I met Karl Read at the Cheltenham Paint Festival last year, and what a very nice bloke he is too. He is an artist who appears to enjoy painting at festivals, and he has certainly been to several Upfest events in the past, this is his 75 walls in 75 days contribution.
This is a superb bright and vibrant piece that makes great use of this slightly awkward wall. The message, in large colourful letters, is clear for all to see and will resonate with all but the most miserable people. Karl Read has chosen to paint his characters, a boy and a girl at each end of the letters, in black and white, probably using a stencil. The characters contrast beautifully with the letters and somehow bring out the colour even more. An upbeat and positive piece from the Upfest veteran.
I am generally pretty well tapped into the appearance of new pieces in Bristol through Instagram and Twitter, especially anything to do with Upfest, which made finding this piece accidentally/incidentally, by Sophie Long, extra special. Sophie Long is a Bristol artist who creates stunning colourful canvasses and murals of wild animals (and usually lots of lovely drips too), and who is an Upfest favourite.
These beautiful whale pieces, on the door shutter and wall of People Solutions on North Street, replace a pair of octopi from a previous Upfest event. Sophie Long has managed to use the vertical space brilliantly, who’d have thought you could paint blue whales in a diving pose?
There is always an emotional connection with our largest mammal cousins and Sophie Long has done a brilliant job at representing that connection. Skilfully painted in ghostly colours, these two leviathans remind us of the fragility of biodiversity on Earth. Beautiful.
It is always a real pleasure to welcome Dan Kitchener back to Bristol, and his work is absolutely astonishing, but for Upfest to allocate this wall to him is unfortunate to say the least. At best, perhaps the narrow space where the wall is located reflects the backstreets of a ‘Tokyoesque’ scene, but the detail and interest in this wonderful mural just can’t be fully appreciated from the street, and it is near impossible to photograph. Rant over.
These busy scenes that Dan Kitchener creates have a strong feel of ‘Bladerunner’ about them, if you know what I mean. Dark, wet, oriental streets with neon advertising and car headlights providing an intoxicating atmosphere and people with opened umbrellas busily scurrying across the traffic. Dan Kitchener gives us a complete urban nighttime landscape.
When you look closer at the work, you can see how effective the spray paint is for creating the reflections in the wet tarmac, but also in offering great detail in the neon lighting. There is a simplicity about Dan Kitchener’s style that allows your brain to work hard and fully create the scene. It is like an illusion, yes, an illusion that tricks your brain into thinking this is a real scene, a photograph or a memory. Clever stuff. Really evocative.
It is possible to photograph the wall from the roof of the bank, but I have not yet been in the right place at the right time to achieve this, and for most passers by this is similarly an impossibility. Another outstandingly brilliant piece from Dan Kitchener for Upfest.
Another artist whose work I very much admire and who is no stranger to Upfest is Envol, and he returned to Bristol to paint one of his distinctive pieces just off North Street. I was lucky enough to meet him while he was painting this and he stopped for a while for a great chat. It turns out that he is good friends with Fanakapan, another very talented London artist and one who has also painted at Upfest in the past.
While I managed to photograph the piece as a work in progress, by the time I came back to photograph the final finished piece it had been vandalised, along with several other Upfest murals, by some misguided (and probably ill) idiot. Thankfully the piece was fully restored and is as good as new.
Envol creates these sharp and clean pieces incorporating parts of the body with abstract shapes and patterns, and sometimes disrupting them with white space. They are quite surreal, and at times remind me a little of Giorgio de Chirico fused with Matisse’s cut outs. Beautiful to look at and thought-provoking. This piece is another fabulous contribution to Upfest’s 75×75 event.
For the first time during Upfest’s 75 walls in 75 days summer event I find myself a little baffled. This piece by Jay Sharples, an Upfest veteran, leaves me a little cold. It is technically beautifully painted and has a very strong design element which works well in the space, but it just doesn’t do it for me, which is a pity, because I like Jay Sharples’ work very much. I guess I can’t like everything.
