3840. Upfest 2021 75×75 (28)

There is real craft and ability in the work of Emily Joy Rich, and her training and work as a graphic designer certainly come to the fore when you see her work. Her letters are so clean, tidy and sharp and her designer’s eye uses the space beautifully. I have only seen a handful of her pieces and like each one of them, she seems to be, in a way, upholding the art and craft of the sign-writer.

Emily Joy Rich, The Tabacco Factory, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21
Emily Joy Rich, The Tabacco Factory, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21

‘You are not alone’ reminds me of the Close Encounters tag line ‘We are not alone’ but the two have very different connotations. The hashtag #youarenotaloneart, seems to be a ‘thing’ and checking it out on Instagram highlights some beautifully written murals from across the world. This one is a corker from Emily Joy Rich and I particularly like the two-tone grey shading on the word ‘Alone’, which gives it loads of perspective and lifts the word out from the wall. Highly accomplished work and another triumph for Upfest 75×75.

3838. Upfest 2021 75×75 (27)

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, North Street, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21,
Sophie Rae, North Street, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21,

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.

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Sometimes words are not enough.

I am very tempted to end the post at this point and just leave you to enjoy the pictures, but that would be a bit lazy on my part and short-changing you of my talents as a street art rapporteur (LOL). This piece is by genius artist Liam Bononi.

Liam Bononi, North Street Standard, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21
Liam Bononi, North Street Standard, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21

I haven’t encountered Liam Bononi before, but he is firmly on my radar now and I will be keeping an eye out for his extraordinary work.he has a fabulous website, and in his ‘About’ section there is a link to a short biographic video, which is well worth a quick watch if you have time. Liam is a Brizilian, now living in Liverpool, who started painting walls in 2007 and has decorated walls all over the world. Now is the turn for Bristol.

Liam Bononi, North Street Standard, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21
Liam Bononi, North Street Standard, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21

In his biography, the following sentence stands out as best describing what lies behind his paintings:

His pieces represent the quest for the divine essence that inhabits each one of us and his art is a narrative about the human beings’ transformation through self-knowledge and search of the self true (sic).

Heady stuff, but then this is a heady piece and one of the most compelling I have ever seen at Upfest. Liam Bononi has just set the bar at a new level. My advice… seek out his work whenever you can.

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I feel another ear worm coming on. What is it with these street artists and music anyway…? Inkie has returned to his native Bristol to paint for Upfest, as he does every year and this time he was handed a nice new wall to play with.

Inkie, Argus Road, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21
Inkie, Argus Road, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21

I have a feeling that Kylie sand this line followed with ‘na na naa, na na na na na, na na naa’ if my memory serves me well. I suspect that Inkie’s reference might be a different one. The piece itself is rather special, with the words written out in the big hair of the female character, and a lot of mystery in the air. No features on the woman’s face and a question mark medallion around her neck. I’m not sure hat the reference ’84 21′ is, although that might be the dates that Inkie started painting and today.

Inkie, Argus Road, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21
Inkie, Argus Road, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21

Although the basic design ideas are there from Inkie, I feel like the piece is a bit of a departure from his normal style, particularly the block letters. Excellent stuff.

3830. Upfest 2021 75×75 (24)

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.

Pikto, North Street, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21
Pikto, North Street, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21

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.

Pikto, North Street, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21
Pikto, North Street, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21

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.

Pikto, Upfest, Bristol, July 2016
Pikto, Upfest, Bristol, July 2016

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Angus is another of those Bristol artists without whom an Upfest event simply wouldn’t be an Upfest event. Originally a spray painter, Angus strayed into the world of tiles and mosaics a few years ago and he hasn’t really looked back.

Angus, Greville Road, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21
Angus, Greville Road, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21

Flying ducks are an integral part of British interior design history, and at one time were considered classy and sophisticated. Subsequently they have become a bit of a joke, only to become desirable icons once again. Angus has captured the essence of these flying ducks in a pixelated cartoon style in this narrow horizontal mosaic using the space very well. Lots of blues in these photographs. More Angus mosaics to be discovered at the Paintworks I believe.

3826. Upfest 2021 75×75 (22)

Ain’t no stoppin us now is a fabulous piece by Upfest favourite Oli T And if ever there was an ear worm in the making, this is it – McFadden and Whitehead have a lot to answer for. Oli T uses his big bright and precise lettering style to create these memorable images and somehow seems to capture the mood of Upfest events so well.

Oli T, North Street, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21
Oli T, North Street, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21

This was another piece that was vandalised before I had a chance to photograph it, and to say I was miffed was a bit of an understatement. However, it had been repaired the day after it was tagged and I had had nothing to worry about. Somehow Upfest wouldn’t feel like Upfest without one of these pieces appearing somewhere.

3824. Upfest 2021 75×75 (21)

One of the most dazzling pieces of Upfest 2021 is this magnificent Little Miss Sunshine with a touch of the Insane51 treatment, by Will Blood. I haven’t come across the artist before but it would seem that his USP is drawing/painting pictures/walls with a visible skeleton lurking beneath a superimposed character, you can find out much more on his excellent website The Book of Bare Bones.

Will Blood, North Street, Bristol, June 2021, Upfest 21
Will Blood, North Street, Bristol, June 2021, Upfest 21

This particular wall outside The Spotted Cow is among the best walls to photograph in Bedminster because there is no parking in front of it. This piece is definitely one of the most popular of the festival so far, and the bar is very high indeed. So good to be able to welcome Will Blood to Bristol, I hope he will find the time to visit again.

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I am well acquainted with the work of Cheba whose intergalactic spacescapes have become something of a speciality for him and which adorn several buildings around Bristol. However, in this piece for Upfest’s 75×75 event, Cheba has gone all Day-Glo on us, and it certainly has made an impact.

Cheba, East Street, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21
Cheba, East Street, Bristol, July 2021, Upfest 21

I must confess to not being a big fan of Day-Glo colour schemes, because they remind me of some of the dodgier aspects of 1980s design and fashion that are probably best left behind. Having said that, I do think that this is an energetic and interesting mural and has already become something of a landmark in the area. Great to see a new piece from Cheba, who has been fairly quiet over the last year or so.

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This enormous mural was one of the first to be completed for the Upfest 75×75 event and is by Emotional Waterfall Art. The piece is a colourful abstract explosion of shapes on a white background – a confetti mural, which is an absolute bugger to photograph and can’t have been all that easy to paint.

Emotional Waterfall Art, Smyth Road, Bristol, June 2021, Upfest 21
Emotional Waterfall Art, Smyth Road, Bristol, June 2021, Upfest 21

Emotional Waterfall Art is a Bristol-based outfit run an artist who plays hard to get on her website and doesn’t disclose her name, simply that she is the creator of Emotional Waterfall Art. I’m not sure how many murals she has painted before, and I am not familiar with her work, but this is a very impressive introduction.