So that was Nuart Aberdeen 2023

We look back at a Nuart Aberdeen classic 🤩

So that was Nuart Aberdeen 2023

The dust has settled, and the paint has dried, marking the end of Nuart Aberdeen 2023's production and festival phases. However, this is just the beginning of the city's relationship with the mind-blowing new collection of murals.

Various locations throughout the city became adorned with vibrant artwork, with the walls of the old Queen Street police station and prominent spots along Flourmill Lane, Skene Street, Thistle Lane, and Blackfriars Street serving as captivating backdrops for these remarkable creations.

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The roster of exceptional artists featured renowned names such as Brazilian street artist Thiago Mazza, Swoon from the USA, Aberdeen's own KMG, and Jamie Reid, a trailblazer in the art of the Sex Pistols and the punk movement.

With "rewilding" as its central theme, Nuart Aberdeen 2023 offered a vibrant celebration of creativity that explored the fusion of art, culture, and the natural world. Many artists sought to use their work to reflect their surroundings, while others aimed to infuse grey spaces with a touch of nature.

Now is the perfect time to appreciate and delve into the lasting impact of these artworks and speculate on how they may evolve. It also provides an opportunity to share the photos I captured during the countless hours spent traversing the city's streets during the festival.

A couple of wee notes…If you’re reading this via email, the story is probably too long for your email reader. You might need to click on "View entire message" at the end to see to the end. Click on the artists names to take you to their Insta account.

Chalk Don't Chalk

Firstly, let's talk about KMG. She's known for incorporating a healthy dose of cynicism into her pieces while keeping them playful and raw. Likely, any tangible evidence of her artwork is no longer present when you read this. Nevertheless, her influence may be the most significant. KMG was featured as an artist at Nuart Aberdeen for the second time.

When Nuart first arrived in the city, it was widely known that the first rule to abide by was "DO NOT TOUCH THE GRANITE." However, this year, Katie collaborated with hundreds of city school kids to transform the granite flooring of the Marischal College Quad. The result was a magnificent display amidst the delightful chaos. The once lifeless grey floor was temporarily transformed into a vibrant coliseum of colour.

Each of those kids went home with a completely unprecedented experience of how to create on a massive scale. They all know how it feels to make a literal mark on the world, in a space which bent their rules for them. An experience they'll probably never forget.

Thistle Lane

Returning to Nuart Aberdeen for the third time, SNIK is an acclaimed duo of artists known globally for their hand-cut stencils featuring multiple layers. Their art emerges from a blend of male and female perspectives, merging traditional craftsmanship with a progressive mindset.

Their work at this year's festival is the largest they have ever painted. It's spectacular, looking more impressive as you move closer and see the detail.

Notably, nestled within the composition, an ivy plant sprouts in the lower corner. We think SNIK's vision is to allow nature to play its part in the artwork's evolution. In a nod to their previous works, the plan is to let the ivy partially grow over the mural, infusing it with natural greenery and creating a truly rewilding effect.

Flourmill Lane

Eloise Gillow is an accomplished visual artist hailing from the UK that has gained recognition on an international scale. Drawing from her background in classical realist painting, she has developed a distinctive style that seamlessly merges studio painting and public murals.

Located discreetly behind Marishal Square, the pair of captivating murals painted by Gillow caught our attention. These artworks are like gateways to alternate worlds. Guides beckon us to embark on extraordinary journeys. Careful positioning allows you to see both murals simultaneously.

Eloise's work will surely stand the test of time, with the subtle forces of nature gradually reclaiming the brick surface while at the same time giving the murals a timeless feel.

Frederick Street

Thiago Mazza, a talented artist from Brazil, started his artistic journey with graffiti writing, which ignited his passion for painting walls. Over time, he has emerged as a prominent figure in Brazilian muralism.

I love this mural from this year's Nuart Aberdeen. It has completely transformed a dull street adorned with ordinary buildings. The vibrant flowers in the artwork bring a striking burst of colour to the entire area.

The best part is this mural is here to stay. It beautifully adorns the Frederick Street car park, a relatively new building with many years ahead. Mazza and his assistant Vlad dedicated countless hours to meticulously perfecting the intricate details of this stunning mural.

City-Wide Treasure Hunt

Swoon, whose real name Caledonia Curry is unfathomably cool, is a renowned street artist from Brooklyn. She is celebrated for her captivating installations and community-focused projects which advocate for social justice. With a career spanning two decades, she seamlessly combines elements of reality and fantasy in her artwork.

Nuart Aberdeen 2023 marked a special occasion as Swoon took a break from her retirement from street art, making her presence in the city all the more remarkable. You can discover her intricate paste-ups in corners and back alleys in the city centre. Her images are so intricate and magical that it feels like each find is a gift.

However, the ephemeral nature of paste-ups is an inherent aspect of street art. It is a medium that embraces temporality, eventually succumbing to the passage of time. Nevertheless, it's possible that in five years, you might stumble upon one of Swoon's creations down a secluded lane and marvel at its enduring presence.

Queen Street

Paul Ressencourt and Simon Roché, collectively known as Murmure, joined forces while studying Fine Arts. They discovered a shared passion for drawing and street art. Since 2010, their collaboration has centred around transformative interventions in public spaces through the creation of captivating murals.

Their contribution to Nuart Aberdeen is the anarchist goldfish mural adorning the façade of the old Queens Street police station. Against the backdrop of the grey building, the vibrant artwork commands attention. The juxtaposition of the anarchist symbol with the goldfish, seemingly confined within its aquatic prison, creates a compelling visual contrast.

