3855. Upfest 2021 75×75 (34)

Compared to some of the flamboyant pieces painted at this year’s Upfest 75 walls in 75 days event, this one from Caryn Koh is delicately understated, and the wall set back from the main drag of North Street. The low-key nature of the mural should not, however, detract from its quality and the story it tells.

Caryn Koh, Exeter Road, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21
Caryn Koh, Exeter Road, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21

Dr Caryn Koh, to give her full title, has painted this mural of two of her cousins and the story of the artwork in her own words is as follows:

The mural situated at Exeter Road, Bristol, is about the relationship between siblings; how we unknowingly grow apart and have our separate paths on life’s journey but there is that unbreakable bond that binds us together.

The piece is an absolute beauty and comes across more as a fine art piece than a street mural. Really impressive.

Caryn Koh, Exeter Road, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21
Caryn Koh, Exeter Road, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21

Caryn Koh is from Malaysia, although I don’t know whether she came over to Bristol specially for Upfest or whether she is in the UK in any case. Either way, it is fabulous to see her work on this scale in our city. Another outstanding piece from Upfest 2021.

3815. Upfest 2021 75×75 (18)

This mural by Carla James is utterly, utterly stunning and a serious contender for my favourite piece of Upfest 21 so far. It saddens me to report that this was one of the dozen or so pieces that was vandalised recently, which is a dreadful shame, and makes my blood boil. However, I was lucky to see it in its original condition. Carla James lives just outside Bristol, so she might be able to salvage it, depending on her work I guess.

Carla James, Exeter Road, Bristol, June 2021, Upfest 21
Carla James, Exeter Road, Bristol, June 2021, Upfest 21

This wall is so difficult to photograph, like so many in Bedminster – I recommend that more double yellow lines are introduced, which is what we should be doing in the name of reducing car use and mitigating for climate change. The artwork and general feel of this piece is extraordinary, and I simply cannot praise it enough. Carla James has mastered the technique of painting helium balloons (a Fanakapan speciality) but it is the exquisite beauty and colours of the hummingbird that really stand out.

Carla James, Exeter Road, Bristol, June 2021, Upfest 21
Carla James, Exeter Road, Bristol, June 2021, Upfest 21

I think that if I could take a piece of art home with me from Upfest 75×75, it would be this one (so far). I am blown away.