Set in a wall on a hill very close to where I work is this beautiful old weathered door. It is the perfect ‘secret garden’ door, but it is not the secrets that hide on the other side of this wall that grabbed my attention, rather it is the small stone sculptures that pepper the outside of the wall along its length.
The artwork is by the late Bob Ballard, an artist from Bristol, and I found this tribute on the Society of Graphic Fine Art website which tells you a little more about him:
Bob Ballard was born in London in 1944. He had worked full time as an artist since 1989, when he won a Goldsmiths Travel Bursary (drawing and studying Romanesque art in Spain). Thereafter he was awarded many prizes, including the Bruckhaus Derringer Award from the Royal Watercolour Society. Bob’s work encompassed abstract and representative styles in a wide range of media, such as sculpture, print, oils, watercolour and pastels. Later in his career he was a senior lecturer at the University of the West of England, and senior tutor and research associate for COREOX, University of Oxford. Bob was a council member for both the Society of Graphic Fine Art (SGFA) and the Bath Society of Artists (BSA). He lived in Bristol with his wife Maggie.
Bob Ballard attached a number of small sculptures to the wall which the curious would notice. Little gifts of artwork that brighten up a day. I love this wall, I love the door and I love the sculptures.
I found this quote from Bob Ballard on his Facebook feed, which I rather like:
“ In my work I always try to place the unknown next to the known. Defamiliarisation is the essence of art. The closer you look at it the greater the distance from which it stares back at you.”
The light rays cascading across this piece catch me out every time I look at it…they feel real. This is a lovely small piece by Emily Donald, an artist based in Newquay, Cornwall – the coolest county in England. She works with inks and creates wonderful layered pictures, usually incorporating birds and flowers. You can see more of her artwork on this website.
In this piece two hummingbirds are busy collecting nectar from beautiful flowers. The whole work has a feeling of tranquility and peace, but it is the light rays that set the whole thing off for me. A wonderful work. I hope we get to see her again next year.
Many will instantly recognise the wonderful abstract work of Decay instantly. A Bristol-based graffiti artist who has appeared in numerous posts on this blog, with his characteristic concentric shapes of black, white, grey and red. He was very smart this year – he is a quick worker, and he sprayed his piece early on the Saturday morning before the rain came, and was then free to enjoy the festival with the rest of us punters.
I met up with him in one of the venues, I think it was the Rising Sun, by chance which was lucky, because I had told him via Instagram that I wanted to buy one of his lovely new T-shirts and would do so if I met him. The shirt is great, and a nice souvenir of the day. I also had another little souvenir in the shape of one of the spray cans Decay used to spray this piece (the one on the left of the feature image).
Mrs Scooj was not impressed and said that I was behaving like a groupie and should grow up a bit. I prefer to think of myself working alongside these artists, and whilst I admire them I don’t think I idolise them. Without archivists and rapporteurs, our world would be transient and ‘in the moment’ but there would be little in the way of context.
This is the first interview I have posted on Natural Adventures and I couldn’t have hoped for a better start. I have long admired the work of Dice 67, and have featured several of his Bristol street pieces on this blog over the last two years. This interview was an idea hatched at Upfest 2016 when I met Dice 67 for the first time. Several emails have been exchanged and a year has passed – good things come to those who wait.
Who are you and where are you from?
Andy ‘Dice’ Davies aka Dice 67 / Dice Sixtyseven
Can you remember your first piece of street art? where was it? how did you feel?
I was working for a college for 16-24 yr olds with learning difficulties and, as the board of the qualification I taught changed, the new one had furniture upcycling in. The students all wanted to do Banksy style stencils on there pieces and it went from there.
A couple of years later and a student asked to do a local bus stop in Nailsworth which was a complete mess. We planned the wall and I learnt to go bigger. Part of the wall had a space on it and I put the stencil of my daughter on it as a kind of guardian. The picture of her when she first saw it (wearing the same clothes) got put on Reddit and it got half a million views and voted on by 40,000! This was quite some introduction and people started to contact me asking to buy copies of it, be in magazines etc.
What techniques do you use and what is your favourite way of working?
