The 1M square boards at Upfest tend to lend themselves perfectly to small detailed stencil pieces which can sometimes be lost on larger walls, and this is a perfect example of an outstanding stencil piece in exactly the right format.
RJ77stencils has created this haunting and compelling piece of a girl with her head in her hands and the words: ‘Sometimes all I want to do is hide’. The greyscale stencil has at least five layers and possibly more, which bring out all the different textures in the piece, especially on the girl’s jumper. There is so much emotion conveyed in this clever and perfectly executed stencil, demonstrating how the technique comes into its own. Great work from RJ77stencils.
I love it when fine artists paint at Upfest, it affords them the opportunity to ‘go large’ and make a big impression with their studio skills in an open air environment. Lee Ellis is a Bristol-based artist best known for his abstract portraits, which have a slightly sinister or unsettling quality about them. In this Upfest piece, Lee Ellis has treated us to not one but five portraits in this piece.
The portraits feature a blue-faced man (or men) in black shirts, each with a cup of tea. It is the contrasting red background that helps to elevate the work into something quite extraordinary. While the style may not be to everyone’s taste, this was definitely a unique piece that I’m sure would have remained in visitor’s memories for a long while. Striking.
I love challenging and controversial pieces, especially ones featuring cultural icons, although it has to be said that two same sex superheroes kissing is far less shocking these days than it would have been when I was growing up, which I would suggest is massive progress on our pathway towards tolerance, equity, respect and understanding,
Rich Simmons has produced this superb pop art piece featuring Batman and Superman in an intimate moment, with black and white repetitions of the embrace in the background. An accomplished piece from an accomplished artist that fits the spot in the Tobacco Factory car park perfectly.
Sprite is not an artist I know well, although there was a memorable contribution from her for Upfest’s 50×50 event last year. Sprite’s website is well worth a visit to see some of her street work and art for sale. Dig a little deeper into her profile, and you find out that her partner is Snub23 – a talented artistic partnership.
This is a gorgeous little piece featuring a possum (I think) on a wall at the top of Greville Smyth Park, where the main body of the festival was held this year. The composition is neatly worked into the oval frame and oozes cuteness without being too cartoony. A lovely piece.
I have only encountered Daub and his work at festivals, and so I conclude that he rather enjoys them. It would be nice to have him visit Bristol to paint a wall or two, but I just don’t think it is going to happen.
The fish eating fish is a familiar motif, but one that is given the Daub treatment, and looks fantastic. Daub tends to draw up his design with a white filled outline, to which the detailed black lines are added with black pen work. The outcome is always spectacular and full of fine detail. Fish and street art, what is not to like?
This collaboration is an absolute belter from the RBF crew and brings together the talents of Bnie, Vozie, Pekoe and Evey in one magnificent board.
It was great to watch the crew paint this piece on a gorgeous day in late May, which felt like a genuinely joyous celebration of art and music in a totally Bristol context.
The colour scheme adopted was sustained across the whole collaborative piece and combines the colours pink and blue that seem to have been a bit of a thing this year. On the left, Bnie and Vozie spoilt us with two superb examples of great graffiti writing.
The centrepiece of the collaboration was this magnificent portrait piece by Pekoe and arguably her finest piece of the year, although the bar she set herself was pretty high.
On the right, Evey rounded the piece off with a huge shout-out to themselves with an RBF which I think might have been painted by Bnie at a guess. Some beautiful work from a beautiful group of people.
It never ceases to amaze me just how many artists paint at Upfest, and it is truly a triumph of organisation by Steve and Emma and their team. At the festival, artists can be allocated walls, some of them enormous, temporary hoardings or these 1 meter squares, and it is up to the artists to make the most of the space available. Chi-Yien Snow has done a wonderful job with this board.
Chi-Yien Snow is a fine artist living in Clevedon, who paints in acrylics and oils, and has painted this outstanding and soulful portrait piece for the festival. I would guess that the portrait is of a native South American, perhaps from the Amazon region, or at least that is what it looks like to me. It is always a real pleasure to see the work of new artists and I will be looking out for Chi-Yien Snow’s work from now on.
Emily Joy Rich is a regular participant at Upfest and her sign writing street art amply demonstrates the breadth of talent on display at the event. I always feel like I have seen more of her art than I actually have, perhaps it is because her pieces are so strong and memorable and remain in the memory for a long while.
This beautiful piece could be adopted as a mantra for our time. For me, I keep on dreaming for an Arsenal triumph in the Premiership, or for a Government free of Tories forever. I love the way Emily Joy Rich has combined the on-point word DREAMING on a backdrop of the words ‘keep on’, written in a drippy handwritten style. This is a classy piece from a classy artist.
I feel I have been neglecting the remarkable street art work that was created at the end of May during Upfest 2022, such has been the volume of new work in the city, so I am making up for lost time with a quick segment of ten Upfest pieces, starting with this one by Sake One.
This is an absolutely stunning and arresting piece, hidden behind some verdant trees, on a wall that has hosted several wonderful Upfest pieces in the past. I understand that the piece is inspired by the track Paradise Circus by Massive Attack. The California-based artist, who is no stranger to Upfest, said of this piece
“Since many apple trees are covering the wall, I wanted to make it appear like they are forest nymphs peering through. I thought it would work to give the mural this title, since she has a devilish grin. I also wanted to give a wink or Easter egg to Massive Attack and Bristol”
This is a fine work from a celebrated artist, and it was great to welcome him back to Bristol again for the festival.
I don’t recall ever going to this car park and finding it without a car parked in front of this long wall. Having said that, it is not a car park that I often frequent, and maybe I have simply been unlucky on each visit.
The long mural is by Vanessa Scott, who painted a memorable piece for Upfest in 2021 as part of the 75 walls in 75 days event, and it was great to be able to welcome her back this year with this calming water lilies piece.
The abstract design is perfect for this wall and rather grey car park environment, bringing a spot of colour and uplifting beauty to the streets. Vanessa Scott comes from Manchester and is a prolific muralist, whose work we don’t get to see too often here in the south.