Dundee is a hotbed of creative expression and ingenuity. Karen Tocher, business tourism manager at Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau, looks at the creative innovations that have gained the region its reputation for world class design and creative endeavours…
Pablo Picasso once said that “every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
Spend some time in Dundee and Angus, however, and you’d argue that there is no such problem.
In 2014, Dundee was named the UK’s only UNESCO City of Design. It’s an accolade that the city holds dear, recognising the significant impact its inhabitants have made on the creative industries. This reputation for excellence is reflected most in the selection of the city to become home to the first museum of design built outside of London: the V&A Dundee, which opens on September 15.
The Beano and The Dandy – comics loved by children up and down the UK and beyond – have their roots here in Dundee, while the city’s ever-growing videogames industry has given birth to some of the world’s best-selling games, including Lemmings, Grand Theft Auto and Minecraft.
But it is not just the area’s most famous exports that have rocked the creative world.
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design – part of the University of Dundee – has created waves in the art and design world. Ranked #1 in the UK for design and crafts – and #1 in Scotland for art and design – the college is a bustling hub of artistic endeavours.
From fine art and design to innovative collaborations with biomedical sciences and underwater exploration, the college is constantly pushing the boundaries of how the creative arts can blend seamlessly with the world of industry.
So too is Abertay University, where pioneering developments in videogaming technology have led to some incredible achievements. Working alongside the University of St Andrews Medical School, scientists have developed an interactive, animated simulation of cell signalling behaviour to help develop new cancer treatments.
And, in conjunction with Droman Crime Solutions and Police Scotland, the University has developed a videogame that is used to train police officers in how to properly handle digital evidence.
This blurring of the digital and real worlds is also present in PhD student Mona Bozdog’s work, where she took over the uninhabited Inchcolm Island – four miles east of the Forth Bridge – to blend BAFTA-nominated video game Dear Esther with live orchestral music.
This creative approach isn’t limited to indoor workplaces, however: the James Hutton Institute has created pioneering apps which can be used by farmers and land managers in Scotland to identify soil samples and predict potato crop sizes, massively impacting on the agricultural industry.
It’s safe to say that the creative industries are thriving in Dundee and Angus: cutting edge research blurs the line between artistry and industry in new and exciting ways, breeding ideas that will one day become legend.