This was my second year at Nuart, a festival of street art and graffiti, where once a year for a week the streets come alive with spray cans and scissor lifts as artists from around the world meet to make their mark. This has been happening for 15 years now and many of the large murals remain from past years turning the city into a museum and boasting an impressive list of past participants. The week finishes with the opening of an exhibition and a party held in Tou Scene an old disused brewery.Last year I was invited by Dotmasters to help with production as they have quite an enormous task and not much time and could do with my experienced hands building things and rigging lighting. The Norwegian hospitality is first class so I arrived, with not much sleep and a bag of tools to get stuck in with Nuart 2014.
I made hints about how it would be good to come and paint at the festival for 2015, I was told I had to have a pretty stirling year for that to happen, which was fair enough comment but I was planning to have a good year – I always do! As it happened 2014 would see my artistic input to Nuart. There had been a conversation about building Borondo a little house for him to paint the glass of the windows as part of his installation. So Dotmasters and Martin Reed asked me to build a little wonky house from bits of wood that had been salvaged. A fantastic task to be handed, so my assistant, Epifany and I started creatively constructing the framework whilst volunteers drove around the city on the hunt through skips for bits of timber cladding from old houses. We built the structure, fitted the windows and clad the walls, we just needed something for the roof. Einar found, in an unused room of the brewery corrugated iron that had once formed the roof and had been rusting for years, stained brown and green it was absolutely perfect. We finished it off with details found on the local houses that was salvaged from the streets.
The house was finished and it looked fantastic the only problem was when the artist saw it he really did not like it as the house would detract too much from his own work. This caused problems among the curators who asked some of the other artists if they would put their mark on the house, however they all declined, and complemented the house; saying the house was strong enough as it was and would not benefit from something else. If only Banksy made it said Martin. And he is right if Banksy made it we could sell it for a fortune. But unfortunately Banksy didn’t make it, Liam and Epifany did.
We had in hand the stencil alphabet of John Fekner, who unfortunately was not at the festival as he had broken his leg, he was happy to be associated with our work and his letters would be a perfect addition to the piece. Using his stencils we fittingly painted DECAY on the wall next to the house, referencing urban decay, the the divide in privilege, the opportunities that arise out of it for artists and the gentrification that follows. Something echoed in the story of Tou Scene where Nuart holds its exhibition. Then using set painting techniques painted the house and dirtied it up as a final touch and since it was a late addition and not properly curated my name was name would not appear in any of the press or literature so I subtly drew my tag on the side of the house for good measure.
So I squeezed my way into Nuart 2014 lets hope I get invited back for some more creative input next time – but I have to have a stirling year!