Artists bring colour to Aberdeen’s abandoned doorways


The Painted Doors project aims to inject colour into forgotten doorways in Aberdeen.

As Shelagh Swanson carefully painted delicate strokes across a doorway, passers by would stop to ask if she had permission.

Bringing a splash to colour to the gloomy door on Windmill Brae in Aberdeen, the artist was inspired by a painting called Learning to Fly and palette in hand gave the entrance a much-needed makeover.

It was the first doorway to be transformed as part of an initiative to brighten forgotten areas in the Granite City, and as she worked, a technicolour dream emerged stroke by stroke, a fairytale-like story of a young girl meeting a mermaid.

“When I paint these narrative and figurative works, I work instinctively, not working from an actual design, but allowing the work to develop whilst painting,” Shelagh explains.

“So, before starting, I had an overall idea, similar to Learning to Fly, but allowed the design to develop naturally.”

Shelagh’s painted doorway sparked an inquisitiveness in the public, and soon other artists from across the city were bringing their markers, paints and chalks into doorways to begin creating starry-eyed bears, dripping doughnuts and pathways to other worlds with their tools.


Shelagh says: “Now the project is fully underway, the public’s reaction has been amazing, with so many compliments about the door itself, and many eager to see more projects like this in Aberdeen.

“I’m really pleased with my final design and hope it will spark the imagination of visitors, whilst adding a splash of colour to a bit of a dark corner of Windmill Brae.”

The project is the first of its kind in Scotland, inspired by a similar scheme in Maderia, Portugal as a way to bring colour to the city, transforming 12 doors from Langstane Place and Windmill Brae to The Green and Correction Wynd.

It’s part of a summer-long initiative to bring culture to the city centre of Aberdeen by business-led group Aberdeen Inspired.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “Our Summer of Art campaign is about making art and culture accessible to all, as well as being a great way to utilise and brighten up spaces in the city centre.”

So far, the campaign has brought street art to the arches at Union Terrace Gardens, painted by both local and international artists, as well as a piano project called Play Me, I’m Yours, which encouraged passers by to stop for a moment and tinkle the ivories of donated instruments placed in public places.

Adrian adds: “We are sure that our Painted Doors project will prove just as popular and add vibrant and fun splashes of colour to the city centre. It will be fantastic to see the artworks pop up on doors throughout the city centre.”


Via STV.

The Painted Doors project.