During my recent 36 hour exploration of Aberdeen, it was impossible to miss the huge amount of street art that has appeared on walls and doorways around Aberdeen. This is thanks in some part to NUART Aberdeen, which is now in its third year of their public art festival.
Every April since 2017, some of the leading street artists have gathered in the granite city to create some art which will brighten up the city, stimulate debate and encourage tourism to Aberdeen. However, NUART originates from Stavanger in Norway and is in it’s 19th year this year. NUART is described by Martyn Reed (Founding Director) as being run by “idealistic volunteers, vandals and bored arts professionals”!
NUART run walking tours three times a week (April-September) and I joined one on a wet Thursday evening. There was just a small group of us, which weren’t deterred by the classic summer showers. The tour started on The Green, in the shadow of SMUG’s art work which is probably one of my favourites due to its photo-realistic style.
Our guide was Autumn, who led us around the city superbly. She had so much knowledge about the artworks, the artists style and working habits, as well as tidbits which gave us historical knowledge about the city that we wouldn’t have picked up on our own.
We covered a fair bit of ground, and most of the tour was step-free. If you can’t manage one of the guided NUART tours, you can take yourself on a trip around the city using the art map. This plots all of the NUART street artworks from 2017-2019.
A well-loved installation is ‘Everyday Heroes’ which shares some of the stories of Aberdeen’s most famous residents. Local school pupils contributed to the design and each story is surrounded by a mosaic frame. Well worth taking a closer look!
A creative way of transforming electronic enclosure boxes can also be spotted around Aberdeen. I love how everyday objects that you might ignore normally are now given a new lease of creative life!
Visitors can also become part of street art – this DotMasters piece is at ground level so you can join the cheeky kids for in your own photos!
It’s also exciting to see how street art can develop and change over the years. Elki created the above bagpiper way back in the early 2000s. It’s definitely remniscent of a Banksy. Fast forward to 2018 and the below photo is of work by the same artist – what a difference in style and improvement in skill and detail!
Street art can be a community effort too. Often we can hear about young people getting involved in street art projects or mural designing which is great. However I personally love this piece below by the Aberdeen’s own ‘graffiti grannies’ – 16 pensioners were educated by street art by the Portuguese ‘Lata Young at Heart’ project and then given free reign on this wall just off of Union Street, as part of the NUART 2019 festival.
Walking is a great way to explore a city and with all this street art (and more!) to see in Aberdeen, it’s worth getting out there and just seeing what you can find!