U P F E S T   2015


When I was growing up, Street Art was viewed as ‘taggin’-  a ‘name’, a ‘crew’- even at times a symbolic mesage to those who have passed through pearly gates; the gateway to Heaven according to some Christian denominations. Consequently, for these acts of personal sympathy, gang ties, and simply art for art’s sake, in the last ten years there has been an increasing interest in an ephemeral and viral form of art; of which is marking urban settings around the world, consequently establishing a flourishing sub-culture of which is growing in influence and significance.  The latter all said and done, now, street art is going main-stream, auctioneers, collectors and museum directors are scrambling to learn urban art vocabulary, and develop positions on ‘street art’ issues. As yet, there is no defining definition of street art, and when you ask artists and their fans, they’ll say neither should there be a concise definition, why box the ever expressional?  And once you get past the psychology, and the cultural belonging, with anti-capitalist and rebellious undertones, it is a democratic form of popular public art probably best understood by seeing it in situ, and according to the many, thankfully it is not limited to the gallery or easily collected or possessed by those who may turn art into a trophy.

Quote from Stephen Haylesfestival founder:


“This year at Upfest we had 275 artists from all over the globe coming to Bristol to paint at the festival. We had amazing roster of artists from Thierry Noir painting his iconic designs to a specially made board to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall, to Martin Ron using his girlfriend as inspiration for his mural on the Tobacco Factory to other well known names such as My Dog Sighs, Cosmo Sarson, Dale Marshall, Dale Grimshaw, Dan Kitchner and Gamma Gallery who is well known for photo-realism and painted a 19th century naval ship on the Steam Crane pub.


Despite the rain on Sunday, we had a phenomenal weekend. We had more visitors on Saturday than the whole weekend in 2013 so around 30-35,000 people came out to experience the art, music and entertainment.


The artwork this year is mind-blowing, you can tell all the artists wanted to do their best and leave a long-lasting legacy in the area.


Festival fans contributed to our crowd funding appeal, which was amazing. We raised £15,000 which we used to provide paint for the artists and other necessities such as cherry pickers etc.


This year, we dedicated the last day to the kids, which was a great way to end the festival. It was really nice to see the young ones enjoying the bubble magic, painting, spraying and being artistic.


Our charity NACOA (which helps children whose parents are alcoholics) raised £7,500 which is great and a lot of the artists have donated portions of their  work to the charity including Inkie’s Shipshape Silver Edition and Thierry Noir’s board which is due to be auctioned off shortly.


It’s great to be back with another weekend Bristol and street art can be proud of.”

My Dog Sighs – WhisperMaze Magazine Interview 


What got you into street art, in essence, what’s inspired you to resonate your art the way you do? 


Art is about engaging the public and getting them to re assess what they understand about the world. If I was to only show my work in galleries then I'm only reaching a small section of society. Street art transcends notions of culture and forces it's self on everyone and I think that's very powerful. My art is about the connection that can be made between a work of art and the viewer. Will it be walked past and ignored or will it be spotted and coveted?


What’s the coolest thing that has happened to you as a result of your art?


I had an email last Friday from a lady. She’d seen a photo of my freeartfriday, recognised where it was and shot out to get it. She was five minutes too late and missed out. On the same day she'd heard her dad was terminally ill. Yet she emailed to thank me. To thank me for giving her a few moments of escape from what was happening in her world, to thank me for brightening up the city and for reminding her that there is a culture of giving and kindness despite what many parts of the media suggest. That blew my usual answer of travelling the world and meeting my creative Heroes right out of the water. 


You are very prolific in your art. How long does it take from inception to having the work up on the street?


A perfect day would be .. Wake up with an idea, get it made and then put it up/out in the same day. The reality of emails and life and meetings and phone calls and washing up often mean that doesn't happen. 


Did what you see on the streets impact your work as an artist?


I'm not sure. I follow a lot of artists and street art blogs and see incredible work every day. I think it's the dedication and effort I see people put into their work that inspires me to continue with my own. 


Is street art a crime?


Depends how you do it! Most walls are painted with owner’s permission nowadays and my free art Friday project where I find rubbish, paint it and put it back out for people to find actually clears up the area. There are and will always be frustrated individuals who feel their way of being noticed in society is to territorially piss ( pee ?) on the wall. 


What does the future hold for you, ‘My Dog Sighs’?


I'm trying not to tie things down too far in advance. Being creative means you need to give your head space to develop new ideas.  I'm riding an incredible wave at the moment and seriously enjoying the ride. I'm hoping I can carry on splashing paint round for as long as I possibly can. 



by Jahvin Morgan