Artist Helen Bur has finished the last Nuart mural of 2021 – a massive and stunning portrait of a couple and their baby painted on the gable end of the Meridian building on Union Row.
The London-based artist spent six days creating the work, a “sequel” to her previous Nuart piece, which adorned the side of Greyfriars House before the building was demolished in December last year.
The now-gone mural depicted the same couple featured in her latest work, as yet untitled.
Helen said: “These are my two friends, Alice and Hugo. I painted them on each end of (Greyfriars House) before, and since then, I’ve ended up living with them, and they’ve had a baby. So they’ve become quite important people in my life.
“So I thought it would be really nice to, you know, develop their story on the wall here with their new addition, Ruby.”
Glad to be back in Aberdeen for Nuart
Helen, who has created street art around the world, said he wasn’t troubled at her previous Nuart piece being lost to the wrecking ball.
“It’s the nature of the job that the work you do is going to be transient and in some ways that’s quite nice, because nothing lasts forever,” she said.
“But it’s very kind that people were keen to bring me back to Aberdeen.”
Helen created her new piece working from a photo she took of the family just before she came to the Granite City. She was working in all the mix of weather the north-east could throw at her from lashing rain to bright sunshine.
“We’ve had it all, but working in the rain is not impossible, it kind of helps the paint drip around,” she said. “I’ve been lucky actually as it hasn’t actually stalled anything.”
She also had to face the constant shrieking of gulls as she worked – along with the odd heckles of passers-by.
“It happens all the time… a lot of ‘are you Banksy!” she said, laughing.
Important to let people find their own story
Helen describes her painting as an intimate portrait of the couple, as well as a reflection on parenting and motherhood. But she is at pains to say she doesn’t want to tell people what to think of it.
“If people think anything at all about it, whether they love it or hate it, then that’s my job done,” she said. “I like to start conversations, I don’t like to tell people how to think. It’s important it’s left open so people can find their own little story in it.”
Helen said she was proud to be finishing the last Nuart wall and praised the street festival, staged by Aberdeen Inspired, for what it brings to the city, with a total of five murals completed for the 2021 event over the past few weeks.
“I think Nuart has been amazing for Aberdeen because you can see the impact of it,” she said. “People that would never normally walk into a gallery or feel included in the art world in any way are able to just walk down the street and have this encounter with art.
Nuart changes how people see their city
“I think it really changes how people look at their city. It’s making them wander around and find little alleyways and streets of their city they might not have ever seen before and just look up, look up from their phones or whatever else is happening around them.”
Helen’s Nuart mural joins those created this summer by Aberdeen’s own KMG at Palmerston Road, behind Union Square; art duo SNIK at Aberdeen Market on The Green; 3-D balloon artist Fanakapan at the Aberdeen Community Health and Care Village on Frederick Street; and Henrik Uldalen on the Spring Gardens Unite Students accommodation.
The festival also featured the world’s largest paste-up wall of contributed art in The Green.
Explore where you can see stunning Nuart murals in Aberdeen on our interactive map: