Every April in Aberdeen, smells of sizzling griddles and the clatter of cocktail shakers fill the air to welcome the bustling crowd that descends on The Green to celebrate a new string of Nuart Aberdeen street art installations. However for obvious reasons, this year’s fourth installment has been postponed *dabs eye*.
Nuart Aberdeen has not only injected vibrancy but has taken our eyes from the pavement and up to building fronts to give us a whole new perspective of the city. And for that reason, I love what Nuart has done for Aberdeen.
So in the festivals absence, I took to the streets a few weeks ago to share some of my favourite pieces with you along with my interpretations which might be what the artist intended or not – that’s the beauty of art, it speaks to everyone in different ways.
Before I start, check out the Nuart Aberdeen map for the full list of locations and I’ll detail the location number on my inclusions so you can easily navigate. Note that the majority of the below installation names are what I refer to them as not the actual name – how artsy of me indeed!
1. Pretty Scurry
Artist: Conzo & Glöbel | Map pin 16.
Starting off with my favourite Nuart piece. I have so much love for this one looking like it’s jumped straight out of a comic book and adding a bit of comedy to Willowbank Road by drawing in on our local celeb – the seagull. For those not from Aberdeen, a Scurry is a seagull and here they are huge (and I mean huge) they could easily swoop you off the ground like a pterodactyl.
I used to always think this piece was about the creation of a Frankenstein esq super seagull but I soon realised that the white streaks on the box front were reflections on the film not electric shocks… See where I’m coming from though?
2. Chasing the gulls
Artist: Ernest Zacharevic | Map pin 12.
This one comes a close second on my love list and I get the pleasure of looking at it when arrive to work each day (when the morning sunrise catches it, your eyes are in for a treat). I love how realistic this one looks and see not only a boy with ill-fitting shorts chasing some seagulls but a boy looking to see if his parents are watching him get up to mischief.
3. Naughty Kids
Artist: Dot Masters | Map pin 25 (and Jopp’s Lane).
If you thought your kids, neices or nephews were tricksters you’ve not met this lot on Jopp’s Lane. I look at this timeline of anarchy and see the kids I wanted to be when I was a child – risk takers, rule breakers and most importantly living in the moment not fearing what row they would get. It reminds me of the innocence of fun but sends shudders down my spine at the thought of the roasting they would have got making Mona Lisa’s smile more cheery.
Visit Netherkirkgate and on the side of Miller and Carter you’ll spot more mischievous kids brightening up the empty window alcoves. Turn around and you’ll notice at the back of The Esslemont and Mac’s Pizzeria there’s a bespoke piece by Conzo & Glöbel (the creators of Pretty Scurry) who collaborated with the restaurants last year.
4. Falling Folks
Artist: Anders Gjennestad (a.k.a Strøk) | Map pin 20.
Now I’m sure this piece stops passers by in their tracks to take in the imposing view. At first I thought the people were falling but it was revealed on a Nuart tour that the people are in fact break dancing which I totally see now.
If your after an energy boost while you’re here, Bio Cafe is right next door offering click and collect on orders so bag yourself a coffee and cake to accompany your walk around the other Nuart sights.
5. Feet and bricks
Artist: Fintan Magee | Map pin 6.
I don’t know what it is about this one but I’m always drawn to it. Even though this trio are stood on what looks a building rubble, I imagine these three looking out to a choppy seascape taking in the sea breeze (and maybe ducking from a few rogue seagulls). The flats that this has been painted onto remind me of Spanish apartments, so whenever I see this piece I feel like I’m transported far from Aberdeen (quite apt for right now).
6. Guardians of The Green
These two probably get the most coverage through the media but for good reason, just look at them. The Green is a buoyant place as it is but these two pieces add extra vibrancy to the area and act as fitting bookends to one of my favourite spots in Aberdeen. I like to think of these guys as the guardians of The Green keeping an eye on the area and making sure all is in order – much like the eyes of Dr T. J. Eckleburg in The Great Gatsby.
On the left we have our OG who arrived in the first year of Nuart and her eyes still hypnotise today. I’ve added my image as a teaser but you have to see the full scale of this one painted onto the Aberdeen Market which features lighthouses, unicorns and, of course, seagulls.
The second piece is by artist Smug who’s painted a lifelike picture of a barber from Glasgow (accompanied by his suavely dressed dog) that looks like he’s going to climb out of his frame any minute.
Artist: Phelgm | Map pin 14.
This one has definitely grown on me and as my appreciation for Aberdeen has grown the more I’ve warmed to this installation. The city has gone through a major renaissance over the last couple of years and this is what I see when I look at this piece – grafters hammering hard to build up a cityscape. Aberdeen gets a lot of stick but thanks to innovators with a considerate amount of civic pride grouping together, great initiatives like Nuart, new businesses and events are helping shout about our great city.
8. Get my good side
Artist: Hush | Map pin 30.
These glamour pusses always catch my eye with their pristine porcelain complexions and impeccable style which I think is a nod to the building it’s painted on, John Lewis. With so many colours, textures and patterns to digest, Hush draws on all mediums to create dynamic art to explore different cultures.
Artist: Bordalo II | Map pin 10.
This piece definitely wins the prize for most inventive. Using recycled materials and not to mention the brightest colours, this one is always sure to grab attention and adds to Bordalo II’s Big Trash Animals series.
Some may think the bins in front would ruin your camera snap but I think it all ties in well to show that if you put your mind to it, new can come from old.
A few extras
As the title suggests, I wasn’t expecting to find this worker bee hiding at the end of Jopp’s Lane. This isn’t a Nuart installation and who knows how long it has been here but that’s what I love about Nuart, you discover new art, shops, picture-perfect streets where ever you go. Make sure to visit this one after locations 6, 7 and 30.
Painted Doors (various artists and locations).
While you’re touring around the sights you’ll spot some colourful door frames adding more vibrancy to your route. These door frames were a result of the Painted Doors project which took place back in 2016. I’m always discovering a doorway display that I’ve never seen before – on my recent walk the seals were my most recent discovery.
And on the subject of discovery, there are a set of Alcoves adjacent to The Green which has become like a picture frame from Harry Potter which mysteriously changes its picture now and then. This spot has been a fish tank, soaring paper planes, a beast from the unknown and now what I think is a pink Mosasaurus which is by far my favourite (anything with a Jurassic Park vibe gets my vote).
That’s just a taste of my favourite pieces, but believe me there are so much more and if I were to include them all you’d be reading for hours – so I’ll leave you to discover them.
Add some Nuart to change the scene of your next walk but while social distancing is in place, please be responsible about how you choose to explore the pieces. You might even spot some of the Nuart Lockdown Paste Ups which continues to share art through this challenging time, read up about it here.
Stay safe and explore well!