I thought I’d kick off Upfest 2018 with one of the highlight walls of the festival which speaks volumes to me (a marine biologist by training), and really brightened things up.
One of the less celebrated, but nonetheless special, walls at Upfest is this side street, Mount Pleasant Terrace, just off North Street. Previous occupiers of this wall have been Sokar Uno (2016) and My Dog Sighs and Snub 23 (2017), so it has a great pedigree. This year the mural went big, spreading beyond the first floor and covering the entire end of row wall.
At first glance it might not be obvious that this is a Louis Masai piece, but a closer inspection gives away some of the tell tale signs, such as a patchwork turtle, and of course a signature!
I was pretty spaced out at the festival, absorbing so much visual information but not really seeing things right in front of me – sensory overload if you like. I didn’t take a proper look at the wall until the scaffolding was down a couple of days later and then it hit me, this is a brilliant piece by Louis Masai.
There is so much to look at in this coral reef scene, but of course it comes with an environmental message, and there floating around the reef are a couple of Tesco bags, which once seen can’t be unseen.
I love the way that he entered into the spirit of the Simpsons theme of the festival and presented us with a cartoon mutant fish with three eyes gawkily cruising across the reef. some serious messages interspersed with a bit of fun. A great piece to start with. Hats off to Louis Masai.
In recent months I have become aware of a tag appearing all over the place, that is better than your average tag, and of course being a fish it gets my seal of approval. I have no idea who it is by, but I think they might belong to DBK crew, as those letters are never too far away.
The first of four tags was in The Bearpit not too long ago. Lots of drug references here.
I am not too sure what the letters spell, but to me it looks like ‘SOA’ and then I guess it is possible that the tail fin is also a letter.
As with all tags, the graffiti artist has got the consistency down to a T and can probably run one off pretty swiftly.
As I am writing this, It occurs to me that the whole thing says SOAK, and that the fish tail does form a letter, the letter K. Soak is a graffiti artist in Bristol who I featured not too long ago. It all makes sense now.
Once again I find myself in unfamiliar territory presenting a beautiful collaboration in Barcelona without knowing a single thing about it. Writing about street art away from home is a challenging enterprise and one that requires research time that I have difficulty freeing up. I seem to be much happier improvising my copy when writing about Bristol street art. What I am clumsily saying is that I am way out of my comfort zone with this one.
Firstly I goofed taking pictures of this collaboration between ‘Bumble and Worm’ and Meisone – I don’t have an image with both of the fish side by side. My bad.
The fish on the left is by Bumble and Worm who are Sarah Charlotte Watson and and David Goode Hill, who I think are a couple and collaborate as B&W. They are from Mallorca, although they sound like expats to me.
The fish on the right is by Meisone, a Chilean artist living in Barcelona. Regular readers will know that I am particularly partial to fish street art, tapping into my marine biologist roots, and this collaboration ticks all my boxes.
There were many fine collaborations at Upfest last year, but few of them were finer than that between Hannah Adamasek and Saroj. I have written many times about Hannah’s work, but don’t believe I have come across Saroj before.
In the Upfest programme there is a really nice profile for Saroj Patel, and rather than paraphrase it, I have decided to offer it in full:
Saroj is a designer and artist whose practice encompasses illustration, painting, graphic design, typography and art direction. Nature is a compelling part of her work which incorporates decorative arrangements of organic forms, flora, and wildlife, creating a distinctive hand drawn style which displays a fluidity of movement through the use of patterns, lines and colour.
Saroj draws inspiration from exploring the natural and built environments around her, from wandering city streets to hiking in forests and mountains, capturing moments of stillness and chaos, embracing and absorbing the beauty in every moment.
I like this aquatic piece that places a swimmer in a setting of plants and fish, resulting in a rather atmospheric and fresh piece.
I was lucky enough to visit this piece, which was in the beer garden of the Steam Crane, several times over the festival and it is interesting to see how it developed. I am hoping that both will return this year.
At the Ashton Gate Upfest site, which was opened up for the first time in 2017, there was a very long wall running down the entire side of the stadium. Certain sections of this wall were allocated to crews, who sprayed together to create their pieces. This one is by Kid Crayon who was joining up with the Lost Souls crew and Eat.
I am a big fan of Kid Crayon’s work, and it was his wheatpastes that originally stoked my interest in Bristol street art in the first place, so I have a lot to thank him for. This is a wonderful and colourful piece of a big fish in a sardine can. I don’t know the meaning of the piece, but I know I like it a lot.
Anything to do with fish tends to tick my box, so street art with a fish is a bit of a bonanza.
The light in these images is a bit wishy washy, and doesn’t do this lovely mural by Meghan O’Malley justice at all. The mural wasn’t up for long, before it was overpainted, so I am pleased to have been able to see it, especially as it features three magnificent fish.
I had to do a little research to find out more about the artist, and it turns out she is a murallist living in Bristol. A quick glance at her website should convince you that she is a highly accomplished artist who has an eye for the surreal. This fish piece however is simply beautiful.
Having recently graduated in Drawing and Applied Arts from the University of the West of England (UWE), I very much hope to see more of her work on the streets in the near future. Definitely one to look out for.
I have just attended a communications conference in Bristol, at which I found out that this piece and two others in The Bearpit were part of a campaign organised by Wild Walls (part of Wildscreen) and that these three fish mimic the recycling icon. All good, except that I found this out by chance. My feeling is that campaign pieces need better calls to action, or they risk being lost in the white noise.