Primal Scream, Be Charlotte and more play the 3D Festival to mark the opening of Dundee's V&A
- David Pollock
- 5 September 2018
V&A Young People's Collective, who helped create the festival / credit: Julie Howden
Local musicians discuss the festival and the impact the new museum could have on Dundee's creative scene
V&A Dundee opens this month, a major event in Scotland's cultural calendar which will see the arrival of the first V&A museum outside of London, and which will also cement the city of Dundee's status as a UNESCO City of Design.
Yet the V&A, Scotland's first design museum, is just one step in a redevelopment of the city's waterfront area, and as usual with such projects, it has a lot of potential if handled correctly. One such new site is the open-air concert space Slessor Gardens, which will host a major opening event for the V&A. The 3D Festival will take the form of a proper late-evening festival show on the Friday – Primal Scream have been announced as headliners, in an as-yet-unspecified collaboration with the Scots visual artist Jim Lambie – while the Saturday will feature a daytime bill of well-known Dundonian artists.
Ask Andrew Wasylyk – aka Andrew Mitchell, born in the city's Ninewells Hospital, a member of Idlewild and composer of his own records – about being an artist from Dundee, and he turns instead to a well-known quote from the city's late son Michael Marra: 'For any artist Dundee is just the perfect place to look at the rest of the world. Charles Mingus had a book called Beneath the Underdog. I always thought they should put that under the sign outside the city … the last thing you do in Dundee is impress. It's absolutely not on. That, for any artist, is a great place to be – you work harder.'
Charlotte Brimner, aka Be Charlotte, is at the stage in her career where she can play both days of the festival. 'I grew up in Dundee, it's the place where I first found my passion for music and for songwriting,' she says. 'I'd say growing up here has absolutely informed how I write music and how I sound when I sing, it's so important to me that this identity is recognisable in the music, and to have it feel as real as possible. It does feel like there's a buzz around the place now, I think that's partly because there are so many talented fashion designers and gamers building successful independent businesses here. I hope V&A can inspire lots more to do so.'
Gary Clark grew up in the city's Douglas housing estate in the 1970s, and moved back five years ago after more than 30 years in London and Los Angeles, first as a member of the band Danny Wilson, and later a songwriter for high-profile artists. 'The architecture might change but the heart of the city is the same,' he says. 'The people are fair-minded but tough, warm and extremely funny, and it's always had a very strong creative heart; I see the new developments as an extension of what's always been here but largely kept secret from the wider world. Dundee's distance from the big cities removes it from the pressures to conform, I think of it as a city that celebrates uniqueness. I happened to arrive back in the city in time to watch the V&A grow up from the rubble, and I don't think we can overestimate the positive effect this building will have on the culture and economy of Dundee and Scotland for decades to come.'
Katie Lynch of the duo St Martiins, meanwhile, is hopeful of the shot in the arm which the new building might provide across the city. 'When we were younger there was a local venue which was extremely supportive, but it got quieter and sadly closed down,' she says. 'After that, the build-up of a scene was slow, but it's definitely steadier now, there are a lot of talented people who want to see each other do well. The city has drastically changed; I'm just hopeful for the inclusion of all types of people who the V&A can introduce to the art world, and that it brings opportunity to people who never would have got the chance.'
'Obviously the opening of a museum or cutting of a ribbon won't create some paradise overnight, but the seed of optimism it sows is meaningful,' says Mitchell. 'There's an increased sense of pride in the air, and I look forward to seeing the ripple effect the place has – that it's not seen as a peak of endeavour, but rather the fuel that stokes the ambitions of those living in, working in or just passing through. After all, one creative arc should encourage another.'
V&A Dundee opens on Sat 15 Sep. The V&A Dundee: 3D Festival takes place on Fri 14 & Sat 15 Sep, Slessor Gardens, Dundee.
V&A Dundee 3D Festival
A two-day celebration of design, music and live performance to mark the opening of V&A Dundee.