I have met Goin only once and it was at an Upfest a few years ago. He had just finished a stencil piece in a spot that was not a recognised Upfest wall (let’s call it) and was looking rather sheepish. I tried to strike up a conversation with him, but he wished to keep his anonymity intact and was backwards in coming forwards (and who can blame him). Things have moved on since then, and Goin has created this magnificent wall for Upfest 2022.
I had to have a couple of goes at photographing this piece, because there were shadows running across the wall in my first attempts. This was one of the first walls to be completed at this year’s Upfest, and is a real statement piece. Big, bold and simple the girl in greyscale is wearing a beret, but the only revolution here is for love. The only colour is a red badge on her beret and the heart cushion she is clasping to her chest. The piece feels important and significant and is a strong message in these uncertain and troubling times.
Anyone who visits the centre of Bristol can’t have missed that there has been a lot of redevelopment work going on in Nelson Street, Broad Street and the surrounding area. This rather seedy backwater has, over the last two years undergone a bit of a face lift and is being opened soon as a huge, 250 bedroom, hotel owned by the Clayton chain. Let’s hope they can find enough workers to staff it! Unlike many developments, this one has retained some significant existing murals and commissioned a new one by the old master, Felix Braun.
Felix Braun or FLX is one of the godfathers of Bristol street art and author of the book ‘Children of the Can’ a ‘must-have’ for enthusiasts of the Bristol scene. His artwork has taken on a highly designed stylised look in recent years, and this huge mural is a gorgeous reminder of his talent. Abstract figures at the base of the piece draw your eyes in before sending them upwards towards the giant figure and it’s shadow. There is something very pleasing about the piece overall, and it is great to see FLX’s work in the heart of the city.
I enjoy enormously seeing street art when I am visiting other parts of the UK or other countries, but I am conflicted when it comes to writing about what I see, because invariably I know nothing about the artists. This magnificent mural by Tamara Alves is a case in point.
I’m not quite sure what area of Porto we were in when we saw this, but the image is a striking one with a beautiful woman wrapped in an embrace of arms and hands. Tamara Alves is a massively talented artist from Lisbon, and you can read more about her on her very nice website. This was one of several large murals we saw in Porto.
Porto is a city spanning the north and south banks of the River Douro, across which there are six remarkable bridges, each with its own unique design and purpose. Perhaps the most impressive and iconic bridge is the Luis I Bridge, designed by Theophile Seyrig, a student of Gustave Eiffel, which has a lower and upper level. The upper level is now a metro and pedestrian route and offers some of the finest views of Porto from its span. Heading north on the bridge, this impressive mural by Frederico Draw looms large on the left-hand side of the bridge.
I know nothing of the artist, and a quick Google search took me to his Facebook page which contained little information. As my primary focus is on Bristol street art, I will leave it to the ‘resource investigators’ among you to find out more. The piece itself is a wonderfully blended portrait, making full use of the derelict wall as a backdrop, and is certainly eye-catching from quite some distance. I love the little shrine at the bottom left of the wall too. A cracking piece by a cracking bridge in a cracking city.
There is no doubting that Farrah is fast becoming the darling of Bristol mural art, and deservedly so. Her work can be seen all over the city now and is predominantly commission work although she has painted one or two other walls too. Her bright brush strokes and abstract artwork alongside environmental themes makes her work a ‘safe’ option for commissioners and the Council, who are currently waging war against illegal street art.
This piece alongside he Bristol Royal Infirmary is just so right for the space. These fairly utilitarian concrete steps with perfunctory planting in the flowerbeds has been completely transformed with Farrah’s beautiful and calming artwork.
Each of the stages along the steps has a long wall that Farrah has painted, but the work has spilled out onto other surfaces including the pathway under your feet. The whole thing is an immersive experience and tiny little adventure to take your mind away from the Urban jungle surrounding you.
An additional feature are the little details that Farrah has included at different points around the mural such as a damselfly, butterfly, hedgehog and frog. This is a superb piece that demonstrates so clearly how urban art can be uplifting and improve an area immeasurably. Bravo!
