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. All the murals can be found within easy walking distance from one another.
Murals from some of the best street artists from around the world have been popping up in the city. Part of the Nuart festival which started in Stavanger and which now has journeyed over the sea to North East Scotland.
Discovering Street Art in Aberdeen
The city centers around its main thoroughfare, Union Street. It is a grand promenade and is the artery through which you can get to most places. This is true of all the street art and murals which are dotted around. Hidden away on side streets some are more obvious than others. To explore the city means getting to know Union Street pretty well.
Nuart has brought street art to the city in a big way. Each year has seen different parts opened up for street art. From the Harbourside to Holbourne Place. Murals can be seen large scale on the sides of buildings and hidden away down alleys and in the Tunnels. Most of the street art is curated but some are not. The chances are that you’ll discover many other places that are not on this list.
The Best Locations to see Street Art in Aberdeen
So for this post we thought we’d share just where the art is to be found in Aberdeen. The city boasts some incredible pieces of work. The result of three years worth of Nuart festivals and of course the talent of some of the finest street artists around. What’s more, they are all pretty close to each other so can easily be explored in a day.
The Green is at the heart of old Aberdeen and contains some of the stand out street art pieces. Stand in the centre and you can’t miss the dominant mural of a young girl from German duo Herakut. Possibly the standout piece from the 2017 version of the festival. The mural overlooks the Green and it’s shops. Around the corner an equally impressive but quite different piece from the UK’s Carrie Reichardt (2018) can be found on St. Nicolas Lane. Featuring tile based mosaics of inspirational Aberdonian women and 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. Germany’s Jan Vormann also created a lego installation inside a crumbling old wall.
East Green and the Tunnels
East Green, just to the side of the giant Herakut mural, leads towards an area known as the tunnels. Keep heading through and they lead towards Netherkirkgate. This is one of the cities most ancient streets. Before then however, it passes through a series of underground loading bays where plenty of Aberdeen’s street art and graffiti can be seen dotted around. The big piece to see here is from Hyuro (2018) The Argentinian artist has painted high on the back wall of one of the buildings which overlook and cross the street and depicted two fighting boys. A reference to the relationship between England and Scotland. For the 2019 festival Ben Eine also painted here. He created a mural which says ‘Shiny Happy People’ Laughing. Keep exploring and you’ll see plenty of other pieces from local artists too.
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 which overlooks a car park. A text based piece from the UK’s Robert Montgomery can be found just to the other side. Both murals were created in 2017. A 2018 piece from Elki depicting a set of headphones resting on a mixing desk sits in a small yard nearby.
The Elki piece is an ambitious multi-layered stencil. This actually sits next to an earlier work by the artist. A piece which is allegedly is the oldest piece of street art in the city. In 2019 works have been added by Dotm.asters who has placed a ‘rude kids’ mural running along the lane. A mural too from HUSH whose giant Geisha sits on the side of John Lewis and looks down the street.
Harriet Street and the Science Centre
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 has been painting a little bit further down on Crooked Lane. Centered around the Science Centre her Leopard overlooks the car park whilst another of her intricate stencilled animals will sit above the entrance.
Queen Street and Marishcal Square
A number of smaller street art pieces can be seen dotted around this area of Aberdeen. From Queen Street leading to Marishcal Square and on towareds the arts centre. A 2017 mural by Martin Whatson is the largest piece but 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. Close by in the entrance yard of the ‘Anatomy Rooms’ there is also a small piece from Anders Gjennstad also from 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. Here works from Alice Pasquini (2017) and Snik (2018) can be found around the corner from each other against the backdrop of the busy Aberdonian port. The latest work from Snik 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.
The area around Union Row, just off Union Street, has been 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 have 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.
Holbourn Place & Willowbank Road
Towards the western edge of the mural district and a short walk from the cluster of works around Union Row, two more pieces from 2018 can be seen near Holbourn Place. The first, at the corner with Union Street, is from Sheffield’s Phlegm. A huge fan favourite on the street art scene his black and white illustrative murals fit in well with granite of Aberdeen. They are also always spectacular to look at. Geaturing as they do, scenes from his own artistic world. A bit further down on the corner of Willowbank Road and Scottish artists Conzo & Globel have painted a cartoon and text based collaboration featuring seagulls and chips two staples of Aberdonian life.
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 and a work from Milu Correch from 2018. Keep your eyes peeled by other smaller works though from a number of other artists.
There are many other locations with street art knocking about including the top of the St. Nicolas Rooftop Gardens where Bortusk Leer has created an expansive collage of his cartoon monsters.
On a little street called Adelphi, a mosaic mural from Carrie Reichardt 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 piece which is best seen from the bridge on Union Street overlookiung the Union Terrace Gardens. From Portuguese artist ‘Add Fuel‘. 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.
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.
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.
For more posts about about street art in the UK check out the articles on the areas below: