A Scottish Town’s Annual Competition Invites Its Youngest Artists to Design ‘Wonky’ Holiday Lights
For more than 20 years, the town of Newburgh in Fife, Scotland, has marked the holiday season with a wonderfully wonky tradition. Each autumn, young residents are invited to submit original sketches of Christmas decorations to a competition, and once a winning design is selected, Blachere Illumination transforms the work into an LED sculpture that’s then displayed throughout the town. The newest light is a salmon nicknamed “Happy Nemo” that sports a red hat, and the menagerie also features a “reinduck,” a cheerful piece of candy in a green wrapper with arms and legs, and a dinosaur with a star on its head.
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A Small Scottish Town Delegates the Annual Christmas Light Display to Its Youngest Residents
In a delightful holiday tradition, the small town of Newburgh in southern Scotland tasks its youngest residents with creating the glowing Christmas decorations that adorn the streets. Now in its 19th year, the annual event begins with school-age kids submitting their quirky designs to a competition. Once a winner is chosen, the artwork is sent to Blachere Illumination to be translated into LED before it’s unveiled at a ceremony held at Lampost 15, where the new work is hung each year. The winning artist gets the honor of turning on the light, illuminating their crooked gingerbread figure or beaming reindeer for the 2,000-plus residents to enjoy. In a similarly charming practice, the runner-up’s art is featured on the town’s Christmas card. (via It’s Nice That)
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Vibrant New Scottish Currency Illustrated with Influential Women and Abundant Wildlife
During the last four years, the Royal Bank of Scotland launched a democratic project to capture what one collaborator termed “the more ordinary aspects of Scottish identity including otters, midges, mackerel and tweed.” The result is Fabric of Nature, a series of recently released banknotes that feature illustrated wildlife and portraits of some of Scotland’s most influential women. This week, the third installment of the project was released, presenting a new £20 note featuring a pair of bushy-tailed red squirrels.
Author and poet Nan Shepherd is featured on the £5, scientist Mary Somerville is on the £10, and tearoom businesswoman and artist patron Kate Cranston is profiled on the £20. When held up to a UV light, each polymer bill reveals a glowing image of the wildlife, in addition to an English version of Gaelic poetry from Sorley Maclean, Norman MacCaig, and Mark Alexander Boyd that’s visible in daylight. The quotes are scribed by calligrapher Susie Leiper.
A Scottish design studio, Nile, spearheaded the project, with assistance from O Street, Timorous Beasties, Graven, and Stuco. “From the typography to the featured animals, to the bespoke textile backgrounds, every element of every note has a meaning connected with the people of Scotland. The notes are a cultural capture of what is important, and heart felt for us Scots,” a statement from Nile says.
The Scottish redesign is part of a larger movement worldwide to create currency that better captures diversity. In the United States, however, the treasury stalled on releasing a $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman in 2019, saying the updated design would be released instead in 2026.
For a more in-depth look at the collaborative design process for Fabric of Nature, check out the videos Nile’s site. (via It’s Nice That)
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Searing Bands of White Light Mark the Ocean’s Rising Tides in a Coastal Community
A chilling new installation in the Outer Hebrides shows the impact of climate change and rising tides on the low-lying islands off the west coast of Scotland. Lines (57° 59 ́N, 7° 16 ́W) was created by Finnish artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho for Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre in Lochmaddy on the island of North Uist. The site-specific installation uses sensors and LED lights to show where the water will flow during storm surges if the Earth’s temperature continues to rise. Searing white lines mark this rising water level on the sides of buildings, hover over bridges, and extend across other susceptible areas across the museum campus and surrounding community.
The installation’s delineations starkly demonstrate the ticking clock that makes the museum’s current location unsustainable unless drastic measures are taken to stop climate change. The video below shows the artists’ installation process. You can see more from Niittyvirta and Aho on their websites. (via designboom)
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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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A Modern Solar-Powered Home Built Within the Ruins of an 18th-Century Farmhouse
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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