City school pupils – including young Ukraine and Afghan refugees – to work with acclaimed UK street artist on “inspiring and empowering” new mural for Nuart Aberdeen. Their finished work – a collage using photos of abandoned and derelict buildings taken by Aida both in Aberdeen and her native London as a starting point – will form a mural on the Crooked Lane wall for Nuart Aberdeen 2023, which will run from Thursday June 8 to Sunday June 12.
One of Britain’s most acclaimed street artists will be working with students from three Aberdeen secondary schools – including young refugees who have fled war-torn Afghanistan and Ukraine – to create a stunning mural for Nuart Aberdeen 2023.
Aida Wilde hopes her “largest collaboration ever” with 90 young people from St Machar, Dyce and Northfield Academies will inspire and empower the young people to explore their own creativity and identity while transforming a wall on the city’s Crooked Lane into a thought-provoking work of art.
“I really hope that they feel like that what they have to say and create does matter and can make a difference however big or small it may be,” said the London-based, Iranian-born artist, educator and social commentator. “Collaboration is such an important part of my public/outdoor works and none of this could be realised without their participation. I can’t wait to see what we create.
Aida will hold “energetic and fun” workshops on a theme of Rewilding with pupils at all three schools, which will include Ukrainian refugees at Dyce Academy and Afghan refugees at St Machar.
“I think it’s really important to find out how these children are integrating into Aberdeen into our society, how they are feeling and what’s making them belong,” said Aida, who was herself a refugee when her family fled the Iran/Iraq war in the 80s.
The artist said she was also particularly excited about working with pupils from Northfield Academy to get their take on how they can Rewild Aberdeen as part of this ambitious street art project.
“My work is all about inspiring, empowering, and giving people the tools to explore their own creativity and outlets. When this project was suggested, I thought it was perfect. Hopefully I can go in, inject some energy for these schools and everyone who takes part and give them a little boost.”
Their finished work – a collage using photos of abandoned and derelict buildings taken by Aida both in Aberdeen and her native London as a starting point – will form a mural on the Crooked Lane wall for Nuart Aberdeen 2023, which will run from Thursday June 8 to Sunday June 12.
“This is going to be their art, so I hope they feel proud, I hope some of them might continue to carry on making work in that ilk and know that anything is possible. And I hope they have a sense of achievement and belonging. Aida said her concept is based on the broken window theory that vandalism and graffiti attracts crime, but ‘mashed up’ with the Romantic poets taking inspiration from nature – including Aberdeen’s own Lord Byron.
“The broken window theory says if you have graffiti it will attract crime, but we are doing the opposite. We are actually rewilding with street art and graffiti so as not to attract crime,” she said.
It was inspired by her previous visit to Nuart in 2017 when she placed a collage of a hybrid leopard-tiger on a boarded up and disused building in the city centre.
“That’s when I started thinking about how art can start taking over derelict, hidden areas and almost rewild it with art,” said Aida, who was recently in Aberdeen to take photos of boarded up and derelict buildings to form part of the collage on the “already gritty” wall at Crooked Lane.
The collaboration between such an acclaimed artist as Aida and local school pupils has been hailed by Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, as an exciting project which embodies the ideals of Nuart Aberdeen. “We talk often about the transformational power of Nuart Aberdeen but that goes beyond the stunning legacy of artwork which the festival leaves for the people of the north-east every year,” he said.
“It can also transform people and give them new experiences and new ways of exploring their own creativity and their sense of identity and belonging. I hope all the young people who work with Aida discover a passion for art and what it can achieve for them and the communities they live in.”
“It would be wonderful if these sessions and this artwork inspire some of them to go on and become the next generation of artists who do so much to enrich lives and make communities feel vibrant and connected.”
Nuart Aberdeen, now widely seen as the best street art festival of its kind in the world, has become a major tourist attracting, bringing tens of thousands of visitors and locals into the city centre It is a not-for-profit event supported by partners Aberdeen Inspired and Aberdeen City Council, delivered by Reed Projects.
Aberdeen City Council Education Convener Councillor Martin Greig he was delighted to see the three academies working with Aida on the Crooked Lane project.
He said: “This collaboration is an important example of working with local communities. The involvement of young people with Nuart artists is a welcome opportunity to share skills and experience.