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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


Delving into Dundee’s archives

March 11 2017

Art and design lie at the heart of the creative industries in Dundee, industries which have often been inspired by the leisure pursuits and interests of Dundee’s population. These interconnections are clearly shown in the Archives of the University of Dundee; art and design is woven through many of the collections. This article features a few items which highlight the diversity of design related material held in the Archives. Dundee Art Society started out as the Graphic Arts Association in 1890, changing its name in 1904.  From the outset the group welcomed both professional and amateur artists as well as art patrons and lovers. As the Art College in Dundee grew, many of the staff joined the Society and used its platform to exhibit their art and network with other artists. The striking design for the cover of the centennial exhibition catalogue produced in 1990 echoes to the artistic trends of the early twentieth century. The longevity of the society reflects the continuing desire of artists within the community to join together, curate exhibitions and share their passion for art. Many of these artists had connections with the Dundee Institute of Art and Technology which was dissolved in 1975 to create Dundee College of Technology and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. The Art College remained independent until 1994 when it became a full part of the University of Dundee. All of these bodies are represented in the exhibition material, posters, photographs and student guides in the Archives.  Furthermore, alumnus of the College have contributed to our on-going Oral History Project. Former textile students, Pauline Hann and Sheila Mortlock, were interviewed to capture the personal stories of their time at the College, their career paths and interests. Hann and Mortlock were founding members of Embryo – Dundee Creative Embroiderers, formed in 1980, which developed from the frustration felt by numerous students at the lack of opportunities to exhibit contemporary embroidery within Scotland. The remit of the group was to promote the highest standards of workmanship, achieving this by restricting membership to graduates and undergraduates of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. Embryo actively promoted their work through various exhibitions not only in Scotland but across the UK, eventually joining forces with two other textile groups to form Edge – Textile Artists Scotland. Edge is still going strong and attracting new members from a broader background albeit with a recognised education in textiles. The Archive’s Embryo collection includes exhibition publicity material, photographs and correspondence. Textile samples can be found in other collections, such as The Wilson Bros Ltd collection who were taken over by Pringle of Inverness. The pattern books of the woollen and cloth products they manufactured from 1927 to 1967 are fascinating. They show the changing trends in pattern and colour combinations and how design comes in and out of fashion over the decades. Other samples in the Archives show how design blended with the mass production of durable textiles as seen in the printed designs on linen which form part of the D. J. MacDonald collection. Using only two colours, the rising sun motif for the MacDonald company is bold and graphic whereas the design for Louise, seller of lingerie and hosiery has a more delicate touch with the female form and the name of the brand printed in signature style picked out in red. Jute and linen bags adorned with colourful printed designs are still popular today. Textile design in the city is thriving. Local fashion designer, Hayley Scanlan, studied textile design at DJCAD. Her oral history recording in the Archives tells of her desire to remain rooted in the city despite her burgeoning international career. Proud of her Dundonian heritage, Hayley’s designs are influenced by the changing city and she will soon open her first shop a stones throw from DJCAD where her talents were honed. Records held in the Archive are accessible to everyone. For further information about the Archives and its collections see www.dundee.ac.uk/archives   Sharon Kelly is assistant archivist at Dundee University's Archives Services 


