In all the dizzying array of dazzling masterpieces being created by Nuart Aberdeen this week, there’s one bunch of artists to keep an eye on.
That will be the fantastic foursome visiting from Estonia to work their magic at The Print Room on Union Street – with some murals on surrounding streets to boot.
But it’s not just the artistic skills of the team from the Stencibility street art festival you need to check out. It’s the town they are from.
Tartu, you see, will become the European Capital of Culture for 2024. That’s a pretty prestigious title the university city has claimed off the back of its groundbreaking artistic credentials, driven in part by Stencibility.
Makes you think, doesn’t it? If Tartu can become a recognised city of culture, why not, ahem, Aberdeen?
It’s an idea that was floated last week by David McCracken of Peacock and the Worm, the Aberdeen arts organisation partnering with Stencibility for their visit.
He, rightly, points out that Tartu could be an “exemplar model” for the Granite City on the quest to seek out similar accolades.
Not the European Capital of Culture prize, though. It’s only open to places in the EU. Yet another example of Brexit being the gift that keeps on giving.
But other titles are available, like the UK City of Culture, say.
What’s that? Been there, done that, didn’t even get a T-shirt.
It is now 10 years since Aberdeen’s attempt to be UK City of Culture 2017 faltered, barely before it got out of the starting gate.
At the time, the judges harshly said the city’s bid lacked a “coherent vision” and a “wow factor”. They put the boot in a bit more, describing artistic and cultural expertise in the city as “limited”. Ouch.
But that was then, this is now.
Back in 2013, we didn’t have Nuart. We didn’t have Spectra. We didn’t have an award-winning, revamped Aberdeen Art Gallery, we didn’t have a spectacularly refurbished Music Hall, we didn’t have a reimagined Union Terrace Gardens. P&J Live, anyone?
Wow factor? Got that in spades. Limited artistic and cultural expertise? Check out the list above.
Coherent vision? The boundless energy and enthusiasm in our massively talented cultural sector isn’t happening by accident.
And, since we’re talking about vision, isn’t it time to add UK City of Culture to the growing list of achievements Aberdeen should be shouting from the rooftops about?
It would be an outstanding legacy to see Aberdeen officially recognised for what it has become – the UK’s City of Culture
Mr McCracken highlights that ambitious projects are led by individuals, and Aberdeen has a rich plethora of world-class talent – artists, filmmakers, musicians – both here in the city and out in the wider world. Enough of them to do something remarkable.
Something like what Tartu and its artistic community has achieved, putting their city on the world map and now touring Europe to spread the word about who they are, what they do and what Tartu offers.
Much is made of the wonderful legacy that Nuart Aberdeen leaves for the city and its people. But it would be an outstanding legacy to see Aberdeen officially recognised for what it has become – the UK’s City of Culture.
Reopen railways where they’re wanted
Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t Holyrood been hectoring us for years to give up our cars and use public transport instead? More so now that the Greens are in bed with the SNP and seem to have the whip hand when it comes to making policy.
So, how come Cove and Newtonhill haven’t made it to the list of rail stations to be reopened in Holyrood’s investment programme?
I mean, Inverness just got another station, they’re building new ones in East Lothian and Fife – and its not that long since the Borders got its own line.
But the good folks of Cove and Newtonhill are still stuck with using their cars or taking the bus as opposed to stepping on a train.
Now, I know how lucky I am to live in a town that has access to the rail network. An eight-minute walk from my house can see me get on a train in Stonehaven and whisked away to anywhere in the country, from Inverness to London – and further afield, if the fancy takes me.
But the main advantage is a 15-minute hurl into town and home without having to negotiate the A92 or find expensive parking in Aberdeen. It’s easy-peasy, and means one less car on the road.
Doesn’t it make sense to let Cove and Newtonhill folks have the same benefits? They are clamouring for it, after all.
Time to get the reopening of these stations fast-tracked.
Scott Begbie is a former journalist and editor for The Press & Journal and Evening Express