of modern maritime history. A sample of the first oil from Murchison Field, dated 30th September 1980, and a drilling mat - one of the last objects to be removed during the decommissioning process in 2017 - have been loaned from Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections. A “teacup-carrying device” made from spare materials by technicians on the Brent Delta platform has been loaned by Shell UK Limited and the Survitec Group, has provided a Helicopter Passenger Survival Suit. These objects all help tell the personal story of the Age of Oil.

Jennifer Shaw, exhibitions officer at the University of Aberdeen, said: “Sue Jane Taylor succeeds in capturing the power and beauty of industrial structures that have been part of the lives of many people for the last thirty years, particularly here in Aberdeen.

“Her images of rigs and turbines and decommissioning vessels take on the impressive beauty of modern sculpture. Combined with this visual language are the personal stories from the workers and from Sue Jane herself as she visits and develops an affection for these remote offshore islands and their inhabitants. This is much more than an exhibition about gas and oil.”

Sue Jane added: “I am delighted that Age of Oil touring will be showing at Sir Duncan Rice Library’s exhibition space. It is such wonderful purpose built space located in the heart of the University campus in old Aberdeen.

“The Oil and Gas industry is so integral to Aberdeen city’s contemporary way of life. We are still living in the Age of Oil, yet the general public know so little about offshore.  We are still dependant on it for 98% of everything we do in our daily lives. It is not just about hard economics; there are so many rich social and visual diversities to this industry, which is inspirational to me as an artist.”

The exhibition runs until July 8, and there will also be a series of talks, workshops and events in partnership with the Aberdeen Maritime Museum. For more information visit: