Finding pieces you were not looking for is probably the most rewarding part of photographing street art, and with the 75 walls in 75 days event being held by Upfest, I am having to explore a little bit more of Bedminster and in doing so I stumbled upon this wonderful stencil piece from Stewy.
The stencil is part of a local icon series and features Ken who is something of a character and legend in the neighbourhood. Bristol, like so many towns and cities, seems to have a great many local characters, bringing colour to the city. Stewy’s work is pretty much always a single-layer stencil, and counterintuitively is probably more difficult to portray depth and detail than multi-layered stencils. This is a skilfully crafted and most excellent piece.
One of the notable things about Stewy is that he skulks around, a little bit like the fox depicted in this stencil, without fanfare or pomp and with great modesty leaves us with some beautiful and lasting art to enjoy. Stewy selects his spots very carefully and few if any get tagged or over-painted because of where they are.
Stewy is a well known artist who gets a lot of commissions, and alongside his animal work, he is famous for his stencils of well-known people such as pop stars, politicians and other notable figures. In this gorgeous piece he has painted a fabulous Bristol fox in this three-layer stencil. This fox might have been there forever, or might be relatively recent, but that is the thing with Stewy, it is hard to know sometimes.
I have only managed to capture a fraction of the Recent John D’oh stencils as he tends to spray them at spots I don’t visit too often (something better change). The last time I looked at this column there was a Pekoe sketch, so I know that this stencil isn’t very old.
As we are accustomed to seeing, John D’oh once again combines his political commentary with humour in this case ridiculing Rishi Sunak for his astounding 1% pay increase for nurses after all they have done and achieved for the nation in the last year. Yet another jaw-dropping moment from this ‘compassionate’ administration. At this moment I ought to say that it is not only nurses. As someone who works in the public sector, I have been on the wrong end of a pay freeze for ten years which was lifted last year and I received a 2% rise, but we are now back to a pay freeze. Meanwhile MPs and bankers (the architects of the banking crisis) have seen their salaries increase very nicely thank you. Respect to John D’oh for calling out these people.
I always enjoy finding John D’oh pieces, and that pleasure is always heightened when it is a piece that you just didn’t know was there, which to be fair is most of the time with John D’oh. I found this one while I was looking for an Andy Council/Acer One collaboration near Temple Meads Station.
This is another political piece from this stencil master and is a commentary on the appalling costs of rail travel in this country alongside the dreadful service provided. I’m not too sure how long it will last here, given its location, but good on John D’oh for keeping this in the spotlight. This country is a mess.
A trip to Purdown is always rewarding, even scrambling through winter mud is worth it, because there are often some real gems to be found like this Christmas piece by John D’oh featuring Boris Johnson and Michael Gove thinly disguised as the Grinch and a pandemic scientist.
Never one to pass up a chance to parody the half-wits running our country, this piece from John D’oh turned out to be somewhat prophetic. The appalling decision to relax lockdown restrictions over Christmas has contributed to the sorry state we see ourselves in, and all for the sake of vain popularity. I love what John D’oh does in exposing these charlatans.
This wall used to have a wonderful tribute piece on it to honour DJ Derek by Deamze and Sepr. From speaking to a local, I understand that the owners of the wall loved it, but they had to have some damp treatment work done on the house and the mural had to go as part of that. The result is a vast wall that is crying out for decoration
Who should come along, but Stewy, who has some other pieces nearby, to place a stencil of a duck, high up on the wall perching on a pipe. Although a small piece, it commands the wall and adds interest for passers by who manage to extract themselves from their mobile technology and look at the world around them.
This is a fun stencil, and I can imagine a wry smile on the artist’s face when he painted this. This is all part of the circle of life of a Bristol wall.
When I arrived in Vale Street (yesterday), my first observation was how incredibly steep the hills around the area are and where Vale Street joins Park Street is quite treacherous [I have just read a Guardian article that says Vale Street is the steepest residential street in England] – fortunately it rarely snows in Bristol, but when it does this must be a no-go zone.
I picked up on a sense of excitement and a bit of a local buzz as trickles of people arrived to look at the brand new Totterdown Banksy and I overheard a conversation which painted quite a picture of a normally quiet and tranquil area… ‘nothing ever happens on our street, it is normally very quiet’ I overheard one young woman say.
Banksy hits walls when people least expect it and in places that tend not to be regular graffiti spots – this was on the side of a house that is in the process of being sold. The occupants have taken the house off the market and are probably reassessing the value of the property. [Update – the owners have not pulled out of the sale, but rather are safeguarding the artwork from being cut out and sold, which I think is a wholly admirable thing to do].
The stencil is called ‘Aachoo!’ and features an old lady who is sneezing so hard that she has dropped her handbag and her walking stick and worse, her false teeth have flown out in front of her. It is all so very Banksy. Incredibly, the Perspex sheet was placed over the piece within hours, which I suppose is a good thing because a lot of his work in Bristol gets tagged or vandalised – goodness only knows why.
Thanks to Paul H for pointing out the Banksy Diana banknotes that were attached to one of the pillars in front of the stencil. I hadn’t noticed these and I daresay nor had most other visitors – their eyes fixed elsewhere. What is extra interesting about these banknotes is that they were added after the photograph that appeared in the Guardian was taken. If that is the case then they were either put there by another artist or Banksy returned to attach them to the pillar – mysterious.
When I have done street art tours for colleagues at work, I call the tours ‘It’s not all about Banksy’, but today and on those very rare days that he sprays his stuff in his old home town it is all about Banksy.
All this time I have been labelling thissprawling spot Brunel Way bridge, but it is rather more like a fly-over. No matter, bridge is what I have called it, so that it is what it is called. At the southenr end of the site there is a little little hot spot of stencils by Remko of which this is the second that I have posted.
The Einstein stencil is perfectly suited to a column, although I’m not too clear what the robot thing is all about. Maybe it is a comment on the AI future that we are facing, maybe not. As far as stencils go, this is rather unusual and it looks like the lines may have bee augmented with a Posca pen or something similar. Fun and original art from Remko.
The Agent is well known in Bristol not only for his Minion stencils, but also for being the father of another significant street artist in Bristol, Angus. At the Cheltenham Paint Festival this September he knocked himself out with this sequence of stencils on the inner panels of an iron railway bridge, along the course of the old Honeybourne Line.
In his single layered stencils The Agent appears to get most of his inspiration from TV or movie cartoons. There don’t appear to be any hidden messages or politics in his pieces, just a whole lot of fun.
Even creating these ‘simple’ stencils is not quite as easy as it might seem, and taking that step from ‘I could do that’ to actually doing it is the key to achieving many things in life. I am not preaching, far from it, I am perhaps reminding myself to pull my finger out and do stuff.
No The Agent wall would be complete without a minions piece, and here he delights us with a fine ‘bananas’ piece. And finally a rainbow flag…
John D’oh always has a strong presence in Cheltenham and his “gallery” of stencils this year was quite outstanding. With his razor sharp commentaries on the state of the nation and beautifully cut stencils, there is no mistaking his work.
This stencil I think dates back a little while and references the Sincura Group who held a Banksy collection exhibition of street art pieces and then contraversially sold them off in a sealed bid auction. Not really the point of street art and willful profiteering. Very nice stencil… any bids?