Between 2010 and 2012, the National Galleries of Scotland Education Outreach team in partnership with Aberdeen City Council (Arts Development and Aberdeen Art Gallery) produced Silver City Soul, a collaborative project to create a contemporary portrait of the city of Aberdeen based on its characters, communities and landscapes. Inspired by figurative paintings of individuals and groups by the nineteenth-century Aberdonian artists William Dyce and John Phillip, the people of Aberdeen were invited to represent themselves and their city as part of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s Portrait of the Nation: Live! education programme.

In this media age, images play a vital role in shaping contemporary perceptions of a city, its inhabitants, and their creative potential. Our initiative built on this, using portraiture to create a productive dialogue between the individual and the community, the city and the nation.

Video was the chosen medium for this collective portrait. Video-artist Adam Proctor was supported by a core group of active participants in exploring the living heart of Aberdeen. His two films present a powerful image of a changing city reflected in the faces of its inhabitants and in the evocative locations chosen by the group to represent their city.

Silver City Soul was exhibited in the Scottish National Gallery, 28 April – 6 June 2011, and in Aberdeen Art Gallery, 11 February – 24 March 2012.

For more information about the project and to view images submitted by members of the public visit

This project is jointly funded by the National Galleries of Scotland and Aberdeen City Council as part of the Vibrant Aberdeen Cultural Strategy.

We are grateful to Northern Light, Transmission Extreme and Aberdeen Football Club for their support in this project.