This bright and breezy mural by Haka has been around for a long while and includes a tribute to DJ Derek, a Bristol celebrity and much loved character, who sadly passed away in 2015, although his remains weren’t found until March 2016. I have been meaning to post this piece forever, and finally dug it out last week.
The whole mural is rather different from the stuff we usually see from Haka and may well have been painted to a brief. The soft colour selection allows the piece to be noticed without being brash or garish. There is so much detail through the piece and plenty of local references, such as the Banksy bear throwing a Molotov cocktail, the original of which is just around the corner.
I am guessing that the piece was a commission from the householder, and remarkably for the area remains largely untouched by taggers. A wonderful testament to Bristol culture and of course DJ Derek.
This magnificent piece, by Stinkfish, is arguably the most iconic piece of street art in Bristol. This is the second appearance of this mural in Natural Adventures, but a totally legitimate one. The original was painted by Stinkfish some years ago, and at the back end of last year the artist was brought back to the city to refresh this and another of his fine works in Mina Road, St Werburghs.
The result of this refresh is absolutely stunning, bringing the old piece back to life and restoring a sense of pride in this extraordinary wall. Some may feel that restoring a piece goes a bit against the grain of the lifecycle of street art, but I am not amongst them. In this piece not only has Stinkfish refreshed the black and yellow elements, but he has embellished the piece with his trademark patterns that add so much more to the whole.
For comparison I include a picture of the piece from my original post, and even then the piece wasn’t particularly new. It is wonderful to see new life breathed into the old girl.
Tom Miller has been very busy recently with a few commissions, and of course his lovely collaboration piece with Kin Dose on Nelson Street, that I published yesterday (Christmas Day). This new mural on the wall of the Basement Beer brewery tap room in Upper York Street is an absolute beauty and full of depth and symbolism.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Tom Miller (thank you, Paul, for the tip-off) while he was putting the finishing touches on the piece, and stopped for a wee chat. Tom Miller is one of the gentlest, kindest and most lovely artists I meet doing the rounds, and he is so generous with his time, always willing to talk and discuss his work. During our conversation, I asked him about the painting, and he gave me a few little insights.
The steps that appear on the piece are a direct reference to the steps in the doorway sign ‘basement beer’, which kind of makes sense, but might not be obvious when just glancing at the piece.
There is always so much going on in Tom Miller’s pieces, and he has really delved into the spirit of the venue with some clever mash-ups of people and drinks, creating some rather surreal and colourful characters.
This is an artwork that deserves to be seen and admired, and we are so lucky in Bristol that we get to see so much free art like this. Tom’s canvasses are something special too. Always bright, colourful and frenetic, they display a stream of consciousness captured on canvass or a wall and frozen in that moment. Fabulous work.
Life is full of surprises, and for me some of the best surprises are new murals in town that have not been on my radar, and this outstanding new piece in St Werburgh’s Park, by Gabriel Pitcher, is definitely one of those great surprises to lift the spirits. This piece is part of an initiative called ‘Vanguard x TOward 2030, What are you doing?’, and there is a very good webpage from Street Art News that explains the event and showcases several artworks and artists around Bristol – more for me to seek out!
I have borrowed some text from the Street Art News website to help explain some of the background to this Gabriel Pitcher piece:
“Gabriel Pitcher has partnered with community ambassador, The Global Goals Centre to paint a mural in St Werburgh’s, Bristol celebrating Bristol 17 hero Katie Cross, founder of Pledgeball.
Pledgeball harnesses the power of football and its fans to accelerate the pursuit of global sustainability. Through affiliated clubs, it prompts fans into small lifestyle ‘pledges’ in support of their favourite team and their only planet and empowers fans by demonstrating the huge impact even small changes can make for the benefit of themselves and their environment.”
The piece itself is so natural. Subtle colours, tons of movement and a modesty that is a rare thing in large murals these days. It is so good to see this kind of people-engagement with the environment through art, something we could see a lot more of in the coming years, I hope. This is a fabulous and worthy (in the good sense) piece.