The Top 20 Artworks from the Upfest Street Art Festival in Bristol
Upfest is undoubtedly the premier street art festival in Europe. Transforming whole sections of its home city Bristol with pieces from some of the best street artists and graffiti writers from around the World.
Over the last weekend in July a massive number of locations across the south of the city played host to a myriad of artists. Centred around the area of Bedminster and in particular North Street, some of the spots were standard walls lining the streets whilst others saw parks, pubs, a football stadium and even a churchyard taken over by spray painting artists.
This was street art on a massive scale, designed very much for the masses, this was about celebrating street art and artists and bringing them to the attention of a public who might never have seen their work yet whom, judging by the crowds, were undoubtedly loving what they saw.
Bristol graffiti legend Cheo adding the final touches to his mural (see number 9)
Of course if any city is going to pull off something of this size and scale then Bristol is it. The city is widely credited as being the birthplace of the street art and graffiti scene in the UK. Wander around any part of the city and it’s more than likely that you’ll come across one piece or another. The south of the city in particular, thanks in no small part to previous Upfest festivals, showcases some of the best street art in the country and that can be seen all year round.
There’s plenty more we can say about Upfest but really it’s the art that does the talking and in this latest of events the show boasted more venues and artists than ever before. We spent two full days wandering around and there’s no way that we could have seen everything although we can be sure that we saw a pretty good proportion.
Argentina’s Caro Pepe was painting in the Tobacco Factory. Take a look at number 19 for her finished piece.
This time the weather also made its mark on the event. Many of the artists found themselves having to stop and start as periods of glorious weather were followed by intense periods of heavy showers. For the artists painting some of the big walls with little shelter, this undoubtedly played a part in some of the pieces being delayed and so in some of the shots in our gallery below some pieces are still unfinished whilst others are covered in scaffolding.
But that is what it is and we’ve chosen our top 20. It was a hard choice as the standard of this festival is incredibly high. We’ve also had a bit of a bias towards those works which we know are going to stay a little longer as they’ve been created on walls as opposed to boards. In the end though there were loads more that we could have included in our top 20 but of course we had to settle on something.
The Inspiring City Top 20 Artworks from Upfest 2017
- Kobra – The Tobacco Factory, North Street
Close up of work from Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra. Kobra is known for his colourful portraits of recognisable people such as this of John Lennon. His work can be seen in cities around the World and now can be seen on the side of the Tobacco Factory on North Street
2. Nomad Clan – The Old Bookshop, North Street
A old man looks at an Octopus by the Nomad Clan on the side of the Old Book Shop on North Street. This is just another in a series of high quality and epic murals from the duo. Most recently they painted the UK’s tallest mural in Leeds. Sadly the scaffolding was still up when we photographed this but still…
3. Fanakapan & Insane57 – 239 West Street
An unfinished shot of the giant wall from the UK’s Fanakapan and Greece’s Insane 57. The rain was playing havoc throughout the weekend with the artists chances of finishing this work. Despite the unfinished nature we can see enough to see that this is going to be an impressive piece. It depicts the artist Insane57 sipping from a spray can whilst holding and inflatable flamingo…. because that’s the way these guys roll
4. Jody Artist – The Nursery
Mural from Jody painted as part of the Upfest 2017 festival
5. Eelus – Royston Garden News, North Street
Queen of the Castle by Brighton based artist Eelus. This mural can be found on a tricky to photograph wall in an alley next to Royston Garden News.
6. Buff Monster – Salvation Army Shop, East Street
American artist Buff Monster is well known for his cartoon monsters and his style is hugely popular globally. This piece can be found on the wall of the Salvation Army Shop on East Street
7. Hannah Adamaszek & Saroj – The Steam Crane, North Street
A collaboration between London based artists Hannah Adamaszek and Saroj. The woman swimming is by Hannah and the fish from Saroj. The two have collaborated a number of times with this piece in the courtyard of the Steam Crane pub off North Street being the latest.
