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Pioneer of ‘Balloon Graff’ and home-grown artist announced as part of north-east street art festival

By David Porter

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The theme of “Re-Connect” will be explored by street artists as part of Nuart Aberdeen when it makes its long-awaited return to Aberdeen this month.

The full line-up of artists is still to be revealed but Aberdeen Inspired, the organiser has announced two more artists as part of the line up - KMG, who originates from the city, and the popular UK artist Fanakapan, who is recognised as the pioneer of ‘Balloon Graff’.

Hailing from the silver streets of Aberdeen, KMG (aka Katie Guthrie) is a Scottish-based artist who has been creating character based outdoor artwork for over a decade.

Reflecting her curious nature, her work explores and confronts themes that range from the mundane to the precarious and is often of a subversive nature.

Characters are used as a means of connecting with the public and engaging them in dialogue around ignored or overlooked issues that exist within society.

A combination of youthful enthusiasm, tempered with a healthy smattering of defiance, imbues her work with a sarcastic and raw tone, while remaining playful and often raising a comforting smile.

KMG will return to Aberdeen to create her next piece
KMG will return to Aberdeen to create her next piece

Katie is looking forward to returning to her home city and is thrilled to be kicking off the 2021 run.

“I think we all feel connected to the places we grow up in so for me, to be able to create a mural in my hometown on the same streets I first experimented with painting, it’s very exciting,” she said. “I’ve witnessed over the years how Nuart Aberdeen has not only transformed our city’s landscape, but also its spirit.

"To be invited to become a part of that story, it feels very special indeed.”

Placing her art in public places, KMG aims to encourage the passer-by to pause in a moment of reflection and connectivity.

Her work provides an avenue for communicating moments of shared vulnerability, protest or mischief.

Fanakapan, who hails from Dorset, is based in London.

He is a prolific and popular street artist known for creating hyper realistic visuals of real-life objects such as helium balloons.

His free hand, spray painting skills coupled with his use of shadow and reflective highlights meld together to create astonishing art works have which have earned him great acclaim within the urban contemporary art scene.

A self-taught artist with a background in prop making, he got into working with spray painting in the early 2000’s.

Over the years he developed into an exceptional artist and his helium foil balloon-based works have positioned the artist as the pioneer of ‘Balloon Graff’.

From a distance, the human eye might be fooled into believing Fanakapan’s work is a real object.

It’s only by moving closer and touching his creations that onlookers actually realise that his work is not a 3D creation but simply spray paint on a wall.

Fanakapan is looking forward to coming to the city and creating a piece for the people of Aberdeen. His work sometimes has a message but in the main the artist is happy for people to look at his subjects and read into it whatever they think it should stand for.

Commenting on the announcement, Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen inspired, said: “It’s a real coup to secure an artist of Fanakapan’s talent to come to the city.

"His ground-breaking artistic creations are simply astonishing, and I believe his work will literally lift the spirits of the city, its people and its visitors.

“And we are excited to be welcoming Katie back to her hometown to kick off the 2021 festival and create her first solo piece for the city where she began her involvement in the street art scene.

“Nuart Aberdeen captures the imagination of people in a special way and Katie’s success is testament to the impact Nuart Aberdeen has had on encouraging home-grown talent and inspiring future generations to explore the culture and express their creativity.

"I am sure she will receive a very warm welcome and we can’t wait to see what she creates.

Nuart Aberdeen 2021 will return as a Covid secure series of individual street art productions which will take shape on the city’s walls throughout June and July with artists producing work supported by a local production team during the extended festival period.

As a key partner, the support of Aberdeen City Council has been critical to the festival’s success, with the local authority backing the relatively unknown concept of street art in the city.

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson, said: “We are really looking forward to welcoming the artists of Nuart Aberdeen to the city.

"It’s been missed and I’m excited to see the productions take shape on our city walls.

“We are very fortunate to have this festival as part of the city’s cultural mix and it plays an important role in promoting Aberdeen as visitor destination for culture and art.

"It’s also so rewarding to learn that the first piece will be produced by a local artist who’s been inspired by festival artists to push forward with her work and gone on to craft a name for herself.

"Not only is Nuart creating a legacy in our city but it is also inspiring local artists and creatives to pursue their passions.

KMG will begin her work in the city in the coming weeks.

The extended production period, comprising of a series of individual street art productions, will help ensure the event is Covid secure.

For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/nuartaberdeen

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