As 2016 draws to an end its good to look back and see if the year was as fun as you'd hoped. And I can safely say it was. And a huge part of 2016 being a fun year is the Look Again festival which being only its second year blew the doors off! Looking to showcase great art and design from Scotland and beyond in Aberdeen, the festival covers many areas of interest and creates links between fine art, performance, architecture, graphic design and a whole lot more in between.
Festival organisers Smart Art Agency have a nack for pulling events and people together to create something special and they have a close eye whats happening within the North East which has helped inform some decisions about who to work with on building a fun and diverse festival. I strive to connect the dots between the wider public and all the great events and exhibitions I see happening across the city and its hard sometimes. And I understand why, it takes a bit of effort to get out there on a Friday night after a busy week at work. But that's where Look Again have been successful, pulling together a group of partners and venues to create a range of events which you can either fill your weekend with or you can dip in and out as you please. And I found myself taking in a little more than I expected!
I was tasked with documenting the festival and to give people a taste of what they may missed. This included almost 20 different exhibitions, events, talks and performances from The Suttie Art Space at ARI to RGU in Garthdee and back to Peacocks and the city centre. Talks by Assemble and Simon Terrill who created the soft play Brutalist Playground were incredibly inspiring while the Interzone inflatable sculptures by Ian Kettles created a fun art trail for people to follow. The Departure Lounge and The Boomin Bus Tour added something special to this years festival and created some really special moments, its not every day you get to hang off the back of an old London bus filming the world go by! And I'm sad to say I didn't even make it around all the events and venues but there's only so much one man can do. But by far one of the best things I saw over the weekend was the age range of people engaging with the events. From silver haired babes taking a trip down memory lane on the red bus to little nippers enjoying some soft play fun at the brutalist playground, everyone came away with a smile on their faces.
One of my favourite parts of the festival had to be the Boomin Bus Tour (video here) but not just for the novelty of the ride but for Doug's hilarious tales and stories. Each stop on the tour had an anecdote relating to some piece of local history, how much of it is true I'm not sure but the bus was full of laughter the whole time. I was also touched by Hilary Nicol's exhibition 'Museum of Memory' featuring items from her fathers home studio hosted at Woodend Barn in Banchory. Sadly suffering from dementia, Hilary explored her fathers vast collection of jazz memrobilia, architectural plans and other ephemera from his studio, building up a picture history of an incredibly talented and interesting man. Sadly he passed away this year but leaves behind a great legacy. Finally over the course of editing the videos I found myself filling a few gaps with posts and photos from various social media platforms. If there's a test of how successful an event has been its buzz on facebook or instagram and a quick search shows hundreds of posts from the standard mirror selfies to giant padlocks wrapped around the art centre pillars!
Look Again has been a huge success in my eyes and again proves that Aberdeen is producing top quality artists and designers but also the wider public has an appetite for it. Hopefully next year will see an even bigger event with more partners, more venues and more parties! A huge thanks to Sally and Claire for getting me involved and for all the hard work that goes into producing such a huge festival and helping to put Aberdeen on the cultural map. I'm excited just thinking about Look Again 3.0 and Nu Art Festival Aberdeen edition. 2017 is shaping up nicely!