Nuart Aberdeen is a street art festival which for the past five years has been bringing some of the worlds best street artists to north east Scotland. This year 10 new permanent artworks were added to the streets with artists coming from all over. The city now boasts one of the best collection of murals in the UK.
Whilst the artists are usually to be found somewhere up a cherry picker, the beauty of an event like Nuart is that there’s still plenty of time to speak to people. Sometimes we might even get a chance to do a few interviews.
This post is about featuring four of the artists who gave their time to speak to us at Nuart. Norway’s Vlek and Martin Whatson. Denmark’s Jacoba Niepoort and Spains Jofre Oliveras. All give us a little more insight into their art and their careers.
One of Norway’s most recognisable street artists. Martin Whatson has been on the graffiti scene since the late 90’s. Starting with characters and letters he found inspiration in the burgeoning stencil movement of the early noughties and eventually blended those styles together. A well known artist for Nuart he’s painted at the Stavanger festival and also at the very first Aberdeen festival in 2017.
His wall for the Aberdeen festival paid tribute to the granite workers who built the city. Aberdeen is well known for it’s granite buildings and most of the rock came from quarries nearby. In the interview Martin Whatson explains where his style comes from and how it has evolved into what we see now.
Denmark’s Jacoba Niepoort created a work celebrating re-connection after a long period apart. Based on a photograph, the three intertwining women shown in the mural are friends of the artist. Naked, they drape over each other in an acknowledgment of the physical touch so needed as part of human connection. The mural itself on Justice Mill Lane proved challenging. For much of the day, sunlight reflected from the windows of the building opposite onto the mural. The resulting bleaching effect on the wall meant that the art became difficult to see with the naked eye.
Spain’s Jofre Oliveras mural sported more of a political tone. Called ‘ The Man Owns the Stone’ it is a commentary on nationalism. The man in question is shown standing on a rock whilst holding onto a flag which covers his face. It’s a piece which poses questions around the short sightedness that nationalism can bring. From Catalonia himself, the artist is well aware there of the discussion around nationality. It’s a discussion that the people of Scotland know well with the referendum on independence and of course the fallout of Brexit.
Norwegian artist Vlek has long been associated with Nuart. The festival in his home country having seen over 20 different iterations. Vlek’s career has seen him at the forefront of Norway’s graffiti scene for years, first starting in the 80’s and developing his art since then. His style both inspired by pop art and the stencil movement from the UK in the 90’s and noughties. His own Nordic heritage is also a huge influence on his art. Travelling across to Aberdeen he came to support the team though didn’t forget to come armed with some stencils. Throughout the festival a number found themselves popping up amidst the streets of the city.
The Nuart Festival in Aberdeen took place during June 2022. All interviews were recorded during the event. You can read more about the murals created during the festival here.