Nuart's inspiring addition: Stencibility celebrates Estonian street-art

Aberdeen street-art fans are in for a treat as the vibrant and thought-provoking Stencibility exhibition heads to The Print Room. This exciting showcase features talented Estonian street artists from the renowned Stencibility street art festival in Tartu. The city has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2024. This exhibition promises to captivate audiences with its unique blend of creativity and social commentary.

Titled Hello Mister Police Officer, the exhibition takes a humorous approach to explore the experiences of street artists who work illegally on the streets. Including their inevitable encounters with law enforcement. Through their artwork, the four participating artists—KAIRO, Stina Leek, GUTFACE, and Edward von Lõngus—shed light on the motivations, agendas, and challenges that street artists face in Tartu and beyond.

Public spaces should be accessible to everyone

From June 7 to 17 you can visit The Print Room at 252 Union Street to immerse yourself in this special exhibition. The collaboration between Nuart Aberdeen and Peacock and The Worm brings this unique art experience to the heart of Aberdeen.

The Stencibility Festival, known for its celebration of street art, advocates for the idea that public spaces should be accessible to everyone. Rather than viewing street art as a nuisance, it promotes the notion that these artistic interventions can enhance and enliven public spaces. Organisers hope to inspire conversations about the role of street art in urban environments. And furthermore, encourage a deeper appreciation for the art form.

Stina Leek | All images supplied by Stencibility

Transform the city's walls

In addition to the exhibition, the Estonian artists will create one-of-a-kind art pieces on the surrounding streets during their 11-day visit. This exciting initiative will further enliven the cityscape, providing a dynamic and interactive experience for locals and visitors alike.

The Stencibility exhibition adds to the momentum of the highly anticipated Nuart Aberdeen festival. Running from June 8 to 11, Nuart Aberdeen brings together world-class artists to transform the city's walls into captivating works of art. The inclusion of the Stencibility exhibition adds another layer of artistic expression to this exciting event. It creates a comprehensive celebration of street art in all its forms.

Gutface | All images supplied by Stencibility

Inspiring model for Aberdeen's aspirations as a cultural city

According to David McCracken, the arts business manager of Peacock and the Worm, Stencibility's visit and Tartu's designation as the European Capital of Culture have the potential to serve as an inspiring model for Aberdeen's aspirations as a cultural city. Festivals like Nuart Aberdeen play a significant role in driving these ambitions forward.

“Aberdeen as a city is aspirational and it has everything in place. Fundamentally it’s about civic pride at the heart of it. With a collective effort and love Aberdeen could, if wanted, revisit the possibility of being a city of culture."

Hello Mister Police Officer at The Print Room promises to be a visually stimulating and thought-provoking experience. It will invite visitors to delve into the world of street art and contemplate its significance within our urban landscapes. Don't miss this opportunity to engage with the creative spirit of Tartu, the street art capital of Estonia, right here in Aberdeen.

Gutface | All images supplied by Stencibility

View of Aberdeen exhibition paints vibrant portrait of the city

Discover the vibrant voices of our diverse community at the View of Aberdeen exhibition, set to open its doors at Aberdeen Art Gallery tomorrow. This thrilling new exhibition contains contributions from many people in the city. It's a celebration of the myriad perspectives and experiences that shape the city, offering a platform to amplify the unique stories of its people.

View of Aberdeen embarks on a captivating journey through the collective narratives that form the rich tapestry of our city. Through a carefully curated selection of artworks, artefacts, and interactive displays, the exhibition brings to life the voices and visions of our residents. It illuminates their connections to Aberdeen in profound and inspiring ways.

Street-sweepers (Skaffies) Outside St Nicholas House | Aberdeen Art Gallery

View of Aberdeen - All walks of life

The team at Aberdeen Art Gallery has had conversations with people from all walks of life across the city. They have captured their thoughts and reflections on what Aberdeen means to them. The exhibition brings these viewpoints to life through a collection of inspiring artworks and objects that have resonated with the community. Each piece illuminates the exhibition's core themes: 'far I bide' (where I live), 'chavvin awa' (working), going 'oot n aboot' (out and about), and the city's well-known treasures, 'weel kent'.

A special event takes place on 10 June. Aberdeen Art Gallery is also hosting a special event that explores the intriguing journey of artefacts into museums. This event delves into how and why certain items find their place in museum collections. Join Madeline Nehring and Ross MacLennan as they provide insights into the development of the new View of Aberdeen gallery. This event aims to continue the engaging conversations that started at the memorable 'That Belongs in a Museum!' event last autumn.

The cultural tapestry of Aberdeen

Immerse yourself in the captivating stories of those who call Aberdeen home. From long-time residents to newcomers, students to professionals, and from all walks of life. Their perspectives weave together to paint a vibrant portrait of our city's identity. It's great to see the gallery celebrating the rich cultural tapestry of Aberdeen. It explores the profound meaning behind our shared heritage.

Whether you're a native Aberdonian, a resident, a student, or simply visiting, this exhibition offers a unique opportunity to delve into the essence of the Granite City. It's a great chance to experience its resilience and allure.

The View of Aberdeen exhibition opens at Aberdeen Art Gallery on Saturday 27 May. You can read more about the View of Aberdeen Project here. Cover Image by James Furneaux.

