See the city in a new light as the Look Again fes­ti­val re­turns to Aberdeen, writes Natasha Mckim

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - FRONT PAGE -

This week, the streets of Aberdeen turn into a gi­ant art ex­hi­bi­tion, full of vis­ual and in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibits for the pub­lic to ex­plore. The Look Again fes­ti­val of vis­ual art and de­sign re­turns for an­other year with a full pro­gramme.

Run­ning from to­day, June 14, to Sun­day June 17, the fes­ti­val in­vites you to look at your own city from the eyes of a new­comer, with a fresh per­spec­tive. Show­cas­ing both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional tal­ent, the fes­ti­val has aligned with Scot­land’s Year of Young Peo­ple, with the artists and de­sign­ers re­spond­ing with their works to the Look Again fes­ti­val’s theme of Se­ri­ous Play.

Marischal Col­lege Quad, Broad Street and Castlegate are iconic lo­ca­tions in the city cen­tre which will see live art and per­for­mances, in­ter­ac­tive work­shops and playable struc­tures dur­ing the fes­ti­val.

James Rigler is one of the ex­hibit­ing artists at the an­nual fes­ti­val of art and de­sign, which is in its fourth year. His A House in the Woods in the Marischal Col­lege Quad ex­plores some of the di­verse and con­tra­dic­tory strands of the gothic style.

“I was de­lighted to be com­mis­sioned to make a sculp­ture for such an in­cred­i­ble space. Marischal Col­lege is the sec­ond­biggest gran­ite build­ing in the world,” said James.

“It feels like re­ally ex­cit­ing times for Aberdeen, with such a fo­cus on the city’s creative in­dus­try and rich cul­tural her­itage.”

For his first year of in­volve­ment in the fes­ti­val, artist and sculp­tor James has cre­ated a gothic pavil­ion to oc­cupy the vast space of the quad in the his­toric build­ing. In it they will be giv­ing away a spe­cially cre­ated ice cream de­vel­oped by Mackie’s of Scot­land every day of the fes­ti­val at mid­day.

“It was in­spired by the ar­chi­tec­ture of Marischal Col­lege, as well as John Bet­je­man’s de­scrip­tion of the build­ing as ‘a for­est of pin­na­cles’. I treated the quad as a clear­ing in this ‘for­est’, cre­at­ing a hut that re­flects lots of dif­fer­ent strands of the gothic style.

James hopes that this work will in­spire peo­ple to use the pub­lic space of the quad and to “prompt them to look again at Aberdeen’s rich ar­chi­tec­tural her­itage”. Al­though he of­ten works in clay and stud­ied ceramics at univer­sity, James has al­ways used a va­ri­ety of me­dia in his sculp­tures and has built this project from wood, “just like a gar­den shed or beach hut”.

“I needed to work on a larger scale than ceramics per­mits, and it’s been an ex­cit­ing change for me,” said the New Zealand-born artist.

“Work­ing with wood feels lib­er­at­ing af­ter the tech­ni­cal con­straints of clay.

“I think the work will make peo­ple smile. I hope it re­minds vis­i­tors of Aberdeen’s in­cred­i­ble ar­chi­tec­ture and that art in pub­lic spa­ces can be as much about sen­sory plea­sures and as it is about in­tel­lec­tual com­plex­ity.

“Good art is gen­er­ous – it gives you new ways to look at the world. The fes­ti­val is a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity to re­mind our­selves of the amaz­ing things that Aberdeen has to of­fer. While eat­ing ice cream.”

As­so­ciate direc­tor Hi­lary Ni­coll has been work­ing with the fes­ti­val for a few years now, putting to­gether the pro­gramme along with the rest of the team. As well as sculp­tor James, graphic de­signer Su­per­mun­dane (aka Rob Lowe) joins the ex­ten­sive pro­gramme which will also see David Sherry walk through the streets as an in­con­spic­u­ous de­liv­ery man in a per­for­mance which looks to cel­e­brate and see the en­deav­ours hid­den in plain sight.

“Artist and de­sign­ers see things in a dif­fer­ent way,” said Hi­lary.

“This year’s frame­work around Se­ri­ous Play sees a lot of young peo­ple in­volved, in­clud­ing around 150 school kids.

“We have Playable Pav­il­ions and a Wee Rig with pipes you can talk down. Broad Street looks great with the Big Box which is very playable and kids can con­nect with it.

“We want the pub­lic to en­gage and there are events where you can meet the artist and see film screen­ings in the Bel­mont Film­house, which is the fes­ti­val hub.”

Part of the fes­ti­val is to show­case lo­cal artists, as well as com­mis­sion­ing oth­ers to come into the city, to cre­ate a buzz and show what the area can of­fer grad­u­ate artists in terms of op­por­tu­ni­ties to en­cour­age them not to move away.

The city will also be­come home to se­ries of weird and won­der­ful

Good art is gen­er­ous – it gives you news ways to look at the world

il­lus­trated mon­sters dur­ing the days of the fes­ti­val. Lo­cal artists Gabrielle Reith and Philip Thomp­son are cre­at­ing a spe­cial­ist pub­li­ca­tion Oor News – Oor Mon­sters which will be dis­trib­uted for free at city cen­tre lo­ca­tions dur­ing the fes­ti­val. Both alumni of Robert Gor­don Univer­sity’s (RGU) Gray’s School of Art, the mar­ried cou­ple won a Seed Fund com­mis­sion from Look Again and have cre­ated a tabloid-style news­pa­per that will fea­ture fun il­lus­tra­tions and sto­ries, pre­sented in a way to in­vite the pub­lic to en­gage with the artists and to use their own cre­ativ­ity.

Phil said: “Oor Mon­sters is a run­ning project, where each in­car­na­tion has been a new an­gle on the theme, ex­plor­ing ideas, for­mats and tech­niques of mak­ing new work.

“From print to 3D, gallery and site spe­cific, the Oor Mon­sters out­put has been a great op­por­tu­nity to play and test new ideas, with the added ben­e­fit of work­ing with like-minded and ex­cit­ing artists from around the coun­try.”

Be­fore you start ex­plor­ing the ex­cit­ing works dot­ted around the city, pop into the Bel­mont Film­house on Bel­mont Street which is the Fes­ti­val Hub. Friendly fes­ti­val as­sis­tants will be on hand to help with in­for­ma­tion and direc­tions.

Lo­cal artists Philip Thomp­son and Gabrielle Reith, who will cre­ate a spe­cial pub­li­ca­tion called Oor News – Oor Mon­sters

Look Again fes­ti­val direc­tor Sally Reaper, left, is joined by coun­cil­lor Douglas Lumsden and Karin Hay­how, from Mackie’s, to launch this year’s pro­gramme of events – with Mackie’s ice cream


Artist and sculp­tor James Rigler.

Pop-up playscapes re­in­force the theme of Se­ri­ous Play

A sketch of a dif­fer­ent take on School­hill

An ex­am­ple of the work of de­signer Su­per­mun­dane

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