Half of Turner Prize-winning artist’s new exhibition opens at DCA

March 4 2017

A new exhibition of work by Turner Prize-winning Mark Wallinger has opened simultaneously at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) and The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. MARK WALLINGER MARK is split into two parts and will be shown in both venues until Sunday 4 June. It is the first exhibition in Scotland by the artist and features Wallinger’s most recent body of work: the id Paintings (2015-16). These are presented alongside a series of sculptures, films and wall-based works which further explore the themes of identity, reflection and perception addressed in his new work. In the Dundee half of the exhibition, 12 of Wallinger’s id Paintings surround a new work, Self (Symbol) (2017), a capitalized ‘I’ aggrandized as a three dimensional statue the height of the artist. The id Paintings have grown out of Wallinger’s extensive series of self-portraits, and they reference the artist’s own body. His height – and therefore his arm span – is the basis of the canvas size. They are exactly this measurement in width and double in height. Wallinger described the paintings as the basis of both the Dundee and Edinburgh exhibitions. "There are different works in the two spaces, but these are the starting point, or spine if you like," he said. "There is quite a lot of work around the idea of identity and my presence." Video pieces are also included in the DCA gallery, including Shadow Walker in which the artist filmed his shadow walking ahead of him. In MARK, a 2010 creation, Wallinger chalked the title all over the city of London within the parameters of single standard-sized brick. This deadpan tagging is rendered as a photographic slideshow, made up of 2,265 images. A mirrored TARDIS is also on display in the exhibition. Wallinger said the development of Dundee had been notable in the time since he first visited the city to prepare for the gallery. "I came up here about a year ago to look around and think about how this show might be hung. "There has been so much work, lots of work, on the V&A since then. It looks amazing already - I quite like it as it is." Beth Bate, director of DCA, said: "We’re delighted to be welcoming Mark Wallinger to our galleries and to be working alongside The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh in this compelling exhibition of two parts. "Mark's first show in Scotland features his new body of work, the enigmatic id Paintings. "We can’t wait to welcome audiences to this exciting exhibition." MARK WALLINGER MARK is a collaboration between Serlachius Museums, The Fruitmarket Gallery, and the DCA.


Line of Duty brings in Dundee director for new series

March 24 2016

More than four million viewers tuned in to the last instalment of the BBC Two programme Line of Duty but fans old and new can look forward to the direction of Broughty Ferry-born film-maker Michael Keillor in the new series’ first three episodes. The acclaimed police corruption drama is returning to screens tonight after a two-year break. Called in to investigate an armed response unit mission gone wrong, series three sees higher stakes than ever for members of the fictional anti-corruption unit AC-12. Already a fan of the series when he joined the project, Michael promised that viewers will be shocked and excited by the action in the season premiere. “It’s the most exciting domestic cop show on British TV,” he said. “There aren’t many contemporary police thrillers which have a political element to them.” The stakes have been raised by the introduction of an armed police unit. If a corrupt policeman is a danger to society, says Michael, a policeman with a gun is all the more risky. Now based in London, Michael’s success is happening at a time when local talent is making waves in film and TV. Fans of Jericho or River City may be familiar with the directorial work of Broughty Ferry native Robert McKillop and the Fife-born Andrew Cummings. McKillop, who hails from the same street as Michael in Broughty Ferry, recently directed three episodes for the new ITV drama Jericho. Cummings recently directed Kai, a short about a contemporary dancer struggling to reach the expectations of her choreographer. Michael is keen to encourage the next generation of film-makers to pick up a camera. With Dundee Contemporary Arts having celebrated its 15th anniversary this week and the waterfront regeneration well under way, he says now is a better time than ever for new talent. Compared to 20 years ago when his career began, Dundee is far more nurturing of the arts. Michael references two cultural landmarks as major turning points in his life the release of Trainspotting and the now closed Steps Cinema. “Steps was the only place for people like me to learn about different cinema,” he said. “Trainspotting showed that Scottish cinema could be the same as North American or European cinema.” Now aspiring film-makers can create films with just a mobile phone and a computer. Being from Dundee, in fact, can actually work to your advantage despite of any naysayers. Compared to Shoreditch, in which there are five film-makers in Michael’s building alone, directors in Dundee have the chance to stand out. “Don’t think you can’t be a film-maker just because you’re not from or London or Hollywood,” said Michael. “Film-makers come from everywhere. It’s about picking up a camera, having a go and not letting anyone tell you you can’t do it.” How can we see a better reflection of Scottish stories and people in the arts? With his work in high-quality television like Line of Duty, Michael’s focus is to create a bigger pool of talent in Scottish filmmaking. After all, creating shows like Line of Duty is part of his path to creating feature films primarily in Scotland. His current project is writing a homecoming tale set in the Highlands. “I hope articles like this will help guys like me who are sitting at home thinking ‘I could do that’.”

