Last weekend saw Bristol’s annual street art festival, Upfest, take over the city with a fresh wash of colour covering pretty much every wall you can see. For the second year in a row, the Relentless team were on the scene to embrace and help celebrate Bristol’s famed street art culture. It’s the biggest street art festival in Europe and every year artists from all over the world gather in the south western city with 35,000 visitors descending to check out the creations – it wasn’t something we were going to miss out on.
The art came in a whole spectrum of sizes, ranging from small guerrilla pieces hidden around the town on shop walls and fly posters, to enormous installations taking up entire buildings.
One of the most spectacular installations was created by Brazilian street artist, Kobra. Known for his trademark style depicting famous figures by using brightly coloured geometric squares and triangles, his work brings an element of pop colour to pop culture.
This year’s piece was an enormous portrait of John Lennon covering an entire side of the renowned Tobacco Factory. Throughout the weekend, dozens of fans gathered at the base of the wall to watch the creation come to life. Armed with a crane and two assistants, the Brazilian artist managed to bring a Liverpool legend to the Bristol streets.
One of the festival’s other largest pieces was created by two artists who have been in the games since the 90s, XENZ & Will Barras. The pair teamed up to cover the rear side of the Masonic pub on North Street with an otherworldly dreamscape featuring an array of elements from motorcycles to waterfalls. XENZ is known for his style of bringing a fine art element to urban painting, and the dreamy scenic creation lives up to that image.
Another installation came courtesy of a partnership between collectives Lost Souls, Gums & Tongues and Bristol’s own Kid Crayon. The crews came together to pay homage to 1980’s trading card series, Garabge Pail Kids.
We caught up with a friend of Relentless and member of Lost Souls, Keith Hopewell, to find out more about the collaboration.
“Basically Lost Souls – the crew I’m in – and Gums and Tongues have come together with Kid Crayon and we’re doing one big wall which is based on Garbage Pail Kids. The idea is that the cards have been thrown down and the characters are coming to life. But we have so much work to do, so much wall!”
The illustrator, who has been spray painting for around six years, also broke down the technicalities of spray paint as an art form.
“Spray paint is just like any other medium, you just need to know how it works. All different caps. I remember the first time and the can/cap combo that I used… it was just big drips and big fat lines and I was like ‘why can’t I do this!’. Some cans have a lower pressure. The lower the pressure the more control you’ve got. Thinner caps will give you more control again.”
The artist, originally from Doncaster but now based in Bristol, also highlighted the connection between the city’s street art culture and music scene. “3D [Robert Del Neja] started as a street artist and he’s in Massive Attack. Goldie crosses over too. Right from the start it’s always crossed over with the music.”
By the end of the weekend, the city had been refreshed with a burst of colour, that even the sporadic rain couldn’t dampened.
Check out some of the most impressive designs from the weekend below.