The Second Annual Nuart Aberdeen Festival Activates the Scottish Town With Installations Inspired by National and Regional Themes
It was 2002 when an international group of street art and electronic music enthusiasts organized the first Nuart Festival in Norway’s oil capital, Stavanger. The idea was to create a secondary event for their music program in order to introduce some of the most interesting artists of the underground street art movement. Keeping their concept simple yet original, the festival presented an annual platform for national and international artists who operated outside of the traditional art establishment, both indoors and outdoors, to stimulate conversation that would challenge the notions of what art is, and what it can be.
It wasn’t long before the visual part of the project continued on its own and grew into what’s now widely considered to be the world’s leading celebration of street art among its peers. It was around the 15th year of the festival when founder and director Martyn Reed and his team were approached by the city of Aberdeen, Scotland with an idea to develop a similar project in their own town. After years of rejecting similar offers, the team felt a strong connection and similarities between the two oil industry-dependent cities, and in 2017 the first edition of Nuart Aberdeen (previously) was introduced to the public.
The 2nd edition of this festival was held only a few weeks ago, and once again brought the Granite City to the spotlight of the international urban and street art scene. Nuart Aberdeen invited well-established artists who first started their careers at Nuart in Stavanger, such as Bordalo II and Ernest Zacharevic, which helped introduce a wide range and vibrancy of contemporary street art to the young festival. Working with local themes and subjects, but within their individual visual languages and mediums, the international line-up of artists produced an impressive series of public murals, installations, and interventions, which brightened up the daily routines of locals, and provided a new attraction for the festival’s visitors.
Addressing themes like the relationship between UK and Scotland (Hyuro), regional history and legends (Bordalo II, Milu Correch, Nimi & RH74, Phlegm), or referring to local specifics such as the lively seagull population (Conzo & Globel; Ernest Zacharevic or Snik), the public works covered topics that locals could easily identify with and engage. And while these pieces were being created on the streets and alleys of the Grey City, selected group of academics were discussing and presenting the past, current, and possible future state of the movement, in the presence of local and international enthusiasts, fans, and members of the creative community.
Always highlighting the activism side of public art, this year’s edition included a project with Amnesty International, presenting their project in support of women human rights defenders in the UK. For this part of the project the team joined forces with “craftivist” Carrie Reichardt who designed an elaborate ceramic mosaic that celebrates Scotland’s woman human rights defenders and the Suffragette movement. The London-based contemporary ceramicist also created “We are Witches” and “Trailblazing Women of Aberdeen,” borrowing the aesthetics of traditional stain glass windows. She also helped create a public monument to local unsung heroes which was fully designed, cut, and installed by local volunteers under the stewardship of Reichardt.
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In this meta animation, animator and director Ainslie Henderson (previously) seamlessly transforms a demonstration of his stop motion practice into a film where his miniature puppets take over. The rag tag group of figures break off from Henderson’s narrative to form a slapdash electronic band, utilizing scraps from his workbench to construct instruments from the same electric detritus used to form their own hands, faces, and feet.
“Puppet making often begins by just gathering stuff, like materials that I find attractive like wood, sticks, wire, leaves, flowers, petals, and bits of broken electronics,” says Henderson in the film. “[I use] things that have already had a life are lovely to have as puppets. And then from there you just start improvising. It’s like making music, you just see where it leads you.”
During the process of animating Henderson’s voiceover gradually fades and the viewer realizes his voice is simply a tape recording on screen, and has suddenly been repurposed as an instrument by his animated creations.
Stems has picked up numerous awards since 2016 including a BAFTA in Scotland. You can watch more of Henderson’s work on his Vimeo Channel.
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Abstract Shapes and Graffiti-Inspired Swirls Leap off the Wall in New Three-Dimensional Murals by Peeta
Italian artist Manuel de Rita a.k.a. Peeta (previously) transforms static structures by painting colorful cubes and abstracted cylindrical shapes to appear as if they are floating above the surface of the wall. This technique was derived from the traditional 3D lettering he grew up painting, and continues to evolve as he experiments with realistic objects, like the window that protrudes from the turquoise and purple work below.
