Tom Miller is an artist I have taken a great deal of interest in ever since I first encountered his unusual surreal pieces in Stokes Croft and in The Bearpit back in 2016. At that time he was still studying his craft at the university, but it was clear that he was creating something rather special. Some of his work is captured in this gallery.
What is most pleasing is that he is now getting a number of commissions and his artwork is appearing on large walls around the city, but he is keeping it real by continuing with his street art work too. This magnificent piece on one of the most prominent walls in Bristol took him a couple of weeks to paint and during that time I stopped to catch up with him.
Tom is genuinely one of the nicest artists I know, he is so modest and always seems to enjoy a bit of a chat. I have to say that I was concerned for his safety when he was painting this, because it was incredibly windy and the scaffold tower was wobbling much more than would have been comfortable. He survived though and what an amazing job he did.
This piece, as you would expect, is so full of colour and detail. Some might call it busy, but I would call it expressive. Lots of body parts combined with flowers and other familiar shapes and objects fill the space, and then there is some respite from this crowded scene to the right of the piece with two less frenetic panels.
The focal point is the face in the middle, and I wonder if it might be a subconscious nod to a piece that stood here for a few years of a large portrait of a girl with a yellow face.
As I said, the two panels on the right offer something different from the rest of the piece, with some landscape and cosmos to calm things down a bot. The far right section reminds me a little bit of the Pink Floyd record sleeve of ‘Dark Side of the Moon. This epic wall is a great addition to Bristol’s iconic street art culture and is one that people leaving the city on the M32 can’t fail to see.
Nina Raines dropped me a message on 17 January to say that she and some friends were going to be repainting the North Street dental surgery, just in case I was able to come along. Unfortunately work is so busy at the moment, it is impossible for me to choose the moments I get to visit spots around Bristol, and the two days this was being painted were chockablock, which was very disappointing. Far from disappointing though was the outstanding piece that Nina Raines, Phoebe Tonks and Ana Cruz painted along the practice wall.
This is one of those collaborations where all three artists have combined their talents in the one piece and it is impossible for me to know who painted which bit, so this is a true fully-integrated collaboration. The 1950s look and feel of the lady with her toothbrush and toothpaste at the ready is inspired and adds a superb splash of colour in this corner between North Street and Dean Lane.
While the lady character is the focal point of the piece, there is so much other interest on this busy wall with the decorative patterns and outlines of children and a tooth fairy. In my view this piece is brilliantly designed and brilliantly executed, and I sincerely hope that the dental surgery are pleased with it. This is a fine landmark in this part of Bedminster.
It has taken me far too long to take photographs of this wonderful mural by Alex Lucas. It is in Picton Street on the facade of her shop and replaced one that she had painted a few years earlier and which had begun to look a little tired. The makeover is a huge success.
I think that Alex Lucas deserves a title, something like the Duchess of Montpelier would be appropriate on account of the sheer volume of outstanding murals, big and small, that she has painted in the area, helping to make it a ‘go to’ destination for visitors to Bristol.
The black and white birds are beautifully drawn and sit on a backdrop of outstanding purple flowers on a blue background. This is both sumptuous and eye-catching and a massive part of Bristol’s USP (one that Bristol City Council are conflicted about – I’ll probably leave that rant for another post).
This is the third stunning mural I have recently posted by Gage Graphics on the rear wall of house on St Luke’s Road overlooking Victoria Park. I had seen images of this piece before on the Internet, but it wasn’t until I went looking for the new Banksy piece in Totterdown that I stumbled across it.
It is a great thing when neighbours collaborate and decide to commission pieces like this, and this iconic row of houses has about six or seven noteworthy murals that do so much to brighten up the area. In this piece, Gage Graphics has included a couple of iconic Bristol characters from Aardman Studios, Gromit (peering out of the tree trunk) and Shaun the Sheep in the centre of the moral. Other Bristol references are the SS Great Britain designed and built by I. K. Brunel and in the sky a Balloon gently drrifts by. On the right of the mural a surfer is catching an enormous wave. This is a fun and creative piece and a fine addition to the others in the road.
This is the perfect way to end 2020 with a spanking new and rather beautiful mural on the Cheltenham road just before the Arches heading north. The mural is by Alex Lucas and covers the entire wall of what was Flour and Ash but is now a new vegan Mezze bar called Koo Cha
I had been anticipating the unveiling of this piece for some time as I live nearby and had seen Alex painting it on a large scaffold erected in front of the building. It certainly didn’t disappoint, in fact I think it might be one of my favourite pieces by the illustrator/muralist.