Nuart Aberdeen to turn Marischal Quad into jungle of imagination

Marischal College Quad is set to undergo a remarkable transformation during this year's Nuart Aberdeen festival. The Quad will become a captivating "jungle of colour." Hundreds of talented school kids come together to create one of the world's largest chalk murals.

Led by the city's acclaimed street artist KMG, approximately 400 primary and secondary school pupils will participate in the Chalk Don't Chalk event. Their focus will be on the theme of Rewilding. This exciting project aims to engage the community and ignite their imagination through artistic expression.

An Epicentre of Creativity

The Marischal College Quad will become the epicentre of Nuart Aberdeen's most extensive public participation event to date. It's expected to attract thousands of visitors and promises a weekend filled with family-friendly activities and artistic experiences. The Quad will come alive with a stunning mural that aims to surpass all expectations and become a noteworthy installation of Nuart Aberdeen 2023.

Renowned artist Katie Guthrie, known as KMG, is thrilled to collaborate with local children. She'll lead them in the creation of the largest-ever Chalk Don't Chalk installation. She told us, "I’m looking forward to working with some local kids to create our biggest ever Chalk Don’t Chalk installation. Unleashing the kids’ creativity to create their own characters and collaborating together to rewild Marischal College armed with chalk and our imaginations."

Nuart Aberdeen Community Endeavour

Ahead of the start of the street art festival, Katie will work closely with the participating pupils within the Quad itself. They'll explore ideas, refine suggestions, and chalk out their collective vision. The mural will gradually take shape under the guidance of KMG. It will reflect her unique artistic style intertwined with the boundless creativity of the young participants. Following the initial creation, the artwork will be opened to all kids and families during the weekend of Nuart Aberdeen. Asking everyone to contribute their artistic flair.

Chalk Don't Chalk promises an unforgettable experience for families beyond the mural creation. In addition to becoming budding artists, attendees will enjoy various activities, including face painting, glitter tattoos, and bubble fun. Nuart Aberdeen's Chalk Don't Chalk event has been a resounding success in previous years. However, 2023 is undoubtedly the most ambitious and promising yet.

Nuart Aberdeen 2023 artists announced

Oh boy, it's getting closer! In the early years of Nuart, we'd have all been heading to see a new crop of murals this past weekend. It's no surprise the team chose this time to announce the artists that will be participating in Nuart Aberdeen 2023. And it's going to be a good on with some old friends are revisiting the city alongside a fantastic fresh array of fellow world-class street artists.

From June 8th to 12th, Aberdeen will host the highly anticipated festival. It'll feature 13 world-renowned street artists invited to the city to create an exciting range of artwork, from large-scale murals to intricate installations. Nuart Aberdeen 2023 has the theme of "rewilding," promising a vibrant celebration of creativity that explores the intersection of art, culture and the natural world.

Who are the Nuart Aberdeen 2023 artists?

We've looked at the team heading to the granite city to leave their mark. Nuart Aberdeen will again feature a talented group. The line-up includes Brazilian artist Thiago Mazza, American artist Swoon, UK-based Stanley Donwood and returning favourites SNIK.

These internationally acclaimed artists will come together with 9 others from across the globe to create stunning street art murals throughout the city centre of Aberdeen. From Europe and Iran to Brazil and the USA, these 13 renowned artists will use the city's walls as a canvas to showcase their incredible talent and unique styles.

AIDA | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023
AIDA | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023


A London-based printmaker and visual artist of Iranian origin, AIDA Wilde is an accomplished educator who founded the Print Is Power and Sisters in Print projects. Her studio-based serigraphs are collected worldwide and are known to push the boundaries of contemporary printmaking.

In addition to her fine art, her predominant focus lies on screen-printed installations and social commentary posters featured in cities worldwide, responding to gentrification, education, and equality. She contributed to Nuart Aberdeen's "Stuck Up" project in 2021.

Her HASHTAG series has been used in subversive projects with Brandalism in Paris and the global project Subvert The City, highlighting issues such as climate change in response to the COP21 Summit, making her a leading voice in the contemporary art world.

Eloise Gillow | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023
Eloise Gillow | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023

Eloise Gillow (UK/ES)

Gillow is a UK-based visual artist with an international reach. Her background in classical realist painting has led to her unique style that combines studio painting with public murals.

Eloise is driven by the intimate connection between her artwork and the communities in which it is displayed. She draws inspiration from her surroundings, capturing subtle gestures in body language and movement. This results in images that you can interpret on individual and collective levels.

Her work encourages reflection on the search for vitality, moments of slowing down, and a deeper connection to each other and the natural world. These themes are especially relevant in a world where fast-paced lifestyles and restrictive political and economic systems often hinder this process.

Escif | | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023
Escif | | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023

Escif (ES)

Hailing from Valencia, Escif began his street art career in the late 1990s. His work centres on redefining the city through his art, believing that life will always be more interesting than the art itself.

With a minimalist approach and precise lines and colours, his murals reflect current struggles and resistance movements. He also explores how capitalism and environmental issues plague our time. His paintings often represent subtle gestures that break through reality, reminding viewers of the beauty of the world around them.

Although much of his work is based in his hometown, Valencia, Escif has worked on numerous international projects, always fully engaging with the public and local context.

Jamie Reid | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023
Jamie Reid | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023

Jamie Reid (UK)

A British artist and political activist, Jamie Reid gained prominence at Croydon Art College when he participated in the student movement of 1968. He took part in an occupation of the college alongside Malcolm McLaren. Reid's most notable contribution to art and popular culture is his iconic album cover designs for the Sex Pistols.

