A kinetic art sculpture trail will burst into life in Aberdeen on Thursday – and organisers say it will be a lockdown pick-me-up to transport people to “different worlds” as they ease into being out in public again.
Restless Worlds will see eight eye-catching moving pieces placed at key locations around the city centre for 11 days, allowing people a Covid-secure way to experience new public art for the first time since coronavirus restrictions were imposed.
“All of us have been sitting in our house looking at the same four walls, without new cultural information coming into the brain,” said Dawn Taylor, director of Puppet Animation Scotland, which is staging the event under its Manipulate banner, in partnership with Aberdeen Performing Arts.
“This is really about stimulating those cultural senses again, experiencing something new and it’s really a chance to experience some other worlds.”
Building up confidence of being out again
The eight pieces will be at five venues – His Majesty’s Theatre, the Lemon Tree, Aberdeen Maritime Museum, Peacock Visual Arts and Marischal Square.
They can be seen from the street allowing people to follow the trail in a safe social distanced way and Dawn hopes it will help people build up confidence of being out-and-about in public as restrictions are eased.
“This really felt like a way to ease people into that cultural experience,” she said. “People can be outdoors, they can have distance from each other and they can still enjoy a cultural experience without feeling crammed in, like a festival for example.”
Ben Torrie, director of programming and creative projects agreed it was exciting to see Restless Worlds kick off in Aberdeen, especially in cultural venues which are such an important part of the make-up of the city.
“It’s such an interesting project and there are some incredible artists who have made pieces for it. With arts venues still closed it’s fantastic to have a creative experience,” said Ben, adding the event will shine a light on the city’s cultural centres.
“The fact it is taking place across the city centre at a time when things are starting to open again and people are getting out is just fantastic.”
Providing a sense of wonder
The animated art has been created by leading sculptors, animators, puppeteers, photographers and film makers on the theme of Boccaccio’s 1353 novel The Decameron, about 10 strangers sheltering from the plague and telling each other stories.
Dawn said: “It’s an escapist book. It’s about everything that makes us human and brings us joy. We just wanted to provide that escapism, that sense of wonder for people again.
“As they walk around, each moving artwork will draw them into a different world, a little bit of escapism for three minutes, and to experience something different.”
“Also, because its outdoors and now the restrictions have changed, it’s a really great way to meet up with a friend or a family member you haven’t seen for a while and come together to do the walk as an experience together.”
Ben said it will be a chance for people to experience something new during the Restless Worlds, which will end on May 16.
“Certainly it’s not something I’ve seen before, with sculptures that move, the soundscape that goes with them, something experienced by audiences outdoors, with the pieces indoors,” he said.
“It’s about people reconnecting with the city centre again having potentially spent very little time in it over the past year. Hopefully it’s just a welcome moment of something creative.”
High hopes for strong demand in Aberdeen
Restless Worlds has had a run in Edinburgh before arriving in Aberdeen and will move on to Glasgow after that.
Dawn said there had been incredible demand for the trail in the Capital and she hopes that will be repeated in the Granite City.
“There has been a really promising early flurry. But we found in Edinburgh it really built as time went on. Clearly, word of mouth was spreading and people could see the work and find out more. Hopefully, with a full 10 days there, we will see that same effect in Aberdeen.”
Buying a ticket for the trail will allow people to download a map and listen to a soundtrack or narrative that goes with each piece. Dawn said that would give the full experience of Restless Worlds.
She said: “They have been designed as these holistic works that really come to life when you can hear the soundscape or watch the VSL file that goes with them. Some of them have stories that are narrative based, some of them are more an immersive soundscape. So we really do hope people will buy tickets and listen to the soundscape – but equally fine just to pop down for a look.”
To buy tickets visit manipulatefestival.org