Aberdeen is a city famous for its fine granite buildings. Now though it’s becoming just as well known for it’s street art. Aberdeen is fast gaining a reputation as a must see location. Murals can be found across the city within easy walking distance from one another.
Murals from some of the best street artists from around the world can be found in the city. It is the down to the impact of the Nuart festival. Starting in Stavanger it journeyed over the sea to North East Scotland in 2017. It has operated in some form each year up till 2022.
- Map of Street Art in Aberdeen
- Where to see Street Art in Aberdeen
- City Centre
- North Aberdeen
- West Aberdeen
- South Aberdeen
- East Aberdeen
Map of Street Art in Aberdeen
A map showing some of the major murals created as part of the Nuart Festivals in Aberdeen. The map reveals all of the major pieces created during the festivals from 2017 to 2022. There are also many other smaller pieces to find which aren’t included on this map and some that have since disappeared. These however are noted where that might be the case.
Where to see Street Art in Aberdeen
Nuart has brought street art to Aberdeen in a big way. Each year has seen different parts opened up for new murals. From the Harbourside to Union Row. Murals can be seen large scale on the sides of buildings and hidden away down alleys or side streets. Most of the street art is curated but some are not. The chances are that you’ll discover many other pieces that are not on this list.
For this post we’ve separated the city out into sections. We have the centre which revolves around it’s main thoroughfare of Union Street up until Union Terrace Gardens. The North which is the area beyond School Hill and the Bon Accord Shopping Centre. The West moving from Union Terrace Gardens towards Union Row and Holbourn Place. The South and East only have a few murals between them in these areas and there may be expansion her in later years.
Running along Union Street, this section covers the space between Castle Street and Union Terrace Gardens. There are a number of roads which run either side of this main thoroughfare and the area is at the very heart of Aberdeen. It includes the Green and we’ve also extended down to Ship Row and Virginia Street.
On a little street called Adelphi, leading from Union Street, a mosaic mural from Carrie Reichardt (2018) can be found hidden away. Part of Amnesty International’s ‘Suffragette Spirit‘ campaign the mosaic captures the stories of historical and modern day women who have made and are making a difference to people’s lives and to society as a whole.
Belmont Street has a spectacular mural which is best seen from the bridge on Union Street overlooking the Union Terrace Gardens. From Portuguese artist ‘Add Fuel‘ (2017). It has been inspired by the tiles and ceramics of Aberdeen. The piece itself looks like a tile mosaic whose colour palette perfectly blends into to the surrounding architecture. Go onto the street itself and there are a number of other little gems hidden around that have been placed there by artists, you just have to keep your eyes peeled.
Also on Belmont Street a 2017 artwork from Italian artist Alice Pasquini can be seen on a wall half way up. She is an artist known for making multiple pieces during any visit and this piece was in addition to her main mural on Ship Row. Another unexpected treat to be found on this street is a hidden work from Portuguese artist Vhils. This can be seen inside the Nandos as the building it was created in has since been converted. It’s a spectacular work leading up the stairs to the first floor and pre-dates Nuart.
East Green and the Tunnels
East Green, an area to the side of the old market, once led towards an area known as the tunnels. Walking through they led towards Netherkirkgate, one of the cities most ancient streets. Before then, it passed through a series of underground loading bays. Now however much of this has gone with the redevelopment of the area.
It was a place where plenty of Aberdeen’s more locally inspired street art and graffiti could be found. Murals of note in the area included a mural from Hyuro (2018) The Argentinian artist who painted high on the back wall of one of the buildings which overlooked and crossed the street. It had depicted two fighting boys and was a reference to the relationship between England and Scotland. Sadly the mural disappeared along with the wider market demolition in 2022.
For the 2019 festival Ben Eine also painted here. He created a mural which said ‘Shiny Happy People Laughing’. In 2021 the tunnels also became the primary location of ‘Stuck Up Aberdeen‘ a dedicated celebration of paste up art supported by Flying Leaps. Keep exploring and you could see plenty of other pieces from local artists too. Inside the tunnels a myriad of work could be found . Another victim of the demolition of 2022, Ben Eine’s mural has now also disappeared.
The Green is at the heart of old Aberdeen and was for years the heart of the Nuart Festival. The dominant building in the centre was the old market. On which a mural of a young girl was painted across the concave surface. From German duo Herakut it was the standout piece from the 2017 version of the festival. Overlooking the Green and it’s shops the mural disappeared along with the demolition of the market in 2022.
Just around the corner there stands an equally impressive but quite different piece from the UK’s Carrie Reichardt (2018) which can be found on St. Nicolas Lane. It features tile based mosaics of inspirational Aberdonian women. There is also a historical based piece based on the witch hunts which happened in the city.