“Initially, my works only realized the sculptural quality of individual letters, namely the ones that spelled out my own moniker Peeta,” he says in an artist statement. “Progressively, the fusion between traditional lettering and three dimensional style has given life to a unique kind of visual rhythm. Today, through my anamorphic works I redesign the volumes of any kind of surface involved, thus causing with my paintings a temporary interruption of normality by altering the perception of familiar contexts, and so raising a different understanding of spaces and, consequently, of reality as a whole.”
These large-scale explorations of multiple dimensions and eye-boggling optics have been painted globally, including Guangzhou, China; Barcelona, Spain; Mirano, Italy, and more. Recently the artist wrapped up an artist residency at Jardin Orange in Shenzhen, China. You can see more of Peeta’s work, including his paintings on canvas and sculptural objects, on his website and Instagram. (via Cross Connect Magazine)
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Toronto-based sculptor Gosia (previously) constructs minimally-hued porcelain busts of contemplative female forms from a variety of materials, including ceramic, polymer gypsum, resin, and most recently, porcelain. Her very first experiment with the new medium is included in her current solo exhibition, Beneath the Surface, at Paradigm Gallery in Philadelphia. The work is an imperfect cast, a mistake which Gosia details in the text below.
“Imperfect is one of those ‘happy accident’ pieces,” she explains. “My intention for it was completely different, but when it came out of the mold it had an indentation on the left side of the face… It made me think a lot about the world’s obsession (and my own) with perfection and what we might be missing because of it. It felt good to let go of control and for once let my art do its own thing.”
Other new works include Overflow, which features a female figure inside of an elongated cube. The subject’s long hair flows into the pedestal’s depths—a structure that seems to at once support and swallow the imbedded figure. Two other pieces are each titled Beneath the Surface, and were created with the combination of opaque and lucid materials. Translucent resin composes the bottom the sculptures’ faces to their nose, making it appear as if each have dipped partially underwater.
“Beneath the Surface” runs through June 16 at Paradigm Gallery. Gosia’s first European show, “The Windows of the Soul,” opened this past weekend at Dorothy Circus in London. You can see more of Gosia’s work on her website and Instagram.
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Architects Nathanael Dorent and Lily Jencks recently collaborated to build a sleek, modern home within the existing ruins of an 18th-century farmhouse. The home is built on a hill that overlooks more than 50 miles of Scotland’s pastoral fields and combines elements of both the old and new world. The structure features white, futuristic walls that wind throughout the length of its interior, which is completely powered by exterior solar panels. Although there are some updated elements, the structure still sits within the original stones of the farmhouse, and is topped by a pitched roof similar to the one that would have sheltered the old Scottish house.
While building the structure, Dorent and Jencks used their admiration of specific views seen from the farmhouse as inspiration for custom windows. One particular oval opening in the wall looks directly onto a nearby field of cows perfectly set against a backdrop of rolling hills. You can learn more about the new home and the philosophy behind its construction on Dorent’s website. (via Fubiz)
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Russian photographer Daniel Kordan is a master of photographing the cosmos. In 2016 we covered his journey to the Salar de Uyuni, where he captured millions of brilliantly hued stars reflected in the world’s largest salt flat. Recently, Kordan returned from a trip to Namibia where he mapped swirling trails of stars above the Deadvlei, a white clay pan speckled with the 900-year-old tree skeletons, and other sites across the Namib desert.
The images feature vortexes of multi-colored stars streaked across the sky like post-impressionist paintings. The Milky Way’s warm and cool tones intermix to create a kaleidoscopic vision of the sky above, and illuminate the barren desert landscape below. To capture such images yourself, Kordan suggests creating a time lapse with a wide angle lens, and utilizing an app like PhotoPills which allows you to easily predict the position of the stars.
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MyeongBeom Kim (previously) builds unique works by combining everyday objects whose purposes are often in stark contrast. The sculptures are created from recognizable pieces such as birthday cake candles, canes, and standard #2 pencils. These objects are reworked to drastically limit their inherent purpose, like the untitled sculpture below in which the Korean artist floats a helium-filled balloon inside of a bird cage. The latex bubble is unable to rise higher than the surrounding metal enclosure, and thus balances within the structure until its eventual deflation.
Kim received his BFA in Environmental Sculpture from the University of Seoul, and his MFA in Sculpture from the Art Institute of Chicago. You can see more of the artists work on his website and Instagram. (via Booooooom)
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