The cheetahs are absolutely stunning and stand out well on the blue background and the flowers are a beautiful touch that ‘glue’ the whole thing together. We are so lucky in Bristol to have Alex Lucas whose work lights up the city and brings such happiness to its citizens. Bravo Alex, bravo!
It has been an extraordinary year for street art and graffiti in Bristol and around the country. A succession of lockdowns and an extended period of social distancing behaviours haven’t done anything to stem the tide of wonderful artwork and I have had difficulty keeping up with it all. I think this year has been the most productive since I started Natural Adventures almost six years ago. The quality of work has increased too and there has been an influx of artists from the UK and beyond.
Some artists have gone to ground for periods this year, reflecting what had been a troubling time, and work patterns have gone haywire too which will have affected some people’s ability to choose when they can make time for street art. In spite of it all, it has been an outstanding year on Bristol’s streets. Here’s to more in 2021.
On the eve of 2021, it think it is appropriate to post this beautiful piece by Gage Graphics as a way of looking forward to the summer when we can be ourselves once again and figure out what our world looks like. It might not be like it was, but it will surely be better than right now.
This large sunflower mural is one of several on this row of houses that overlook Victoria Park, and represents one of the best ‘free galleries’ in Bristol. Gage Graphics is responsible for several of them. There is something very special about sunflowers, I’m not sure what magic they possess, but I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t marvel at their magnificence. I think that they grow from a seed in such a short time and produce large happy flowers adds to their popularity.
Gage Graphics has captured the majesty of the sunflower perfectly and in addition the services it provides to pollinating insects such as bumblebees. This is an outstanding mural and emblem of hope.
I can’t think of a better piece to post on Christmas Day than this beautiful mural from Zoe Power tucked away in Bedminster. Sadly it is yet another prize wall that nearly always has a car parked outside and this is the best view of it I could get.
Zoe Power is known for her wonderful and bright colourful work which often has an element of symmetry about it. In this piece two characters are caught in an embrace where they almost fuse and become one, it is wonderful work and although simple on the outside, full of sophistication and class.
Whenever I see her work, I am always reminded of the great Matisse, and that is the biggest complement I can pay. Well worth seeking this out.
The great thing about visiting areas of Bristol one doesn’t normally go to is that you open your eyes to a whole new culture and architectural environment. So when visiting Totterdown to photograph the new Banksy recently, I was exposed to quite a few pieces and murals that I had been aware of but had never seen. One row of houses in particular caught the eye due to the very large murals on their garden-facing walls, which could be viewed from the road below. The row of houses is on St Luke’s Road.
The artist of this mural (along with several others) is Gage Graphics aka Ollie Gillard and who writes graffiti under the name Serif. This is an outstanding mural that shows a section cut through the ground, exposing different rock strata that lead up to the root system of a tree. The tree is bending in an autumn breeze and fits perfectly between two windows. All the while a milky daytime full moon looks on. What a wonderful thing to have on your house, and a fabulous gift for the citizens of the area to enjoy.
Sometimes I’m just not quick enough off the mark. This lovely collaboration between Mr Penfold and RichT is a case in point. I had seen the piece on Instagram and knew exactly where it was, ut by the time I got organised to check it out it had been tagged with the word WONK. Not really a surprise in this part of town, but really annoying nonetheless.
The mural is one of those ‘true’ collaborations which is a blend of the two artist’s styles incorporated into the one piece. The flowers are courtesy of RichT and the abstract shapes are Mr Penfold’s. I think that it works exceptionally well and I would love to see more of these blended collaborations in the future.
It took a little while to get there, but this outstanding mural from Sophie Long has been well worth the wait. The row of shops in North Street, which includes the Upfest shop in the middle, is becoming a bit of a showcase, with four of the five similar buildings now boasting a fine mural. Most interestingly all of these murals are by female artists. I reckon that we should be lining up Hazard for the remaining slot… That would be my first choice.
Sophie Long is well known for her paintings of wildlife and use of bright colours and in this mural she doesn’t disappoint. Four bumblebees surround the top window of the building with rays of bright colour shooting out from the centre. Often Sophie Long will pay attention to anatomical accuracy, but in this mural, the bumblebees have a slightly cartoonish appearance. This is a fine addition to the existing murals in this row.