In 2019 a giant mural from SMUG was painted to overlook the Green from the opposite end to the market building. Germany’s Jan Vormann also created a lego installation inside a crumbling old wall on the side of stairs leading up to Union Street. Stamford based duo Snik added a further mural in 2021 to the bridge from the houses on Union Street to the Market building. This however was always going to be short lived as the bridge was demolished along with the old market building in 2022.
Queen Street, Marischal Square and the Anatomy Rooms
A number of smaller street art pieces can be seen dotted around this area of Aberdeen. From Queen Street leading to Marischal Square and on towards the arts centre of the Anatomy Rooms. A 2017 mural by Martin Whatson was the largest piece but this was demolished in 2022. Showing a golfer playing against a backdrop of graffiti tags it was actually the first mural to be created as part of Nuart in Aberdeen.
Close by a number of works from Evol (2019) can also be seen hidden around. He turns street furniture into mini tower blocks but are not immediately obvious. Then in the entrance yard of the ‘Anatomy Rooms’ there is also a small piece from Anders Gjennstad also from 2019. Look closely near the entrance to the anatomy rooms and you might also see some pothole filling tile work from Ememem (2019).
Ship Row and Virginia Street
Accessing Ship Row from Union Street there are no prizes for guessing just why it is so called. Ship Row leads down to the harbour and towards Virginia Street which runs alongside. In this area Alice Pasquini (2017) was the first artist to add work. Her gentle piece shows a young couple resting and gazing at each other. There positioning on the street imagines that they could well be on the bank watching the goings on in the harbour.
The mural work from Snik came next on Virginia Street. Added in 2018 it is a giant stencil which has then been finished by hand. It shows a young woman being dragged up to the sky by a number of blue tits. It’s as if she has be released of her tethers to the ground and has been set free by the birds.
For the 2022 festival, two further artworks were added to Virginia Street. The first from Glasgow based James Klinge who created a giant stencil on the side of Ibis overlooking the harbour. The second a work by Martin Whatson which showed a worker siting on a block of graffiti tags taking the place of granite. This is Whatson’s second mural in the city after his first created in 2017 was demolished.
St Nicolas Rooftop
There are many other locations with street art knocking about including the top of the St. Nicolas Rooftop Gardens where Bortusk Leer created an expansive collage of his cartoon monsters in 2018. The spot was updated as part of the returning 2021 Nuart Aberdeen festival with work from local artist KMG.
St Nicolas Churchyard
A tile memorial to a long dead tree can be seen in the churchyard of St Nicolas. From French mosaic artist Ememem in 2019 he is known for subversion of his use of tile. The tree monument in the churchyard is attached to the top of an old tree stump. Work from Ememem can also be seen near the Anatomy Rooms where he has repaired potholes with his tiles. During his visit the artist also did some work in the Union Terrace Gardens but those have since disappeared.
Working north from the separating street of School Hill the streets in the area have been getting ever more filled with street art. Locations such as Harriet Street and Jopps Lane have given way in recent years to areas such as Frederick Street and Gerrard Street.
Gerrard Street and Spring Garden
Two streets close to North East Scotland College (NESC). The first mural appeared in a courtyard off Spring Garden in 2021. That was from Henrik Uldalen and shows a man with crystals growing from his head. A reference to the birth of the granite city as granite crystallises when it nears the surface. Just around the corner but accessed from Gerrard Street a new mural from Nuno Viegas was created for the 2022 edition. That piece is a compliment to street art he created in Stavanger for a Nuart festival over there. Showing the Queen of hearts on a mask it is full of graffiti lore.
Introduced as a location during the 2021 festival, a work by Fanakapan was painted onto the side of the Aberdeen Health Village. It shows two smiling helium balloons, a favourite subject matter of the artist. It is called ‘Pulling Faces Aberdeen’ and links into the theme of connection which was the topic of the 2021 event. The mural however is best seen from the busy A956.
For the festival in 2022 a further piece was added on Frederick Street and painted on a wall of the car park. This from Jofre Oliveras shows is called ‘The Man Owns the Stone’. It shows a man standing on a rock with a flag covering his face in a mural about nationalism and the dangers of it.
Harriet Street and Crooked Lane
On Harriet Street two blue and white boats have been painted by Poland’s M-City (2017). A number of other smaller pieces can be seen in the area too. In 2019 Norwegian artist Hama Woods painted close by on Crooked Lane. Positioned in the car park of the Science Centre her Leopard overlooks it. Another of her intricate stencilled animals once sat across the entrance of the centre itself but this has now been removed.
To the northern edge of the mural district are a gathering of murals within a few minutes walk from each other. A cluster of murals on Jopps Lane include a dominant work from Australia’s Fintan Magee from 2017 which overlooks a car park. A text based piece from the UK’s Robert Montgomery can be found just to the other side and was also painted in 2017.