Despite his early success, Reid has continued to be an active and engaged artist, using his visual talents to address social and political issues such as Occupy, Extinction Rebellion, and the Free Pussy Riot movement. His artistic journey is marked by his unwavering commitment to pushing boundaries.

His distinct style of cut-up graphics and slogans, developed during his involvement in the student movement of 1968 and his co-founding of Suburban Press, remains influential and resonant in contemporary art and design.

KMG | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023
KMG | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023


Returning for her second visit as an a featured artists to Nuart Aberdeen, KMG is known for her illustration, painting, and printmaking. Her art explores the mundane to the subversive and reflects a curious and often sarcastic perspective. Despite a healthy cynicism, her work is playful and raw.

Her previous Nuart Aberdeen murals include the massive Ken character at the back of Union Square and the colourfully entertaining mural on the roof of the St. Nicholas Centre.

KMG strongly believes in the power of art to bring people together and regularly works with community groups, healthcare providers, and schools to make art accessible to everyone. She uses her artistic talent to make a positive impact, encouraging others to express themselves creatively.

Monolo Mesa | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023
Monolo Mesa | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023

Manolo Mesa (ES)

Mesa is a Spanish artist who began painting graffiti with his brother in 2002. After studying Fine Arts in Seville, he created pictorial work on walls. Since then, he has lived in various cities, including Bilbao, Paris, and Perugia.

Manolo has gained international recognition for his art and has exhibited in individual and collective exhibitions in major cities such as Paris, London, Madrid, New York, and Los Angeles. He has also participated in art fairs in these cities.

You can find Manolo's mural interventions in numerous countries, including Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, England, Poland, Bulgaria, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, India, South Africa, Germany, and the United States.

Murmure | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023
Murmure | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023

Murmure (FR)

Paul Ressencourt and Simon Roché are a duo known as Murmure, who met during their studies in Fine Arts. They initially specialised in different areas of art but later discovered their mutual interest in drawing and street art. Since 2010, they have collaborated on public space interventions such as murals.

Murmure's art explores various themes, including childhood, consumer society, the environment, and new technologies. They create their work mainly with graphite pencil in the studio, developing each project before taking it to the street. The choice of wall and space is crucial to their narrative, and the interaction of the artwork with the urban environment adds an extra dimension to their pieces.

Their works can be seen in galleries and on the streets, where they constantly explore new techniques and mediums. Each artwork they create is unique, as time, weather, and also human degradation contribute to the final result.

Nespoon | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023
Nespoon | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023

Nespoon (PL)

This street artist has been working since 2009. Swoon's signature style is lace, incorporated into their work to explore harmony, balance and natural order. Social commentary is sometimes included in the artist's work, and they have created murals, canvases and installations.

Ceramic street art is a significant part of Nespoon's work, and they use lace patterns in their ceramic designs. These motifs are traditionally used to decorate dishes. But Nespoon believes they are beautiful in their own right and creates no-purpose lace objects glued onto the streets.

Nespoon's work explores the beauty and elegance of lace, highlighting its place in cultures worldwide. Through lace, their work explores themes of harmony, balance and natural order.

SNIK | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023
SNIK | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023


Making their third visit to the city for Nuart Aberdeen 2023, SNIK is an internationally-acclaimed duo of artists known for their hand-cut, multilayered stencils. Their work is born from a male/female dual perspective, combining traditional craft with a progressive ethos.

In addition to their large-scale murals, SNIK has gained a reputation among urban contemporary art collectors for their smaller-scale, intricately layered stencil work. These editions, which can take up to a year to produce, showcase the duo's precise cuts and compositional thought.

SNIK's work is known for questioning and also accepting narrative, exploring themes of identity, emotion, and the human experience. Their unique approach to stencil art, combining traditional techniques with the contemporary subject matter, has earned them a significant following and acclaim in the art world.

Stanley Donwood | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023
Stanley Donwood | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023

Stanley Donwood (UK)

Donwood is a British visual artist who is best known for his work with the rock band Radiohead. He has been working with the band since 1994 and has created some of their most iconic artwork, including album covers, posters, and merchandise.

Donwood's art is known for its haunting and evocative imagery, which has helped to create the band's distinctive visual identity. In addition to his work with Radiohead, Donwood has created the official artwork for the Glastonbury Festival since 2002 and has worked on numerous other projects, including book covers and films.

He has also collaborated with author Robert Macfarlane on the book "Holloway". Donwood's work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, and he was featured in the 2021 JEALOUS X SAATCHI show RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW.

Swoon | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023
Swoon | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023

Swoon (US)

Real name Caledonia Curry, Swoon is a Brooklyn-based street artist known for her immersive installations and community-based social justice projects. She has been active for the last two decades, using realistic and fantastical elements in her artwork.

Swoon is primarily known for her street art and public installations. She creates large-scale, intricate cut-paper and woodblock prints pasted onto buildings and other structures. She creates accessible art to transport audiences while shedding light on pressing social and environmental issues.

In addition to her visual art, Swoon has explored visual storytelling through film and animation. She has created short films and animations incorporating elements of her street art and installations. This further expands the scope of her creative output.

