Two weekends ago there was a special event held at the Tobacco Factory to celebrate 25 years since becoming a Bristol arts venue. As part of those celebrations the Tobacco Factory teamed up with Upfest who organised some artists to paint the car park walls under the Summer Editions banner. A firm favourite for such events is the wonderful Alex Lucas who painted this gorgeous piece.
Entitled ‘Pipe peace’ the illustration is based on a particular type of smoking pipe, used by a number of Native American cultures in their sacred ceremonies (so Alex tells us in her Instagram feed). I guess the link is tobacco.
The pipe reminds me that one of my closest friends at school, and indeed a next door neighbour, had a peace pipe in his house which belonged to his father. His father was an illustrator of children’s books, all of which were Native American stories, brought to life with the most extraordinarily detailed drawings using Rotring ink pens. I loved the books he created and the illustrations were sublime. His name was Paul Goble and I was always full of admiration of his work. I just read on the Wikipedia page that he passed away in 2017, which has made me feel very sad indeed. I digress…
Alex was very busy with her work when I went to the 25th anniversary celebrations, and I had my dog with me, so I wasn’t really able to have a chat, especially as my dog might have upset her dog which was in the crate next to her. I really like this piece, the lines are so clean and the simple four colours work so well together, a little reminiscent of the Dr Seuss illustrative style. Definitely worth a trip.
Getting a bit lost in Bristol can have its rewards. I dropped my son off at a friend’s house recently, he could have got the local train, but it was a Bank Holiday and they just don’t run very regularly, so the dad taxi it was. Good thing too, because I decided to take a different route home which meant that I drove past this magnificent mural by Alex Lucas that I had no idea even existed.
The commission is an eye catching and vibrant ‘advert’ for the Easton Business Centre, and I imagine has become something of a local landmark. It is an imaginative and creative piece in the wonderful illustrative style used by Alex Lucas.
Three rather shifty looking foxes are dressed and equipped as miners. I am not sure of the significance of this other than that there has historically been some mining in Bristol and maybe this is a reference to that. Whatever the story, this is an absolute gem and finding it was a joyful moment.
It would seem that just before Christmas, all my Christmases did actually come at once, which is a rare occurrence.
On my way to work I walk past City Hall, and on one of my last days in the office before the Christmas break, something caught my eye on the long ramps outside the front of the building. That something was not one or two, but several framed doors, each one painted by artists from Bristol.
Naturally I had to take a closer look and of course some photographs. Imagine how I was feeling…doors and street art combined and laid out neatly right next to where I work. I was in heaven.
The only thing missing was any kind of explanation, and it wasn’t until writing this post that I found out what this exhibition was about (Christmas got in the way a little bit).
The exhibition ‘A Year Outdoors‘ was conceived by artist Beau as a way of raising awareness of the pressing issue of homelessness, and these doors were created as a metaphor to challenge austerity cuts. I felt a small whiff of irony that it was the local authority who were hosting the exhibition, perhaps that’s why there weren’t any interpretation boards explaining what the doors were all about.
The doors have been packed away now, but they will be going on tour around the UK and to the United States.
What a superb piece by Alex Lucas in the heart of Alex Lucas land. The artist and illustrator fills a niche in the Bristol commission market and is probably one of the most recognised artists in the city. Because nearly all of her work is commissioned, it tends to remain in situ for a very long while.
This piece, wonderful as it is..and it really is…leaves me a little conflicted, not because of the artwork, but because before the development work behind the hoarding started, this used to be a regular ‘illegal’ wall for artists to try out their work, much of it outstanding. This is the gentrification process in full swing, the succession being; Illegal (tolerated) wall – permitted/commission wall – no wall (policed).
It is a sad but inevitable journey for most of our inner cities, and these areas are often in need of some TLC. My objection is that what will emerge from behind the hoarding will be unaffordable flats, little in the way of community assets and a sterilisation of a colourful area. The only people to benefit will be the people with money and power.
Alex Lucas is no stranger to these pages and is responsible for bringing street art closer to the citizens of Bristol in a charming and accessible way. Any visitor to the city is likely to have seen a piece of her work, because she has had a lot of commissions and her illustrations lend themselves very well to shops, cafés and other high street businesses.
Her piece for Upfest was on yet another new wall space, but rather inconveniently interrupted by a gate. Alex has used this to her advantage and incorporated the gate as a way of joining her two hares in conversation.
Although on the surface her work looks quite simple, it takes a long time to produce, and this piece was a real labour of love, given the number of weather-related interruptions. Each of the hairs on her characters are individually hand drawn, and as we ought to know, hares are hairy.
Most Upfest walls are re-used each year, with only the occasional one remaining as a more permanent piece. I suspect that this one will have a new artwork on it next year, which is rather odd in the case of Alex Lucas, because one is accustomed to the permanence of her work. It’s pink, it has animals…what’s not to like?
Every now and then, a significant piece of street art is created, one that becomes a landmark or a statement in the locality. This commission piece, Turbo Island’s coral reef, by Alex Lucas is one of those significant works. Turbo Island is a little patch of green created by a fork in the main road with Jamaica Street, directly opposite.
The piece was completed on Christmas Eve 2017 and took some six weeks to complete. I am not entirely sure who the commission was from, but I think it is the company who own the building/offices.
Alex is steadily brightening up Bristol building by building and I think that this is one of her finest yet. Of course, my marine biology background means that I am particularly fond of this one.
The detail on the piece is typical of Alex’s work and each of the creatures is crammed with its own character from the rather grumpy shark at the top of the piece to the little hermit crab at the bottom right.
This is a piece that can be studied over a long while, making little discoveries each time you look at it. A huge asset to the area and worth hunting down if you happen to be visiting Bristol. Thank you Alex Lucas!