The black and pink stripes are very striking and the contrast is very eye-catching. I am guessing that there was a lot of masking tape involved in the painting of this piece. I have a feeling that Jay Sharples may have left us a little present elsewhere in Bristol, rather more akin to his usual work. I thought I’d just include a previous Upfest piece from the artist below for comparison.
What an absolute delight to find this beautiful mural by Bex Glover which has been painted as part of Upfest’s 75 walls in 75 days initiative. Set on the side of a North Street shop, Bex Glover brings her unique design style and colour combinations that spreads the wonder of British nature to our streets.
This mural celebrates the hedgehog, a native mammal that has been in steep decline for some years now, just another casualty of our human carelessness and disregard for our environment. These three little characters are beautifully painted and appear to be following a yellow trail – perhaps it is their yellow brick road at the end of the rainbow.
I am a huge admirer of Bex Glover’s work which always stands out from the crowd and her connection with nature certainly chimes with me. Lovely stuff.
Damn, damn, damn those damn parked cars. This is a notoriously difficult wall to photograph, and while Epod was painting this incredible piece, I commented on the fact and said that clean photographs of his work would be something of a rarity. Somebody needs to put in some double yellow lines!
I spent a little while chatting with Epod, an artist from London, about the piece and how it reminded me a little of artists like Yvette Tanguy and René Magritte. So I gues what I was saying was that there was an element of dreamlike surrealism and symbolism going on in this piece.
I am so disappointed with these photographs, and short of camping on the street for days, simply don’t know how I will ever get clean shots of what is a truly stunning piece.
The final photograph at least gives you a feel for the skill and talent that Epod has and the wonderful concept behind this piece. This is one that if you live in Bristol or are visiting the city you will need to see for yourself. A superb mural.
Upfest is the gift that just keeps on giving, and I cannot remember a time when so many high-quality pieces have been painted over such a sustained period. Given all the problems that the pandemic has thrown at us, I think the Upfest team have done an astonishingly brilliant job this year.
This superb piece by Snub 23 looks as if it has been lifted straight out of a comic book, it is quite remarkable. The artist has used the dimensions of the wall perfectly and has created a really interesting perspective with the curvature of the tunnel behind the main character.
The bright colours used for the hero of the piece contrast nicely with the grey scene and there is a sense of purpose about his stride. The whole thing reminds me of Dan Dare from the Eagle Annuals I used to read as a kid (they weren’t mine, they had belonged to my uncles when they were young). Amazing piece.
When the murals for Upfest’s 75 walls in 75 days event are coming thick and fast, it is easy perhaps to not pay attention properly or to become a little blazé because of the wealth of riches. A piece like this on any high-street would be greeted with amazement, but here in Bedminster (the centre of Upfest activities) it blends in, becoming part of the furniture. It is my job to single out such pieces and study them and share them. This large mural is by Sophie Rae above Flip, a vegan delicatessen and shop on North Street.
Sophie Rae is a Mural artist and print maker based in Bristol who likes to work with natural plant themes interwoven with contemporary shapes, colours and designs to bring a very 2020s look to her murals. The job she has done on this very large wall is quite exceptional and really captures the vibrant Bedminster scene. I will definitely be hunting down some of her other murals.
There is no doubt about it – what we have lost in quantity by the change in format of Upfest 2021, we have certainly gained in quality. The 75 walls in 75 days initiative has been a massive success and each new wall brings with it extraordinary talent. This outstanding wall is by Pikto and really sets a high bar for this year’s productions.
It is the composition and colours that initially draw the eye, but there is something about the catapult boy’s expression that tells a story here of mischief and satisfaction. Photorealistic pieces like this one have improved so much in recent years that we have become rather blazé, and it is not until you stop and study them that you see the quality and the detail.
This particular wall has played host to some masterpieces recently and this one carries on that fine tradition. I took these pictures on a sunny day, and I rather like the way that the shadow cast by a tree to the left is commensurate with the shadow cast by the boy’s cheek on his face. Awesome is an over used word, but I will use it here. This piece from Pikto is awesome.