Tamara Alves | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023
Tamara Alves | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023

Tamara Alves (PT)

Alves is a Portuguese visual artist and illustrator. She has always been interested in art that's integrated into the world and fascinated by the aesthetics and urban context of the streets, leading her to present her artwork in public spaces.

Her artistic narrative celebrates the raw and poetic vitality of sensations. Alves invites the viewers to embrace their feelings as a wild and untamed driving force, depicting love as a complex emotion encompassing pain and pleasure, tears and joy, wound and ecstasy.

Tamara Alves' work weaves together themes of instinct, emotion, and the relationship between humans and nature. Her art is evocative and thought-provoking.

Thiago Mazza | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023
Thiago Mazza | Photo supplied by Nuart Aberdeen 2023

Thiago Mazza (BR)

The final artists for Nuart Aberdeen 2023 is Thiago Mazza, a Brazilian artist and self-taught painter. He began with graffiti writing, which sparked his interest in painting walls. He has since become one of the prominent figures in Brazilian muralism.

Thiago Mazza's artwork is influenced by classical painting, street art, and contemporary art, blending these influences into a unique style. His work often involves collecting and painting local plants and bringing nature into urban environments.

Mazza's paintings create a dialogue between nature and the city. His artwork is known for its vibrant and lush depictions of tropical flora. His work also reflects a deep connection with the natural world and a passion for bringing the beauty of nature into urban spaces through his art.

Follow us for more Nuart Aberdeen 2023

Nuart Aberdeen takes place from 8-12 June 2023. As always we'll be covering this world class street art festival right here in the city. You can expect more articles, photographs and videos over the next few weeks. You can find us in the usual places.

Chapbook - A link to the North East’s Folk Music History

Some of the very first words of Scotland’s mid-twentieth century Folk Revival commended the folk music of Aberdeenshire: speaking in Edinburgh in 1951 the folklorist Hamish Henderson ushered in the revival movement while praising the ‘fine rumbustious quality’ of Buchan folksongs.1 The North East had long held a significant position in the history of Scottish folk music, and with the development of the Revival over the following two decades the area’s stature as a centre of folksong would become even more renowned.

I am a PhD student researching the Revival in Scotland. I have a dual purpose in mind in writing this article: to share with you a little of Aberdeen’s musical history, especially as it relates to the Revival movement; and to seek out anybody who may have old copies of Chapbook, the Revival magazine of Aberdeen Folksong Club, who might be able to help me with my research. First, let me sing for my supper.

A reputation for folksong

The North East’s reputation for folksong dates back at least several centuries. Danny Couper, fish merchant and co-founder of Aberdeen Folk Club, explains this history through the area’s links with fishing and farming.2 Fishing communities all over Scotland have traditions of song and choir; more local to Aberdeen are the Bothy Ballads, written and sung by North East farm workers and named for the basic farm buildings in which they lived. Aberdeenshire was also home to many Travellers who took part in an active oral culture which included singing and storytelling.

The area’s strong links to ongoing musical traditions attracted people interested in folksongs and ballads for many years before the Revival: 91 of Francis James Child’s seminal collection of 305 ballads, from the second part of the nineteenth century, are from Aberdeenshire;3 while Gavin Grieg and James Bruce Duncan’s revered collection, from the start of the twentieth century, includes nearly two-thousands songs recorded in the North East.

All ears turned to the North East

Unsurprisingly, then, when the Scottish Folk Revival of the mid-twentieth century got underway all ears turned once again to the North East. The Revival was a far-reaching movement to re-introduce the people of Scotland to a style of folk music which many, especially in urban central-belt areas, knew little about. Spanning the 1950s and 60s, the Revival had different intentions for different people: to ‘save’ what was seen by some as a dying culture; to regenerate that culture and give it a renewed vitality; to show that the everyday culture and experiences of normal people were worthwhile, meaningful and powerful; and to address political issues through this form of popular culture. With so many aims, the movement also spanned a range of activities.

A caricature of the folk revivalist Hamish Henderson on the back of Chapbook 2.5

In its first decade, the 1950s, a lot of the Revival centred around finding and recording folksong singers. The largest amount of so-called ‘collecting’ was carried out by workers from the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Folklorists from the institution, such as Calum MacLean and Hamish Henderson, utilised new portable technology to visit and record singers, storytellers, and other people who took part in traditional culture all over Scotland. Many people who collectors revered for their knowledge of folksong were from the North East, including Jessie Murray, Jimmy MacBeath and Jeannie Robertson – all singers who many involved in Scottish folk music nowadays would still think of very highly.

Aberdeen Folksong club

By the turn of the decade, the collecting-focus of the early years was giving way to growing public interest in folksong. In the early 1950s, a series of ceilidhs had been organised in Edinburgh as part of the People’s Festival, designed ‘By Working People for Working People.’4 These introduced people to folk music, demonstrated that the tradition had not yet disappeared, and set some on their own path to folk revivalism. From the late 1950s through to the end of the Revival, a growth of public-facing activities introduced new audiences to longstanding folksingers and generated a huge uptake in folk singing among fresh enthusiasts. Commercial records were published, print and broadcasting media gave increasing time to folk music, and across the country folk clubs and festivals were founded.

