Upfest 2018 is kicking off this weekend.
For me, this was the perfect occasion to come back to Bristol after two years that I’ve left. I arrived on Wednesday and, although the Upfest festival officially opens today, I’ve already spotted several artists at work.
The three artists that have been selected by Matt Groening to bring The Simpsons to life in Bedminster are already working on their big walls.
The English duo Nomad Clan are painting on what I consider the “iconic” wall of Upfest, a large surface of (formerly)red brick in a parking lot at the beginning of North Street. They have been working very hard and the piece is almost done. I love the way Lisa stands out from the background!
Just a bit further the graffiti artist Soker is painting the whole Simpsons family on the Bristol Beer Factory building. I sat down for a craft beer enjoying the view of him live painting and the hard rock music he listens to while he works.
The third artist painting The Simpsons is the Hong Kong based artist Bao. She already finished a first Simpson wall and she is now working on a second Simpson wall.
Although they are all working in a great way on the Simpsons theme, it’s the concept of making them painting the Simpsons that left me puzzled. None of them are known for working with cartoons or sending ironic messages through pop culture, so it kind of feels like it’s forced…
Anyway, let’s keep walking along North Street together!
Many artists have already hit the area, although they are still warming up on shutters and smaller walls, waiting for the weekend to begin their main pieces.
Jody, who is the leading artist of Upfest 2018, is going around the neighbourhood adding golden details to older murals and leaving behind him small and perfectly executed golden pieces. He told me that gold is a difficult colour to master and that he got the idea of the dripping paint from being always covered with paint himself.
Now Jody is about to begin a new wall and I’m very curious to see what it will be about.
I was with Angus while he set up his Super Mario mosaic at the beginning of North St. When I was living in Bristol, there were a few times when stumbling upon his ironic stencils really made my day. He told me that he got bored of stencils and approached mosaics, which he likes because they are more flexible and gave him the opportunity to experiment with new things.
He would have been the perfect artist to work on the Simpson theme, because he was already incorporating cartoons into his stencils, and in fact a bit further along North Street he did a Maggie Simpson with a red balloon flying away, a reference to the popular Banksy piece.
Another artist working with tiles for Upfest 2018 is Chinagirl Tile, who made a beautiful giraffe at the entrance of the Tobacco Factory. We briefly spoke while I helped her to carry away the head of her giraffe the other night and she told me that she is coming to Ibug festival this summer!
On Friday more artists arrived in Bedminster and went straight to their wall. It was nice to meet again The London Police, who are painting next to the Tobacco Factory.
By the time I had a beer, Inkie and Cheba had almost finished their collaborative piece
and Andrew Burns Colwill has almost completed his mural at the beginning of East Street.
Last but not least, the Brazilian L7M has already finished his bird on Exmoor St. His unique way of painting the feathers is even more mesmerizing when you see him live painting. Every line is made with its own specific tool -from spider cap to solid dripping-, a different colour -both neon and soft colours-, and then multiple textures, styles and sizes.
It is undoubtedly my favourite piece so far at Upfest2018!
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