One of my favourite Bristol artists is Sepr, and it is great to see him embracing Upfest this year. I can’t recall any Upfest pieces by Sepr before, but I might well be mistaken. This is a prominent wall at Upfest, with plenty of opportunity to see it head on from a distance, as anyone driving from North Street to West Street will know.
The previous occupant was another Bristol artist, Cheba, so it is nice to get that local continuity. Sepr has painted a whole load of people out and about, perhaps reflecting the diversity of people attending Upfest. What is fascinating is that each of the characters is telling a different story; some seem anxious, some unhappy, some happy, some busy and some simply chilling. It is incredible to get so many contrasting emotions into one piece. This is an outstanding piece from Sepr, and what a joy that it will probably remain in situ until the next Upfest.
This is one of two pieces painted by Ejits at this year’s festival, the other being a wall over a shop entrance on East Street. Although she doesn’t paint on the streets all that often, she does have one or two prominent murals in Bedminster.
Although I managed to photograph the piece as a work in progress, I unfortunately didn’t manage to cross paths with Ejits, which is a shame, but maybe next time. Ejits seems to be as comfortable painting on a small board as she is painting at scale and her straightforward solid fill characters are interesting and charming. I would say that her style is similar to that of Roo and Nol, although her characters are quite unique.
One could be forgiven for thinking that her half-finished piece was complete, because it was signed, but the final picture shows you how much impact the additional details make on the overall piece. Watch this space for her other Upfest 2022 piece.
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.
We are living in a country whose government has brought it to its knees. This conservative government has destroyed so much that I and others hold dear. I honestly don’t think I share any of their values at all, and every day I feel disgusted by their announcements and ashamed to be British. On the upside, I know that I am not alone, as this piece by Georgie suggests. We must be careful not to lay all the Blame on Mr Johnson. The mess began with David Cameron who gave in to the right-wingers, and we now have a far right cabinet doing their incompetent worst. Unspeakable really.
This piece is a direct reference to ‘partygate’, which is symbolic of the contempt Mr Johnson and his government have for the people they serve. The piece features The nasty man holding up a glass in a toast to Lee Cain, at a leaving party that wasn’t a party in lockdown. Georgie has captured the moment well. The balloons are real balloons attached to the piece creating a fabulous effect. Hear, hear Georgie.
Nol is another artist who is no stranger to Upfest and appears to really enjoy himself with his lighthearted and rather geeky monsters. This year Nol introduced an element of gamification to his work. His main piece was an identification parade of four monsters, each of which could be found dotted around Bedminster, and could be ‘collected’.
I managed to find three of the four monsters, and I have a feeling that the fourth had been painted over before I ever managed to photograph it, which I guess is the story of street art all over… you snooze, you lose.
Alongside all the newcomers to Bristol’s Upfest festival, there is a cohort of ‘regulars’ who turn up and wow us with their talent, year after year. One of these regulars is RTC (Rich Turner) who has been present at several festivals and presented us with this magnificent British bulldog stencil piece this year.
RTC manages to produce these massively detailed and multi-layered stencil pieces that are photorealistic in their appearance. The backgrounds too are beautifully constructed with hexagons bubbles and stars all adding to the structure of the piece. What is most amazing is that it is all contained with; one of the small 1m squared board.
This post marks a small milestone in the development of Natural Adventures, being my 4,500th street art/graffiti post. I never thought that this would happen when I first set up this blog, but it is funny how things happen in the most unexpected ways. This Upfest 2022 piece is by Bjor, and is a striking and beautiful piece, a little reminiscent of some of Jody’s work.
I guess the contrast between the greyscale portrait and the abstract colourful swirl of thought/imagination/soul is what makes this piece so intriguing, there is a story happening somewhere in this splash of colour.
I have not seen any of Bjor’s work before (one of the joys of Upfest is seeing the work of so many artists for the first time), and it is very fine accomplished stuff. Bjor comes from Norway and his artwork, which you can see on his Facebook page, is definitely worth a look.
I have said many times on this blog that one of the great things about street art is that much of it chronicles the times we live in, either overtly in a political context or sometimes in more subtle ways through visual cues or references. This Upfest stencil piece from Daisy Mae Morris is an overt reverence to the war in Ukraine and features Volodymir Zelensky.
The piece is a take on the famous Lord Kitchener poster of the First World War and seeks to gain the support of Britons in the struggle Ukraine face against dictator Putin and his Russian army. It is a nicely done stencil and I was lucky enough to watch her doing the very final touches to the piece, but not lucky enough to stop for a chat. Great work from Daisy Mae.
One of the most pleasurable parts of the new format for Upfest, was the opportunity to meet artists in the weeks before the festival weekend while they were completing their allocated walls, and none more so than Ant Carver who I also met last year. The technique and painting methods he uses means that he paints over several days, and I think I caught up with him on three separate occasions while he painted this extraordinary portrait piece.
The first stage to his work is creating a matrix on the wall which he photographs and then superimposes his draft onto on his mobile phone. The lines act as a grid which he uses to map out a sketch on the wall, and he can create his outlines with pin-point accuracy. I believe that the piece is one he had painted on canvass for an exhibition.
Ant Carver, I think, uses spray cans for some of the work, but much of it is painted with brushes. The fine detail in the piece is achieved with the brushes, something that would be difficult to achieve using spray paint alone.
I have a feeling that This piece, and indeed last year’s 75 x 75 piece are about aspects of mental health. I am not too certain that Ant Carver completed the piece, because the candle doesn’t look finished to me. I’ll need to check up on that.
All in all another very pleasing and special piece from Ant Carver, on a new wall for Upfest, which is in a really great spot for maximum exposure. Great work from this modest and really likeable artist.
It is difficult to know where to begin with this outstanding street scene by Dan Kitchener, whose work just seems to get better and better. Painted on one of the larger Upfest walls, the typical street scene features tons of smaller screens displaying Japanese advertising and anime figures cheek by jowl.
The wall is not easy to photograph, so I have broken the piece down into sections or chunks to give a taste of the intricacy of each section. At the base of the piece, a wet street scene with a car and pedestrians holding umbrellas, is reminiscent (as I have said many times before) of the dystopian scenes from Blade Runner, a theme present in so much of Dan Kitchener’s work.
Above the street level, a bank of advertising screens and hoardings illuminate the dark street. It would be interesting to have a translations of all the writing, to understand better what is happening here.
It is amazing to see this all as one piece by one artist, because it comes across as if each section is by a different artist, if you see what I mean. I don’t know how long it took Dan Kitchener to paint the piece, but I know he works fast, and I imagine this represents 2-3 days of painting. An utterly outstanding piece that transports you halfway across the world, if even for a short while.