Aberdeen Folksong Club was founded in 1962 by Danny Couper, introduced above, and Arthur Argo, a journalist and great-grandson of the previously-mentioned collector Gavin Greig. Most folk club meetings in this period followed a similar set-up: an invited guest would perform several times across an evening, and the rest of the night would consist of ‘floor spots’ where club members and the audience could contribute. Where Aberdeen Folksong Club differed was in the ongoing vitality of the musical culture which surrounded it.

An excerpt from Chapbook 5.3 of the tune and lyrics of ‘Busk, Busk’ as sung by Cathy Stewart

While clubs elsewhere in Scotland might have to look around the country for guests, singers local to Aberdeen were also some of the hallowed names of the Revival. Well-grounded as it was in the region’s traditional music, though, the Club could also draw in larger acts; Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, Jean Ritchie, and Martin Carthy all topped the bill at Club nights or festivals within a few years of its opening. Couper explains how, for Argo, Northeast songs were part of a ‘global context’;5 for many involved in the Revival, at Aberdeen Folksong Club and elsewhere, folk music spoke to the international experiences of working people.

The revival and Chapbook

Aside from live performances, Aberdeen Folksong Club also played another major role in the Revival: the Club magazine Chapbook, published from 1964 to 1969, became the de facto publication of the Scottish movement. The magazine was edited by Argo, initially in Aberdeen and later from Edinburgh, and Ian Philip and Carl MacDougall, who brought perspectives from the West of Scotland. Chapbook took its name from small, cheap paper booklets sold as street literature mostly throughout the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.

The magazine, which regularly ran to over 30 pages, contained matters relevant to both the Aberdeen and national folk scene: new and old songs, notices and reviews of events and records, and discussions on topics ranging from the state of Scottish folk clubs to William McGonagall’s relationship with ‘folk-poetry’. Some magazines also contained more miscellaneous content, like cartoons of prominent folkies or instructions for homebrewing beer!

3 – A selection of Chapbook magazines and Aberdeen Folk Festival programmes

As I mentioned at the start of this article I am researching the Folk Revival in Scotland and, given the forefront position of Chapbook within the movement, very keen to study as many copies of the magazine as I can. My research looks especially at the Revival’s cultural-political position and, as part of this, I’m interested in how people took part in, viewed, and talked about folk music during the period. Chapbook offers a great window into the Revival, demonstrating what the people running and attending folk clubs felt should be shared with the national movement. Some copies of the magazine are available through libraries in Edinburgh, but the collections are far from complete and aren’t the most accessible to me at present.

Can you help in finding copies of Chapbook

I would therefore love to hear from anybody who might have an old copy or two tucked away that they would be willing to let me look at (for my purposes a photocopy would suit just as well as the real thing!). If you might be able to help please contact me via email at

Although the focus of this article has been historical Aberdeen Folk Club is, of course, not a thing of the past. The Club, which has long since dropped ‘song’ from its title to reflect the post-revival growth of instrumental folk music, still meets regularly. The group can be found every Wednesday at the Blue Lamp, 121 Gallowgate, beginning from 8 pm for an 8.30 pm start. Singers, instrumentalists and listeners are all welcome for sessions and open mic nights, and the Club also hosts occasional concerts from visiting artists. Aberdeen Folk Club just celebrated their 60th birthday and are still one of the top clubs going, winning Club of the Year at the most recent Scots Trad Music Awards. The prize is demonstrative that that ‘fine’ folk song Henderson identified in the North East in the 1950s still has a home in Aberdeen.


1 This event was the first Edinburgh People’s Festival Ceilidh, which I discuss more below. A recording of Henderson speaking these words can be found at the Lomax Digital Archive.

2 Quoted in Ewan McVicar, The E****o Republic: Scots political folk song in action 1951 to 1999 (Linlithgow: Gallus Publishing, 2010), p. 137

3 Les Wheeler, ‘Traditional Ballads in North East Scotland

4 Hamish Henderson, ‘The Edinburgh People’s Festival, 1951-54’ in A Weapon in the Struggle: The Cultural History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, ed. by Andy Croft (London; Sterling, Virginia: Pluto Press, 1998), pp. 163-170 (p. 165)

5 Quoted in McVicar, p. 261

Art Gallery micro commissions awarded to local artists

Aberdeen Art Gallery and Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery have announced the three local artists who will receive funding for micro commissions. The call for proposals was open to creatives residing in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. The objective was to create new works that respond to Aberdeen's exceptional art and history collection.

The applicants were requested to share their experiences in Aberdeen, focusing on themes such as diversity, social justice, climate change, representation, identity, well-being, and migration. The commissioned artists will work with the Aberdeen Archives, Gallery & Museums' collection and curatorial specialists. They can also exhibit their works through public talks, events, performances, workshops, and displays.

Amy Benzie

The artists awarded micro-commissions

Amy Benzie: Amy is a ceramic maker from Torry, Aberdeen, who finds inspiration in the interplay between art and science. She plans to explore local knowledge and traditional healing practices of the North East. And to create a collection of ceramics that reflect these themes.

Find Amy's work here

Clive Ramage: A self-taught artist, Clive is known for his unique paintings and hand-made prints. He will create a triptych of prints inspired by the John Piper painting of Dunnottar Castle. He'll explore the theme of disintegration and how it can lead to creating something beautiful.

Find Clive's work here

Helen Scaife: Helen is a painter and performance artist who intends to create a mixed-media painting that addresses global and local issues related to climate change. Her painting will be based on the setting of Aberdeen harbour. She has been inspired by the artwork Paddle Steamer 'Sovereign' Entering Aberdeen Harbour in the gallery collection.

