"Shiny Happy People Laughing", so says the Ben Eine painting commissioned by Aberdeen City Council above the Tunnels (aka Carnegie Brae) near the Green in Aberdeen.
Well I wasn't laughing I can assure you, not when he or his companion nearly took my eye out.
A lovely sunny day it was when I decided to take in the Nuart Festival on 19th April 2019. The festival ran from the 18th to 21st.
I was quite surprised to find that many of the works were still being painted when I arrived in Aberdeen City Centre. "That's odd", I thought. "A bit dangerous", I thought, inviting the public into environments where cherry pickers, traffic and pedestrians mingled with one another. Not to worry, plenty young lasses in fluorescent vests standing by each painting looking for all the world like they didn't know why they were there nor what they were meant to do (and I never did find out).
Anyway, let's cut to the chase. After viewing the works by Smug and another artist that hasn't grown out of Lego, I approached the Tunnels to view the Ben Eine work. To my surprise there was only a blue wall and the letters S and H painted. Two men high above in a cherry picker were working on them. So with not much to see I walked along the pavement by the side of the cherry picture and then "BANG", an almighty whack across my sunglasses stunned me for a second. I couldn't believe my glasses were still in one piece. And there lying on the ground was the stencil board (about 2.5 feet by 8 inches in size) that had fallen, dropped or been thrown from a height of about 100 feet above. Witnesses to the incident checked to make sure I was alright. I was alright thankfully, if quite shaken, but if it hadn't been for my strong sunglasses I could have lost an eye.
I went back and spoke to one of the men in the cherry picker who apologised but looked for all the world like he couldn't care less.
So my questions are:
"Where is the risk assessment that ensures that members of the public do not get hurt?"
"Why was there no barricading round the cherry picker to ensure no one walked under the painting as it was worked on?"
"Why were members of the public free to walk alongside the cherry picker"?
"What was the purpose of the girl in the yellow vest? Had she been trained in her role?"
And before anyone says why did you walk that way, the answer is because walking through the Tunnels was en-route to the next work of art (the re-located "famous Aberdonians")
The organisers of Nuart and the City Council have a legal duty to protect members of the public from harm when they put on a public display like this. Why an earth were works still being painted on on the 19th April when the festival started the day before?
This is simply not good enough. Aberdeen that day was chaotic. The mix of traffic, cherry pickers and viewers was an accident waiting to happen - then it did, to me. Someone needs to get a grip on Health and Safety.
Photos below (clockwise l to r):
The letter H position from which stencil came down. Stencil boards loaded on the cherry picker (not tied in), no sign of barricades, traffic still using road.
The other side of the Tunnels showing pedestrians walking alongside the cherry picker.