I’ll be honest. Prior to visiting, not much would have popped into my mind if you’d asked about Aberdeen. My assumption would have been that it’s a quiet, cute little Scottish city. I knew it had a famous university. But that’s about it. A wicked street art scene would definitely not have been on my radar.
And yet, here we are….
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A little about the street art scene in Aberdeen
The Nuart street art festival takes place every April, with all manner of internationally-recognized street artists coming to town to contribute. From what I’ve read, this is something that started in Stavanger, Norway, and somehow has migrated over to Aberdeen as well (I know, not terribly logical). You can learn more about festival here.
I couldn’t possibly see (or speak to here) ALL of the amazing art, but below I’ve given you pics of many of the different installments I stumbled across. These were truly accidental street art sightings as I walked through town to see other things—I didn’t even look for it, it’s just out there everywhere!
First off, this guy was hands-down my favorite. RAWR!
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This gorgeous leopard (the symbol of Aberdeen) was the very first piece I ran into, not even a two-minute walk from my hotel (the lovely Sandman Signature!). Norwegian artist Hama Woods uses a lot of layering, and the combination of crazy black and white detail on the leopard with the vibrant geometric color is just stunning!
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You can get a sense of how massive he is here. Personally, if I had to pick one piece of street art in Aberdeen to see, it would be this one.
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However, you don’t have to choose, because right across from our leopard friend on Crooked Lane are these cool black and white and blue boats on Harriet Street.
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This is the cold (in June!), rainy gloom that Aberdeen greeted me with. But I went out in search of dinner and street art discoveries.
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I don’t remember for sure where I found this delightful small piece of art with the little workmen, but it’s so fun! I think they’re on Crooked Lane near the leopard. And the bright colors of those donuts (which are right near the creepy girl by Cafe 52) were some of my faves as well.
What creepy girl, you ask??
This creepy girl. She’s another of the most well-known pieces of street art, from German duo Herakut at the 2017 Nuart festival. It’s located in The Green, right in the heart of old Aberdeen. It happened to be my view from dinner (at the lovely Cafe 52!) on my first night in the city.
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If you look the opposite direction from the creepy girl, you’ll see this dude, who makes me laugh every single time (courtesy of Glasgow artist SMUG). I mean, dude loves his dog—haterz come at him! It’s absolutely massive though, and the detail is crazy.
Ahhhh, more rain…
One place that had several pieces I enjoyed was Union Terrace Gardens, a pretty little park right near my hotel and right in the middle of old Aberdeen.
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Union Terrace can be great for a little walk or run, and also to get a nice survey of some locally-done murals. These were a few of my faves (I, too, love shoes so I feel ya, buddy).
Google Maps took me on a detour through St. Nicholas Kirkyard and I happened upon this mosaic-covered tree stump. At the time I just thought “oh, cheesy Scottish people” 🙂 And come to find out, it was actually part of the Nuart festival, by French artist Ememem!
Later, as I headed toward Marischal College, I stumbled upon these two beautiful ladies on St. Andrew Street, by UK artist Hush.
Marischal, while not street art, definitely is ART! And this statue of Robert the Bruce is pretty awesome (same for William Wallace a little further down).
And lastly, I’m not sure if these birds were part of Nuart or why they’re here, but in my mind they certainly qualify as street art…on a blue-skied day they made me so happy!
And what’s crazy is that the different pieces I’ve shown you here are just the TIP of the iceberg when it comes to Aberdeen’s street art. The sheer quantity, variety, and insane talent on show here is unbelievable!
A few extra tips for your Aberdeen art explorations:
- This blog post does a great and super in-depth job at showing and providing details on a bunch of pieces that I didn’t run across. And this blog post is amazing and has a DIY tour map!
- You can join one of the free Nuart street art tours hosted by an active member of the Aberdeen public art community, if you want to do a more focused exploration. The 90-minute tours start at 1pm and 6pm on Thursdays, Saturdays and some Sundays from April through to September. See more details at the official website.
- As I mentioned above, I based myself at the Sandman Signature Hotel and it was a lovely stay from start to finish. It’s also super central for walking to most of these places.
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