Find Helen's work here

Clive Ramage

Supported by the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums

The completed pieces could be small-scale, and the development and production process need not be extensive. The Aberdeen City Council will preserve the artworks, which could also become a permanent part of the collection.

This is the third round of micro-commissions sponsored by the Art Gallery and the first one supported by the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums. The Gallery received funding as a joint winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2020. This is what led to the program's creation.

Helen Scaife

Michael Richardson, Chair of the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums, said: “The Friends are very proud of the support they have provided for the development of Aberdeen’s superb collection since the group was established in 1975. Over the years we have supported new acquisitions, conservation work and a large-scale site-specific commission for the Art Gallery during the redevelopment project.

"I’m delighted that we are now supporting the micro-commissions programme, which has become an in important source of support for local artists. Anyone who is interested in finding out more about the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums can come along and meet some of us during our next Friends’ Weekend at the Gallery on 15 and 16 April.”

New gallery Growing Pains takes root

Two Aberdeen-based contemporary artists have teamed up for a new collaborative gallery and creative workspace called Growing Pains. Gray's School of Art graduates Caitlin Robb and Ace Ireland are establishing an all-inclusive gallery to develop new artists and hope to expand into other creative areas.

The name Growing Pains represents their struggle of leaving art school and figuring out what comes next. And also the time-consuming nature of the entire process. It's a recognition of the challenges and pain that often come with finding our way through the world.

The team behind Growing Pains

Ace Ireland, who grew up in Balloch, uses expressive art to evaluate life events that have changed their outlook. They focus on religion, technology, death, and the human condition, pushing the boundaries between what is considered professional and what is considered art. Ace uses poetry, pyrography and sculpture to explore ways to help people process trauma.

Contemporary artist Caitlin Robb is originally from Fife. She uses art to explore the natural world, anatomy, spirituality, and social issues. Her recent work has focused on our relationship with bodies of water. Robb's practice incorporates drawing, printmaking, analogue photography, ceramics, and poetry. She also believes being intimately involved in her art lets her express ideas and thoughts with clarity.

Lifting up those who often go unheard

The pair's frustration with galleries that follow tried and tested templates has led them to set up Growing Pains to encourage the exploration of taboo topics that other galleries may avoid. They're committed to working with people from diverse backgrounds and lifting up those whose voices often go unheard. They believe that hearing from different perspectives helps everyone grow.

Growing Pains seeks to achieve all this within a unique space that moves away from the traditional "white cube" gallery setting. They're creating a gallery that can add flavour to the artwork displayed. Building a safe space for both artists and visitors.

We'll keep you up-to-date about this intriguing new gallery, but for now you can follow them on Twitter and Instagram, and sign up for their newsletter.

Aberdeen Art Gallery brings a little serenity to Relaxed Mondays

Visitors to Aberdeen Art Gallery can now experience a new relaxed and comfortable environment on Mondays. The gallery team hopes Relaxed Mondays will appeal to those who may prefer a calmer environment. This includes families with neurodivergent children, neurodivergent young people and adults, adults living with dementia, and those with mental health problems.

To provide a more sensory-friendly environment, the Gallery has teamed up with Aberdeen charity, We Too! The team received ‘sensory first aid’ training and developed resources, such as an access guide, visual story, sensory den, and sensory kits, to make the experience more enjoyable for all visitors. The charity, which has previously supported visitors with additional support needs during the Spectra festival in 2022, will have their Ninjas on hand during this weekend's Spectra event.

Aberdeen Art Gallery’s exterior view
Photo by Chris Sansbury

Relaxed Mondays make everyone's experience memorable

Visitors on Relaxed Mondays can expect to be greeted by friendly, well-trained staff who are ready to answer any questions and make everyone's experience memorable. Sensory backpacks are available to borrow to further enhance the visit, including dark glasses, ear defenders, and fidget toys. A quiet sensory den has also been set up for those who may need a moment of peace.

Everyone is welcome to visit on Mondays, but to ensure a relaxed environment, the Gallery will not be accepting large group bookings. The friendly staff will be on hand to make everyone feel at home.

Creating the best customer experience for everyone

Phionna McInnes, of We Too! said, “As a customer-driven organisation, it’s our aim to reverse the inclusion model where Relaxed Sessions are predominantly for ASN (Additional Support Needs) participants, but in fact everyone is welcome as long as they are aware of the needs of others visiting at that time. It’s been great working with the Gallery team and other partners in the city who are passionate about inclusion and creating the best customer experience for everyone.”

Relaxed Mondays begin at Aberdeen Art Gallery on Monday 13 February.
Admission free

Aberdeen Art Gallery set for a thrilling year ahead

Aberdeen Art Gallery has announced an exciting lineup of exhibitions for all ages and interests in 2023. The program includes a showcase of Sir Quentin Blake's book covers and illustrations, in honour of his 90th birthday. Additionally, 20 world-renowned photographers from the Magnum Photos collective have captured some of the most famous artists in recent history in their studios.

Three of Scotland's top artists, Lennox Dunbar, Ian Howard, and Arthur Watson, will also be returning to exhibit in their hometown. Also, a rare 17th-century manuscript recently added to the UNESCO-recognized city archives will shed light on the civic and religious life of the city during a time of political upheaval and religious persecution.

