Nelson Street, Bristol | August 13th-19th
See No Evil’s street art spectacular returned to Nelson Street with memories of last year’s incredible scenes still fresh in the minds of those who attended the weekend of art, music and general Bristolian brilliance last time around. This year it was bigger, bolder … and Crack had its own stage!
One of the beautiful things about See No Evil is seeing the space being used to its fullest. Whether that’s the street art you see appearing before your eyes over the week before Saturday’s block party in Nelson Street, or the parties in the disused Westgate building, it seems like every inch of available flooring, street and ceiling was pushed to its limits.
But surely one of the highlights of this year’s event came away from Nelson Street with the transformation of the Passenger Shed into an immersive audio-visual spectacular, combining the talents of Portishead’s Adrian Utley with the visual projection talents of Anti-VJ in a performance that drew on Bristol’s rich transportation heritage. Culminating in a 360 panoramic visual projection spectacular, it was a superb alternative aside for the See No Evil brand that will hopefully see the event break out of Nelson Street for more happenings such as this in the future.
As the week progressed and work began appearing on walls, palpable excitement began to resonate around the city. This was brought to a head with the Hear No Evil parties in the Westgate. Reminiscent of the kind of DIY party spaces used to house some of the best music in Europe’s cultural hot spots, the Westgate’s pillared space is large enough to accommodate a huge number of people and played host to some of the best Bristolian electronic music talent around. The included the layered live techno exploits of Livity Sound, the bass-driven house ofEats Everything, Futureboogie Recordings’ prized assets Christophe & Lukas as well as Behling & Simpson, and to round it all off, Saturday’s Block Party after-party that featured music from Bristol institutions DJ Krust and Smith & Mighty.
But in fitting style, the true highlight of the weekend came in the form of the Block Party on Saturday, which exceeded all expectations with levels of performance, party and people. Six sound stages featuring a comprehensive rundown of movers and shakers on the Bristol music scene, as much live art as you’d care to shake your spray can at and a whole load of decoration bountifully supplied by a host of incredible finished pieces of art adorning the walls of Nelson Street. Sounds, colour, families, friends and an overwhelmingly welcoming and congenial vibe characterised a day that brought the city together in droves. Credit has to be given to the council for allowing it to happen. It was an overwhelmingly well-attended and controlled event.
Crack was proud as punch to be hosting its own stage at The Froomsgate building with the cream of Bristol’s house music talent. With the event being billed as a New York style Block Party, the setting for the stage, surrounded by tall high rise buildings, was a perfect inner-city visual aid for the kind of regeneration that See No Evil is looking to bring to the city. The day included an impromptu performance from the once again wonderful Eats Everything and sets from Just Jack, Futureboogie, Housework and Dirtytalk residents. Bathed in the sun and with a full crowd that stayed right to the end of invited guest Nick Harris’s closing set, we were gutted the whole thing finished when it did.
Unique in what it brings to the city in terms of regenerating what was formerly regarded as one of Bristol’s most unattractive roads, and also acting a huge draw for tourists and those visiting Bristol, See No Evil is a magic event that draws on Bristol’s huge art heritage and presents it to the wider public. There is nothing in the UK quite like it, something which everyone involved should be truly proud of.
Crack caught a couple of words with Parisian Kashink and Bristol’s Inkie, two prominent artists that took part in this year’s event.
How do you think this year’s See No Evil differed from last year? How do you feel the public’s response has been?
Inkie: This year’s event was about three times bigger in scale and we diversified into projected image and live music as well as skateboarding and more varied musical stages. The public loved it and we have had very positive feedback.
Kashink: There were fewer artists this year and we painted much bigger walls. The whole thing was bigger, it got really crowded on Saturday! I think a lot of people really like street art and recognise it as a real art form now. I also got the chance to meet new people and some really talented artists, it’s always great to be able to share our passion with people.
How has your personal involvement with See No Evil helped and benefitted you as an artist?
Inkie: Curating the artists means wherever I travel I’m constantly looking for new talent and therefore meeting new artists and seeing new styles. This definitely influences my creative mediums.
Kashink: I got a lot of attention this year and it’s a great opportunity for me. I also really appreciated how the whole staff and volunteers took care of us. We got really spoiled.
Have you ever been involved in a project quite like this (apart from last year’s …)?
Inkie: I’ve curated several projects around the globe over the past few years having already done one in Ibiza this year, Brooklyn NYC in October and another two coming up in Morocco & Mumbai in December. The plan is to take Bristol’s culture across the globe and invite artists and musicians back to Bristol each summer, creating an enhanced global network of creatives.
Kashink: I’ve been invited to paint in other countries, Austria, Russia, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain. I was also in California earlier this year. I have a very special relationship with the UK though, I also got invited in Blackpool twice for another street art event. I really like how people are open-minded and laid back in this country. I wish we had such big events happening in Paris!
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Words: Thomas Frost
Photos: Ian Cox & Thomas Frost