Catalyst Conference 2018

2018 brings the return of the SPECTRA Catalyst Conference. Designed to strengthen and sustain the cultural buzz in Aberdeen around the popular annual light festival, Catalyst takes place on the 9th and 10th February in the Anatomy Rooms at Marischal College.

Leading artists, designers, academics, business leaders and social entrepreneurs will once again come together again for the two day conference, with international partners from Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Norway, to identify ways to develop the cultural economy in Aberdeen while also fostering conditions to define, draw attention to and distinguish the industry and city on a global scale.

Run in collaboration with Creative Scotland’s Place Partnerships Team, the 2018 ticketed conference explores the theme of creative place-making, concentrating on the important role that the arts plays in improving a community’s wellbeing and prosperity

Headline speaker Martin Green, who successfully led Hull as the City of Culture 2017, will be joined by the First Lady of Iceland Eliza Reid, who is the co-founder of Iceland Writers Retreat as well as very actively promoting the art and literature scene in Iceland.  Sif Gunnarsdóttir, Director of the Nordic House in the Faroe Islands is also confirmed as well as Hilary Nicoll, Associate Director of the Look Again Visual Art and Design Festival.


Tickets on sale :

Full Catalyst Conference Programme below:

SPECTRA Catalyst Conference 2018 programme:

Headline talk: Martin Green, CEO & Director, Hull: UK City of Culture 2017


PANEL 1: Cultural Leaders on the Edge

The first panel focusses on the strategy and programming used to improve the culture and tourism of a city, maintaining creative excellence and relevance. Martin Green, keynote speaker will also be involved in the discussion.

Martin Green, CEO & Director, Hull: UK City of Culture 2017

Eliza Reid – Director, Icelandic Writers Retreat

Sif Gunnarsdóttir – Director, Nordic House in the Faroe Islands

Jean Cameron – Bid Director, Paisley 2021

PANEL 2: Look Again

The Look Again panel explores the process of producing public art, and the artist’s consideration of context, community, heritage and place, while examining the challenges and benefits to cultural reputation and economy.

Hilary Nicoll  Associate Director, Look Again Visual Art and Design Festival

Jacqueline Donachie – Artist

Susan Christie – Curator


PANEL 3: The Write Place

From the Bronte’s Yorkshire, to Wordsworth’s Lake District and the Edinburgh of Inspector Rebus, writers and the work they create has long had the power to define and evoke an enduring sense of ‘place’. The Write Place unites literary voices from Iceland and Scottish and invites them to share insights on the influence place – real or imagined – on their work, and its subsequent power to forge local, regional and national cultural identities. Panellists include Eliza Reid, First Lady of Iceland and co-founder of the country’s acclaimed Writer’s Retreat, Mary Paulson-Ellis, whose novel The Other Mrs Walker is the Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year 2017 and Aberdeen based Shane Strachan, whose writing is inspired by the Northeast of Scotland and its relationship with the wider world.

This panel is a partnership between SPECTRA and Granite Noir, Aberdeen’s crime writing festival.

Lesley Anne Rose – Head of Artistic Development, Aberdeen Performing Arts

Mary Paulson-Ellis – Writer

Eliza Reid – Director, Icelandic Writers Retreat

Shane Strachan – Writer


PANEL 4: Artists Engaging Aberdeen

We hear from the people directly involved in changing the cultural scene in Aberdeen, including Nuno Sacramento, who has been newly appointed as the Director of Peacock Visual Arts.

Kate Steenhauer – Artist

Nuno Sacramento – Director, Peacock Visual Arts

Steve Slater – Director, City Moves

Sara Stroud – Artist


PANEL 5: Artists Working Collaboratively

Collective Collaborations and Bury Collective artists discuss the ways in which they work together, and the benefits of being part of a collaborative, and how working in different cities connects them to one another and a wider audience.

 Elin Melberg –  Artist

Lee Crocker – Artist

Stephen C Nuttall – Artist

Malcolm Dickson – Director, Street Level Photoworks

Ann Carragher – Artist


PANEL 6: Architectural Light

This panel brings lighting and design experts who have worked on large scale projects, national and internationally, led by expert Scottish lighting designer, Kevan Shaw. Kevan is the Design Director of KSLD, and has led award winning projects in museums, banks, centres including The Ashmolean Museum and the Scott Monument.

Kevan Shaw – Design Director, KSLD

Kristján Kristjánsson – Lighting Designer

Dario Nunez – Verkis, Consultant Engineers


PANEL 7: Light Festivals

Light festival directors come together to talk about how they have established, grown and managed their festivals, and the impact the festivals have had on the cities, and present strategic ways for maintaining creative excellence and relevance as the festivals grow.

Kaat Heirbrant – Artistic Director, Lichtfestival, Gent

Ilkka Paloniemi – Artistic Director, Lux Helsinki

Craig Harvey – Founder, Factory Light Festival, Slemmestad, Norway


PANEL 8: Creative Technologies at Architectural Scale

This panel shows us the way in which artists and directors use cities as a backdrop, playing with urban spaces and architecture to create amazing displays on huge and small scales. Seb Lee-Delise talks more about his commissioned piece, Lightning Strikes which will be projected onto Marischal College during SPECTRA.

Tine Bech – Artist

Seb Lee-Delisle – Artist

István Dávid – Limelight Projection

Rob Vale – Illuminos


PANEL 9: Sound and the City

Prof. Pete Stollery leads this panel, discussing the importance and use of sound in a city and will explore the public notion of identity of space through sound.

Pete Stollery – Prof. of Composition and Electroacoustic Music, University of Aberdeen

Halla Stefánsdóttir – Artist

Helmut Lemke – Artist

David Henckel – Artist


Conference Tickets are £25 which covers both days and also entitles conference delegates to discounts on SPECTRA Music festival programme.