We were fortunate to have been invited to participate in the very first edition of Nuart Aberdeen back in the quaint days of 2017. We had a blast, and in the process fell in love with this city made of granite. The locals and our hosts made certain that we had all we needed to do our job and to enjoy the festival, the city, and of course its people. With a theme of reconnection, the new iteration of the festival last month brought fresh murals to city walls, perhaps revitalizing people’s connection to the built environment in a new way.
A franchising, of sorts, of the original Norwegian Nuart festival and its originators, this offshoot festival was so successful that year that city officials here funded another few editions. The events that engage the community feature live painting, a speaker program, walking tours, a pub fight/debate, and children’s art programming. All told it’s a warm example of street art culture mainstreaming itself right into the daily fabric of this prosperous Scottish city often called the “Oil Capital of Europe”
Photographer Martha Cooper was invited to participate in Nuart’s newest event and she shares with us and our readers her documentation of the 11 artists’ artworks on the streets of Aberdeen.
Martha tells us that this “I Will Pay Taxes” mural is painted on a building whose owner didn’t pay his taxes. It was controversial but in the end, the organizers of the festival prevailed to keep the wall up without alterations or censorship.
“We are committed to improving our town centre and art and culture has a big part to play in its future,” says Leader of Basildon Council Councillor Andrew Baggott. “We are also committed to climate change and are working towards a carbon net-zero borough by 2050.”
With a new street art initiative called Our Towns, curators Doug Gillen and Charlotte Pyatt are tying together environmental and social concerns with new large-scale murals here in the Essex, UK town.
Partnering artists with the local schools, university, market and community organizations, Gillen and Pyatt have been introducing new public artworks all summer by international artists like Arches (Ireland), Franco ‘JAZ’ Fasoli (Argentina/Italy), and Marina Capdevila (Spain), as well as homegrown UK talents including Erin Holly, Gabriel Pitcher, INSA, Michele Curtis, and Helen Bur.
While some on the roster are known for their street art and others have backgrounds in more formal studio practice, collectively perhaps their works are softening some of the brutalist edges of this town of just over 100,000 residents.
Owing its name to an idea of challenging ourselves to see art and public space in original and meaningful ways that affect positive change, the Re:Framed project is steered by two pros in street art cultural production and analysis. “We are dedicated to developing new and innovative strategies to reposition the role of culture in social and environmental conversations,” says a joint statement by the curators.
“The Our Towns: Climate project will be our most ambitious to date, the legacy for which will see Basildon join the growing number of cities and towns across the world adopting the Global Goals.”
Giving their partnership the moniker Re:FRAMED, Pyatt and Gillen have worked in production, strategy, consultancy and documentation with art on the streets for approximately the last decade and plan to coalesce artists and organizations around social and environmental themes going forward. With high-quality artists and artworks like these, you can look forward to the two reframing both contexts and conversations in public space in their future.
Our Towns Location Basildon, UK
Local assistants with whom this production would not have been possible without;
Ben Stewart | @fusion_walls Louis Cutts | @l.a.cutts.design Scotty Brave | @bravearts Annie | @lettersbetogether Yuki Aruga | @yuki.aruga