Banksy “coup” as street art festival secures UK premiere

Hera's artwork on the now demolished Aberdeen market. (Photo: Brian Tallman)

NUART Aberdeen will host the exclusive UK premiere of a film about a stolen Banksy artwork in a “coup” for the Granite City’s world-class street art festival. 

The documentary – “Banksy And The Stolen Girl” – will be part of the opening event of Nuart Plus, the international street art conference which is a key strand of the festival, running from June 6 to 9.

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It forms a double bill at the Lemon Tree, with much-loved Nuart Aberdeen artist Hera in a rare “in conversation” about her work around the world. 

Martyn Reed, curator of Nuart Aberdeen – brought to the city by Aberdeen Inspired in partnership with Aberdeen City Council –  expects a huge amount of interest in the “Hera X Banksy” double bill. 

“To be the first with anything to do with Banksy these days, particularly outside of huge international media and PR channels is unheard of, so in that sense it’s very much a coup,” he said.

In memory of the victims of the terrorist attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in 2015, Banksy covered a door of the building with a stencil which became known as “The Sad Girl”. The artwork was brazenly stolen in the dead of night… but who stole it and why – and will it ever be found? These are themes explored in “Banksy And The Stolen Girl”, a French documentary directed by Edoardo Anselmi.

Martyn said: “ It’s a fascinating documentary about a very special work, unlike anything I’ve seen before. There’s also been a recent development in the case, so as an added bonus, not only is it a UK premiere, it may have a new ending.

“If you’re interested in anything to do with this artist, his work, street art or true crime documentaries, then it’s probably something for you.”

Martyn said the conversation between Hera (Jasmin Siddiqi) and critic Carlo McCormick will also be very special indeed. Hera, who as part of duo Herakut, created the iconic Nuart mural on the Aberdeen Market building and this year will be working on the towering Union Point at the harbour. 

Martyn said: “She’s a fascinating character with wonderful stories and a rich history in the culture, it’s rare to secure such an up close and personal insight into her work. Carlo McCormick is a certified legend in urban art , a friend to the stars of the New York art scene such as Haring, Basquiat and many others, so this will be an event to remember.

“It’s an absolute joy and privilege to be able to work with such names and have them programmed together in this way is really unique to Aberdeen.”

Nuart Plus is the umbrella term for Nuart Aberdeen activities outside of the physical art production which will see 11 internationally acclaimed artists arriving in the Granite City to transform walls and spaces across Aberdeen.

The conference which will be held at the Cowdray Hall,  includes artist presentations, panel debates, workshops, education programmes, film screenings, plus an international research programme and peer-reviewed journal. 

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said Nuart Plus was a vital strand of the street art festival, creating a platform for some of the world’s leading street artists, academics, authors, researchers and curators to come together to explore issues around new art and activity in public spaces. 

He said: “Nuart Aberdeen now has an unrivalled reputation as one of the best street-art festivals in the world. Nuart Plus is very much part of that, establishing Aberdeen as a leading city for not just producing world-class street art, but also attracting some of the best international practitioners and experts to an unparalleled forum to exchange their ideas and visions.”

Councillor Martin Greig, culture spokesperson for Aberdeen City Council, said: “The premiere of the Banksy documentary and the conversation with Hera are just two examples of how as a city we’re growing the Nuart festival. In addition to transforming the streetscape, we’re stimulating conversations about art and its place in the cultural landscape. Nuart really does have something for everyone.”

Nuart Plus will include discussions around this year’s theme for Nuart Aberdeen, Living Heritage and Intangible Cultural Heritage.

It will also include events such as a “pub debate” at SPIN on Littlejohn  Street on Friday, June 7, on the theme “Is Street Art More Important Than The Museum” – with DJs, music and dancing to follow. 

SPIN will also host a closing party on Saturday, June 8, with a night of underground electronic music.

Also in the mix will be Inspired Nights, turning Shiprow into an al fresco hub for the festival with food, drink and entertainment, walking tours taking in the new works, plus local children taking part in Chalk Don’t Chalk, transforming Marischal Square’s Quad with a floor-based chalk mural. 

Full details of Nuart Plus can be found here.

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