The Nuart Festival held yearly in Stavanger, Norway has branched out again and taken it’s showcase of street art onto the road and visited it’s twin city of Aberdeen in Scotland.
It’s once again invited some the world’s biggest street artists to paint across Aberdeen – with a whole variety of work on display including huge murals, stencil work and even some bits of Lego popping up around every corner of the granite city.
Having visited the first Aberdeen Nuart Festival in 2017 it was good to return to see how the city had changed and what impact the festival has had on the environment and people.
So let’s take a look at the new artists that had been invited for the 2019 Nuart Festival in Aberdeen.
It’s really hard deciding which artist to begin with so Dotmasters it is whom have been involved with Nuart since the beginning.
Here in Aberdeen Dotmasters have painted on numerous boarded up windows on the old department store, Esslemont and Macintosh, which closed in 2007.
Each window features a child from their ‘Rude Kids’ series where some are messing about, some being a bit playful and others giving hand signals to the passing members of the public!
The ‘Rude Kids’ theme continued on Jopp’s Lane with a full length piece featuring a 1970’s style wallpaper background complete with living room elements like a fireplace and oil paintings giving the kids a location for more of their antics and carnage.
Here some can be seen drawing on the Mona Lisa, arguing over teddy bears or even breaking out of the work and painting the rest of the wall red.
Lots of people turned up over the weekend to photograph this one.
Most artists had one main wall to paint but Dotmasters had these two great locations but also found time to add a few more surprises around the city…like inside this telephone box and stencils in other locations too.
Hotfooting it from the Crystal Ship art festival In Ostend – UK based artist Helen Bur painted two murals at either end of Greyfriars House in Gallowgate.
At one end a woman is intently looking at her red hoop whilst at the other end a man gazes at his red ball. (why does that sound like filth!)
This could be viewed from the nearby carpark but the hardest feat was to snap it without those lamp posts in the way of more of Helen’s fantastic work.
Looking down Jopp’s Lane from the back of the John Lewis building and brightning up a very grey concrete facade along St Andrew Street is this mural from Hush.
Hailing from the UK Hush has used far eastern influences and mixed them with some abtract patterns and graffiti markings – truly stunning.
A common theme whilst wandering the many delightful streets and back lanes of Aberdeen is that everything is either made out of granite or concrete – hence the landscape is VERY grey looking but making for a fantastic canvas to make all the street art more prominent!
Just like these pieces from Norway’s Hama Woods.
She worked late into Friday night to ensure this was ready for the opening on Saturday.
Two monochrome rats were stenciled on this shop front operating an elaborate pulley system alongwith abstract colour blocks which were still being added after dark!
Just around the corner was another huge mural from Hama Woods featuring a leopard taking centre stage alongwith some more rats and another pulley system.
Two leopards take pride of place on Aberdeen’s coat of arms – propping up the Bon Accord shield. (hence the shopping centre name!)
Aberdeen has a deep connection with the leopard as legend has it that two leopards were gifted to the city by King James I after after his long and ‘compulsory residence’ in England. After being held captive, Aberdeen underwrote the expenses he had incurred during captivity.
So Hama painted this leopard to reflect the connection as a monochrome stencil with more giant blocks of colour.
Due to a last minute location change the position for Axel’s work was not on the official map but was mysteriously pointed out by many people that it ‘was near the dot on the map.‘
The mysterious dot turned out to be a roundabout near the Woolmanhill Flats on John Street and was actually an incredible last minute change.
Having seen lots of Axel’s work before I was expecting a dark image with some stylised text throughout the centre so this work totally took me by surprise.
To the left a child is depicted shaking a hula hoop (there’s a common theme here!) whilst to the right Axel has painted a monochrome crowd perpendicular to the eyeline with a small colourful environment encapsulated in a circle to the centre of it.
Another high profile name to visit Aberdeen was Vhils whom is known for his laborious and intensive pieces which are created by chiseling into the fabric of a building.
Here next to the Union Square shopping centre is an example of his work but with the addition of a lot of spray work too to help illustrate some Aberdonian dock workers who supported the fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War in 1936.
Each artist was allocated one main wall but like some other artists they also painted at extra locations thoughout the city with Norwegian artist Strok getting around the most!
Also known at Anders Gjennestad, Strok headed to the beach in Aberdeen (can you believe there is a really great stretch of sand here!) and painted this on a rusting metal gate.
His main piece was set amongst another street of grey in Rosemount Viaduct using his trademark style of stencils of dancing men complete with shadows to emphasise their joyous movements in space.
Having painted his big mural and some smaller pieces around the city he also found this sweet spot in the Union Terrace gardens surrounded by lots of glorious daffodils.
The artists’ hub was based at The Anatomy Rooms where all equipment and paint was stored ready for the artists to use each day. This resulted in a few pieces being painted in the nearby grounds.
It was interesting to see all the labelled up paint pots for the artists but also designs from Hama Woods, Jan Vormann and work by Ememem that was cut and ready to be put out on the streets of Aberdeen.
Ememem is an artist who’s trademark is filling in the imperfections in something whether it be the cracks in a wall, pavement or even a tree!
This elaborate version of mosaic art is a lot harder and intricate than you may first think it is.
Looking at the pieces above ready to be set on the pavement below and then you start to realise the whole process the artist has to go through.
Would anyone have bothered to take a photo of this street corner ever before?
In the St Nicholas Churchyard whilst people’s lives are commemorated all around with elaborate headstones the remnants of a tree are commemorated with the addition of some art by Ememem.
This tree trunk has been decorated by the artist with the plaque reading:-
Here lies a tree
1825 – 1987
The less we say about the council worker who locked us all in the churchyard resulting in a 999 call to police for rescue the better. (He saw us all stood by the gate but still locked it and walked away!)
And one further example of Ememem’s work in the Union Terrace Gardens where a footpath had eroded but has now been repaired with a blue and white tile makeover.
Great that his logo is like two sticking plasters!
In a similar vein to Ememem’s work, German artist Jan Vormann, has incorprated Lego building bricks into his work by firstly asking the local community to supply the bricks for him to use.
He then sifted through thousands of donated bricks to find the exact combination of shape, size and colour to fill in the cracks on this wall next to the green in Aberdeen.
Whilst capturing all the large mural work you also have to continually be looking down to ensure seeing all the facility boxes that Evol has given a makeover to.
Using stencils to transform these green boxes into brutal skyscrapers and reflecting the local environment. Here splashes of gold and even some granite help spruce these up!
Over ten boxes were given the makeover with a selection below.
One of the most eye-catching pieces was by Australian artist Smug – located at the Green and directly opposite the Herakut mural from 2017. (pictured above)
Smug effortly painted this masterpiece and we were lucky to catch him on the last day putting the finishing touches to it.
The dog’s paw and man’s tattoos were the last things to paint.
This is now the third year that Aberdeen has hosted the Nuart Festival in the lead up to the Easter Bank Holiday weekend – with the festival officially launching on the Saturday afternoon.
On a sunny Saturday a traditional Scottish fanfare welcomed the crowd of visitors to the green along with bagpipes, dancers and speeches from organisers kicking off the proceedings.
Local Councillor Jenny Laing spoke very passionately about the festival – whilst pointing ahead at the huge mural by Smug and said,
“We were originally thinking about what on earth to do with that building…even demolishing it…
but now we are thinking about how we preserve it!”
This one line perfectly illustrated how the whole city had taken the visitors, the artists and their artwork into their hearts and really encompassed all elements that it had brought to their wonderful city. Here’s to the next one!