Friday, 19 February 2016

SPECTRA: The festival of light

Last week saw the city of Aberdeen transform into a stunning array of lighting exhibitions, showcasing some incredibly talented artists and our beautiful city in a completely new light. With the launch evening of SPECTRA, Aberdeen's very own festival of light, welcoming over 4,000 visitors on its opening night, it was clear the city had welcomed this innovatively mesmerising showcase with open arms.

With over 20 exhibitions, the city centre came to life, brightening up some of Aberdeen's well-known landmarks including Marischal College, Union Terrace Gardens (UTG), and St Nicholas Kirk. The enchanting set-up, which was jointly organised by Aberdeen City Council, and arts production company, Curated Place, took place from 11 - 14 February. The festival, which is in its second year, has grown exceptionally in size, boasting three new exhibition spaces out-with UTG.

So, on a cold and frosty February evening last week, we decided to meander down to see what all the fuss was about...

To begin, we ventured around Union Terrace Gardens due to the fact that we arrived too late to experience the Seventeen exhibition on Belmont Street - apologies folks. Not to fret, the talent and precision of design, and utilising different crafting techniques was in abundance in the gardens. Not somewhere one would usually be found galavanting around on a dark, cold winter's evening, I seemed to completely forget that I was in Aberdeen. With rainbow tributes, to fire breathing sculptures, to the impressive 'The Pool' installation, which compromised of  40,000 LED lights and computerised pads created by renowned light and interactive sculptor, Jen Lewin, SPECTRA was glowing.
After indulging in the dazzling displays in UTG, we wondered down to St Nicholas Kirk, somewhere I must admit, I've never visited. With an eerie, ghoulish, yet playful atmosphere, the Kirk and the graveyard were transformed into a playground of soul-searching lighting exhibitions. One of my favourite exhibitions was the skipping rope lighting installation. Reminding me of the creation of the Frankenstein monster/a science project gone wrong, I was sure the creature himself would appear during this electrifying performance. Alas, no Frankenstein, only a beautiful feature which I took great pleasure in filming in slow motion (check out my Instagram for more pictures).
Our last stop of the evening (and the part where I started to lose the feeling in my fingers and my toes), was the breathtaking Marischal College. What I loved about this festival was that it played on a number of senses, including sound. Not only were these pieces visually appealing to the eye, they were transformed into something much more when music was added. An element of the festival I very much enjoyed.

For me, the pièce de résistance was the feature inside Marischal College on one of the main building faces in its courtyard. Created by artist Double Take the artwork 'Face of Innovation' was truly something special. Aberdeen is home to a number of stunning buildings and impressive architecture, and seeing one of the buildings light up with a moving light show being projected on to it was something rather special.
I'm hopeful that this mysterious, yet charming festival of art returns next year, bigger and better than before. I would love to see the festival run for a little longer to give individuals who don't live in the city, the chance to get down to possibly visit on numerous occasions. However, if you missed out this time round, make sure you don't next time.

For Now...

Just Julia

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