2254. Tobacco Factory

We live in curious times. In the UK we have been enduring an insane paralysis brought about by Brexit, something that has irreversibly divided the nation. In the United States, the most powerful man in the world, President Donald Trump, sets an uneasy tone which resonates globally as his uncompromising ‘business man’ approach to politics destabilises all around him in his efforts to deliver an America first agenda. And yet all this pales into insignificance in the light of two of the most pressing issues in human history… climate change and biodiversity loss.

Jody, Upfest, Tobacco Factory, Bristol, May 2019
Jody, Upfest, Tobacco Factory, Bristol, May 2019

In such moments unlikely heroes arise, and none more unlikely than sixteen year-old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg. This incredible painting by Bristol’s Jody, part of Upfest’s Summer Editions programme, is a worthy tribute to a young girl whose voice speaks for millions and whose direct messages have contributed to a change in how governments listen to this narrative. Of course listening and acting are two different things, but Greta seems to be in no mood to stop campaigning just yet.

Jody spent a couple of weeks creating this piece and I saw him on a few occasions while he was painting it. We chatted briefly, and I was rather pleased to find out that he has read some of my posts on Natural Adventures. He said that my reviews of his work were kind, and I rather foolishly said that I was kind to everyone, which then made me feel like I was saying that his work was not special. Well let’s put that straight right now… his work is exceptional and of the highest quality and this will I’m sure become an Iconic image of Greta. I believe that pictures and stories about it have already gone global.

Jody, Upfest, Tobacco Factory, Bristol, May 2019
Jody, Upfest, Tobacco Factory, Bristol, May 2019

It is funny how Greta Thunberg has become a world leader in taking these issues to governments and citizens and bringing climate change up the agenda. Of course, other campaigners have been banging on about this for decades, but somehow her arrival and campaigning came just at the right time, following huge public opinion shifts around the issue of single use plastics, themselves probably prompted by the amazing work of the BBC and Blue Planet 2 and of course Sir David Attenborough.

We have reached a crossroads, and nations must decide how they are going to meet the challenges of Climate change and biodiversity loss. I would say at this point (and I apologise for pointing this out) that there is a strong correlation between Brexiteers and Trumpists (small ‘c’ conservatives) and climate change denial/apathy or even charges of conspiracy. What these people have not registered or acknowledged is that climate change and biodiversity loss will not discriminate against those people they impact upon, nobody will be immune.

We will all lose unless something is done. Large businesses and their shareholders will lose money and maybe collapse; coastal cities and towns will become battered by increasing frequency of storms and rising sea levels; insurance companies will struggle to operate models that can cope with the claims made; more people will go hungry as crops ruin, trade collapses and selfishness protects the rich.

A bleak future for all of us, and the ‘flat earthers’ who don’t want to face up to these challenges put all of us at risk by their deliberating and self-protection. Fools. Look no further than the man-made islands in Dubai and the most fantastic monuments to human folly – built on funds from fossil fuels, these islands will inundate as sea levels rise. You couldn’t make it up.

Here endeth the rant.

Jody, Upfest, Tobacco Factory, Bristol, June 2019
Jody, Upfest, Tobacco Factory, Bristol, June 2019

I thank Upfest for making this happen. I thank Jody for choosing to paint this outstanding piece. I thank Greta Thunberg for giving me hope and inspiration. I have dedicated my life to the environment personally and professionally and at last I feel we might be approaching a tipping point where public opinion influences public policy.

Jody, Upfest, Tobacco Factory, Bristol, June 2019
Jody, Upfest, Tobacco Factory, Bristol, June 2019

Let’s hope that this iconic piece and iconic young woman continue to inspire us all (even those who disagree with their message, in fact especially those who disagree with their message).

Jody, Upfest, Tobacco Factory, Bristol, June 2019
Jody, Upfest, Tobacco Factory, Bristol, June 2019
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2123. Stokes Croft

A new Mexican cantina has opened up in Stokes Croft called Masa and Mezcal where the old MEATliquor use to be. The cantina looks rather nice and has a fresher feel than its predecessor. Because this is Stokes Croft, it wouldn’t quite feel complete without some street art about the place, and this building has always had art and tags.

Jody, Stokes Croft, Bristol, March 2019
Jody, Stokes Croft, Bristol, March 2019

Who better to adorn this new outlet than Bristol’s Jody. Here he gives one of his beautiful portrait pieces which blends into the graffiti that pre-existed on the wall in a thoughtful and sensitive way, giving the whole thing an air of credibility rather than whitewashing and starting afresh.

