Upfest has come a long way since its early days back in the mists of 2008, when 20 artists gathered at the Tobacco Factory exactly five years ago today for an afternoon of painting, beer and music. Fast forward to 2012 and Upfest has become an international event, Europe’s largest live art festival.
The front cover, SmugOne and Epok’s stunning piece on the side of the Masonic pub, shows the standards that Upfest now commands, but this time next year it will no doubt be replaced by something as equally stunning.
The transient nature of street art means that pieces can be gone in the time it takes for the paint to dry. So thank goodness for the photographs of Paul Green, who has faithfully documented the Upfest artwork, artists and crowds since day one.
Green’s photography forms the bulk of the book which has been designed by Jody Thomas, also one of the artists who has regularly appeared at Upfest.
The book gives a superb overview of the festival, and although obviously not able to feature every piece by the 555 artists who have taken part since 2008, it presents a snapshot of what happened on a particular year for posterity.
Some of the best photos feature the works in progress, as artists diligently follow their plans for the area of wall (or this year, carriage of New York subway train on Greville Road) they have been allocated.
For fans of Bristol artists such as Andy Council, Cheo and Inkie, it is very interesting to see how their styles have grown and developed since the first festival.
The works featured could act as inspiration for many and quite possibly provoke the ire of many more, who would prefer these vandals locked up rather than given public money to deface the streets.
There is a book launch party in the Upfest Gallery on North Street tonight, with the large-size 144-page book on sale there now for £14.99. At the gallery there is an exhibition from artists throughout the years, as well as 50 one-off hand painted presentation boxes for the new book which will also be on sale.
It’s a very happy fifth birthday to Upfest, with this new book the perfect present.