When it comes to wine, food, or art, my philosophy is simple: I know what I like, and I don’t need to understand all the nuances to enjoy something. I might prefer a house white to a so-called fine wine, or a colourful graffiti art mural to a painting by one of the great masters. After all, it’s all subjective and a matter of taste. As far as street art is concerned, I’m the first to admit I know little of the reasons for or philosophy behind it. Yet whether it’s used to provoke, advertise, commemorate, make a socio-political statement, or personalise sterile public places, I’m a big fan of the art form and seek it out on my travels.
Last weekend Bristol held its annual urban paint festival, Upfest, attracting over 300 artists from 30 countries to paint 35 venues throughout Bedminster and Southville. Last year I stumbled upon the event by chance, this year I was well-prepared and caught an early train on Saturday to reach North Street when the atmosphere was still more sedate, food stalls were just being set up, and the artists were just beginning their sometimes enormous projects. (Like any popular street festival, Upfest gets incredibly busy later in the afternoon so I tried to avoid the biggest crowds.) Exterior walls and shutters had become huge urban canvases for the big and bold, colourful, funny, touching, witty, and quirky images. I’m not sure how much aerosol fumes I inhaled that day! As in this case pictures definitely speak louder than words, here are a few samples of this year’s crop. Who will join me next year?