Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

‘We started dream of turning old Spar into Aberdeen graffiti art shop… Now we need someone to take it over’

A new owner is needed for an Aberdeen graffiti shop recently started by an Edinburgh couple.
Kirsty Mackenzie and her partner have created a new Aberdeen graffiti shop - but now need a new pair of hands to take it on. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

The first thing that hits visitors entering Aberdeen’s new graffiti art supply shop isn’t what they might expect…

Rather than the smell of spray paint, it’s the unmistakable whiff of whisky from stacks of pungent casks that fills the air.

Serving as makeshift furniture, they are just one creative touch that owner Kirsty Mackenzie has added to the quirky recent addition to George Street.

The florist and her partner Lloyd Kilbride took over the former Spar last spring.

It had served as a grocery shop for more than 50 years before then.

There’s a huge wall of spray-paint at the back of the George Street unit, and rows of repurposed whisky casks. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

Transforming it was a labour of love that dominated months of their lives, and turned up some surprising echoes of its past.

But now, with a heavy heart, they are having to throw in the towel – as they plan a return to Edinburgh.

The pair just hope that someone else shares their vision, and that the shop can live on after they leave.

The building dates back to 1901, and was part of George Street’s heyday many years ago. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Aberdeen shop pioneered new trend in 1960s…

The 371 George Street address dates back decades, and was at the forefront of the “self-service” supermarket movement in the late 1960s.

Before this societal shift, shopkeepers would pluck items from the shelves for customers, while weighing out food and slicing just the right amount of meat.

So it was something of a novelty when people stocking up at the Northern Co-op (Norco) store there were able to grab their own goods.

This advert promoting the futuristic mode of shopping appeared in The Press and Journal in May, 1968. Image: British Newspaper Archive

Now the same building could be helping to spearhead another Aberdeen revolution – the city’s transformation into an art mecca.

‘It’s crazy there’s nothing like this here’

Kirsty, a Gray’s School of Art graduate, tells us how she and Lloyd formed the idea for their OGES Aberdeen graffiti shop.

Sitting on a whisky barrel stool, she tells us: “We just saw a big gap in the market here…

“There’s so many pieces of street art here, especially with the famous Nuart murals.

“It seems crazy there’s not many independent art supply shops like this.”

Nuno Viegas created this stunning mural at Unite Students, Gerrard Street, for Nuart Aberdeen in 2022. It’s just a short stroll from the art shop. Image: Wullie Marr/ DC Thomson.

Kirsty continues: “We are into different kinds of art, which is what spray-paint is all about really.

“And we have tried to create a really nice vibe here, while also pointing people in the direction of walls to legally practise graffiti art on.

“We were looking for a place for a wee while, and just became drawn to this shop.”

Not too far from the George Street site, there are such walls at Sunnybank Park and at the rear of the Kittybrewster Retail Park.

Have a look at the Sunnybank ‘canvas’ here: 

Graffiti slam at the park

Posted by James Love on Saturday, 10 July 2021

Turning old Spar into Aberdeen graffiti shop took a lot of work

The store was a Spar for many years, before latterly being turned into a Global Seasoning international food shop.

It was on the market for a while before Kirsty and Lloyd rented it last April.

Letting agents released this video while searching for tenants:

And so began a major DIY project…

Vinyl flooring was ripped out and the lowered ceiling was removed as part of the huge package of work.

“It’s totally different now,” Kirsty adds with a glance around the expanse.

The renovation scheme was a major task. Image: Kirsty Mackenzie
Parts of the “falling down” ceiling were ripped out to expose roof lights above. Image: Kirsty Mackenzie
The oak floor left behind in the separate room which Kirsty would like to see used a gallery. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Could shop become home to George Street gallery?

At first, they opened a separate, smaller room on its own last summer – with a small stock of plants and spray-paint.

Now, with its original oaken floor and walls returned to their former glory, Kirsty believes the space would make a great gallery.

And she even discovered an old safe containing 100-year-old receipts hidden behind one of the walls in there.

The main unit opened in late 2022.

The old safe was unearthed during work on the walls. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Aberdeen graffiti shop popularity is ‘picking up’

But the couple, who live near the beach, are now returning to Edinburgh for family reasons.

And they don’t want the momentum they’ve built up to grind to a halt.

Kirsty said: “We can see how it’s picking up, we have been getting a lot of young people in.

“And there are older artists who used to do graffiti art coming in because they want to take it up again.

“We want to open a version of this shop in Edinburgh, but we would love someone to take over this one.”

Kirsty Mackenzie in her Aberdeen graffiti shop. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

‘We have started this – and now we need somebody to continue it’

The couple had planned on selling coffee and cake from the store, before having to bring their tenure there to a close this spring.

Kirsty added: “We had such a big vision for it, as it’s such a great space…

“And Aberdeen needs an art shop.

“We have started this – and now we need somebody to continue it.

“It would be sad if we couldn’t get it taken over as an art shop, and even sadder if it goes back to lying empty.”

Could the unit be of interest to a budding north-east entrepreneur? Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson

Call comes at pivotal time for George Street

The plea comes at a crucial time for struggling George Street, with Aberdeen City Council working on a masterplan to revive the area following the closure of John Lewis.

Meanwhile, developers say a new £60 million “housing hub” on nearby John Street could have a major knock-on effect.

People can learn more about the Aberdeen graffiti shop here, and can email Kirsty here.