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km


Jobs fears at Dundee Contemporary Arts centre

May 4 2016

Workers at Dundee’s Contemporary Arts Centre (DCA) fear for their jobs after being told “difficult decisions” are to be made as part of a major restructure. Staff were told about the plans by Beth Bate, the venue’s director who was appointed to the role last November, during a meeting on Tuesday morning. A DCA spokeswoman claimed the changes could lead to two more jobs being created but refused to provide any clarification over how many could be lost and whether or not the new positions would be full-time or part-time, when pressed by The Courier. She said: “Like many cultural organisations, we have to balance a rising wage bill and the strongly held belief in paying staff fairly for their work with the challenges of an increasingly competitive funding environment. "After discussion with the board earlier this year the decision was made to review the staffing structure at DCA to take these issues into account and ensure our team structure continues to allow us to deliver the best possible artistic programme and customer service. “Following careful consideration a proposed set of changes has been announced which includes some difficult decisions but which we hope will leave us with two more posts in the organisation than we had before. “Over the coming weeks we will be undertaking a process of consultation with staff to make sure these are the right decisions for the organisation, and therefore no redundancies have been confirmed today. “As this is an ongoing consultation process it would be inappropriate to comment in more detail at this stage on which posts may be affected.” Sources in the popular city centre site, which is publicly funded by the likes of Creative Scotland and Dundee City Council, claimed options on the table included redundancies in the operational, retail, cinema and curatorial side of the business. One insider said: “When they say new posts, it doesn’t mean on top of what’s already there. On the operational side, there is a new post being created but it will mean at least one current post holder will have to apply for that job as their job will disappear. “My understanding is that operations have come out of this very badly because the new director is very much curatorial.” Those who are proposing the changes argued that workers would end up better off because of their plans. One person close to the decision-making process said: “There are some changes but overall it’s a pretty positive picture. “The other thing to remember is there have been changes to conditions and pay increases. My argument is this isn’t an overall negative position.”

Business news

Trustees pleased but Dundee Contemporary Arts in the red

January 9 2015

Dundee Contemporary Arts produced a smaller net deficit last year but pension costs have plunged the charity’s balance sheet deep into the red. The total income was up 8.5% at £1.9 million for the year to March 31, 2014 in the Nethergate centre’s accounts which have been lodged at Companies House. All main charitable activities generated increased funds, and the trustees said they were pleased with the performance given the continued economic conditions. Income came mainly from Creative Scotland (£683,000); Dundee City Council (£257,000); other funders (£74,600) and charitable trading from the cinema, print studio, shop and miscellaneous (£728,328). Expenditure increased by 7% to £1.958m resulting in a net deficit down 30% at £48,997. An expense during the year was the refit of the shop. The defined benefit pension liability of the 42 full-time equivalent employees of £747,000 was almost double the 2013 figure of £385,000. This resulted in net liabilities of £364,089 compared with just £13,661 the previous year. The trustees reported: “The pension deficit is a long-term issue and is dependent upon stock market performance, financial assumptions relating to interest rates, inflation and future pay increases as well as assumptions relating to life expectancy and the employee age profile. “At the present time the trustees are satisfied that the company can continue to meet the costs of future contributions as advised by the actuary. However, this matter will continue to be monitored closely.” DCA staff are part of the Tayside Pension Fund administered by Dundee City Council which provides defined benefits based on final pensionable salary. The assets of the scheme are held separately from the company. Financial planning and factoring for costs of pensions is a difficult challenge and an organisation has to account for retirement benefits at the point which it commits to paying them even though the actual payment will be made years into the future. DCA’s planned surplus from normal activities prior to pension and refurbishment adjustments was £36,572. DCA was actively involved during the year in Dundee’s bid for the title of UK City of Culture 2017. The prize went to Hull but Dundee’s bid was well regarded by the event’s judges. The year saw the galleries feature exhibitions designed to appeal to broad and specialist audiences, and its community education team deliver high-profile events and develop relationships with partners. The cinema reported record audiences for a programme ranging from foreign language to quality independent film-making to a range of alternative content including live theatre, ballet and opera. The DCA shop met ambitious retail targets, and the print studio saw the culmination of two years planning and preparation with the first Print Festival Scotland. DCA played a key role in new initiatives including the Blue Sky Festival in collaboration with Dundee Science Centre, Dundee Rep Theatre, Leisure & Culture Dundee, Smallpetitklein and others. The trustees said they are satisfied with the results for the year and feel that the company has achieved its prime objective of promoting the arts and culture for the people of Dundee and beyond.


