Upfest Bristol took place on my doorstep and this weekend and I got to live in the middle of a festival. This is the second time we’ve experienced Upfest. It missed a year, we missed a year. Upfest 2016 is Europe’s largest street art festival, attracting some 300+ artists from around the globe. Without doubt, it’s my favourite Bristol festival (and Bristol does a lot of festivals). There is a very positive and inspiring vibe. The artists happily chat to the eager crowds, combine live art with music, stalls selling street food and activities for kids, Upfest has all the festival elements. Wandering the streets watching art being made is a relaxing way to spend a weekend. The back drop noise is the rattle of shaking spray cans and the air smells faintly of chemicals. Over a few days any available space is transformed. Love street art or hate it, there is no such thing as no opinion.
Over the last year I’ve become very attached to the art on my local walls, it was a mixture of sadness that greeted my first view of the man with a roller, who began greying out existing art last week. Street art is, mostly, temporary and my sadness gave way to anticipation and excitement, at the prospect of new colours, new figures, new art. Some painters, simply spray one on top of the next. These images will will last for 12 months and then the neighbourhood will evolve again.
One person and a spray can, a marker pan or a paint brush plus hours of time and commitment. Street art has an anonymous quality, it is something that often appears over night. To see it being created in front of you is a rare treat. Over a couple of days images take shape, becoming something fully formed. Sometimes startling, sometimes familiar. The variety is broad.
These photos are a tiny pocket of what is Upfest, search #upfest2016 on Instagram or twitter to see more. Women make up a good portion of the painters and all the images below are street art by women. Which is your favourite?