We couldn’t have chosen a better event to open Javi’s Journals, the brand new AIYF blog, than the opportunity to review Spectra, Aberdeen’s Festival of Light, one of the most interesting, participative, and interactive celebrations of the year in the Granite City. A great festival to transform our city into an open-air exhibition.
A fantastic opportunity to prove that Aberdeen is the perfect city to visit and to live if you want a place that feels homely, where Scottish tradition not only thrives but it’s an important part of the spirit. A place where, as a cosmopolitan city and a meeting point for thousands of people from every background, you can also enjoy a vibrant cultural life, where it is always possible to discover new exciting events and activities for every person, interest, and taste.
Les Araignées. Photo: Spectra.
Thus, during the evenings between 9 – 12 February, and despite the arctic temperatures that would feel more natural for polar bears than for humans, our city centre became full, vibrant and alive, in a sort of pilgrimage throughout the different locations of the festival. Here, pedestrians could find some of Aberdeen’s finest traditional monuments mixed up with avant-garde artworks from all over the world that turned the city into something new, something dark and light, bizarre and always surprising.
The people who decided to go join this adventure could, for instance, walk through a creepy graveyard mysteriously taken over by dozens of shining giant spiders (Les Araignées, by Groupe LAPS) dancing under some sinister organ notes.
Another of the most impressive pieces, due to its originality and complexity, was Felix’s Machines (by Felix Thorn), an automated percussive orchestra playing on its own new tunes created for the occasion in St Nicholas Kirk. Here, lights, music, and the church melted in a perfect symphony of sensations.
The Cloud. Photo: Spectra.
The Union Terrace Gardens hosted the highest number of artworks, where, for example, the 6,000 bulbs that formed the Cloud (by Caitlind Brown and Wayne Garrett) attracted the attention of children and adults, who could interact and modify the piece by turning lights on and off.
A bit further, the Doric Smoorach (Doric Kiss, by Impossible), offered the audience the possibility to observe their own faces as giant projections that recited Doric poetry in front of everyone.
Obar Dheathain. Photo: Sandra Andrew.
However, the jewel of the crown was with no doubt the astonishing audio-visual show at Marischal College, named Obar Dheathain (by Double Take Projections), where historical and religious motifs projected on the façade of this symbolic building, accompanied by an epic musical score and the low temperatures, created a surrounding atmosphere where the spellbound audience could just observe and feel the evolution of this ancient city across the centuries.
With this first post, Javi’s Journals wants to show its intentions and to say Aberdeen is not just an economic centre, a place to miss out during your trip through Scotland, as there is much behind the surface if you look for it. You will find a treasure chest full of good and active people who want to make a great place out of Aberdeen, great artists, promoters, and audience to make the city alive and liveable, awake and dynamic. And through this blog, we’ll do our best to support and help everyone in this city that makes Aberdeen a better place to live and visit.
Javi’s Journals blog is written by Javier Buron, working as a volunteer at Aberdeen International Youth Festival from February 2017.
Javier moved to Aberdeen in 2015 to complete his studies with the MSc Corporate Communication and Public Affairs at Robert Gordon University, after his BA Journalism in Valladolid, Spain. He has worked as a guitarist for six years and as a journalist for several media in Spain before coming to Aberdeen to study.