Overall, the program sounds like it has something for everyone and is definitely worth checking out.

Shadows and Light – The Extraordinary Life of James McBey

11 February – 28 May

Shadows and Light, curated by author Alasdair Soussi, celebrates Aberdeenshire-born artist and adventurer James McBey. He was noted for his etchings and dry point engravings, and was once described as the “heir to Rembrandt”. This small-scale exhibition is curated by author Alasdair Soussi to coincide with his recently-published biography of McBey.

Travelling Gallery


A new two-person exhibition by artist Emmie McLuskey and choreographer Janice Parker will be featured in the Contemporary Gallery on a bus in Aberdeen. The exhibit, titled "Movement," combines dance and art to explore the relationship between the two. Keep an eye out for the Travelling Gallery as it makes stops across the city in March.

The Testament of Alexander Jaffray

4 March – 3 September

The Testament of Alexander Jaffray is an exhibition that examines the life of the two-time provost of Aberdeen. 2023 marks the 350th anniversary of the death of Alexander Jaffray, representative of the burgh in the Scottish Parliament. This prominent member of the community later became a Quaker, at a time when doing so would certainly mean persecution.

Where Ideas are Born

1 April – 11 June

Get ready for a visual feast at Aberdeen Art Gallery. Where Ideas are Born brings together over 20 talented photographers from the famous Magnum agency. This includes legends like Inge Morath, Eve Arnold, and Robert Capa. You’ll see 70 mesmerising photo portraits of world-renowned artists like Andy Warhol, George O’Keeffe, Ai Weiwei, and Yayoi Kusama.

Making a Splash! A Century of Women’s Beachwear

10 June – 14 January

Experience the evolution of beach fashion as it was shaped by historical events, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, and groundbreaking design and material advancements. Dive into the Archives, Gallery & Museums' collection of stunning 20th-century beachwear, including iconic bathing costumes, in this must-see exhibition. See how the sands of time have shaped the way we dress for the beach.

Quentin Blake – Illustrating Verse and Book Covers

8 July – 17 September

Two Aberdeen Art Gallery exhibitions celebrate the talents of Quentin Blake. Illustrating Verse brings together for the first time a selection of Blake’s sketches and illustrations for a range of poetry, from comic nonsense poems to poignant ballads. While Book Covers demonstrates how Quentin Blake's illustrations have grabbed the attention of readers of all ages over the past 60 years. The exhibition includes reproductions of the cover artwork and rough sketches which give insights into Blake’s unmistakable work.

Constructed Narratives: Lennox Dunbar, Ian Howard, Arthur Watson

14 October – 28 January

Discover the works of three of Scotland's premier artists at this must-see exhibition. Lennox Dunbar, Ian Howard, and Arthur Watson, all hailing from Aberdeen, were nurtured by art teacher Charles Hemingway at Aberdeen Grammar School and went on to hold influential roles in Scotland's art scene.

About Aberdeen Art Gallery

Aberdeen Art Gallery is a vibrant cultural hub located in the heart of the city. Since its founding in 1884, the gallery has played a vital role in the cultural life of the region, showcasing a wide range of art from both local and international artists.

The gallery is home to a stunning collection of works of art, including paintings, sculptures, prints, and photographs. The collection is diverse and varied. It features works by some of the most renowned artists in history, such as Monet and Renoir. In addition to these classics, the gallery also has a strong focus on contemporary art, with regular exhibitions featuring the work of emerging artists from around the world.

SPECTRA 2023 - This is your complete guide

Get ready for SPECTRA 2023 folks! The multi-award-winning festival of light and sound is back! It will again bring colour and light to Aberdeen from Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th February. This year, organisers have selected an epic lineup of free-to-see installations from some of the best visual artists, studios, and companies from around the world. They’ll transform the city centre with light, sound, and jaw-dropping visual art.

The festival programme has some incredible new commissions that will illuminate iconic Aberdeen landmarks in the most stunning way possible! We've put together all the information you need to know about Scotland's festival of light this year. Furthermore, we'll keep this page updated as we approach the big weekend, so keep it bookmarked.

SPECTRA 2023 finds 'Home' at Union Terrace Gardens

SPECTRA is returning to Union Terrace Gardens for the first time since 2018 and will be one of the first major events to take place in the revamped historic public space. Expect a spectacular program of installations and artworks that will blow your mind. Inspired by the theme of ‘Home’, the festival will light up Aberdeen’s winter nights for everyone to enjoy.

Andy Brydon, Director of Curated Place said: "Spectra is always a winter highlight in Aberdeen, and we're beyond thrilled to be announcing this programme for 2023. It's packed with extraordinary work from some truly astounding artists and creatives.”

PULSE by This Is Loop - Manipulating scale and perception

One of the program’s highlights will be the first Scottish appearance of Fantastic Planet, created by the Australian group Parer Studio. It will feature towering humanoid figures descending upon different city-centre locations, including Union Terrace Gardens, Aberdeen Art Gallery, and Marischal College. These gargantuan visitors have travelled from afar to explore the city. At a time when the world’s resources are being depleted and the future seems uncertain, these visitors will playfully encourage you to imagine a better future for your own planet.

