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Painted Doors 2017 - Year 2 Recap!

It's been a busy old year and I for one cannot wait for the christmas break. I'm lucky to be off til the new year and I'm hoping it'll be a chance to catch up and take stock. Its certainly been another busy year for art and culture in Aberdeen and especially putting art into the public realm. Nuart Aberdeen, Look Again Festival and Painted Doors both provided lots of incredible opportunities, and the artworks were nae bad as well. But with famous street artists and international design stars on the programme, what makes Painted Doors special?

Firstly all the artists are from or are based in Aberdeen. And many of them are new faces to me which is a good sign that we have a healthy creative scene in the city. I pride myself on getting out and meeting artists and creatives and spend a lot of time trying to help promote and shine a light on their work but even in the big village of Aberdeen where everyone knows everyone its fantastic to come across new faces. The artists for year 2 are Gabi Reith (Small Stories), Paul Barnes, Craig Fisher, Julie-Ann Simpson, Michael Agnew, Helen Ruth, Shirin Karbor, Katie Guthrie and Adrian Reid (see images below to match a face to the name). Katie Guthrie is a returning artist as her original design had become worn from constant door use so its been given a little make over. Door organiser Mary Butterworth also said that she liked the idea of the doors changing and evolving, much as we've seen with the big Nuart Aberdeen paste ups at The Tunnels.

The second point to highlight is that each artist operates in a different field and brings a unique quality to the project. I often find designers stick with designers, fine artists with fine artists etc its the same across disciplines, each happy to stay in their own circle but the doors project has broken down that barrier and instead has a focus on curating a trail that adds something with each new addition and aims to represent all disciplines. Background wise you have a designer, a fine artist, a muralist, a contemporary painter, a printer, a textile designer, an illustrator, Katie (she does too much to categorise) and a graphic designer. There's few art shows where you will find such an eclectic mix of disciplines and especially with artists at such different stages of their careers. From Michael, head of Contemporary Art Practice at Grays, an artist at the very top of his game all the way to recent Grays graduates like Shirin. We have artists like Craig who seemed to appear out of nowhere and is probably the most prolific of the group with murals up and down the country for Brewdog and he's just finished one in the US. And not going to Grays or art school isn't a bad move either, I never went despite constantly being asked what area I specialised in. The school of life people! 

So you have representation for local artists, providing opportunities and the mixing of creative disciplines. Add to that the open call door which invited the public to submit a design, the winner of which would have the chance to realise their design for real. The winning design came from Suzaan Ross who's been beavering away on the indoor market doors just up from Gabi's modern take on the classic Aberdeen tourist motif "The Silver City, With The Golden Sands'. But painting out doors has its challenges and with the weather turning its looking like Suzaan will be finishing up her door in the spring time when hopefully it'll be a bit nicer and the days a bit longer!

So that's a few reasons why Painted Doors is a special project and how incredible is it having people like Paul Barnes, Helen Ruth and Shirin Karbor working in Aberdeen! I think for too long we've been looking to other cities for inspiration and validation across the arts when in fact its all here and has been for some time. I would say that more needs to be done to engage the audience and certainly the street art tours which I led have provided a glimmer into how this can be achieved. Hopefully by the time Painted Doors is gearing up to kick start a new in 2018 you'll be able to join me for a walk about using their new door map (coming soon), catching an artist or two at work as we explore the now rather magnificent back lanes of Aberdeen!

Special thanks to Painted Doors and Aberdeen Inspired for making the project happen and for continuing to push all the incredible creatives we have in Aberdeen.

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