The shelter

4th May, 2020Live productions

The Shelter is an interdisciplinary collaboration combining live drawing in Japanese ink, a multi-voiced verbatim performed by Creative Writer Shane Strachan, and original musical compositions and soundscape by Ross Whyte.

The Shelter reflects contemporary life around city-centre bus shelters in Aberdeen, and is a live stage performance, a film and a body of visual artwork.

The Shelter has been described as a love letter to Aberdeen. While collecting the artistic ingredients of the show around Aberdeen’s bus shelters (figurative pencil sketches, real overheard voices, and street noises), it became apparent that The Shelter is a safe space from the world of the streets beyond. Bus shelters are a communal space where strangers are more likely to speak and interact, and where friends share confessions; it is a soapbox for real-life characters to perform monologues, diatribes and political rants; yet, not every shelter is the same – often they are socially stratified, grouped around buses serving specific social classes so that a tale of two cities can often take place on opposite sides of the street. This all culminates in a final verbatim text, visual collage and soundscape which rearranges what has come before into a poetic cadence.

Originally developed by Visual Artist Kate Steenhauer and Creative Writer Shane Strachan, supported by Aberdeen Performing Arts, and performed at the Lemon Tree in April 2018. The Shelter has been further enhanced with Composer Ross Whyte, who combines soundscape recordings (activated and digitally-processed in real-time) with a live ambient score written and performed in response to the onstage action and live evolving ink drawings projected through a screen. The new performance was shown as part of Just Start Here Festival in March 2019 supported by National Theatre of Scotland. BSL interpreter Rebecca Goodall stars alongside Shane as an inhabitant of the Shelter.

Pictures by Abermedia / Michal Wachucik – Aberdeen , Scotland, Friday, 8 March 2019 National Theatre of Scotland, Just Start Here at Anatomy Rooms, Aberdeen.

Further to the live performances that have taken place thus far, The Shelter has been commissioned as audio-visual installations for SPECTRA, Aberdeen Festival of Light, and Aberdeen Artists’ Society Annual Exhibition at Haddo House, where it won the Haddo Art installation prize.

It has been screened at SoundThought Festival at the CCA in Glasgow, as well as at the Hayward Gallery Touring exhibition Hand Drawn, Action Packed at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow. It has also been shown on a continuous loop for 8 months at Duff House in Banff in collaboration with Historic Environment Scotland.

Standalone artworks from the show have also been exhibited at The Macmillan Edinburgh Art Show, CCA Glasgow, and Haddo House.