Spectra: Scotland’s festival of light reveals plans to transform Aberdeen city centre next month

A revival for Scotland’s "festival of light" will see huge recreations of the moon and the planet, a dancing wave machine, an infinity mirror and a jungle of super-sized flowers take over Aberdeen city centre.

Artist Luke Jerram's installation Museum of the Moon will be on display in Aberdeen Music Hall as part of the city's Spectra festival.

The words of leading modern-day Scottish poets, writers, musicians and artists will be beamed onto some of the city’s most historic buildings and landmarks when the Spectra festival returns next month.

Marischal College, Union Street, Broad Street, Upperkirkgate, Schoolhill, Marischal Square, Aberdeen Music Hall and Aberdeen Art Gallery will be hosting sculptures, projections, installations and commissions during the four-day event.

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This year’s Spectra, which will run from February 10-13, will be one of the first major festivals to be held as part of Scotland’s first ever “year of stories”.

Organisers of the event, which how has £250,000 worth of backing from the city council, are joining forces with Edinburgh-based arts collective and promoters Neu! Reekie! to create five new commissions for Aberdeen Art Gallery, Marischal College, Castlegate, Upper Kirkgate and Schoolhill featuring the words of leading writers.

A separate large-scale installation Together, a structure made out of ribbon-like rings that was created in response to the isolation of lockdown, will be filled with words, light and sound.

Staff and students at Aberdeen University have been working with artists from the design studio behind the “immersive experience”, which will take over the city’s Castlegate. They have been putting forward suggestions for what messages should be projected inside the pavilion-like space.

Aberdeen Art Gallery’s sculpture court and Aberdeen will play host respectively to artist Luke Jerram’s works Gaia and Museum of the Moon, which are both seven metres in diameter and have made appearances all over the world.

Broad Street will be transformed by The Pendulum Wave Machine, which will feature dancing silver balls, the world’s biggest “hypercube”, which will be made up of more than 2,500 LEDs, and Trumpet Flowers, a “jungle of light, colour and sound” which will create regular “floral symphonies”.

Andy Brydon, director of Curated Place, organisers of the festival that was first staged in 2014, said: “We are over the moon to be welcoming so many amazing artists, collectives and creators to Aberdeen as part of Scotland’s festival of light this year.

"Thanks to the recent lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, we can continue to deliver, alongside and on behalf of Aberdeen City Council, a safe, fun and illuminating festival suitable for all the family.”

Council leader Jenny Laing said: “We’re incredibly excited to announce this spectacular programme for this year's Spectra, which has been put together under very challenging conditions. With restrictions now behind us we can’t wait to welcome audiences from across Scotland into Aberdeen to experience this show-stopping festival and bring a wee bit of light to the city centre.

Together will be among the installations transforming Aberdeen city centre for the city's Spectra festival.

“Spectra allows us to showcase the city centre in a safe and inclusive way, bringing audiences to see breath-taking installations complimenting our historic buildings such as Marischal College and our fabulous Aberdeen Art Gallery.

"This year’s programme features new commissions, world premieres and collaborations, with art that can be both fun and reflects on the problems we’ve faced in recent years.

"Above all, it shows that Aberdeen is a city ready to move forward together and we hope audiences enjoy this year’s festival with us.”

The Spectra festival will feature the 'biggest hypercube in the world.'
The 'Together' installation will transform Aberdeen's Castlegate during the Spectra festival.
Visitors to Aberdeen's Spectra festival will be able to experience the Pendulum Wave Machine.

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