Upfest 2022 has begun, and the format has changed a little this year. The ‘permanent’ walls have been buffed and prepped for painting in the three weeks preceding the festival weekend, so that when people arrive for the festival, there will be a stunning array of new work completed for them to enjoy. It is possible that some H&S measures might have helped with that decision too. What it means is that for people like me, there has been ample time to capture works in progress and chat with artists from all over the UK, Europe and the world.
This artist, however, didn’t need to travel far at all, as he lives in the same road as his artwork. Willl Cross (yes, three ‘L’s) is a fine artist (oil paintings) from Bristol whose work is truly stunning, and you can see some of it on his Instagram feed, which I strongly recommend you take a look at. This was his first effort at ‘street art’ and judging from the outcome, I sincerely hope it isn’t his last.
I believe the woman in the portrait is wearing Bulgarian traditional costume, and Will Cross worked hard to recreate the intricate patterns in the blouse and apron. The whole composition is full of atmosphere and depth, and brings a little bit of Eastern Europe directly into the heart of Bedminster.
There is so much to love about this painting. It is the work of a very talented young man who deserves recognition, and with this prominent spot is likely to get it during the Festival weekend. What a great way to introduce this year’s Upfest festival, which ill be taking place on 28 and 29 May (this coming weekend).
What a treat it was to meet Ant Carver while he was painting this beauty, not once or twice, but three times. Perhaps this was because I visited the area quite a few times but also because he took his time completing the piece. It is funny how some artists can fly in and out in a day while others take considerably longer.
Ant Carver used a technique called a doodle grid to paint this magnificent portrait piece. The way it works is a little bit like a combination of grid squares and tracing paper. The wall is painted with squiggles and patterns that act as reference points. The doodle is photographed and then the desired design superimposed onto the photograph of the doodle and made slightly transparent, so that the doodle comes through. The artist is then able to look at the photograph composite on their phone and use it to get all the lines and detail in exactly the right place on the wall. Worth checking out on the Interweb if you are interested.
This portrait has been painted on a new wall for Upfest, adding capacity, which is great because you can never have enough walls.
The piece is called ‘The Hand We’re Dealt’ and can best be described using the artist’s own words from his Instagram account:
‘‘The Hand We’re Dealt’ is the latest piece in my series of work exploring loss. Over the past few months I’ve been using my paintings as a way to reflect on my experience with grief. This is the latest painting in that series. Each element of the painting can be interpreted differently by the viewer, but to me the candle represents the passing of time and the luxury it is for that to happen. The skull symbolises life and death, and the cards reference the lottery of life and the hand we’re dealt.’
This is another superb piece from the London-based artist. I only wish my photographs could do it justice.
Another piece form an artist unknown to me, and I am guessing that it might be something to do with Upfest Summer Editions because this is an Upfest spot, previously occupied by a Jody piece. It is a colourful and styalised piece by Amy Vik who I think is from Mexico, although my Google searches aren’t throwing up too much information about the artist.
The art itself does have a central/south American feel about it and it is certainly very different from anything else I have seen in Bristol for a while. It is always good to see overseas artists visiting the city.
Bristol really does love its foxes, so to see one appear as part of Upfest is always very welcome. This beautiful piece is by Bex Glover, a contemporary artist and illustrator who runs a freelance illustration and graphic design practice in Bristol.
From a viewers perspective, there are so many things to look at in this work. Glover’s illustration skills are clear to see and the abstract backdrop brings the fox into sharp focus. A nice touch in the haunches of the fox hints at a yin yang symbol. The fox looks wily, just as it should and ready to move off at the slightest disturbance.
This is a calming piece with superb colour selection which may have gone unnoticed by many visitors as it is just off the main road and set back just a little. Last year this spot was occupied by a wonderful stencil by DinDin.
I was really taken by this fantastic work by Belgian artist Din Din who describes herself as a ‘one woman artistic movement’.
On Saturday afternoon, when I watched her working, she was putting down the stencil at the bottom of the piece. I noticed that she used plastic stencils and asked her if she used them because they were stronger (seemed sensible to me), but she answered that with the plastic stencils you can work in the rain…so she came well prepared for a festival in Britain then!
On her website it looks very much like she did two other stencils in the area during her visit to Bristol, so I will have to hunt these down.
There is something about the piece that reminds me a little of Tian’s works that he pasted up around Stokes Croft during his ‘tour’ earlier in the year – photographic works with monochrome tones.
A wonderful piece to see and to get a glimpse of the artist at work.