A 2018 piece from Elki depicting a set of headphones resting on a mixing desk sits in a small yard nearby. An ambitious multi-layered stencil it actually sits next to an earlier work by the artist painted many years before. Allegedly it is the oldest piece of street art in the city. In 2019 works have been added by Dotmasters who has placed a ‘rude kids’ mural running along the lane. A mural too from HUSH was added in 2019. His giant Geisha sits on the side of John Lewis and looks down the street.
Woolmanhill Flats, John Street
A double mural from Axel Void in 2019 fronts the Woolmanhill Flats student accommodation. Using old photographs he has created murals which reflect the social history of the city. One shows a crowd waiting for the Queen in the 1950’s and the other shows a child hula hooping from a picture taken in the 1980’s.
Holbourn Street, Willowbank Road & Union Grove
Towards the western edge of the mural district and a short walk from the cluster of works around Union Row. Three more pieces can be seen near Holbourn Street. The first, at the corner with Union Street, is from Sheffield’s Phlegm (2018). A huge fan favourite on the street art scene his black and white illustrative murals fit in well with granite of Aberdeen. His piece shows his characters amidst a quarry and working on the granite stone.
Just over the road on the residential Union Grove a mural by London’s Erin Holly can be seen. Created as part of the 2022 festival it is the interior of a 1980’s style bathroom shown from above. The piece a commentary on aspirational lifestyles. Nearby and a short walk towards the corner of Willowbank Road, Scottish artists Conzo & Globel have painted a cartoon and text based collaboration. Featuring seagulls and chips it is called ‘Super Scurry’ and was painted in 2018.
Langstane Place and Windmill Brae
Langstane Place is a road which runs parallel to Union Street. It leads into Windmill Brae which in turn leads directly (via a shopping centre) to the Green. It’s a great road to wander along. There are a few decent medium sized pieces to look at such as Jaune’s main mural from 2017 featuring workmen fighting off pigeons. A work from Milu Correch from 2018 however has since been painted over. One of two murals created by the artist in that year she still has a surviving piece on Union Row. Keep your eyes peeled by other smaller works though from a number of other artists.
Nearby Rosemount Viaduct received an addition in 2019 from Norway’s Anders Gjennstad. His work is all about movement and his dancing stencils seemingly hop up and down the giant wall. The illusion is caused by the dancers themselves being photographed from above. Many are breakdancing but when placed on the wall the effect is striking.
Union Row & Union Wynd
The area around Union Row, just off Union Street, was really opened up as part of the 2018 series of murals. Large scale works from Portugal’s Bordalo, Lithuania’s Ernest Zacharevic and Norway’s Nimi and RH74 appeared alongside a smaller piece from Argentina’s Milu Correch. All highly impressive, the Bordalo one in particular is a must see, made as it is entirely from recycled plastics giving the work a unique 3D appearance.
It took until 2021 to add the next piece to the area. This was to be Helen Bur’s portrayal of a family unit on Union Wynd near to Union Row. The mural was Bur’s second in the city with her first also featuring the same couple. That first piece on Gallowgate was lost when the building it was on was demolished in 2020. In 2022 another large scale piece was added to this area. Making his first visit to the UK, Spanish artist Slim Safont painted a schoolgirl standing on a chair. Standing next to a chalkboard she is writing lines which say ‘I will pay my taxes’. The piece is a commentary on how we are indoctrinated from an early age into societies expectations.
Moving a little further from the central area of Street Art in Aberdeen we go past the Union Square shopping centre and towards Palmerston Road. Here murals from Vhils (2019) and KMG (2021) can be seen. The work from Vhils takes the image from an old photograph and literally etches it into the wall. The mural shows Aberdonian docker John Londragan along with another man and two children. Londragan along with other dock workers had supported the fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War. Vhils, a Spanish artist often uses historical images as inspirations for his unique style of work. The work was added to in 2021 with a very different mural from local Aberdonian street artist KMG. Her popular character Ken is well known in the city and here she has painted him on a huge scale.
Expanding further eastwards in the city for the 2022 edition saw the street art expand into a different area. Mohamed L’Ghacham’s mural on the side of a car park in Lime Street showing a family unit at breakfast. His work inspired by the everyday and the celebration of those little moments. The image itself taken from an old photograph which the artist collects for inspiration.
Nuart Aberdeen was visited between 12-15 April 2018 and between 18-22 April 2019. All pictures in this post were taken during those visits. Images of work created during the 2021 festival are courtesy of Joss Clarke.
For more posts about about street art in the UK check out the articles on the areas below:
Shoreditch, Brick Lane, Leicester, Bristol, Sheffield, Brighton, Rochdale, Blackburn, Manchester, Leeds, Hull, Liverpool and Cheltenham
Top notch stuff!!!!!! Well done for getting soooooooooooooo far north….
Thanks Mitch there are some amazing pieces here 😀
Well it isn’t Holbourn Place. It’s Holburn Street. Splendid article explaining what I see everyday.