Although I am well aware of the incredibly innovative work of Vhils, I have only ever seen one of his works before and that, rather weirdly, is in Exeter, which I wrote about a few years ago. Vhils has a rather interesting technique, which is to chip away at a rendered wall and ‘etch’ a portrait into the wall, providing enormous texture and depth. Some of his pieces almost look like something printed off using a dot matrix printer (remember those?).
My daughter and I stumbled across this piece quite by accident while strolling along the north bank of the River Douro. At first inspection, I thought that the piece was in some way damaged on the left-hand side, but then realised it was meant to look like a tree blending with a portrait. I always wonder whether this method of ‘sculpting’ does any damage to the building, but I guess it isn’t really my concern. I believe it was created in April 2016, and has barely changed at all since then.
It is unlikely, but it might have escaped your attention that I recently went on a short break to Porto, Portugal, with my daughter, and we had the most incredible time. No pressure, no worries and the freedom to wander round a city with absolutely no agenda or plan. This is the way to see incredible things and make great discoveries.
Like many great cities in Europe, Porto has a graffiti and street art scene, which although still quite young, is most impressive nonetheless. This is the first of several posts of street art from the trip.
Of course, anyone who follows street art will have seen work by Bordallo II on digital media, but to come across a piece (completely by accident – it was my daughter who spotted it down a back street) and see it is the flesh is quite something else. Bordallo II, a Portuguese artist, creates his work from scraps of waste material which he attaches to a wall and paints to create extraordinary ‘installation sculptures’ of animals.
This piece on the south side of the Douro river depicts a rabbit in two halves, the left-hand side is dull and depressing, the right-hand side is colourful, vibrant and optimistic. The piece demonstrates the incredible skill of the artist to create something from nothing and generate different emotions from the viewer within the same work. One less artist on the bucket list.
Street sculptures are as much a part of the street art scene as the more familiar painted walls that we see and this poignant piece by Getting up to Stuff was installed at the top of Jacob’s Wells Road in the perfect spot, to mark World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September 2020).
In this moving piece, what looks like Pooh Bear is comforting a young lad in a hoodie who appears to be contemplating jumping. It is a very touching piece and demonstrates the power of a caring hand. It also reminds me of the robot bear in the film AI (Artificial Intelligence), who had a similar guardianship role.
I know little of the artist Getting up to Stuff, but in checking some facts about this piece, I realised that he was responsible for a statue in The Bearpit some time ago that I can now share with you (to come). Many will drive or walk past this and not look up, they will miss it. My advice to everyone is keep your eyes open… there is treasure all around us if we only care to see it.
I was up at Dean Lane yesterday, and although this picture is from a while back, the little face by Mutatee is still there which is great news, because all too often installation pieces get vandalised or stolen.
When I see this face it reminds me of the little toys of the 1970s called Gonks although with teeth, which I don’t think they had. I love these little curiosities that Mutatee has glued to various walls in Bristol, and I will continue to hunt them down. I do think that she needs to find a translucent glue though, as the white one used here is a little bit distracting. Always fun finding these.
Leonard Lane remains one of my favourite secrets in Bristol. Completely off the radar of most of my fellow citizens, this little lane plays host to a diverse and interesting range of graffiti and street art. One of the more recent additions is this fabulous little sculpture by relative newcomer Mutatee.
I don’t know too much just yet about Mutatee, but it is great to have an artist in Bristol working in a different medium from spray paint or paste ups, carefully placing these little gems for the curious to discover. I have seen a few of her pieces dotted around, but this is the first I have posted on Natural Adventures. It is pieces like these that are so rewarding for the observant, those whose eyes are peeled and who look at the world around them living in the moment. Thank you Mutatee for maki;g my day when I found this.
The joy of Upfest is that as a visitor, you are guaranteed to see a huge spectrum of amazing street art, and in my view one of the most inspiring artists in 2018 was Piet Rodriguez. This is the second piece by the artist that I have posted, the first one being on the front of a shop on North Street, next door to the Standard. Unfortunately (for us) the shop has changed hands and has been renovated, which means that the wooden frontage (a yard gate) that boasted Piet Rodriguez’s other work is now freshly painted in gray.
His style and content is really interesting, combining a classical representation of sculpture and adding some modern abstract elements to it, not unlike the work of PichiAvo. Brilliant execution and a shining star at Upfest 2018.
Only a few days ago I posted something a little different form Duncan McKellar, the foil butterflies on the tarmac of Frogmore Street. This creation, from the same artist, is designed to bring a smile to people’s faces. No piece of ‘street furniture’ is safe from his creative attention, with several statues receiving the same treatment.
The pineapple is ‘sculpted’ from hundreds of pieces of bright yellow foam (it looks like insulation foam to me), and attracts the attention of passers by. What I love about his work is its ‘guerilla’ style…he keeps the local newspapers and busybodies guessing about who he is and where his next project will take him.
I am a fan of all street art that challenges people to see the world through a different lens, and this work by Duncan certainly does this. I’ll try to hunt down more from this ingenious artist.
Set in a wall on a hill very close to where I work is this beautiful old weathered door. It is the perfect ‘secret garden’ door, but it is not the secrets that hide on the other side of this wall that grabbed my attention, rather it is the small stone sculptures that pepper the outside of the wall along its length.
The artwork is by the late Bob Ballard, an artist from Bristol, and I found this tribute on the Society of Graphic Fine Art website which tells you a little more about him:
Bob Ballard was born in London in 1944. He had worked full time as an artist since 1989, when he won a Goldsmiths Travel Bursary (drawing and studying Romanesque art in Spain). Thereafter he was awarded many prizes, including the Bruckhaus Derringer Award from the Royal Watercolour Society. Bob’s work encompassed abstract and representative styles in a wide range of media, such as sculpture, print, oils, watercolour and pastels. Later in his career he was a senior lecturer at the University of the West of England, and senior tutor and research associate for COREOX, University of Oxford. Bob was a council member for both the Society of Graphic Fine Art (SGFA) and the Bath Society of Artists (BSA). He lived in Bristol with his wife Maggie.
Bob Ballard attached a number of small sculptures to the wall which the curious would notice. Little gifts of artwork that brighten up a day. I love this wall, I love the door and I love the sculptures.
I found this quote from Bob Ballard on his Facebook feed, which I rather like:
“ In my work I always try to place the unknown next to the known. Defamiliarisation is the essence of art. The closer you look at it the greater the distance from which it stares back at you.”
On one of the most iconic walls in Bristol, there are always things to look out for around the large yellow and black Stinkfish face of a girl. One reasonably recent addition is this incredible bust (if that is the right term). Unfortunately I don’t know who the artist is, but it is a beautiful addition to this space.
I don’t come across very many sculptures on my Bristol street art sorties, so it was a real pleasure to find this. It is perched high up, and I’m not sure that it is seen by many. You have to look up and observe.
Up close you can see that it is a nicely worked piece. Any ideas about the artist would be most welcome.
I said in my post about the rather unusual Upfest piece by Will Coles that I would write about more of his work that he left behind in various places in Bristol. This is the first of those.
The clever thing about this and his other pieces is that they are all disguised or camouflaged in some way and that most passers by will not see them. I only stumbled across this one myself, because I had noticed a new Mr Draws piece on the wall of the Gents, and looked up.
There is something funny about a skull with LOL written on it…I’m not sure what, but it tickled me anyway. More from Will Coles soon.