The Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent UK lock down has unsurprisingly seen a dramatic decrease in new street work. This, while disappointing especially given the spell of gorgeous weather we have been having, is not all bad news, as it is giving me the opportunity to unearth some not-seen-before on Natural Adventures pieces from the archives. Starting with this spray can bin stencil from John D’oh at Upfest 2016.
The organisers of Upfest had provided these drums for artists to dispose of their spray cans in an orderly fashion, and in true Upfest style, selected a few artists to decorate the bins, This one by John D’oh. I have to say I am not entirely sure who the people on the bin are, but I love the stencils in any case. In Bristolian he has written ‘John D’oh’s bin yer’, which tickled me. More Upfest 2016 work to come.
Rounding off this batch of ten Upfest 2016 pieces is this powerful piece by Bram. Depicting a person standing behind a glass barrier, the piece makes a bold statement about refusing refuge, which in 2016 was a huge issue across Europe.
Although the piece on first inspection might seem a little simple, it is in fact beautifully composed and executed, with fine detail on the hands pressed up to the screen, but a murky figure behind the hands is obscured. It is a moving piece and a classic case of less is more, as you try to fill the gaps of the story for yourself.
I know nothing of the artist and have struggled to find out anything from the Interweb.
During Upfest 2016, a few of these beautiful glazed face masks by Gesta Future were placed around North Street and in town too, although from recollection none of them lasted too long before being hacked off, which is unfortunate if not a little predictable.
Gesta Future is an Italian artist who seems to be equally comfortable producing ceramics as he does using spray cans freestyle or with stencils. A versatile artist with great creative ideas. These masks are the only pieces of his that I have seen, but if I go to Italy any time soon, I’ll keep my eyes peeled.
Now here is something of a rarity, a piece of street art by Smak, rather than the graffiti writing we normally associate him with. Smak is an accomplished artist as well as writer as this piece from Upfest 2016 amply demonstrates.
I think this piece is depicting the Gorgon Medusa with her snake locks and stare that turns all who gaze upon her to stone. I think that if the piece had not been signed I would have really struggled to recognise it as a Smak piece. Really great to see something different from this Bristol-based artist.
I think this was the first time I saw anything by Hypo, but I think I might have been somewhat overwhelmed by the anti-May work by Peter Sheridan next to it that this piece passed me by a little. I am glad that I have had time to reflect and dig it out of archive.
I have noticed that Hypo likes to work with a vanishing point in the middle of his work, so that all 3D shading gravitates to the centre. I like the reasonably straightforward graff writing of this piece especially the splashes of white on the corners. At the bottom he recognises Mixie, Expo and Ulow as well as himself. A nice Upfest piece…below is his offering from 2017.
Carl Kenz is a German artist who seems to incorporate tentacles into most of his work. In this tribute to Andy Worhol he offers a slightly different take on the Campbell’s soup tin with a new variety – tentacle soup (fresh ‘n’ alive) overflowing with movement and activity.
As well as his tentacle work, it appears that Carl Kenz is also rather ford of 3D art and there are several interesting pieces on his streetart.com website. I love this piece, which really leaps out at you and is full of mischief and fun.
Yet another notable omission from my Upfest 2016 posts is this extraordinary piece by Manchester’s brilliant duo, Nomad Clan. It looks a little bit like a dystopian future piece and bristles with menace and potential violence.
This would have been the first time I saw these two painting or indeed was conscious of their work, although at the time I was not conscious of their work…if that makes sense. It is amazing to think what a successful few years they have had.
The piece is sprayed on the fake train carriage that is rolled out at Upfest each year, which is a nice touch from the organisers. The only downside to it is that it is surrounded by fences, presumably to stop people from sitting on the ledge and getting in the way of the artists.
This is a great looking piece with loads of attitude and a bit of as story gong on in.
A rare treat indeed, getting to see John D’oh in action at Upfest 2016 finishing off his five piece stencil. How on earth can this have languished in my archive for so long? I just don’t understand it. It is great to use this trawl to share it with you now.
The theme of the piece is getting connected, or at least that is how it comes across. John D’oh tells us in his recent book that the piece features friends of his to whom he pitched the idea of them talking into cans with the string between them spelling out his name. It seems to have worked out well.
The way that John D’oh frames these pieces makes them look a little bit like a cheesy girl’s comic from the 1970s, like Jackie (I only know this because my sister had a subscription). Kevin Bacon I think is included because of his links to the EE advertising campaign which has been running for a few years now.
Rounding things off is a sublime stencil of the wonderful Jeff Knight, my local Big Issue seller. An all round excellent Upfest piece.
When I saw this back in 2016 I was still at the early stages of learning about the street art scene in Bristol (in fact I am still learning every day) and I knew little about the RAW crew and the artists constituting it. While it is obvious that the character on the right is by Jaksta (the medallion gives this away) the writing is less obvious.
It looks like the letters say WARE to me, but here I am showing my ignorance because I don’t know the artist at all. The writing is beautifully executed and I love the musical notes sitting on the midway line on the blue letters. A really nice piece of street art for the festival.
Going back through my pictures from Upfest 2016 I am left a little puzzled by some of the pieces that I failed to post. This work by Diff looks rather like a studio study as much as it does a piece of street art. A silhouetted woman wearing a bowler hat surrounded by pink yellow and white bubbles.
Although not necessarily one of Diff’s best pieces, there is an air of grace about it and some care and attention to detail has gone in to the bubbles, especially where they overlap.