While the longevity of this mural is limited due to the scheduled demolition of the police station in the coming years, Murmure's artistic expression has already left a lasting impression. Its presence in the urban landscape is a testament to the duo's ability to make a profound impact.

Crooked Lane

Jamie Reid, a British artist and political activist, gained recognition at Croydon Art College when he actively participated in the student movement of 1968. Reid's most notable contributions to art and popular culture are his iconic album cover designs for the Sex Pistols.

At Nuart Aberdeen, Jamie showcased a collection of protest art from recent years, which represented some of his most notable works. His powerful imagery targeted privileged leaders, leaving a lasting impact.

These artworks are paste-ups on an exposed wall, and their lifespan may be limited. If you're eager to experience Jamie's art firsthand, visit today because it may not be here tomorrow.

Blackfriars Street

Spanish artist Manolo Mesa embarked on his graffiti journey alongside his brother in 2002. Following his studies in Fine Arts in Seville, he transitioned to creating pictorial artwork on walls. Since then, he has resided in several cities, including Bilbao, Paris, and Perugia.

I was genuinely taken aback by this one—it was much larger and more imposing than I had anticipated. Mesa's mural featuring delicate pottery on an enormous wall is captivating. The meticulous attention to detail, employing subtle brushstrokes to manipulate light, is truly remarkable given the scale of the artwork.

Furthermore, listening to Manolo talk about his work was truly inspiring. His passion for his art shines through, and he has left an indelible mark on the city with a mural that can be seen from quite a distance.

City-Wide Treasure Hunt

Stanley Donwood, a British visual artist, is one of the two artists recognised this year for their iconic album covers. He is renowned for his collaborations with the rock band Radiohead, with whom he has worked since 1994. Donwood has contributed to some of their most famous artwork, including album covers, posters, and merchandise.

Spotting Stanley's artwork scattered throughout the city centre was a fantastic experience, especially around the abandoned Woolmanhill Hospital. It's refreshing that Nuart Aberdeen 2023 embraced a bit of urban exploration.

I suspect these paste-ups will last relatively well, but that can't be guaranteed. Head out and find them for yourself.

Huntly Street

Nespoon has been working since 2009. Her signature style looks like lace, incorporated into her work to explore harmony, balance and natural order. Nespoon sometimes includes social commentary in her murals, canvases and installations.

This is a lovely piece of work. Nespoon used various painting techniques and fused them to create a fantastic mural. Very different from anything that's been painted in the festival's past. What's particularly special is the way it changes depending on where you view it from. Try having a look from inside the Chapel Street Car Park.

This is another that will stand the test of time. I look forward to seeing how this changes as it's exposed to the weather. While visiting it, look out for Nespoon's spray-painted stencils dotted around the surrounding streets.

Crooked Lane

Aida Wilde is a talented visual artist and printmaker who began life in Iran and is currently based in London. She is highly regarded for her innovative approach to printmaking. Aida's studio-produced serigraphs have gained international recognition for her boundary-pushing qualities of contemporary printmaking.

Aida collaborated with local youth to create an impressive group of paste-ups displayed in Crooked Lane. The chosen wall has been completely transformed, resembling a vibrant street scene from a comic book. The paste-ups feature protest posters that address the concerns of the city's diverse youth communities, making a powerful statement.

If you're interested in experiencing this artwork firsthand, I suggest visiting soon. It may only be around for a few weeks before it becomes part of Nuart Aberdeen's history.

Rose Street

Starting life in Valencia, Escif embarked on his street art journey in the late 1990s. His artistic focus revolves around reshaping the urban landscape, believing life will always be more interesting than art.

His contribution to Nuart Aberdeen 2023 holds special significance as it is the first artwork created using paint derived from air pollution. Depicting the Caledonian Forest, a once-vast woodland that has dwindled to a fraction of its original size over centuries, his work serves as a poignant reminder of its depletion.

Considering the unique material employed, it will be intriguing to see the longevity of this piece. Nevertheless, given the substantial efforts by the council to cleanse the city's granite walls of pollution, I anticipate this artwork will endure and thrive.

Skene Street

Tamara Alves is a talented Portuguese visual artist and illustrator who has always been captivated by art integrated into the world and the urban aesthetics of the streets. This passion led her to showcase her artwork in public spaces.

I must say, I've saved my personal favourite for the end. Tamara's creation for Nuart Aberdeen 2023 is bold and untamed, yet it harmoniously blends with its surroundings. While it wasn't her initial choice of wall, I can't envision this artwork anywhere else in this year's festival. It's truly stunning.

This piece is destined to be a city landmark. There's no reason this mural won't be around for many years. I love it so much that I regularly find an excuse to walk past to have another look at different times of the day. I highly recommend checking it out on a sunny day in the hour before sunset.

What’s the best way to enjoy the murals?

Experience this year's street art on a walking tour with expert guides. Explore the city streets and discover the artworks created in this year's festival.

The tour guides are ace, sharing insights into each work's creation, with background and a little gossip from the festival to bring the process to life. It’s a fantastic way to experience the Nuart Aberdeen 2023 artworks.

…and finally

If you want to learn even more about the philosophy behind Nuart Aberdeen, check out this Radio Juxtapoz interview with curator Martyn Reed. It’s a lot!

That’s it for this month. Stay in touch with our socials about upcoming cultural and community events here in Aberdeen. We’ve also got a cool new project in the works that’s keeping us busy. More soon.

See you next month.

C+K xx