Nuart 2021 has been so successful – including five world-class artists turning blank walls into masterpieces – organisers already say they hope to bring the festival back next year.
While the street art festival looked a lot different than in previous years, it has still attracted a number of talented artists and produced attention-grabbing murals in the heart of Aberdeen – including the largest paste-up wall in the world, created with the help of local people.
“The festival has been really well received and the public feedback has been amazing,” said Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired which is behind the Nuart, which saw the last mural completed earlier this week.
“We’ll be back next year, hopefully.”
Festival praised by Nuart artists
Helen Bur, one of this year’s Nuart artists, also praised the street art festival for what it brings to the city. She said: “I think Nuart has been amazing for Aberdeen because you can see the impact of it.
“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 was the last artist to complete her mural which is a “sequel” to her previous Nuart piece, which adorned the sides of Greyfriars House before the building was demolished in December 2020.
Locals have thirst for culture and street art
The CEO of Aberdeen Inspired was delighted that locals seemed genuinely interested and had a “thirst for culture and for street art”. He also hopes Nuart can act as a gateway to the wider cultural offering in the north-east.
Adrian said: “Our hope is that as we brought world street art to the streets of Aberdeen, people will see it, appreciate it, soak it up, and then take it to the next stage – particularly the younger generations. Perhaps, building on that, they go see the wonderful art gallery we have and the other cultural offerings in the city.”
Nuart artists always feel welcome in Aberdeen
Adrian was pleased the feedback Aberdeen Inspired received from the artists involved in the festival was also positive.
He said: “The artists also thoroughly enjoyed Aberdeen. They always say they get a warm welcome up here.”
Creative duo SNIK, who created their artwork on a wall that’s soon-to-be demolished, previously said: “People are always so friendly. We’ve been bought a lot of cakes and coffees and everyone always appreciates the artworks.”
Henrik Uldalen felt welcome in the city and was inspired by its architecture too.
He stated: “I absolutely love Aberdeen – I think it’s a beautiful city. I love the grey and I love the granite and the big massive buildings. I had a great time.
“I came to the city with a little bit of a different idea, but after seeing the whole city and seeing the vibe and the colour scheme, I kind of went back and did some amends to the concept.”
Passers-by also approached Helen Bur when she was working on her mural on Union Row.
“It happens all the time… a lot of ‘are you Banksy!'” she laughed.
Supporting local talent and providing inspiration
While Nuart welcomed successful UK and international artists to the city, it was Aberdeen-raised Katie Guthrie, better known by her creative name KMG, who kicked off the festival in June.
Katie, who graduated from the city’s Gray’s School of Art in 2006, worked as an assistant for Nuart for the past few years, but this year, she created her own piece on Palmerston Road behind Union Square.
She said: “Having grown-up and coming from Aberdeen, it felt really good to be asked to come and paint my home city.”
Adrian added: “We’re very proud of her. Katie’s a local artist who’s gone on to greater things and she’s an inspiration, hopefully, to others that there is a pathway. You don’t have to go off from the north-east, you can still go to the Gray’s School of Art. There are ways you can manage your way through here.”
Creating largest paste-up wall in the world this year
Not wanting to take anything away from the pieces created by professional artists, Adrian was also thrilled with the response Nuart received for their Stuck Up paste-up wall project.
He said: “We’ve received works from people of all ages, all backgrounds and from across the globe and we managed to create that paste-up.”
Graffiti Grannies – crafty pensioners who bonded as part of a project introducing older people to street art – also took part in this year’s Stuck Up. The half a kilometre long wall runs from the East Green into the Tunnels.
Venture our, admire Nuart artworks and support local
While the festival element and mass gatherings weren’t part of Nuart 2021, Aberdeen Inspired would like to encourage everyone to venture out and explore all Nuart artworks created over the years.
You can see all the Nuart murals on our interactive map below.
Adrain added: “We hope to restart our walking tour programme soon and are developing an app so that people can self-guide all the street art produced as part of Nuart Aberdeen.
“We would encourage people to come in to the city, enjoy Nuart, take time out, have a coffee, have a meal, do some shopping.”
And while Adrian is pleased Nuart has brightened up the city and gave it a positive feel, he wanted to reiterate that Aberdeen Inspired isn’t “blinded to the challenges that cities are going through just now”.
He concluded: “Aberdeen is no different to any other city, but we hope Nuart is at least one pathway out of this – the most difficult transition that the city centers are going through.”