Although I started out with stencils I have always wanted to try new techniques and have painted with acrylics, sometimes using brushes and often just using my hands! I have used an air brush on some paintings and done some completely free hand spray pieces now.
Freehand is definitely the most satisfying when it comes off but can be quite frustrating when it doesn’t! I’m still a newbie to it so still have a lot to learn, and can be a bit of a perfectionist, so find getting the fine details on portraits very difficult but its the way I want to go so Ill be doing a lot more.
Making your mistakes and learning in front of people can be quite daunting too! There will always be a place for stencils though – I love the cleanness of the lines and detail in smaller pieces so doubt Ill give them up completely.
Why do you do street art, especially when you know it might be tagged or over-painted as soon as you turn your back?
Essentially because I love doing it! Having a creative outlet is a blessing and I love having the opportunity to paint. I was made redundant from the college last year and have now taken it up full-time which has been fantastic. I’m getting a lot of very diverse jobs in and each one is a new challenge.
I’ve turned a lamp post into a cobra, painted a shipping container for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Virtual Reality headsets for the Cheltenham Music Festival, painted a 30x10ft magazine cover and am also making a sculpture for the Tour of Britain cycle race as well as running workshops and doing murals for schools, library projects and festivals so I am pretty busy but loving every minute right now.
I’m also running the first Cheltenham Paint Festival where I shall be having around 70 artists coming and painting around 14 locations around the town so life’s pretty hectic at the minute!
It’s nice when your work stays up and is there for a time but getting painted over is the nature of the beast and keeps everything fresh. You’re constantly pushed to come up with something new and that’s an exciting prospect.
Who are your artistic or life inspirations?
As I’m sure you’re aware my kids appear in a lot of my paintings and they’re definitely a big inspiration for me. I don’t like painting famous people and don’t like using other peoples photographs without permission so I guess its my way of saving on models fees!
As for artistic inspirations I just try to do my own thing – I love realism in street art, anamorphic styles and admire the form and colours of the writers but also love Da Vinci’s drawings, surrealism and abstraction. I’m a big fan of good sculpture and installation pieces too so my inspirations are pretty diverse!
Whose work do you admire?
My favourites are undoubtedly Pichi and Avo. I love their mix of new and traditional styles. It was something I thought about doing myself a few years ago but when I did a google search and found a couple of their early pieces, I realised I was nowhere near their level and it would probably take me a lifetime to achieve where they already were so went back to the drawing board!
Other favourites are Smug, Kazland, Id:iom, Odeith and I love Carlos Martin Burgos’ drawings.
What makes you tick?
Leaving something for my kids to look back on and seeing that I stood up for kindness and social responsibility.
What would you be doing (do you do) when you are not creating your art?
Trying to make my kids laugh or teach them something.
Do you have a ‘stand out’ piece that you are most proud of? what is it? is it still there?
I’ll always love my original Izzy piece as its taken me to where I am today. I often think if she had worn a different top or boots I might not be on the path I am now and would still be teaching. I find it crazy that the random choice of a 4 yr old has had such a huge impact on my career path! Yes the original is still up in Nailsworth as far as I know and is now four years old!
My recent SMILE piece is also a favourite as it forced me to go freehand due to time constraints and it came off and fitted the triple gatefold magazine cover! It was my goal to go freehand this year and this gave me the kick up the arse to do it. Its still there as we speak.
Do you have plans for your art? what will you be working on in the coming months?
Just to keep doing whatever opportunities come my way and finding some time for my own stuff in between! The paint festival is huge for me and I have a budget from the council to run 6 smaller festivals over the next three years so being able to paint the town is a huge honour and one I hope I can make people proud of.
Do you have any questions for me?
Would you like to buy a painting? 🙂
Nothing would give me more pleasure than owning a Dice 67 piece…a few more years down the mine earning shekels ought to do it. Many thanks to Dice 67 for giving us a window into his world.
I don’t know a great deal about this artist, but her name is Brooke Ashley. This is a really engaging piece that I feel would lend itself well to illustration, and I would guess that her background may be in illustration.
One of the more modest pieces from the festival, but beautiful none the less.