Tamara Alves is a Portuguese artist based in Lisbon. Her work often a commentary on the interaction between the human and the natural worlds. Exploring how they blend together and the impact that humans have.
Her mural at the Nuart Festival in Aberdeen does just that. A woman’s face stares out from what was once a bare concrete wall on the side of an apartment block. The background is blurred but we can tell she is in nature. A green canopy surrounds.
On the woman’s face is written the word ‘animal’. Only subtlety narrated beneath one of her eyes. It is she says a reminder that the connection between human and animal is not too vast. We are all animals and here there is a reminder. A further phrase is written at the base of the piece. ‘Every Flower Seems to Burn by Itself’ it says. A quote from Virginia Woolf from her book ‘Mrs Dalloway’.
Looked at from the nearby roadside the mural seems to blend in with the trees which stand in front. The trees and the manicured grass are part of a human made landscaping which surround the apartment block. In some way this too is a part of the work. The trees when seen from the roadside add a kind of 3D dimension to it. The mural looks out through them with the woman appearing as if amidst the forest.
Human and Nature
Tamara Alves is an artist whose murals can often be found in derelict settings. Her work in Portugal might well be discovered on old crumbling facades. Long since abandoned but soon colonised by the natural world. It’s a perfect setting for the art she tries to create. It emphasises the point of how human and nature interact upon each other.
Her work in Aberdeen on the side of an apartment block and with manicured lawns in front is different. Here nature is being controlled and held back. Only unless humans stop caring about the aesthetic of the building and the area will it be given a chance to take over. It’s something that might not happen immediately but in the long term there’s always the risk that it could. Nature justs bides it’s time.
Much of Tamara Alves work is about interpretation. In the case of her mural in Aberdeen it has been left unfinished or at least elements have been left. In some way it hints at the reclaiming of the wall. Bare concrete now mainly covered with green. Is this a hint at what is to come if this building ever became reclaimed by nature? A structure that we have imposed slowly been taken over.
“I don’t want to tell the entire story” she says. The mural is for different people to be able to attach their own relationship to it. The theme for the Nuart Festival is rewilding and this mural reminds us of that. The interaction between human, nature and a reminder of how we are mere custodians of the space in which we live.
Nuart Aberdeen was visited over the weekend of 8-11 June 2023. Tamara Alves was interviewed during the festival. Thanks to Hannah Judah, Brian Tallman and Conor Gault for support in terms of images used for this piece. Also thanks to Street Art Cities for additional footage of the mural used in the youtube interview.
For more Inspiring City articles you might like, take a look at…
- Murals of the Nuart Aberdeen Festival 2023
- Interview with Caledonia Curry the artist also known as Swoon
- Eloise Gillow and her diptych mural at Nuart in Aberdeen
- John Marchant talks about the work of Jamie Reid