Bristol has long been known for its street art movement in the UK, as well as being the home of a host of famous artists. Inspired by the famous, yet elusive, stencil artist Banksy, many talented artists have left their marks throughout the city. The wave of street art took Bristol by storm in the 1980s. Throughout the following decades, work has continued to pop up around the city, making it into an ever evolving museum of public art. A good overview of exhibitions and guided tours can be found on the Visit Bristol website
Embraced by the city
Not so many years ago, graffiti artists were treated as criminals and their work was often removed as soon as it was completed and referred to as vandalism. Today, it’s a different story with some of the works from the more famous artists being worth thousands of pounds. In 2009, the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery teamed up with Banksy for an exhibition that saw crowds queuing for hours to see his work. The exhibition ended up being visited by over 300,000 people. A Banksy Bristol tour app has even been made, that you can download on your phone!
Additionally, some of the biggest names in international street art were involved in the Nelson Street art project by the See No Evil Festival, which saw lots of artists transforming the area into an inspiring and colourful outdoor gallery. In 2013, Bristol hosted Europe’s largest street art festival, Upfest, accommodating 300 artists from all over the world and saw over 30,000 visitors. The festival will return in August of 2015.
We've listed a few of Bristol’s eccentric works, along with where you can spot them. Make sure to also put in stops to visit some of the unique bars and cafes the city has to offer!
Banksy - The Hanging Man
Banksy's classic masterpiece shows a naked man hanging from the window, while a woman, and what is believed to be her husband, are seen looking out. This work can be found on Park street. Photo credits: Bristol Post
JPS - Insert Punchline
This piece, by artist JPS, can be seen near the Arches in Bristol.
Incwel - Stay Sane
Incwel’s piece can be seen in Upper Maudlin Street and was initially believed to be by Banksy. However, it turned out to be by street artist Incwel and plays on the cover of David Bowie's album cover for Aladdin Sane. See more of Incwels work on the artists website!
Banksy - Eardrum
This relatively fresh Banksy piece popped up in the Stokes Croft area a couple of weeks ago. Its based on Dutch artist Vermeer's famous painting The Girl With the Pearl Earring, only this version has an alarm box instead of the earring. Photo Credit: Destination Bristol
JPS - The World Was Not Enough
This stencil work can be seen on Willway Road. Someone asked the artist on his Facebook page whether the girl is based on the character Wednesday from TV-series The Addams Family, which he confirmed. You can view works for sale on the artists website
Jody - Heart Hands
Jody began painting in 1988, at the now infamous Barton Hill Youth Club in Bristol, alongside Banksy and other street artists. Best known for his strong black and white figurative style, the artist considers himself an aerosol artist rather than graffiti artist. See more of his impressive artwork on his Pinterest album and website.
JPS - The Big Deal Kids
This stencil piece can be found on Frogmore Street.
These are just a few of the thousands of amazing and unique pieces you’ll see in Bristol. Before embarking on a cultural day of taking in all the street art the city has to offer, start your day at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Bristol after a good night’s sleep. The hotels central location makes it a good starting point for exploring this colourful city. If you fancy a piece of local art for your home, check out the See No Evil Gallery Webshop. The Upfest shop on North Street is also a good place to visit, where you can buy original prints and other artworks from the local artists.
Want to see more? Have a browse of more artworks on this website, or go on an organised Bristol Street Art guided tour! To see a map that lists many more of Bristol's best pieces, courtesy of BristolGSA, click here.