One of the admirable things that Upfest manages to do is combine the national and international interest from artists around the globe with local artists who paint the streets of Bristol week in and week out. The artists are treated equally (although some get allocated ‘premium’ walls), and there is a fabulous sense of community.
This piece by local artist Maybe (Maybepaints), who only started painting on the streets about 3 or 4 years ago, doesn’t look out of place shoulder to shoulder with established international artists. The piece is, as much contemporary street art tends to be, a commentary on the state of our environment, with supermarket plastic bags drifting in the ocean.
Maybe is a lovely man – much taller than I had expected – who has developed his own techniques, combining freestyle painting with stencils, to create these remarkable ‘other worldly’ places and scenes. You can see his progress over the last few years in this updated gallery of his work.
Foxes have a special place in Bristol. Although urban foxes are found throughout the UK, it was in Bristol where they first were recognised as a ‘thing’ through a research programme conducted by Bristol University. In fact, their research showed that Bristol played host to the most densely populated community of foxes ever recorded, centred around my old allotment. The funny thing is that even though they are so common, there is something quite special about seeing a wild mammal living amongst us.
Justinks, who has painted at Upfest a few times, has absolutely nailed it with this outstanding greyscale rendition of a sleeping fox. It is a truly beautiful painting and captures not only the form of the fox perfectly, but also its peaceful sleeping state. A wonderful piece.
The quality and variety of pieces at last year’s Upfest was as good as it has ever been, if not a little better. My only regret is that I didn’t manage to capture completed pieces by many artists, because there was an abrupt end to the two-day festival, after which the boards in Greville Smyth Park were dismantled, and that was that. Fortunately, just as I was leaving, Ale Poire (from Guadalajara, Mexico) was signing her beautiful hands piece, and the signature usually indicates the piece is complete.
There is something very special and expressive about hands, and Ale Poire has captured a tenderness in this emotional painting. The simplicity of the composition combined with the technical craft of the artist left me with one of the most memorable images of the festival. A very special piece, which would last for only a few hours after I took this picture.
An occasional visitor to Bristol for Upfest, Woskerski is an outstanding artist who operates out of London. I have posted pieces by him a few times in Natural Adventures, but because I don’t visit London much these days, his appearances have been few and far between.
This extraordinary piece, depicting some sort of alien interaction in a future vision of Earth, was painted over a couple of days, and the work in progress shot provides a little insight into Woskerski’s method. It looks like he sketches up the elements of the piece and then ‘colours them in’ which is quite an unusual way of going about things, but he is wonderfully successful at it.
There is such a sense of movement created by the dogs, which have been so accurately captured, but the star of the show for me is the serene face belonging to the girl wearing a hoody/space helmet to the right of the piece. Woskerski is such a massive talent, and it was a real privilege to welcome him to Bristol for Upfest 2022.
Such has been the productivity on the streets over the last year combined with my attempts to post as much as I can, I have completely neglected my Upfest 22 posts, which really isn’t very impressive. I will try to squeeze in as many as I can whenever I can, because there was so much quality art to see from what was a very successful couple of days at the end of May 2022.
I had to have several goes at photographing this magnificent piece by Anthroe, but it is the damn cars that make it so challenging. The piece itself is a fabulously colourful portrait of a woman holding a bouquet of flowers, with what looks like a petrol pump (surely not) in her left hand. The whole piece is set on an abstract patterned background. This is one of my favourite pieces of the festival by an artist I don’t know at all, but I believe that he lives and paints in Los Angeles, so it is great to see this piece here in Bristol.
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?