Nuart Aberdeen 2018 - Production Week Part 2!

After a whirlwind 4 days it was time to send Phlegm home. We'd been lucky enough to take a row boat around the quarry and had seen a part of Aberdeen that not many get to experience at this moment in time and it just really hit home why Aberdeen is the place I love, because of the people here and their generosity. To say not many Aberdonians have rowed across Rubislaw Quarry is an understatement so to be able to bring Phlegm to such a special place and to witness the generosity of Hugh, Chris and his mum Sandra was special and certainly one of my favourite memories from the festival. I like to think part of that experience is now embedded into Phlegms mural on Union Street and it certainly made me smile to see it break out from its rectangular box and expand across the whole wall. Before heading home I managed to show Phlegm a few more familiar sites including Peacocks print making studio where David McCracken kindly gave us a tour around and we enjoyed some rain over at the Torry Battery.

But as one artist left more arrived with Ernest Zacharevic touching down but after a pretty hefty flight required a day to acclimatise to the Aberdeen weather, just a few week before we'd had a heavy snow shower. Keen to see his wall, I took Ernest up to Union Plaza where he'd be working on a 50 meter high canvas. Upon seeing this mammoth wall Ernest didn't look concerned at all and already had an idea of how long the painting would take depending on weather etc. We made a plan and got a projector set up that evening so he could transfer his sketch onto the wall and then make a start filling in the colour and detail. From 12am til 4am I sat watching as Ernest worked his way around the cherry picker out lining the giant kid. I was amazed as its head dwarfed its creator, even now the child looks small despite being nearly 5 stories tall!  

Bordalo ii finally arrived after missing their connection the previous day but they got straight to work on what would become a fan favourite for the festival. Having seen their material list I was none the wiser as to what they planned to create, perhaps a wild cat or dare I say a highland cow! Eventually their design was revealed and thankfully it was to be the Scottish national animal, a Unicorn! But how this mythical animal would come to be was still a mystery. Bordalo ii along with Terrible Kid prepared their materials before screwing the parts together, constructing the main shape on the ground as apposed to on the wall as I'd thought. Incredibly they had the piece up and almost finished in 3 days with only one assistant to help but I guess you don't end up in National Geographic for nothing.

Carrie and her band of helpers continued to mosaic with 3 sites to cover it was all hands on deck. The community pieces created with help from Angela Joss and kids at SHMU FM we're installed just off the Green while grouting started on the Gallus Quines piece up on St Nicholas Lane. To install these pieces required quite a huge effort which for the most part came from Carrie and a couple of her ceramic friends but of course a host of local helpers including Shelagh Swanson we're on hand and really made one of the more complicated and difficult installs a smooth operation. The grout hadn't even set before Carrie was off to start her final piece for Nuart Aberdeen which would be a collaborative mosaic with Amnesty International, a celebration of the suffragette movement and Scotland's human rights defenders! 

Nimi & RH74 joined the party and after a few hits from the hip flask got to work. The wall proved to be one of their biggest to date but we quickly learned that Nimi loves a challenge and others may falter he charges on. Of course painting in the rain isn't ideal but they managed to work through it and next few days proved to be fun filled with local artists Mary Butterworth, Katie Guthrie and Charley Kelman all stepping up to help bring the Green Lady to life. Hyuro continued to fill and add detail to her giant wall down at the tunnels and before we knew it Milu was onto her second wall located between Bordalo ii and Nimi & Renate. As people became aware of the work cars started to line up, slowly driving past Union Row to get a glimpse of the action.  

After his initial adventure Dr D settled on the tunnels as a suitable location for installing the last of his large scale paste ups. Armed with his brush and tub of glue he quickly fired up 3 large posters and a dozen smaller scale works both his own and some from Flying Leaps back catalogue. The bag filled with mini oil cans gradually got lighter too, a relief as he'd imagined having to ship them all back home again. We headed slightly further out of the city centre to find sites for some of his subverted street signs with one proclaiming 'Food Bank' with an arrow which was installed next to a million pound residence and another with 'BREXODUS' which I thought quite aptly should be facing South and was installed at the Garthdee Roundabout. Of course a lot of Dr D's work can be humorous but its sad to say that for a city with so much wealth we have people, families relying on the services provided by food banks and have the highest level of working poor since before I was born. Its great to have these works around to help bring these issues into the conversation as many of the other works do around issues of womens rights, equality and pollution. 

And when all that gets a bit too serious we just have to look at the progress of Ciaran and Conzo! The lads really cracked on with their piece and worked incredibly quick to get the initial design down before fine tuning. Every time I passed the piece it changed, ever so subtly but the painting didn't stop. I'm sad to say as more of the academics and media personnel arrived the less time I had to check out the progress of the works. SNIK took full advantage of the fine weather and by the time I got to see their piece again it was across the finishing line and ELKI was finished and preparing for his workshop before I could even work out what day it was. Of course instagram and facebook were a buzz with images as people captured their own moments of the works being created which provided a really nice insight into what I'd missed. 

As is often the case a lot more work was conducted behind the scenes and behind closed doors as the Nuart team worked tirelessly to juggle the logistics of the festival from paint runs to billboard installs and lift operators. As I said in my previous post it really is a huge team effort and everyone plays an important part but I think the Nuart team, Martyn, Marisa and James put a lot of heart into the festival and pull together something really special. Its not always easy and there's certainly a lot of stress involved but there's also a lot of passion for street art and the culture that it comes from. I guess for me its interesting to see both sides of the coin, as artist host and tour guide, the joy of people discovering the works and the ideas behind them but also knowing the super human effort that goes into to getting them up in the first place. We'd stumble at the first hurdle without the support of the team at Aberdeen Inspired and most certainly without the incredible team of artists and helpers who so willingly give up their days. But even more so than last year as familiar faces arrived it felt like a reunion of sorts with friends and family, some of whom I get to see often and others I might only see once a year but what happens in that short space of time between this small band of people is life changing. Well it is for me.  

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