Jody, Stokes Croft, Bristol, March 2019
Jody, Stokes Croft, Bristol, March 2019

This is a piece that will be missed by many, because although it is new, it looks like it has been here for ever. Very beautiful, very clever.

1905. Upfest 2018 (101)

During the Upfest 2018 weekend, I really struggled with who was painting this piece. The difficulty was that it was on a new wall that didn’t really offer close access and the artist was perched high up on scaffolding. It turns out that the piece is by Bristol’s magnificent Jody.

Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2018
Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2018

Jody is meticulous with his work and certainly never rushes. For this reason, many visitors to Upfest never actually get to see his finished pieces, until they return some time later. It was days before he finished this one, but wow, it was well worth the wait.

Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2018
Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2018

This is a cleverly worked portrait of a woman behind a golden cat mask and it truly outstanding. Like so many of his works it seems to have gravitas…I can’t really express what I mean by that other than that there is a seriousness about the work. Beautiful piece beautifully executed.

1642. Upfest 2018 (4)

Each year at Upfest, there is a feature artist, and this year it was Jody. This small golden apple piece is one of a few works that Jody created at this year’s festival. In this piece, Jody has taken a simple idea and made it spectacular. The shading and light blended with the gold grey and white colours gives us an exceptional and compelling image, which contrasts so well with the black background.

Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2018
Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2018

Jody must have completed this, and one or two other small pieces before the festival began, which is probably just as well, because he was still painting his main piece a few days after the end of Upfest. I am including a picture from last year, to remind you of the considerable talents of this Bristol artist.

Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2017
Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2017

1341. Charlotte Street (3)

Every once in a while a town or city will see a new piece of street art appear that becomes an iconic landmark and a part of its beating heart. Examples in Bristol are the black and yellow portrait of a girl in Stokes Croft by Stinkfish and the hanging man by Banksy just off Park Street. Well this new significant work by Jody is, I believe, going to be another one to add to the list.

Jody, Charlotte Street, Bristol, February 2018
Jody, Charlotte Street, Bristol, February 2018

I spotted Jody at work on this piece a couple of weeks ago, when he was on a cherry picker painting some flowers. At that point I wasn’t sure it was Jody, but his style and the method he uses to paint gave it away a bit.

Jody, Charlotte Street, Bristol, February 2018
Jody, Charlotte Street, Bristol, February 2018

The piece is a commission for a newly opened cocktail bar/restaurant on Park Street, called The Florist. The establishment is part of a chain called The Botanist, but as luck would have it, there is an independent bar of the same name in Berkeley Square a few meters further up the hill – so The Florist it is. Some of the interior pieces, I understand, are also by Jody and by fellow Bristol artist Gemma Compton. I will have to check it out.

Jody, Charlotte Street, Bristol, February 2018
Jody, Charlotte Street, Bristol, February 2018

I think this is a sensational piece and a real statement for Bristol. The wall can be seen when walking down Park Street and has a real ‘wow factor’ to it. Furthermore, it will probably stay in good condition as the wall rarely catches the full sun, making it difficult to photograph, but protecting it from bleaching. This is a feather in Bristol’s and Jody’s caps.

1153. Upfest 2017 (105)

Another really high quality piece at this year’s Upfest, this one is by local artist Jody. I think that this piece eclipses his wonderful work from last year, and this wall is really a very special wall.

Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2017
Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2017

Fin Dac had the privilege of painting this wall last year and it is fitting that Jody should continue where Fin Dac left off. This was a labout of love for Jody, and long after all the other artists had packed up and left, Jody was still at it, for several more days…maybe even a week or two.

Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2017
Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2017

I went back a lot, hoping each time that the piece would be complete, but I think Jody was hit by the changeable weather, and possibly the sheer ambition of the wall. On the upside, I have quite a few ‘in progress’ pictures.

Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2017
Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2017

There is so much to love and marvel at in this captivating piece. The beautiful profile portrait, the cut out birds reminiscent of Henri Matisse and the extraordinary pink folds of material in the woman’s hair and neckline. This is a master work.

Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2017
Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2017

In looking at the ‘in progress’pictures, it is interesting to see how Jody appeard to work in strips and patches, where other artists might come at a piece in layers. I guess the scale and scaffolding constraints dictate to some degree how a piece will be painted.

Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2017
Jody, Upfest, Bristol, July 2017

Along with Nomad Clan’s piece and one or two others, this really shows off the ‘high end’ of what street artists are capable of doing, and in doing it, bringing so much pleasure to so many people. I love this.