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Piper Alpha Memorial sculptor turns her focus to renewable energy in latest exhibition
Internationally acclaimed artist Sue Jane Taylor, famed for her work with the offshore oil industry and creating the Piper Alpha Memorial sculpture, has turned her focus to renewable energy in her latest exhibition, which opens on Saturday [31 August] at Aberdeen Maritime Museum, Shiprow.
The exhibition, titled Beatrice Works, combines paintings, etchings, drawings and diaries to document the development of the groundbreaking Beatrice Wind Farm demonstration project near the Beatrice oil field off the east coast of Caithness.
Sue Jane, with the support of Talisman Energy (UK), was given access to capture the people and places at the cutting edge of the deep-water renewables industry.
The exhibition provides a valuable insight into the experimental construction and installation of the world's first five megawatt offshore turbines in the Moray Firth.
It will run at the Maritime Museum until 04 January 2014.
Sue Jane said: "Aberdeen has been the nerve centre for the North Sea oil and gas industry since oil was discovered back in the 1970s. We live in the age of oil yet the public are generally unaware of what actually goes on out there.
"They only mainly see the company corporate photographic portrayal.
"In my work I try to capture the extreme environment people work in offshore, and now also with pioneering renewable energy prototypes which are being tested all around our northern coastal waters.
"It is important that this part of our history is recorded as well."
Meredith Greiling, curator of maritime history, Aberdeen Maritime Museum, said: "We are very proud of our long-standing relationship with Sue Jane and her work forms the core of our permanent Piper Alpha and Life Offshore displays in the museum.
"The human perspective is at the heart of Sue Jane's work and is what makes them immediately accessible to visitors.
"Having her unique artistic view of the offshore energy industries of Scotland helps us to engage a wider audience and encourages visitors to look at science, engineering and industry in a new way."
Sue Jane studied at Gray's School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art in London. She has worked across the UK, Europe, mainland Australia and Tasmania.
During her childhood on the Black Isle she witnessed the effects of oil-related industrialisation first hand. Her association with offshore industries began in 1984 when she was one of 12 young art graduates commissioned by the Stirling Shipping Company to mark the 10th anniversary of its North Sea oil involvement.
From that time she became fascinated by the offshore industry and by the people she met. Keen to capture a true sense of life at the front line, she travelled on supply vessels and visited platforms including four days on Piper Alpha, before the 1988 explosion that claimed 167 lives.
With the blessing of the families, Sue Jane included her Piper Alpha paintings and drawings in her exhibition Oil Worker Scotland which toured around Scotland and London between 1989 and 1991. She was then commissioned to create the bronze memorial in memory of the Piper Alpha victims which was unveiled by the Queen Mother in the North Sea Rose Garden at Aberdeen's Hazelhead Park in 1991.
Beatrice Works' opening coincides with Offshore Europe exhibition week and the museum's official opening of the oil and gas galleries in the city.
The exhibition will also run in parallel with the Maritime Museum's learning programme for 2013/14, with workshops which show the links between art and engineering held for upper primary and secondary pupils in the city. These will run from Tuesday 19 November to Friday 29 November 2013. Sue Jane will also return to Gray's School of Art for a guest talk on Friday 01 November.
The Maritime Museum is open from 10am-5pm, Tuesday-Saturday and noon-3pm on Sundays. The museum is closed on Mondays. Admission is free.