Over the Jubilee weekend of 2nd June – 4th June Bristol, North Street BS3 to be precise, was host to Upfest.
I had hoped to take part in the painting that happened up and down North Street, Bedminster however myself and many others were not fortunate enough to get a place on the line up.
I would like to point out that I am not bitter in anyway what so ever and fully intend to apply again and again without getting bitter. When one is organising an event with 250+ spaces for artist and many many more applications you just can’t please everyone.
And yet to a large degree that is exactly what the organisers at Upfest managed to do. I attended the event anyway with the intention of joining Collaberation Nation in the Tobacco Factory, the main (and original) venue of the festival for some drawing goodness. During my entire time at the event self titled as ‘Europe’s largest urban art festival’ all I saw were people enjoying themselves. Whether it was those who were painting, or those who were there to just enjoy a day out, there was not one face in the crowd that was not happy and smiling.
I’ve attended several large outdoor events over my years and this one stands out for several reasons. The first big glaring one for me is the lack of a police presence; Don’t get me wrong the event was not a complete anarchic free for all. There were several stewards and attendants scattered throughout the various sites and roaming between all weekend. However all of these were volunteers helping to raise money for the events selected charity nacoa (National association for children of alcoholics). Pretty much every other event of a similar or even smaller scale has had a heavy police presence. In fact the only police I saw throughout the weekend were checking tax discs on cars; A fact I found highly amusing considering the amount of ‘vandals’ there were working around them at the time.
The other things I noticed were possibly an explanation of the lack of police. The sheer friendliness and politeness of all those around. I stopped to talk and chat with several people painting boards/shutters and walls, and all were happy to chat not one was rude or brusk despite time constraints. At one point I dropped my wallet and a complete stranger chased me down the street to make sure I got it back. Something I’m ashamed to say would not happen in an event in my home town. These are just small examples I know, but they were repeated time and time again for many that I talked to.
For me it was a refreshing and wonderful experience to see something that I have long loved, and that has been long demonised, given such a wonderful opportunity to shine. And shine it did, I shall be writing some follow up blogs with many more pictures. However it is getting very late for myself and I’m going to wrap up for now here with the pictures of the work myself and my fellow collabers did in the top floor dance studio at the Tobacco Factory.