In the last, very sunny weekend of May, Paul H and I took a trip to Weston-super-Mare to have a look at some of the murals from Weston Wallz (a festival organised by Upfest) painted this year and in previous years. It is apparent everywhere in this Victorian seaside town that there is an immense sense of civic pride in the murals, and there is no doubt that they are seen by the local authority and others as part of the rejuvenation of the town and a visitor attraction. The power of street art.
The first piece we saw as we walked from the station towards the sea front was this magnificent, large mural by Aspire, on Station Road. Aspire is no stranger to Natural Adventures, and his bird pieces are always a fine addition to any street art festival. This beautiful great tit piece, painted in 2022 follows a theme that Aspire has been working on for a couple of years, which is to position nature and human impact side by side creating a slightly uncomfortable juxtaposition. Beautiful artwork with the trademark ‘pixelated’ patches, makes this a wonderful introduction to Weston Wallz for anyone arriving on the train.
I expect that these stencils by Cartoonneros have been here for a little while, but I don’t pass by this way all that often, and only found them last weekend. I expect that they were left here when Cartoonneros last visited Bristol and painted the same pipe stencils in Moon Street.
The pipes are a take on the famous Rene Magritte painting ‘ceci n’est pas une pipe’. I am guessing that the bottom stencil features musicians, but I am not savvy enough to work out who they are. I love it when visiting artists ‘drop in’ and leave their little gifts for people like me to find – it keeps things interesting.
It has to be said that Werm has managed, in a relatively short space of time, to create and amplify his unique style on the Bristol scene. His work is constantly improving and developing, and he is starting to work on collaborative walls with some of the more established artists in the city.
Werm is favouring a style at the moment which has extensive elaborations on the letters WERM that form the central portion of the piece, almost as though the letters are growing roots and shoots. He is also managing to fill his letters with nicely painted colour transitions, five in this instance. Werm was painting alongside the very experienced Turoe on this wall, and has picked up on a shared background of sky blue and some of the bricks of the wall picked out in a darker blue. A graffiti writer on the up.
I simply can’t keep up with Kid Krishna at the moment, and I think I am going to have to do a ‘sweep up’ post of pieces that I haven’t posted so far this year, because all of them deserve to be featured here on Natural Adventures. Not only is he incredibly prolific, but he manages to spread himself far and wide, although mostly north of the river, to be fair.
There is nobody else like Kid Krishna, both in terms of the person and his art. His lettering, although it is often such a mash-up, spells CRIE, and you can see a little CRIE at the bottom right-hand side of the piece. The letters TPN and NKA also usually make an appearance in his work too. In recent months, the letters have been incorporating fragments of character artwork, and there is a cat incorporated here. The white letters with green and yellow accents and decorations work incredibly well on the black background. This is a magnificent work from Kid Krishna.
Some artists manage to keep themselves very much to themselves, and that is true of most of the PLB crew, including Solar. I have been featuring Solar’s work for a few years, but have never met the artist and have never found out anything about them. That is fine and how some like to keep it, as anonymity is an important part of illegal graffiti and street art.
I like to post pieces by Solar because they are very different to most of the stuff you see from day to day, often writing with thick letters in a blocky style but with an organic feel to them. Solar has gone full-solar on this one, with a sizzling sun-drenched background around the strong white letters. Nice work from an artist slightly underrepresented on Natural Adventures.
One of the admirable things that Upfest manages to do is combine the national and international interest from artists around the globe with local artists who paint the streets of Bristol week in and week out. The artists are treated equally (although some get allocated ‘premium’ walls), and there is a fabulous sense of community.
This piece by local artist Maybe (Maybepaints), who only started painting on the streets about 3 or 4 years ago, doesn’t look out of place shoulder to shoulder with established international artists. The piece is, as much contemporary street art tends to be, a commentary on the state of our environment, with supermarket plastic bags drifting in the ocean.
Maybe is a lovely man – much taller than I had expected – who has developed his own techniques, combining freestyle painting with stencils, to create these remarkable ‘other worldly’ places and scenes. You can see his progress over the last few years in this updated gallery of his work.
Foxes have a special place in Bristol. Although urban foxes are found throughout the UK, it was in Bristol where they first were recognised as a ‘thing’ through a research programme conducted by Bristol University. In fact, their research showed that Bristol played host to the most densely populated community of foxes ever recorded, centred around my old allotment. The funny thing is that even though they are so common, there is something quite special about seeing a wild mammal living amongst us.
Justinks, who has painted at Upfest a few times, has absolutely nailed it with this outstanding greyscale rendition of a sleeping fox. It is a truly beautiful painting and captures not only the form of the fox perfectly, but also its peaceful sleeping state. A wonderful piece.
The quality and variety of pieces at last year’s Upfest was as good as it has ever been, if not a little better. My only regret is that I didn’t manage to capture completed pieces by many artists, because there was an abrupt end to the two-day festival, after which the boards in Greville Smyth Park were dismantled, and that was that. Fortunately, just as I was leaving, Ale Poire (from Guadalajara, Mexico) was signing her beautiful hands piece, and the signature usually indicates the piece is complete.
There is something very special and expressive about hands, and Ale Poire has captured a tenderness in this emotional painting. The simplicity of the composition combined with the technical craft of the artist left me with one of the most memorable images of the festival. A very special piece, which would last for only a few hours after I took this picture.
An occasional visitor to Bristol for Upfest, Woskerski is an outstanding artist who operates out of London. I have posted pieces by him a few times in Natural Adventures, but because I don’t visit London much these days, his appearances have been few and far between.
This extraordinary piece, depicting some sort of alien interaction in a future vision of Earth, was painted over a couple of days, and the work in progress shot provides a little insight into Woskerski’s method. It looks like he sketches up the elements of the piece and then ‘colours them in’ which is quite an unusual way of going about things, but he is wonderfully successful at it.
There is such a sense of movement created by the dogs, which have been so accurately captured, but the star of the show for me is the serene face belonging to the girl wearing a hoody/space helmet to the right of the piece. Woskerski is such a massive talent, and it was a real privilege to welcome him to Bristol for Upfest 2022.