Returning for its third year, the 2019 Nuart festival in Aberdeen has once more brought some of the World’s best street artists to the city. Thirteen artists in total have been adding their mark over the Easter weekend. Adding to the 11 who took part in 2018 and the 9 who participated in 2017’s inaugural edition.
This years artists who you can read more about here are known across the World. Incorporating large scale figurative muralists, graffiti artists, stencil artists and artists which work actually within the fabric of the street. It’s an eclectic mix as ever for the 2019 Nuart Aberdeen festival which this year had the theme of storytelling. Each of the artists choosing to interpret that particular theme in their own way.
The Street Art of Nuart Aberdeen 2019
Axel Void – Woolmanhill Flats, John Street
With a venue only found at the last minute after the original location fell through. Axel Void has created two large scale murals on the side of the student accommodation of Woolmanhill. A multimedia artist with a passion for storytelling. One wall shows a crowd of people looked at from the side. Taken from a 1950’s image the crowd is Aberdonian and they are waiting for the Queen. The other wall shows a child playing with a hula hoop. Part of a competition in the city, it was taken in the 1980’s. How the two interrelate is as yet uncertain.
Ben Eine – The Tunnels, East Green
Famed for his unique typography. The work of Ben Eine is well known to us on Inspiring City. London based, his work is plentiful. Now his latest piece for the 2019 edition of Nuart is due to dominate the entrance to the Tunnels in Aberdeen. Reading ‘Shiny Happy People Laughing’. The text is a play on the shimmer of the granite walls of the city especially when the sun shines onto them after the rain. Move a little bit further down and works by Hyuro (2018) and Julio Anaya Cabanding (2019) can also be seen. The Tunnels also boasts a host of work from local artists.
Dotmasters – E&M Windows, Netherkirkgate
Covering up the boarded out windows of the Esslemont and Macintosh building. A former Aberdonian department store that closed in 2007. Dotmasters ‘Rude Kids’ have taken over the side of the building overlooking St. Catherines Wynd and Netherkirkgate. Each window has a different kid sometimes goading and sometimes ignoring the passers by.
Dotmasters – Jopps Lane
The mural by Dotmasters on Jopps Lane once again features his ‘Rude Kids’ in various states of carnage. All set against what appears to be the backdrop of a home complete with fireplace and 70’s wallpaper. Nearby you can see works from Fintan Magee (2017) and Elki (2018).
Ememem – Union Terrace Gardens
Working with tile, Ememem’s work is around commemoration. Drawing attention to the streets imperfections, he takes spaces such as potholes and fills them with often colourful tiles. His work changes the nature of what was there before ‘commemorating’ it with his artwork. In Aberdeen for Nuart 2019 his work can be seen along the paths of the Union Terrace Gardens. There his tiles fill at least some of the holes in the surface.
Ememem – St. Nicholas Churchyard
Not the most common place to find street art but a special piece from Ememem can be found here. In the churchyard itself he has created a testimonal to a tree. Covering the stump with patterned locally donated tile it says ‘Here Lies a Tree 1825-2007’. Fitting perfectly on top of the old stump it remembers a long serving inhabitant of the old churchyard.
Evol – Marischal Place and Various Locations
Inspired by the architecture of postwar East Germany. Evol uses stencil techniques to transform everyday street furniture into mini brutalist buildings. Indeed when looked at from certain angles it’s hard to know what your looking at. In Aberdeen, he has created two around Marischal Place and in a number of other locations. They are slightly hidden so keep your eyes peeled. At the time of writing we also spotted ones in the Tunnels, The Green and on Rosemount Viaduct. The latter actually slightly different from his normal style in that it was inspired by an Aberdonian tower block.
Hama Woods – Crooked Lane (at the back of the Science Centre)
In a car park at the back of the Science Centre. Hama Woods black and white leopard prowls tenderly against the backdrop of colourful shapes. The shapes are being dropped into place by two rats operating pulleys. The animals which Hama depicts are all in danger due to their natural environments being under threat. In this image, the Leopard gingerly makes its way through this new environment being created by the rats. It’s not the same as the original environment, long since disappeared, but the rats are doing what they can.
Helen Bur – Greyfriars House, Gallowgate
Two portraits, a man holding a ball and a woman holding a hoop sit either side of Greyfriars House. The diptych says Helen is open to interpretation. However Bur has been using the hoop or circle reference a lot in her recent work. Representing a duopoly of thought some might see the hoop or circle as a symbol of life, fulfillment or completion. Others might see it as being stuck in a loop and symbolic of something else entirely. In certain cultures she told me, the hoop or the act of drawing a circle might also be used as an act of meditation. Both murals show the sitters looking intently at the objects. Perhaps both placing their own interpretation on the symbols in their hands.
HUSH – Side of John Lewis, St Andrew Street
Amazing what a bit of colour can do to a grey wall. HUSH combines eastern art influences with graffiti. Layering complex textures, tags and colours together he combines the street with the studio in his creations. In Aberdeen his piece features his familiar muses, Asian women dressed in what appears to be traditional clothing looking out on the street below. HUSH’s work also peers down towards Jopps Lane where a number of other murals can be seen in the area.
Jan Vormann – Wall by the Stairs, The Green
Filling the cracks of an old wall with lego is a part of Vormann’s Dispatch Work project which has received acclaim from around the world. The lego fills the gaps left by decay and time and begins the act of transforming the space into something more playful. The lego itself was donated by the residents of Aberdeen and the cracks of the wall filled in situ. All after following a painstaking process of sifting and sorting to get the right pieces. You can also read our interview with Jan Vormann here.
Julio Anaya Cabanding – The Tunnels, Anatomy Rooms and Gallowgate Car Park
Creating fine works of art in forgotten about and out of the way places. Julio Anaya Cabanding’s work is about changing the nature of art by placing more traditional gallery works out into the street. The end result is that these pieces become ‘unlocked’ from the sacred gallery space. In Aberdeen he has created a number of pieces. A Rembrandt style ‘self portrait’ hides amongst grime of the Tunnels whilst a dark landscape hides on a wall behind the Gallowgate car park. Another piece, a bright waterlilly covered pond brings some light to the unkempt alley behind the Anatomy Rooms.
SMUG – The Green
Known for his large scale figurative and realistic portraits. Australian artist SMUG is actually a Scottish resident living in Glasgow. His work is created freehand and his images dominate the streets they look down upon. His work in Aberdeen on the side of Primark overlooks the Green and is opposite the 2017 mural from Herakut. It features a friend of his from Glasgow.
Strok – Rosemount Viaduct
Showing figures seemingly dancing on the walls. Strok’s work is all about movement and it’s interaction with space. A photographer, he photographs his models from above as they move in the streets below. Converting those into multi-layer stencils he then transposes them onto the wall. Placing the works on the surface results in the distortion of perspective. The figures now moving in a rhythmic yet gravity defying way.
Vhils – Palmerston Road
Vhils latest work emerges from the previously mottled surface of this unprepossessing building at the edge of a car park. His inspiration, an image of Aberdonian dock worker John Londragan (the man to the left in the picture). Londragan, alongside other dock workers from the city, had supported the fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War. According to Vhils “his story stands to symbolise that we are stronger when unite, pushing for a better future for all.”
The 2019 Nuart Aberdeen festival was visited between 17-20 April. You can see the artwork from the 2018 edition here. You can also read more about the street art of Aberdeen here.
For more posts featuring the Stavanger edition of Nuart you can see the pictures from 2019 here. You can also read features on work from Edwin and Paul Harfleet by clicking on the links. Additionally you can see an article on the top 10 best images by photographer Brian Tallman here.