Scotland’s biggest urban light festival shines a new light on the north-east’s past

Giant spiders scaling the headstones of an ancient graveyard, the granite face of Marischal College transformed into an enormous interactive musical instrument and colossal illuminated heads reciting Doric prose - all this can only mean Aberdeen’s light spectacular SPECTRA is returning for 2017.

Running for four nights from 9-12 February, the stunning event will celebrate the Scottish Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology by exploring Aberdeen’s past through this year’s theme of A New Light.

Bringing together leading international artists with established Scottish collaborators, SPECTRA will be animating Union Terrace Gardens, the Kirk of St Nicholas and Marischal College.

Organised in partnership between Curated Place and Aberdeen City Council, SPECTRA 2017 is a free event and invites audiences to engage with playful, accessible and high quality performances, spaces and works of art using light, sound and interactive experiences.

The 2016 event was named Scottish Festival of the Year and organisers aim to build on that success when it returns in February.

Highlights will include Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett’s internationally renowned CLOUD sculpture, a tribute to Scotland’s most ubiquitous invention – the incandescent lightbulb.

Union Terrace Garden’s will also see the return of multimedia artists Impossible. Visitors will be invited to have their faces 3D scanned and transformed into monolithic Easter Island style totems, reciting Doric prose by some of the north-east’s best loved poets.

In the Kirk of St Nicholas, an all-new commission, Les Araignées, will see giant light spiders taking over the graveyard in tribute to Robert Bruce thanks to Aberdeen’s international artistic connections with French masters of light installations Groupe LAPS.

Shining a new light on Marischal College, BAFTA award winning digital Artist Seb Lee-Delise will transform the stunning building into a massive interactive instrument - a touch-activated light piece that will dazzle with thousands of super bright LEDs which will allow visitors to play the custom-made synths that activate powerful laser projections covering the entire building with shimmering dancing lights.

Councillor Marie Boulton, Deputy Leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “SPECTRA is one of the most eagerly anticipated events on what is a growing events calendar in Aberdeen. The 2016 festival was hugely successful, engaging with local audiences as well as attracting visitors from throughout Britain and overseas.

“We aim to build on the momentum which has built in recent years and the 2017 programme offers new and exciting attractions which promise to bring the city to life in February. We’re proud to be bringing SPECTRA back to Aberdeen, another big step towards establishing the city as a destination with a rich cultural offering.

“Aberdeen is undergoing great transformation at present, with significant development linked to our comprehensive City Centre Masterplan, and those physical changes are central to our ambitions for the future. Providing events that bring these spaces, new and old, to life is just as important and SPECTRA is a wonderful example of that in action.”

Meanwhile, budding photographers do not need to wait until next year to get involved in SPECTRA 2017.

Secret City Aberdeen will uncover the hidden, forgotten and neglected spaces of the city and a new fictional narrative in association with Granite Noir and Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.

Curated Place is offering a unique opportunity to explore the unseen sides of Aberdeen while learning photographic and Adobe Photoshop techniques from one of the UK’s leading digital artists – photographer Andrew Brooks. The day will include exclusive access to one of Aberdeen’s heritage buildings and a masterclass allowing event beginners to become advanced Photoshop users in a day.

As the city landscape continues to shift and change with new transformation and capital developments, Andrew Brooks and award winning poet Adelle Stripe have been exploring some of Aberdeen’s many forgotten and disappearing spaces, from the hidden depths of the city’s subterranean vaults to one of the last traditional tobacconists in Scotland. Secret City Aberdeen will capture and share these mysterious sites with the general public in a new interactive projection based installation to be revealed at SPECTRA 2017. Secret City Aberdeen is supported by Creative Scotland, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives, Heritage Lottery Fund, MAKE Aberdeen, Seventeen and Aberdeen City Council.

For more information on the festival programme and to book tickets visits: www.spectraaberdeen.com