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Spectra Festival: Aberdeen to Enjoy Spectacular New Artworks

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New work is set to take centre stage in amongst a packed Spectra programme as Aberdeen audiences will be the first to enjoy some of the spectacular new artworks, each drawing inspiration from the city in different ways, that have been specially commissioned for this year’s festival.

Projection art specialists Illuminos return to the festival to transform two of the city’s iconic architectural landmarks with new works that celebrate the natural world around the Granite City.  

On His Majesty’s Theatre visitors will be able to enjoy The Waxwing Wanes, a striking fusion of light and musicthat celebrates one of Aberdeen’s most unique claims to fame. The city is considered the ‘Waxwing Capital’ of the UK for its consistent year-on-year sightings of the visiting Scandinavian bird; the work, developed in response to a new composition by Ailie Robertson, one of Scotland’s leading traditional musicians and Celtic harpists, will offer a visually spectacular musing on our changing climate.

The Waxwing Wane

As audiences see the moon wax and wane the waxwings continue their migrations to and from Aberdeen, joined by sanderling, redshank, and fieldfare. Their world is shifting beneath their wings – water flows, ice rises and diminishes, mountains creak, and a granite city stands firm.

And following the success of Six Frames, their celebrated work at Marischal College’s façade as part of Spectra 2022, Illuminos return to the site this year with another stunning artwork: Nøkken.

Drawing inspiration from the shared folklore of Scotland and the Nordic countries, Nøkken summons up a gargantuan, shape-shifting monster from the inky depths for a mischievous, musical projection. Originally a malevolent freshwater spirit from Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish folklore, Nøkkennow emerges in Aberdeen to lure visitors into his underwater kingdom with dramatic transformations and striking movement.

Limbic Cinema’s spectacular visiting artwork Circa is a light sculpture exploring our circadian rhythms and built around seasonal light levels, with each of the twelve light fixtures representing the average lightfall over one month of the year in Aberdeen. The result is a three-dimensional clock reflecting the light and dark cycles of the city set to a stunning sound design by Joe Acheson of Hidden Orchestra.

Meanwhile, local young people have helped to shape a new animated work at the Union Terrace Gardens archways. Inspired by the festival’s theme of ‘Home’ and a workshop with local students, leading visual artist and animator Vincent James has created Home Fronts, a combination of drawing, collage and stop-motion animation featuring ordinary household items in extraordinary circumstances.

New live performance also features at the festival, as local favourites Fusion Youth Dance Company premiere a new piece of outdoor performance in Marischal College Quad. Choreographed by leading Scottish dance artist Steven Martin, the piece will offer a live response to the eye-catching Fantastic Planet installation that will transform the area during the festival.

Fusion Youth Dance Company

Also in Union Terrace Gardens Spectra’s resident storyteller Pauline Cordiner, alongside Lindsey Gibb, who will host Storytelling in a warm and welcoming space – with storytelling for all ages in English, Scots, and Doric. There will be tales old and new, from Aberdeen and beyond, inspiring visitors to think about the comforts of home, wherever it may be.

Councillor Martin Greig, culture spokesperson for Aberdeen City Council, said: “The Spectra festival this year is set to be a thrilling event with many thousands of visitors enjoying the spectacle of our city shining brightly. For Aberdeen City Council, Spectra and our other fantastic events, are an important way to showcase the best of our city – our people, art, hospitality and heritage. Our world class light festival has given pleasure to many people from near and far. It is an excellent way to add life and colour to the city centre bringing people together for fun and enjoyment. You can really begin to see the city we love in a whole new light.”

Spectra is owned and commissioned by Aberdeen City Council and produced by Curated Place.

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