Nuart Aberdeen is fast approaching and the the social media pages are abuzz as people look to April when 12 international and Scottish street artists will descend on Aberdeen, creating site specific works of art, murals, installations and paste ups, not to mention a few ceramic tile pieces. The artists for 2018 are Bordalo ii, Bortusk Leer, Carrie Reichardt, Dr. D (Subertiser), Elki, Ernest Zacharevic, The Glöbel Brothers, Hyuro, Milu Correch, Nimi & RH74, Phlegm and Snik. One of the things I enjoyed most about last years Nuart Aberdeen was the new artists they brought to my attention along with the more well known names and this year is no different.
Its wonderful to have Carrie Reichardt, who we met last year at Nuart Festival in Stavanger, gracing the streets of Aberdeen. With her cutting political and social commentary, Carrie's work serves to both highlight injustices across a range of issues whilst also holding a torch up for those who have fought and paved the way for gender equality, womens rights, LGBT rights, an end to racism, many of those issues which Donald Trump and Brexit seem to have brought to the fore, often on the wrong side of the argument. As with last years works, a strong political message and dialogue on the streets can really open up a new dialogue and an opportunity to have frank and fair discussions around these issues. Certainly on many of the tours I led for last years festival these topics arose, although many we're in agreement with my views I took an open approach with anyone who felt differently (namely two art students who liked Trump for his track record on fair employment). I'm Carrie's installations will be as informative as they are beautiful but if you look past the sheen and shine there will be some great lessons to be learned, not only about Aberdeen and its rich history but also about ourselves!
Bordalo ii has been lighting up instagram with his trash animals which while amazing in their execution, also pack a punch with their commentary on the environmental impact humans have on their environment. I have fond memories of speeding through the streets of Lisbon a few summers back and spotting a giant trash racoon lumped at the side of a building. My attempt to find it, while sober the next day failed miserably but I did manage to explore a new part of the city I might otherwise have missed. His most recent show at Heron Arts in San Francisco (read about it here) shows his work sits just as comfortably in the white cube as on a run down street in the Lisbon suburbs. Whatever Bordalo ii produces in Aberdeen its sure to be a spectacle but one that will leave a lasting impression, opening up new avenues of dialogue on the Nuart Aberdeen tours .
At the start of the year Nuart Aberdeen asked its followers for feedback regarding the festival and the only gripe centred around a lack of Scottish artists on the line up. So 2018 includes both ELKI, a familiar name to many in Aberdeen and The Glöbel Brothers. The inclusion of these artists serves as more than just a box ticking exercise but runs a lot deeper, both through Elki cutting his first stencils in Aberdeen, the remains of which can still be seen on Jopps Lane but also for Ciaran and his ethos around his craft of sign painting. A recent BBC video highlighted a few issues that not only Ciaran but many artists face, that fear of calling yourself an artist and the tangled web of implications that come with it. With the theme for 2018 focusing on 'A Revolution of the Ordinary' it hopes to redress some of the stigma now associated with being an artist or even simply being interested. And with Ciaran and his brother in brushes Conzo Throb ready to throw down it sure to open some interesting conversations around art, culture, the audience and how we can engage and empower more people to find their own creative side.
As preperations continue for the start of production next month its fair to say everyone is excited to see what each artists will add to the existing street art and murals in Aberdeen. The opening weekend will see workshops, talks, panel debates, a film premiere or two along with pop up events with friends at The Anatomy Rooms and Peacocks Visual Arts and the popular street art tours will be back! The festival opening party will feature a night of music from house legend Robert Owens, a nod to Nuarts musical foundations and a chance for us all to dance away the stresses of a busy production week. But as I discovered last year when you're really up against it with a creative project, its about the team and not the individuals and the Nuart team really pull together as one unit, from the international crew, the local volunteers to the team at Aberdeen Inspired and of course my own hero Mary Butterworth who all made last year such a success. Here's to seeing everyone out there cause after all "Beauty is in the Street"!