Nuart Aberdeen, the only street-art festival in Scotland, was back in June with an amazing line-up of artists who worked hard to brighten up the streets of Aberdeen once again. The festival lived up to its theme, “Reconnect”, as thousands of people got together to enjoy a weekend of celebration!
Our Digital Content Assistant, Clara, shares her experience going on an exclusive walking tour with the Aberdeen Inspired team. Learn more about the festival and discover the brand-new 2022 artworks in this blog.
Street-art tour with the Aberdeen Inspired team
On Saturday 11th of June, I attended a street-art tour with the Aberdeen Inspired team and their expert tour-guide John, ahead of the festival’s public launch in the afternoon. Our small group took off from Marischal Square, on Broad Street, to discover old and new artworks from various national and international artists. John guided us around Aberdeen, from The Tunnels and Belmont Street to Union Plaza and Union Row, sharing his knowledge of street-art and stories from the artists he has met during his time working on the festival.
These tours are a great opportunity to get an insight into what goes on behind the scenes during the production stage. John really conveyed the determination and bravery that the artists have as they sometimes spend over 10 hours per day perched in the air on a cherry-picker to create stunning artworks.
We also learned more about the deeper messages behind some of the murals. John shared with us that, oftentimes, street-art aims to communicate political messages. It is the case for example with the posters plastered on the walls of The Tunnels or this year’s mural from Jofre Oliveras entitled “The man who owns the stone”.
Even though there is meaning to be found in street-art, John encourages people to not always take it too seriously. The essence of street-art is its ability to be enjoyed by everyone. He takes Bordalo II’s unicorn on Union Row as an example. While this artwork conveys important messages about sustainability, it can also simply be seen as a colourful and playful piece which brightens up our streets.
Beyond expanding our knowledge of street-art, this guided tour perfectly represented the festival’s theme “Reconnect” as it brought people together and sparked conversations between strangers. During our tour, we were even joined by a group of American tourists who were delighted to learn more about Scottish culture through the artworks that we were discovering.
Organising your own street-art tour
Even though guided tours were only on during the weekend of the festival, John encourages people to follow their own street-art trail any time of the year. After all, the murals don’t disappear once the festival is over! Download Nuart’s digital map to go on your very own street-art tour.
If you prefer to wait to go on a guided tour, Nuart will be organising weekly tours during the summer. Keep an eye on their website for more details.
The new 2022 artworks
The 2022 edition of Nuart Aberdeen saw 11 artists from around the world create brand new murals for the festival. Here are some of the artworks that we discovered this year:
Nuno Viegas, also known as Metis, is an artist from Portugal who started his artistic journey in 1999. He began taking inspiration from the graffiti scene when he moved to The Netherlands in 2014. His work visually stands out as the clean finishing of his paintings contrasts with the sometimes aggressive look of traditional graffiti. You will find Viegas’ mural on Gerrard Street.
Drawing on this year’s theme “Reconnect”, spanish artist Jofre Oliveras created a mural called “The man who owns the stone” by reflecting on the link between nationalism and disconnection in our society. Olivera, who describes himself as both a landscaper and an activist, uses art as a communication tool to spread messages with social undertones. Head over to Frederick Street to see this peculiar man, whose vision is being obstructed by a flag.
Miss.Printed’s work is different than those of her fellow Nuart artists as she doesn’t paint on buildings, or paint at all for that matter! Instead, The Norwegian-based artist has a passion for what she calls “Locative Collage”. She cuts images from magazines and creates interesting collages which she places in an urban setting to tell a specific story. She has created over 50 pieces which she has spread across Aberdeen for passers-by to reflect upon. Miss.Printed plays with political undertones in her work and leaves the meaning open to interpretation.
Pejac is a Spanish painter who likes to use trompe-l’œil techniques. A trompe-l’œil is a visual illusion in art which tricks the eye into perceiving paintings or designs as three-dimensional objects. The artist carefully chooses the right place in the urban environment for each of his work to convey his subtle but impactful messages. Pejac’s mission is to make people “draw closer to listen”. We can find his attention to details in his Nuart piece, depicting a welcome mat made of numerous human figures that can only be seen from up close. Pay attention when you walk on Union Street if you don’t want to miss Pejac’s mesmerising creation.
Norwegian street artist Martin Whatson was a part of the emerging graffiti scene in Oslo in the early 90’s and is now exhibiting his work at festivals all around the world. In the past decade, he has developed a unique aesthetic recreating the urban environment and using abstract movements to reveal its vibrant transformations. His colourful Nuart piece is entitled “The Quarry Worker” and pays tribute to the people who worked on extracting Aberdeen’s iconic granite and the stone masons who keep those skills alive today. The mural can be found on Virginia Street.
James Klinge is a homegrown Scottish talent as he was born, and still lives, in Glasgow. Most of his art is figurative, usually depicting the human figure. Even though he describes his painting process as “controlled chaos”, his work displays incredible details. You will find his work on the Ibis Hotel building on Shiprow.
Muralist and painter Safont was born in Barcelona, where he graduated from university with a Fine Arts degree. He is in his element at Nuart as his work consists of large-scale paintings using walls as canvases. Slim explains that he reconnected with his childhood memories for his mural entitled “The Punishment”, where a young girl reluctantly writes down the same sentence again and again, a common school punishment for bad behaviour. Head over to Union Plaza to have a look at the unimpressed young girl.
Jacoba Niepoort is a muralist based in Copenhagen, where she has been practicing in the public space since 2009. Her work is deeply linked with the idea of connection, as she believes that connectedness allows for a better understanding of self and others. She likes to strip down her subjects, like she does in her Nuart piece, to humanise them and highlight universally-felt emotions. Walk to Union Street to find Niepoort’s mural.
UK artist Erin Holly is used to her work brightening up public spaces. Her murals are inspired by everyday spaces and tackle ideas of inclusion, the body and trans identity among others. Her Nuart piece displays a colourful bathroom space in a futuristic way. You will find Erin’s mural on Union Grove.
Since 2017, Nuart has produced many recognisable artworks around town. You can find out more about them on our previous Nuart blog. And for more information on Aberdeen and its vibrant cultural life, visit the RGU website.