In normal times my working day ends with me standing on a windswept corner across from the fish houses at the back of Union Square, waiting to be picked up by my other half.
Car-pooling is our little contribution to saving the planet, but it does come with its downsides – such as on the nights when one or other of us is running late.
It means I have spent some evenings just cooling my jets surrounded by a sea of concrete, particularly the bleak back wall of the shopping mall.
Now, though, magic has been worked and instead of staring at a grey vista of nothingness, I have a rather dazzling piece of art to enjoy – a sprawl of imagination across a vast canvas.
I love the flow of the piece, the detail of it, the way it draws you in and each time you look at it, you find more to enjoy
This is the handiwork of KMG – Aberdeen’s own acclaimed street artist, one Katie Guthrie – with her character Ken taking centre stage. I love the flow of the piece, the detail of it, the way it draws you in, and each time you look at it, you find more to enjoy.
Katie’s was the first mural to go up to signify the welcome return of Nuart, as the festival once again establishes its credentials as not just a world-beating arts event, but a truly transformational force for the city.
Even as you read this, another artist is busy changing forever the look of the Students Unite building on Spring Gardens, as Henrik Uldalen wields his spray can with skill and care to create another masterpiece.
Aberdeen is waking up from the pandemic nightmare
This year’s Nuart – staged by Aberdeen Inspired – is a different affair to previous ones. Returning after last year’s disappointing pandemic postponement, it is operating under Covid restrictions. Spread over several weekends rather than one glorious frantic week, it doesn’t have the big set-piece, crowd-drawing events to create that festival atmosphere.
Good things come to those who wait and we’ve waited long enough for public art to burst back into life
But that doesn’t make this Nuart any less important than those which have gone before. Far from it.
If anything, Nuart 2021 is one of the most important iterations of the festival yet. It is a tangible sign – writ large in glorious artworks – that Aberdeen is waking up from the pandemic nightmare.
Life is returning to the city with art and culture leading the way, as it should.
Nuart this year might be a slow burn, but that’s just fine
Nuart already has a lasting legacy for the Granite City. Everywhere you look there is a piece of art, from the little power boxes transformed into miniature multi-storeys to the huge, sprawling pieces that bookend the Green.
These touches, large and small, show that people in this city care about how it looks and feels, they want it to be vibrant, thought-provoking, fun and attractive. Nuart 2021 will add to that.
It is a reminder that Aberdeen doesn’t need to claim to be a city of culture. It simply is.
So, Nuart this year might be a slow burn, but that’s just fine. Good things come to those who wait and we’ve waited long enough for public art to burst back into life and Aberdeen’s thriving arts and culture sector with it.
Now let’s seek it out and celebrate it.
Scott Begbie is entertainment editor for The Press & Journal and Evening Express