Nuart Aberdeen 2018 - Production Week Part 1!

Its a month since Nuart Aberdeen unveiled the new additions to the cities mural and street art collection and its been great to see the public reaction. As with last years festival Nuart attracts a lot of attention and when you consider the level of work that goes into pulling off a festival of this scale its well deserved. Of course its been a great eye opener to the work that friends Sally & Claire have put into organising Look Again Festival which will be kicking off again in June. Of course its always a team effort and I love the Nuart approach which is that everyone plays a part from artist to helper and its only through this group effort that they can do what they do. And seeing behind the wizards curtain I can vouch for that!

I'll be forever grateful to Nuart for bringing these artists and works to Aberdeen, literally changing the face of the city and helping to make it a destination for street art fans. For me personally, Nuart has not only given me insight into the world of international street art but also put me into the thick of it, tasked with helping and looking after the artists upon their arrival in Aberdeen. Its through this role I'm able to find out a bit about the art works and artists, and what their work represents which I then feed into the story for the free walking tours. Along with this is also get to help out a little on production and where possible take the artists on a visit to some of the sights of Aberdream. 

Phlegm was the first of this years artists to arrive and being a huge fan of his work I was little awestruck when the smiley faced chap entered the hotel, eager to get out and explore the city. Before setting off to find his wall he produced a small box from his pocket and showed us his ongoing collection of mini prints that he;d been sharing across his instagram feed. It was the first of many moments during the festival where I had to pinch myself, as I sat admiring his work. He pulled out his sketch book and gave myself and Callum a look at his plan for the mural, a piece inspired by the Aberdeen Granite and Rubislaw Quarry and we set off to see the wall. Incidentally I got a text from my friend Chris who was up in Aberdeen visiting family. His dad, Sandy Whyte along with Hugh Black actually purchased Rubislaw Quarry when it came up for sale a few years ago so I enquired about a site visit for Phlegm. His mural was already underway by this point but the chance to see this historic site was too tempting so we hot tailed it up to see the largest man made hole in Europe. The next hour was spent being regaled with tales of the Quarries history, the special natural habitat the quarry provides and the ongoing plans to celebrate the site and what it represents to Aberdeen. 

In the ensuing days more artists started to arrive and my days quickly began to fill up. Argentinian artist Milu Correch was next to arrive and got straight to work on her first smaller wall on Langstane Place. No sooner had she picked up a brush and got to work, quickly sketching out her lines and finding her flow. Upon returning a few hours later I was shocked to see her piece almost finished. Where once a blank wall had existed, now two female figures sat shrouded with a scarf covering their faces. Milu said she only had a few more hours left to paint but would finish it the next day before starting on her second, bigger piece. It was great to see Milu in action, almost looking like she was sketching something in a notepad as apposed to 10ft high wall!

Bortusk Leer, Carrie Reichardt and Hyuro all arrived and got straight to work. Carrie was well prepared after her initial research trip at the end of last year and pointed out a few smaller tile pieces she'd put up last time which I'd completely missed despite walking past them hundreds of times. Along with her team she set about installing her first two large piece on St Nicholas Lane. Bortusk was next in line and was brimming with energy, much like his happy monsters. We paid a quick visit to Peacock Visual Arts to see how the print show was coming together before Bortusk got down to the serious business of pasting up monsters! Although he'd prepared quite a few in his studio he planned to use some local newspapers for his backdrop which he painted onto to create a whole new set of monsters, all different and unique. Hyuro enjoyed a quick tour around the walls before starting work on the Indoor Market wall which once hosted the paste up by Julien de Casabianca from last years Nuart. Much as Milu had done earlier in the day, she sketched out her design before filling in the colour and details. She explained that she likes to spend no more than 5 or 6 days on a wall. A day for sketching, 2 for filling in the colour and a couple of days to tighten up the details. When I looked up at the wall I was impressed to think she'd be finished by the end of the week! 

SNIK set about white washing their wall before discovering the joys of using large paper stencils on a windy harbour front next to a dual carriageway! I think their site proved the most challenging purely because of the location but in turn it also proved to be the perfect location for their proposed piece with its nod to maritime ephemera. When rain stopped play for a day I found Nick sitting at the hub, diligently cutting the larger stencils into smaller, more manageable chunks. He hated to waste a day when there was so much work to do and made the most of the day. By now my days had become filled with arrivals and departures, checking through the hundreds of whats app messages and trying to make sure everyone had everything they needed. As Steve and Callum made numerous paint runs I ran my laps up and down Union Street from site to site, helping where needed, filling up cherry picker fuel tanks and trying to avoid the dreaded burn out. 

Thankfully the elusive Dr D arrived and provided a much needed night of mischief. I was intrigued to see what the Dr would produce for Nuart Aberdeen, having already provided some info about the city and its political landscape. As night fell I found myself on my first mission, a subtle invasion which involved a team of 8! D told me he normally operated solo when hacking the London ad spaces so have such a large crew was quite something. Of course when you're trying to avoid drawing attention having a mini audience doesn't exactly work. Yet like a true professional we watched as he popped open the first bus shelter, removing the existing ad and placing his own in its place. As we made our way up Union Street more and more pieces were left in our wake before eventually I had to sign off and head home for some sleep. From the stories I heard the next day it sounded like a successful mission and one that turned quite a few heads as they confronted some of the posters procaliming "Blair I Am The Ressurection". 

After many years of wondering about who ELKI is I finally came face to face with the man himself fresh off the train from Inverness. Charlie and Andy were on hand as they would be helping ELKI with his wall and being old friends and familiar with Aberdeen he didn't really need much from me. A few minutes later the Glasgow boys arrived, Ciaran & Conzo. They were both itching to get to the wall and get started on their mural so after a quick stop at the hotel (where they were amazed to not be sharing a bed) we hoofed it up to Country Ways which once housed an iconic horse rider mural, long since gone along with its hunting hounds and red hunters jacket. I wasn't aware of what the guys had planned but I knew it was going to be eye catching based on their previous murals. After an initial survey Ciaran was out with the spirit level and straight to work marking out his lines while Conzo sorted the paint run. 

Now we just had to get Ernest ZacharevicBordalo ii and Nimi & RH74 started and everyone could relax. But it wasn't to be all plain sailing, ill save that for another blog post.