, Scotlands festival of light, saw thousands of visitors take to the streets of Aberdeen in 2020. Encompassing more city centre sites than ever before, Spectra was a veritable feast for the senses, with spectacular installations from leading names from the UK and further afield, illuminating the granite city.
In 2020 nine new artists featured in the line-up and visitors were particularly taken with the 10m long tentacles of Creatures of the Deep by Designs in Air which took over Marischal Square and Aberdeen Art Centre, as well as the ghostly presence in St Nicholas Kirk of Aerial and Ship of the Gods by Heinrich and Palmer.
Commissioned by Aberdeen City Council and produced by Curated Place, this years Spectra was inspired by the Year of Coasts and Waters and featured a focus on sustainability with the likes of Yiannis Kranidiotis - whos interactive installation Plastic Sea logged how many kilograms of plastic per square kilometre can be found across our oceans - drawing attention to the impact that we are having on our natural environment.
Featuring a slightly different take on the issue of sustainability, returning artist Seb Lee-Delisle brought computer generated fireworks and projected them onto the front of Marischal College using state-of-the-art lasers. Unlike most firework displays visitors didnt just stand back and watch - each firework was set off by members of the audience. By using super bright LEDs, infrared tracking and capacitive touch sensors, Seb aimed to recreate the awe inspiring visual of a fireworks display, without any of the harmful physical, phycological, or ecological side effects.
Despite extreme weather conditions throughout the UK, which saw many similar events cancelled completely, the festival ran for three out of the proposed four days and visitors were not deterred, turning up in their thousands to enjoy the free family friendly line-up.
Aberdeen City Council culture spokesperson Councillor Marie Boulton said: Spectra 2020 drew to a close after welcoming thousands of people to the event, proving once again that people in Aberdeen and further afield love coming out for culture in our beautiful city.
Public safety is always our top concern and although we are naturally disappointed that the last night of Spectra , the organisers made the sensible choice given the stormy weather affecting the UK.
Aberdeen City Council will hold a full debrief with our partners to ensure any lessons that can be learned are applied to future events but sadly sometimes in Scotland the weather does just get the better of us all.
Nevertheless, this was just the start of a new period for Spectra and we hope to continue developing the festival, taking into account feedback from partners and the public so that Scotlands Festival of Light continues to be a signature event in Aberdeen as part of our year-round 365 Events Calendar of exciting activities in the city as well as Scotlands event calendar.
Andy Brydon, Director at Curated Place, said: We are delighted with the turnout and success of this years Spectra. We have had a huge amount of positive feedback and it was great to see how well both returning and brand-new artists and their work has been received. Like the rest of the UK, we faced the occasional weather-related challenge, however in spite of this, we were delighted to see thousands of visitors across all of the festival sites, which this year were more varied than ever before. We would like to thank those who did turn out for not being put off and hope we will see them again at future Spectra festivals.
Running alongside the public light art of SPECTRA was the third edition of the industry conference SPECTRA Catalyst Conference, which took place in the newly refurbished Music Hall from Friday 14 Feb at 9.30am to Saturday 15 Feb at 5pm.
Welcoming cultural leaders from across Scotland, the UK, and Internationally, Spectra Catalyst Conference brought together a full house of key players from the arts sector, heritage organisations, tourism and socially engaged businesses. In association with Culture Aberdeen the conference successfully explored how together we can shift the value of culture and creativity to the forefront as towns cease to be merely a centre for retail and commerce and are required to become Liveable Cities where creativity, art and culture are essential to their future.