PULSE by This Is Loop

Broad Street

This is loop will transform Broad Street with Pulse, a 45-meter-long light sculpture created by the Bristol-based team This Is Loop. Pulse is a large-scale mirrored sculpture that manipulates scale and perception. The sculpture features 12 giant mirror-covered hoops arranged in a winding tunnel shape. It'll create a contemplative space for visitors of all ages to enjoy day and night.

ILLUMAPHONIUM by Illumaphonium - Bringing people together

ILLUMAPHONIUM by Illumaphonium

Union Terrace Gardens

Get ready for a one-of-a-kind experience with Illumaphonium. This giant instrument is all about bringing people together for a fun and spontaneous outdoor music-making session. Packed with over 200 illuminated chime bars, so you can make beautiful sounds when you interact with it. A real feast for the eyes and ears!


His Majesty's Theatre

At His Majesty’s Theatre, you'll find The Waxwing Wanes, created by the incredibly talented projection art specialists Illuminos. The lights react to a brand-new composition by the brilliant composer and harpist Ailie Robertson. And so the piece will take you on a journey, musing on our changing climate, as it follows the ebbs and flows of nature.

FANTASTIC PLANET by Parer Studio - Journeyed from faraway lands to SPECTRA 2023


Across the City Centre

A radiant large-scale public installation, Fantastic Planet is crafted by the Australian artist Amanda Parer, the mastermind behind Parer Studio. It illuminates the night sky with its giant humanoids. These brilliant beings have journeyed from faraway lands and now grace us with their presence as they embark on a new adventure here in Aberdeen for the very first time.

NATURE NOCTURNAL by Lantern Company

Union Terrace Gardens

Lantern Company will transform Union Terrace Gardens by adding two stunning nature-inspired installations. Nature Nocturnal will bring the slopes of Union Terrace Gardens to life with mesmerising illuminated plants, insects, and wildlife. You can also take a magical lantern walk through a radiant kaleidoscope of colours. Experience the nocturnal natural world in a whole new way.

LUMINOSI TREES by Sound Intervention - An immersive and peaceful experience

LUMINOSI TREES by Sound Intervention

Union Terrace Gardens

Sound Intervention's Luminosi Trees, towering structures resembling giant jellyfish, will provide an immersive and peaceful experience in the centre of the Gardens. These six-meter-high structures are equipped with thousands of sound-responsive LEDs that change colours and patterns in response to a Fibonacci-inspired soundscape, ensuring a unique experience every time you visit.


Across the City Centre

The SPECTRA 2023 program features live performances, including a premiere of a new outdoor piece by the Fusion Youth Dance Company of Aberdeen. Choreographed by Scottish dance artist Steven Martin, the performance will take place in the Marischal College Quad. It will also respond to the visually striking Fantastic Planet installation on display during the festival.

CIRCA by Limbic Cinema - Get ready to have your mind blown

CIRCA by Limbic Cinema

Union Terrace Gardens

Get ready to have your mind blown by Limbic Cinema's Circa. This light sculpture is all about exploring our circadian rhythms and the beauty of light in different seasons. It's a spectacular piece that the artists built around the seasonal light levels in Aberdeen. It features 12 light fixtures that represent the average light fall over one month of the year in the city.

Think of it as a 3D clock that reflects the light and dark cycles of the city, set to a mesmerising sound design by Joe Acheson of Hidden Orchestra.

HOME FRONTS by Vincent James

Union Terrace Gardens

Meanwhile, Visible Voices, an animated projection created by visual artist and animator Vincent James working with local young people, infuses everyday objects with a twist of the surreal and will appear in the archways by Union Terrace Gardens.
PROJECTOR BIKES by Sound Intervention - Touring the city for SPECTRA 2023

PROJECTOR BIKES by Sound Intervention

Across the City Centre

Sound Intervention will be bringing their Projector Bikes to different locations in the city. These electric trikes have been transformed into mobile cinemas and can travel around improvising and interacting with audiences. The bikes are off-grid and feature audio and visual projections of digital animations inspired by Aberdeen and the theme of 'Home'.

NØKKEN by Illuminos

Marischal College

Illuminos created a new sculpture, Nøkken, for the front of Marischal College. The sculpture is based on the Kelpie, a shape-shifting freshwater spirit from the folklore of Scotland and the Nordics. Furthermore, the sculpture is meant to echo the perspective-shifting effect of the nearby Fantastic Planet artwork.

Pauline Cordiner - Old and new tales from Aberdeen and beyond for SPECTRA 2023
Pauline Cordiner - Old and new tales from Aberdeen and beyond

STORYTELLING with Pauline Cordiner & Lindsey Gibb

Storytelling Tent

Pauline Cordiner and Lindsey Gibb will host storytelling at Broad Street. They'll tell stories in English, Scots, and Doric for all ages. Expect both old and new tales from Aberdeen and beyond, encouraging you to reflect on the concept of home.


Marischal Square

Finally, Ulianka is a world-renowned face painter known for her innovative designs. She'll help you select the perfect design and create stunning UV light-activated artwork for your kids' faces. And adults are also welcome to participate in the fun too!

PULSE by This Is Loop - Manipulating scale and perception

SPECTRA 2023 - What you need to know

SPECTRA 2023 is a free light festival. It takes place over three days from 9-12 Feb 2023. It will be held at various venues across Aberdeen City Centre, including Broad Street, Union Terrace Gardens, Marischal College Quad and His Majesty's Theatre.

Please visit the SPECTRA website and follow them on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for the very latest news.