Friday, July 29th 2016
Happily, the weather is much better than yesterday and we are making a trip to Bristol to take a look at the street art and anything else that catches our fancy.
A good way to explore Bristol – that part of it around the Bristol Harbour area, at least – is by ferry. The Bristol Ferry Boats, with their characteristic yellow livery, run a frequent service up and down the river, stopping at several places along the way.
The river in question is the Avon and its name may sound familiar to you because it is far from unique. There are five rivers in England called the Avon, three in Scotland and one is Wales, though the latter is spelt Afan. The reason for this is that avon, or afon in Welsh, is an old Celtic word meaning simply ‘river’. In Welsh, therefore, every river includes the word afon in its name. When we say ‘the River Avon’, we are really saying ‘the River River’.
Within Bristol, the Avon splits into two parts, as you can see from this map. It is the upper (northern) branch that serves the harbour and on which the ferry runs. As I understand it (and I could be wrong), the water level of the harbour and upper branch of the river is maintained by means of lock gates, while the other part of the river is allowed to go on its own sweet way unmolested.
We arrived in Bristol by train at Temple Meads Station and walked from there down to the nearest ferry stop.
The ferry boats are quite small and you have a little bit of a climb or clamber over the gunwale when you get in or out. If you are planning to make several trips during the day, it’s best to buy a day ticket (currently £6) as this allows you to get on and off as you please. Our first destination was Nova Scotia. Yes, really.
This ferry stop is known as Nova Scotia Landing but people just call its Nova Scotia. The river is divided here into two narrow passages and the one we are interested in is the lower (southern) one.
And this is the reason for our interest, a big pub by the name of the Nova Scotia Hotel. I’m not sure whether the area took its name from the pub or whether the pub took its name from the Nova Scotia Landing. The pub was created in the early 19th century from three pre-existing houses. Today it is a Grade II listed building. We took a leisurely lunch here before continuing our ramble.
After lunch, we crossed the river to the south side and on the way I took a distance photo of one of Bristol’s most famous features, the Clifton Suspension Bridge. It was built between 1829 and 1864 by that irrepressible engineer to whom we owe many of our ships, bridges, tunnels and railway lines, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. We visited the bridge on a previous trip to Bristol (see It rained in Bristol) and here’s the picture I took then:
We then walked through the areas called Southville and Bedminster. This is the area covered by the Upfest Festival 2016 of street art. The artworks that we ‘collected’ may or may not have been created for the festival. Below are some of the works I photographed. In some cases I have been able to identify the artist but in other cases not.
This painting interested me because the artist, Rocket01, comes from Sheffield where I became aware of her for the first time yesterday.
‘X-ray’ pictures like this are immediately recognizable as the work of SHOK-1 (though the presence of a signature helps!).
I quite liked the dual structure of this painting but the artist is unknown to me. This is a post-Upfest painting, replacing an ‘eye painting’ by My Dog Sighs (e.g.see here).
This large and complex work is also unsigned and I wonder whether it was a collaborative project.
To be honest, I never cared much for Benny Hill and his brand of humour but I couldn’t pass up this ironically humorous take on on the UK’s self-immolatory exit from the European Union. As a Portuguese, Sergio Odeith has every reason for portraying a Brexit UK as a half-witted dolt who doesn’t know his arse from his elbow.
This painting by Leon Keer is in a yard or driveway beside the Aldi supermarket on the corner of North Street and Raleigh Road. Street art paintings are mostly flat in perspective but just recently I have noticed a number of attempts to produce a 3D effect. This work by Keer is painted flat on the driveway yet it is cleverly designed to appear as a vertical structure. The tombstones, the child and the bucket all seem to be upright. There is even an apparent ‘hole’ that the child has dug. The effect is even more noticeable in a photo than with the naked eye.
I liked this picture, naturally framed within a boarded-up window, for its sense of mystery but also for the fluidity of the suggested movement. At bottom left, there is what appears to be a signature but I have not so far managed to associate it with the name of an artist.
The white fluffy bunny counterintuitively holding a hand grenade is one of Chinagirl Tile’s standard images. These are made beforehand and then installed on site.
This painting of a woman in flowing robe floating just beneath the surface of water is perhaps the painting that impressed me the most. The artist, Cosmo Sarson, has made his subject float to perfection and suggests the slow downward fall of the garment through the water. We are left in suspense as to whether she is drowning (suicide?) or merely taking a dip (in a formal gown?) in waters that though gentle, shatter the light into rainbows.
This painting od a skeletal super-hero riding a giant banana which he is paddling or punting with a ram’s-head staff (yes, the mind definitely boggles) is by Fake Stencils. (Update: see Anna’s comment below, identifying this figure.)
Paintings by Caro Pepe typically show a human subject, usually female, one of whose eyes is hidden or blanked out, the other one being oversized for the scale of the portrait. The figures tend to be doll-like as in this example.
My last example is another attempt to produce a 3D effect. The figure is kneeling and partly supported by a dining chair lying on its back. Is the figure resting or wounded? We cannot tell. Mysteriously, there are arrows, all posed vertically as though they have fallen from directly above. They haven’t fallen far because their points have barely penetrated the surface on which they stand. Beneath the subject are what appear to be floorboards and these seem a continuation of the pavement back into the image but this is an illusion because they are painted on a vertical surface. The artist has succeeded so well in creating illusory space for his subject, that the ghost of a doorway seems to be standing by itself on the edge of the pavement! The artist is Sokar Uno.
We walked on and turned north towards the river. We crossed by the Princes Street Bridge and went down to the Anolfini Landing to await the next ferry to Temple Meads. We waited a long, long time. It turned out the one of the ferries had lost steerage and had had to be taken out of service.
When a ferry did arrive, it was understandably crowded. We elected to sit on the open deck at the front which gave us a good view along the route, a pleasant way to take our leave of Bristol.