Courier makes an impact on conference delegates

August 29 2013

Conference delegates from all over the world were welcomed to Dundee with a copy of The Courier. More than 400 people from 31 countries are attending Impact8, which is examining the artistic, social and economic aspects of printing and printmaking. Copies of the paper containing a report on the conference were handed out to the delegates as they arrived. Thursday saw them become even better acquainted with the publications of DC Thomson thanks to a special session devoted to the history of the company and its publications. During the first day of the conference the main event was an examination of the works of one of the major figures of contemporary British art, Bruce McLean, who is noted for his bold and confident approach to print making and has influenced many other contemporaries and younger artists. See more on the conference at www.conf.dundee.ac.uk/impact8/home/


‘Cementing its place as the UK’s cultural and design hotspot’: Dundee’s transformation hailed by global travel magazine

March 27 2018

Dundee has been named alongside Toronto and Cape Town as one of the world's top six "off-beat design hubs" by a global travel magazine. Suitcase, a publication read by more than 200,000 people, has named the City of Discovery on its lineup of world locations which have used design to drive their reinvention. The magazine compiled a list of cities across the globe which are "reinventing themselves" and "transforming urban living". These include Helsinki, Medellin, Tbilisi, Cape Town and Toronto - all locations which writer Fleur Rollet-Manus claims are "design-driven cities that are probing even further, questioning existing methods, finding solutions and striving for social change using the medium of design". The article hails Dundee's "huge revival", drawing reference to the V&A and the waterfront redevelopment, the fashion and art scenes and the redevelopment of the former Baxter Brothers jute mill off Constable Street. The feature, published on March 1, states: "A former economic powerhouse once renowned for its textile trade, Dundee’s re-emerging contemporary fashion and arts scene, coupled with the wealth of digital media companies that call Dundee home, is cementing its place as the UK’s cultural and design hotspot. "The compact Scottish city is undergoing a huge revival with a £1 billion waterfront regeneration headed by the V&A Museum of Design. "As part of the development, two new boutique hotels are taking residence in the historic Baxter Brothers and Co spinning mills. "The newly appointed UNESCO Creative City, the first in the UK, will continue to turn heads as they strive to eradicate social problems such as unemployment and homelessness through community design initiatives and their annual design festival." In October last year the Wall Street Journal called Dundee “Scotland’s coolest city”, placing it at number five on a top ten list of “where to travel in 2018”. Bloomberg Businessweek then listed it sixth in its “top 22” destinations to visit in 2018, while CNN Style placed the city on its ‘top seven’ list of the most eye-catching locations to visit in 2018. The Guardian also listed Dundee on its “where to go hotlist” for 2018. Quarterly magazine Suitcase is the brainchild of publisher and businesswoman Serena Guen, who was once labelled the "Mark Zuckerberg of publishing" by Bloomberg. It is available at shops and newsagents across the globe, as well as on planes and in hotels. For the full article, click here.


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.