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Festival features street art linking Aberdeen with Spanish Civil War

The piece, entitled Unearthed, is by Portuguese artist Vhils.

Part of a new large relief sculpture called Unearthed, that has been created to mark links between Aberdeen and the Spanish Civil War (Louise Kendal/Aberdeen Inspired/PA)
Part of a new large relief sculpture called Unearthed, that has been created to mark links between Aberdeen and the Spanish Civil War (Louise Kendal/Aberdeen Inspired/PA)

A large relief sculpture has been created to mark links between Aberdeen and the Spanish Civil War.

The piece, called Unearth, is by Portuguese street artist Vhils and is part of the Nuart Aberdeen festival.

Vhils, whose real name is Alexandre Farto, is one of 13 international artists taking to the walls of the Granite City.

His piece, overlooking a city centre car park, references Aberdonians who fought in the Spanish Civil War.

Nineteen men made the 1,600-mile journey to Spain to join the International Brigades against Francisco Franco’s side.

Five of them were killed in battle.

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Part of a new large relief sculpture called Unearthed, that has been created to mark links between Aberdeen and the Spanish Civil War, made by Portuguese street artist Vhils (Aberdeen Inspired/PA)

Mr Farto spent months researching his piece before taking three days to carve it into the building.

“The story says to me that when we get together we can fight for a better future,” he told the Press Association.

“I tried to find a story that was relevant to Aberdeen, of community and identity.

“This is a very special thing to be a part of.”

Dr Susan Hansen said the theme of this year’s Nuart Aberdeen was storytelling, which the city was “rich” in.

“In 1936, a Spanish ship docked in the harbour here,” Dr Hansen said.

“The sailors discovered that the captain had held back paying them a raise in wages.

“They went on strike for 15 weeks. The people of Aberdeen stepped up and welcomed these men, made sure they had eaten and forged lifelong friendships.

“The importance of this friendship led 19 men from Aberdeen to join the Spanish Civil War against fascism.”

Mr Farto’s piece is taken from a photograph of Aberdonian fighter John Londragan with American brigadier Peter Frye.

The men are pictured with two children of Spanish shop owner Juan Attaro, one of the seamen from the Spanish ship.

Nuart Aberbeen, now in its third year, also features artwork from Australian artist Smug and the UK-based Hush.

Residents have donated Lego blocks to Berlin artist Jan Vormann, who uses the bricks to repair damaged walls.

Artwork will also be created by 16 senior citizens from Aberdeen, the oldest of whom is 82.

The group is undergoing a series of theory and practical lessons with Lara Seixo Rodrigues, from Lisbon.

It is the first time her project, called Lata 65 Young At Art, has taken place in the UK.

One of the participants, Vivien Kennils, 67, is a retired home economics technician.

“I have always frowned on graffiti,” Mrs Kennils said.

“I brought my children up telling them off for even thinking about doing it.

“Now I’ve created my own graffiti tag.

“I just thought tagging was people defacing walls with their name but now I realise its significance.”

The event, organised by Aberdeen Inspired and the city council, will run until Sunday.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “It isn’t just about bringing the finest street artists from across the world to Aberdeen, it is about building a legacy.”

PA

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