8. N4T4 & Philith – Al’s Tikka Grill, Ashton Road
A collaboration between N4T4 and Philith this piece can be seen on the side of Al’s Tikka Grill on Ashton Road.
9. Cheo – Brewery Theatre, North Street
On the side of the Brewery Theatre on North Street, Bristol based artist Cheo’s take on famous cartoon characters have become recognisable and loved throughout the city. His version of Morph shown here on the left is something he’ll only be painting for this Upfest festival so it’ll be worth catching because he doesn’t plan to paint him anymore after this. The mural contains a lot of great injokes, the photo frames contain drawings of famous artists from around the area.
10. My Dog Sighs & SNUB – Lilit, North Street
Both Brighton based artists this piece on the side of Lilit on North Street is a collaboration between My Dog Sighs and SNUB in a blend of both their very recognisable styles. My Dog Sighs is known for his eyes and water droplets and SNUB for the cube patterns shown on the mural
11. Dekor & Zase – Redpoint Climbing Centre, Winterstoke Road
The Redpoint Climbing Centre has become known for it’s huge murals and this collaboration between graffiti legends Zase and Dekor is just the latest.
12. Dzia – Redpoint Climbing Centre, Winterstoke Road
Another on the Redpoint Climbing Centre captures this squirrel munching on love hearts from Belgian artist Dzia.
13. Xenx & Will Barras – The Masonic, North Street
Another huge mural this time on the side of the Masonic pub on North street sees a collaboration between Bristol locals Xenz and Will Barras blending their styles to create this epic fantasy landscape
14. Rocket 01 – Brewery Theatre, North Street
On the side of the Brewery Theatre a badger nuzzles a woman wearing a helmet. From Sheffield the artist says of his work “I have visions of a post-apocalyptic world where mankind has finally embraced nature and immersed himself within it. He swims with the fishes, he flies with the birds, chlorophyll runs through his veins and his eyes photosynthesize.”
15. Guy Denning & Yatiko Fields – The Tap & Barrel
A collaboration between Guy Denning, a Bristolian now living in France and Yatika Fields a native american street artist from the states. The piece depicts Tara Houska a campaigner for Native American rights. The face is by Denning with the background predominantly by Fields
16. JXC – The Hen & Chicken, North Street
‘Gonna Need a Bigger Boat’ from Bristol’s JXC can be found on the side of the Hen & Chicken pub on North Street. In a style which finds influence in photorealism and tattooing the mural depicts a giant sea creature with all sorts of other things going on. As usual with JXC’s work you really need to see this one up close
17. Andrew Burns Colwill – The Coopers Arms, Ashton Road
Another Bristol local the Andrew Burns Colwill’s piece depicts howling polar bears on the side of the Cooper’s Arms. On the Bristol street art scene since the 80’s his style has evolved to take on this subtle and delicate hue. This piece is called ‘Arctic Scream’
18. Boe & Irony – 302 North Street
Cheeky seagull mural painted by Boe & Irony as part of the Upfest 2017 festival
19. Caro Pepe & Age Age – The Tobacco Factory, North Street
Inside the courtyard of the Tobacco Factory Argentina’s Caro Pepe and Germany’s Age Age collaborated on this fusion of their two styles. Caro’s style is recognisable in particular for the lack of an eye in her central character which symbolises proportionality and is meant to show how we only ever see one part of reality and how each of us have our own emotions and truths, that we own, but which are still not the whole picture
20. Mon Devane – Ashton Gate Football Stadium, Ashton Road
Caught in the act, this cheeky junior holding the spray can is from Spanish artist Mon Devane and part of the festival expansion into the Ashton Gate football stadium.
Upfest was visited over the weekend of 28 & 29 July 2017 and all photographs were taken over that period. For more about Upfest click here and for more about the street art scene in Bristol click here. To see pictures from the 2018 festival have a look here.