No prizes for guessing what this post is about. It has been an exceptionally busy week for the arts with three posts in the last few days instead of the normal one a week. You're in for a treat with this post as its going to be less words and more images!
On a gloriously sunny Sunday I attended Bristol's Upfest (Urban Painting Festival) for the first time. Had only heard about Upfest this year, as happened to know someone in it (name drop alert!), Martin Joiner, whose work I have snapped and included here, thanks to him for the info. Camera in hand I left Temple Meads toward North Street arriving firstly at Dean Lane Skate Park where there was street art going on as far as the eye could see. This was to only be the start of what was the biggest graffiti festival I have ever seen (turns out, that apparently Upfest is the biggest of its kind in Europe?). Running since 2008 this year's Upfest ran for three days over the bank holiday in May 25th -27th and featured over 300 artists painting in venues the length of North Street from the Tobacco Factory, Bar BS3, Spotted Cow and North Street Green. Sponsored by those, 'oh so smooth, beautiful' but expensive POSCA pens (any one who has ever wielded one will know what I mean). The event is free but with money from brochures going towards children's charity NACOA (National Association of Children of Alcoholics).
The festival had a really busy but a brilliant atmosphere, especially around the market at the Tobacco Factory which was packed. There's a constant thrum of music from live DJ sets and haze of paint fumes (part of me does wonder on the environmental impact on the fumes...cannot be a good thing) or possibly the 'coolness' that seems to literally linger in the atmosphere; combined with the opportunity to watch paintings in progress in the gardens/buildings and outdoor spaces along the street; all making for a lively experience. Work wise, it seemed to me that there was a lot of text based New York subway style art which I feel is a bit 'old hat' now in the sense it is what graffiti 'used to be expected', but there was also plenty of illustrative and imaginative stuff going on; some representational, some not. Techniques from the more drawing-based and painterly to collage and stencil work varying on ambition and scale. Also encouraging to see mix of ages as well as male and female artists. Overall a really exciting day, not so good that I got pretty sun burnt and possibly intoxicated by the paint spray fumes (which always helps forget the sunburn, I feel!) but still all worth it for a day of seeing some excellent art work. Below are a few out of what could have been many more highlights...
The large, slightly diseased looking cat is a definite improvement from the sneering green-eyed lady that was there previous.
Some photo-realist work at North Street Green
Up yours, or perhaps down....(Martin Joiner)
Whilst some of the work is done directly onto buildings or shutters, most is temporary and on boards, like the above. Hence the opportunity to see many artists at work at once.
The Upfest gallery
Is this the work of Agent Provocateur? At Bar BS3.
Some more of Martin's handiwork on the shutter of Rare Butchers of Southville.
Graffiti that responds to the place. Same colours-nice!
Whilst you may have missed Upfest this year some of the work can still be seen gracing the walls of buildings throughout North Street. And for more info on all of the above please check out: