One of the more unusual pieces at Upfest 2018 was this absolutely wonderful tile installation on the gates of the Tobacco Factory by Chinagirl Tile. As the years go by, her work becomes more and more ambitious, and this ceramic Giraffe is certainly the largest work I have seen from this Austrian (international) artist.
The incredible giraffe is entitled ‘it’s a zoo up there’ was funded by the Austrian Cultural Forum London and BMEIA, and that got me thinking that her work must be rather expensive to produce and that funding and sponsorship must be an important factor in her ability to work. spray can artists probably don’t have the same kind of overheads.
Unfortunately I don’t think I have been able to do this piece justice, mainly because when I took the pictures, the sun was directly behind it. I think this is a wall that needs photographing early in the morning or in the evening. If you look closely, you can see the individual tile sections that are placed together to make the whole. I guess this is for ease of modelling and firing as well as transportation.
Another unusual feature of this piece is that the head of the giraffe is 3 dimensional, not a flat tile that one expects from Chinagirl Tile. I really love her work and am proud that she has chosen Bristol to play host to several of her pieces over recent years.
One of the pleasures of writing about street/graffiti art and seeking out new sites is finding something there that you recognise. Feeling knowledgeable about something is very empowering and comforting, and we could all do with a bit of empowering and comfort from time to time. For me this happened when I saw this Chinagirl Tile piece in Leake Street just before Christmas.
I have always had a soft spot for her work, and this very dangerous bunny is one of my favourite tiles she has produced. There is one in Bristol that I blogged about last year. I noticed that of the numerous ‘street art tourists’ who entered the tunnel from this entrance, none that I saw stopped or appeared to notice this rabbit, such was their eagerness to descend into the bowels of Leake Street. For me, street art is not just about the blindingly obvious, it is about subtlety, style, class and placement, much of which is lost on many people. This links to a theme I have mentioned many times in Natural Adventures, and that is that many of us look, but don’t see. Look harder and you might see a rabbit clutching a grenade. Watch out!
This is what you get when two mischievous artists collaborate, each with their own inimitable style. When Chinagirl Tile and Angus got together at Upfest this year, they produced this rather special piece which arguably was the most controversial of the festival, causing offence to some.
The raccoons are by Chinagirl Tile and the mosaic hand gesture is by Angus. Unfortunately the piece in its original state didn’t last too long at all before it was ‘redacted’ with some black tape.
Not long after that, the hand was completely replaced by yellow tiles, and the piece has really lost something. I will leave you to judge which version of this you prefer. For my part, this work challenges the ‘sanitised’ art you tend to get at festivals by being provocative and edgy, which is where most street art and graffiti art has its roots. Some really interesting perspectives being played out here.
OK, so I know I have already posted this cheeky little rat before, but that was in North Street and this one is in my favourite Leonard Lane. I really am a bit dense sometimes…it has taken me until now to get the joke. The reference in the piece to Banksy relates to his signature rat that he used in many of his early works, and there is me thinking this was a squirrel. Thick, that’s me.
Chinagirl Tile really seems to get around Bristol when she comes for Upfest, which in my view is a pretty good thing. This rat is down the dingiest lane, the perfect spot for it, and will not have been seen or noticed by too many people. Still more to come from this brilliant ceramic specialist.
This wonderful group of radioactive deer is another ceramic delight from Chinagirl Tile that was left here on the eve of Upfest. I have said it many times before, but one of the biggest pleasures of Upfest for me is seeing an influx of new work from ‘out of town’ artists refreshing areas all over the city.
Chinagirl Tile told me about these deer at Upfest, and she said that the orange radioactive symbols on the deer rumps matched the wall, which was good fortune rather than design.
As always from her work we have an uneasy edge between nature and humanity. Radioactive deer are threatening, where deer are endearing. The galloping movement instills a feeling of panic or fear. In my view this is a very powerful piece.
Unfortunately some scoundrels had already tagged this piece by the time I got to it with blue markings on the deer faces. Annoying, but fortunately not so destructive that the piece is ruined. This is a ‘must see’ piece for anyone visiting Bristol.
I love the whole idea of our beautiful wildlife being a little bit subversive, and nobody creates this edginess between cute and dangerous better than Chinagirl Tile. Her last two visits to Bristol for Upfest have seen her decorate the streets, not only in Bedminster but also in Stokes Croft with her anarchic ceramic creatures.
This is a rather charming little squirrel claiming to have stolen Banksy. It is nicely located on a wall surrounded with greenery. It rather blends in and will be missed by many passers by. You have to keep your eyes open.
I have several other Chinagirl pieces to post about from this year’s festival.
I love surprises, and this was one hell of a surprise. I took a lunchtime stroll down North Street, because I knew there were some new pieces, but only caught sight of this one on my way back. What a find.
Of course, it is a bunny with a grenade by the amazing Chinagirl Tile – I have always wanted to find one of these, but to have one in Bristol is simply amazing. The new piece is only a street away from the amazing foxes and soup tin she installed for Upfest 2016.
Chinagirl Tile is always a very welcome visitor to Bristol, and I hope very much she will be returning soon. Let’s hear it for the wabbits.