Following a successful launch with its first edition in 2017, Nuart just returned to sunny Aberdeen where the four-day festival saw international, national and local artists reveal their latest artworks around the city centre. The festival was delivered by business organisation Aberdeen Inspired in partnership with Nuart Festival and Aberdeen City Council.
Nuart Aberdeen’s public opening was held at The Green last Saturday, featuring live music and performances attracting thousands of visitors to the city with engaging workshops, walking tours, screenings and talks and debates.
In parallel walls around Aberdeen city center were being transformed for the Nuart Aberdeen Festival. This year’s line up put women in the spotlight having invited talented artists painting on the streets and paying tribute to the Granite city history. The line up included Carrie Reichardt, Hyuro, Milu Correch, RH74, and Snik.
Global human rights organisation Amnesty International announced an artistic collaboration with arts festival Nuart Aberdeen and artist Carrie Reichardt. Nuart Aberdeen appointed contemporary ceramicist Carrie Reichardt to create a piece of permanent public art to highlight Amnesty International’s project in support of women human rights defenders in the UK – Suffragette Spirit.
The ceramic mural entitled ‘Suffragette Spirit’ – accompanied by two other works by Carrie Reichardt – celebrates Scotland’s woman human rights defenders, using classic revolutionary imagery and created using the suffragette colours of purple, green and white. This highly detailed work will include women nominated for Amnesty International’s Suffragette Spirit project, a part of its global BRAVE campaign, pictures and facts about the suffragettes, and images of human rights protesters.
Argentinian street artist Milu Correch has painted two murals for Nuart Aberdeen that reference North East Scotland’s witch hunts of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Drawing on one of the darker aspects of The Granite City’s rich cultural heritage, Correch depicted two witches in two separate murals in tribute to the many women who were persecuted for practicing ‘witchcraft’ (a crime that was publishable by death) under the rule of King James VI.
In 1563 the Queen’s Act against witchcraft was introduced in Scotland. The Act stated that no person should ‘use any manner of witchcraft, sorcery or necromancy, nor give themselves forth to have any such craft or knowledge thereof’. The penalty for being convicted as a witch was death. There followed two main periods of witch persecution in Scotland, the first of which was in the 1590’s and the second in the 1640’s. The late 16th-century craze was encouraged by the return journey of King James VI and his wife from Denmark when bad weather put the convoy of ships at risk. One of the King’s attendant ships was lost and it was widely believed that the high winds were caused by a number of witches assembled at North Berwick Church and in Copenhagen. Many arrests were made following rumours of a conspiracy between the witches of the two countries against the King.
Whilst James VI was in Denmark he was influenced by discussions about witchcraft and witch hunting which had already begun in that country. His power to influence had a major effect on the number of witch persecutions and in 1596 and 1597 the highest ever figures for persecutions were recorded. His views quickly permeated to the ruling classes and the clergy. James insisted that all witches, all ages, all ranks and even bairns deserved death by fire.
RH74 presented a collaborative piece with artist Nimi titled The green lady of Crathes Castle. Crathes Castle is a 16th-century castle in the Aberdeenshire region of Scotland. The castle contains a significant collection of portraits, inculding the Green Lady’s Room. The Green Lady always appears in the same room, pacing back and forth from the fireplace, sometimes cradling an infant in her arms. Queen Victoria is counted among visitors to the castle who have witnessed her, but her true identity remains shrouded in mystery.
Some say that she is an apparition of a servant girl who fell pregnant out of wedlock and fled the castle never to be seen again. But a grisly discovery allegedly unearthed while the castle was being renovated in the 1800s tells a far more sinister story. It is said that beneath the hearthstone of the fireplace workmen uncovered the skeletal remains of a woman and child.
Hyuro discussed her journey and the message behind her poetic public art works during one of the conferences open to the public during the festival.
Place, space and time are themes in the work of Argentina-born, Valencia-based artist Hyuro. Best-known for her painterly compositions that combine vernacular depictions of daily life, Hyuro’s murals serve as reflections on both individual and collective identities. In her recent works, Hyuro portrays a series of characters undergoing tasks typically associated with the role of homemaker, literally and figuratively taking the ‘inside out’ in a subtle commentary on the patriarchal and capitalistic systems of power at play in our society.
Hyuro comments: ‘The image is inspired by the union between Scotland and England, two countries that share a border and joined to form part of the United Kingdom. The Scottish people were never supporters of the union and during the first half of the eighteenth century there were uprisings, so the tension between English and Scottish takes thousands of years. The image aims to transmit the relationships of conflicts and contradictions that characterize our most complex side’.
The English duo Snik painted their artwork located near the harbour, the new mural is titled ‘hold fast hope’, a reminder that the small things in life can have a big effect on you.
As stencil artists, SNIK are traditionalists. Where others have moved on to the digital techniques, using laser cutting and computers to support their work, SNIK have remained true to the origins of their craft. They still painstakingly hand cut their complex multi-layered stencils. This commitment to the heritage of their discipline and the sophistication of their work sets them apart from their peers, their work is instantly recognisable, whether it be graced on a city wall or exhibited in a leading gallery.
SNIK’s bold aesthetic is characterized by frozen scenes of dynamic action. Their work focuses on the ordinary, such as tangled strands of hair or the folds and textures of fabrics. These subtle aspects are elevated to hint to a deeper meaning. A meaning that remains elusive, for the viewer to draw their own meaning from.
Coverage and photos by Julie