‘It’s okay not to be okay’ is a very contemporary message from Sprite for this year’s Upfest initiative. I think that it can only be a good thing when mental health messages are amplified through street art as it demonstrates that real progress is being made in this ‘Cinderella’ branch of medical healthcare.
The pink rabbit is a really rather lovely stencil by the Brighton-based artist whose intention is to make people smile and I think she has certainly succeeded with this piece. Her work is very scalable and perfect for bombing a town or city with great messages. It would be good to see more of her work in Bristol.
There is real craft and ability in the work of Emily Joy Rich, and her training and work as a graphic designer certainly come to the fore when you see her work. Her letters are so clean, tidy and sharp and her designer’s eye uses the space beautifully. I have only seen a handful of her pieces and like each one of them, she seems to be, in a way, upholding the art and craft of the sign-writer.
‘You are not alone’ reminds me of the Close Encounters tag line ‘We are not alone’ but the two have very different connotations. The hashtag #youarenotaloneart, seems to be a ‘thing’ and checking it out on Instagram highlights some beautifully written murals from across the world. This one is a corker from Emily Joy Rich and I particularly like the two-tone grey shading on the word ‘Alone’, which gives it loads of perspective and lifts the word out from the wall. Highly accomplished work and another triumph for Upfest 75×75.
When the murals for Upfest’s 75 walls in 75 days event are coming thick and fast, it is easy perhaps to not pay attention properly or to become a little blazé because of the wealth of riches. A piece like this on any high-street would be greeted with amazement, but here in Bedminster (the centre of Upfest activities) it blends in, becoming part of the furniture. It is my job to single out such pieces and study them and share them. This large mural is by Sophie Rae above Flip, a vegan delicatessen and shop on North Street.
Sophie Rae is a Mural artist and print maker based in Bristol who likes to work with natural plant themes interwoven with contemporary shapes, colours and designs to bring a very 2020s look to her murals. The job she has done on this very large wall is quite exceptional and really captures the vibrant Bedminster scene. I will definitely be hunting down some of her other murals.
I feel another ear worm coming on. What is it with these street artists and music anyway…? Inkie has returned to his native Bristol to paint for Upfest, as he does every year and this time he was handed a nice new wall to play with.
I have a feeling that Kylie sand this line followed with ‘na na naa, na na na na na, na na naa’ if my memory serves me well. I suspect that Inkie’s reference might be a different one. The piece itself is rather special, with the words written out in the big hair of the female character, and a lot of mystery in the air. No features on the woman’s face and a question mark medallion around her neck. I’m not sure hat the reference ’84 21′ is, although that might be the dates that Inkie started painting and today.
Although the basic design ideas are there from Inkie, I feel like the piece is a bit of a departure from his normal style, particularly the block letters. Excellent stuff.
There is no doubt about it – what we have lost in quantity by the change in format of Upfest 2021, we have certainly gained in quality. The 75 walls in 75 days initiative has been a massive success and each new wall brings with it extraordinary talent. This outstanding wall is by Pikto and really sets a high bar for this year’s productions.
It is the composition and colours that initially draw the eye, but there is something about the catapult boy’s expression that tells a story here of mischief and satisfaction. Photorealistic pieces like this one have improved so much in recent years that we have become rather blazé, and it is not until you stop and study them that you see the quality and the detail.
This particular wall has played host to some masterpieces recently and this one carries on that fine tradition. I took these pictures on a sunny day, and I rather like the way that the shadow cast by a tree to the left is commensurate with the shadow cast by the boy’s cheek on his face. Awesome is an over used word, but I will use it here. This piece from Pikto is awesome.
Ain’t no stoppin us now is a fabulous piece by Upfest favourite Oli T And if ever there was an ear worm in the making, this is it – McFadden and Whitehead have a lot to answer for. Oli T uses his big bright and precise lettering style to create these memorable images and somehow seems to capture the mood of Upfest events so well.
This was another piece that was vandalised before I had a chance to photograph it, and to say I was miffed was a bit of an understatement. However, it had been repaired the day after it was tagged and I had had nothing to worry about. Somehow Upfest wouldn’t feel like Upfest without one of these pieces appearing somewhere.
One of the most dazzling pieces of Upfest 2021 is this magnificent Little Miss Sunshine with a touch of the Insane51 treatment, by Will Blood. I haven’t come across the artist before but it would seem that his USP is drawing/painting pictures/walls with a visible skeleton lurking beneath a superimposed character, you can find out much more on his excellent website The Book of Bare Bones.
This particular wall outside The Spotted Cow is among the best walls to photograph in Bedminster because there is no parking in front of it. This piece is definitely one of the most popular of the festival so far, and the bar is very high indeed. So good to be able to welcome Will Blood to Bristol, I hope he will find the time to visit again.
This enormous mural was one of the first to be completed for the Upfest 75×75 event and is by Emotional Waterfall Art. The piece is a colourful abstract explosion of shapes on a white background – a confetti mural, which is an absolute bugger to photograph and can’t have been all that easy to paint.
Emotional Waterfall Art is a Bristol-based outfit run an artist who plays hard to get on her website and doesn’t disclose her name, simply that she is the creator of Emotional Waterfall Art. I’m not sure how many murals she has painted before, and I am not familiar with her work, but this is a very impressive introduction.
Although we might not have seen as many international artists joining in with Upfest’s 75 walls in 75 days event as we might have expected in a non-COVID year we have seen a lot of artists from all over the UK come to Bristol and brighten up our walls with their extraordinary talent. Fem Sorcell is a Cumbrian artist based in Sheffield whose arrival on the street art scene has come via textile design, illustration, art directing, prosthetics and makeup for film.
This unusual piece is beautifully designed and crafted to fit the space perfectly and contains some great colours and details that demand more than a cursory glance. There are one or two elements that remind me a little of our own Bex Glover, particularly the red, yellow and white petals.
Sadly this was one of the dozen or so Upfest pieces that was vandalised earlier this week by some absolute idiot. There really are no words.
The quality of artists and their artwork for the Upfest 75 walls in 75 days event has been astonishingly high, and Bristolians are blessed and privileged to have so much free art to enjoy. It is sad therefore, to report that a couple of days ago several of the pieces were badly tagged by some idiot who bears a grudge against Upfest. Don’t think for one second that the irony is lost on me, but the Upfest guest list is of the highest order and their work should be respected. One or two pieces have been repaired, and I hope the others will too. Fortunately this one was too high for the grubby vandal to deface.
This work by TEAone AKA Gavin Renshaw is truly outstanding and has a relaxed rural feel about it. What could be nicer than a musician strumming away in a café scene such as this? I had thought of talking to the artist while he was working on it, but at the moment I was there he didn’t look in the right space for a chat, so I left him to it.
The writing spells TONE, TEAone, geddit? And the overall composition has a strong 1950/60s look both in design and colours. Those little iron café chairs are exquisite, and the piece is rounded off perfectly with some clever shading, especially around the hat and face of the musician. This is a superb addition to the 75 walls.