Helen Bur has returned to Aberdeen to paint a new large scale mural on Union Wynd. It’s the second time she has painted in the city as part of its popular Nuart festival. The first in 2019 saw her create a diptych image on the front of the old Greyfriars House. That lasted until the year after when the whole building was pulled down. Her replacement promises to stay a little longer.
London based Bur’s work is figurative and influenced through social observations. Honing her work initially on canvas with oils she has transferred the style to much bigger walls on the street. Using emulsion the street art she creates resemble those pieces on canvas but on a larger scale. Narrative in nature they tell their own stories and the murals produced in Aberdeen are no exception. Indeed her recent piece is very much a continuation of her last.
Helen Bur Murals in Aberdeen
Part of Aberdeen’s 2021 Nuart Festival, Helen Bur was the last artist to produce work for this particular event. Running without the normal crowds due to Covid each of the murals created were spread out over a longer period. The result was more great work adding to that from years gone by and you can read more about them all here. Working at over 16 metres high it was a big piece to finish on. Located on Union Wynd it joins another large scale piece from Ernest Zacharevic nearby.
Choosing to paint her friends Ally and Hugo, Bur has given us a snapshot into their lives. Ally is shown breastfeeding her new born. She looks into a mirror, the reflection of which shows us her face. Held by Hugo, he stands behind in a domestic scene we assume to be their home. Symbols of daily life are all around and we are presented with a loving domestic reality.
The Story of Ally & Hugo
The mural follows on from that initial piece on Greyfriars House. Then the same two people were portrayed but separately. Ally on one side, Hugo on the other. Both were holding items, a ball for Hugo and a hoop for Ally. Speaking to Helen at the time she said that they represented a duopoly of thought. That some might see the hoop or circle as a symbol of life, fulfillment or completion. Others might see the same symbol differently, being stuck in a loop or perhaps something else. Looking intently at the items in front of them they were perhaps placing their own interpretation upon them.
Of course now that we see the mural on Union Wynd we can look back on this older piece with added context. Here are the same people shown separately but together. Perhaps then pondering their own journeys we can see that two years down the line little Ruby-Rae has joined them. The story has evolved and the snap shot into their daily life, now produced in large scale on the side of a building has shown us how.
Helen Bur created her mural in Aberdeen as part of the Nuart Festival of 2021. The piece can be found on Union Wynd just off Union Row in the city. It is the second time Bur has painted in the city with her first mural from 2019 no longer visible. All photographs in this post are from Clarke Joss unless otherwise noted.