When the Nuart Festival made landfall in Aberdeen in 2017 from the Norwegian city of Stavanger, it was with only a handful of rules to follow: the new artworks need to bring colour to the Granite City, and the theme of the mural and street-art has to be site-specific. It doesn’t really matter where the artists come from – the more the merrier, and variety is indeed the spice of life – as long as their art can be immediately recognised as part of the environment by whoever catches sight of them. The Glaswegian duo Conzo & Globel definitely did their homework, because anyone who spent more than a few minutes in Aberdeen will agree on one thing: the most Aberdonian experience of all is fighting over your warm, crispy, salt-and-vinegary chips and miserably losing by the hand (and wings and beak) of a Seagull, the most ruthless of God’s creations.
It is impossible to miss this mural: it’s close to Union Street, just on the corner between Willowbank Road and Holburn Street and, most of all, it is of massive proportions, occupying the entire side of the house it is painted on; in addition, the colours are so bright they stand out even in the typical gloomy Aberdonian weather. The graphic designer Ciaran Glöbel is here in his element, for the piece is nothing but an advertisement for an “actual size!” seagull toy, with blood-shot eyes and holding a mace in its wing: the half-opened box proudly announces that inside it there is a “made in Aberdeen” “Super Scurry – seagull action figure”, of course, the chips are “not included” – that is the viewer’s contribution. A collector’s item, then, produced by Conzo & Glöbel and ready to be sold to the public for just £20.18. As an advertisement it is very old school, and resembles those vintage tin boxes full of cookies and wonders: the background is of a lovely shade of pastel-blue, and the foreground is dominated by the red and yellow block-lettering and comicbook-looking action figure.
Such format is not unusual for the Glaswegian duo, whose ouvre is constellated by advertisement-like works, and this one certainly succeeded in the Nuart intent of connecting art, street-art, and people: art is, to this day, often seen as something for the elites, street art is immediately connected to tags and quick sketches on walls which do not leave the general public particularly impressed; Nuart in general and this mural in particular manage to create a link between the city, its people, and a kind of art which is enjoyable, immediately available and understandable for everyone.
photograph: Velia Cavallini 2018