See No Evil: Street Art Transforming Bristol

By Tristan Parker

This project will be a great platform to revitalize the street and encourage its regeneration, as well as turning it around from an area avoided by most people into an attraction and legacy everyone can see all year.

What do you do when your city’s streets are looking dull and lifeless after years of wear and tear? Well, if you’re in the UK city of Bristol, you arrange for 20 of the most highly respected street artists from around the globe to come into the city and cover its buildings with huge graffiti murals, creating one of the largest permanent street art projects in Europe.

Up to ten multi-story buildings on Nelson Street, Bristol, will be covered in professional graffiti and other forms of street art over six days in August, as part of the See No Evil project, which aims to transform a run-down city street into a thoroughly contemporary tourist art attraction.

Some of the buildings to be painted on the street are up to 11 storeys high, ensuring that the already eye-catching work of the acclaimed artists strikes home as boldly as possible.

Bristol City Council are supporting the project by donating £40,000, with another £40,000 apparently having been donated by other sources.

The festival will open with a disused building on Nelson Street, the Westgate, hosting a range of music and cultural activities, including club nights arranged by local promoters, cocktail bars, and a pop-up barber experiential shop. Additionally, a street art “block party” will take place on the last day of the festival,

International artists contributing their skills to the event include: Tats cru from New York, El Mac from Los Angeles, Revert from France, Otto Schnade from Chile and Smug from Australia. A host of UK artists will also be present, including: Nick Walker, Kid Acne and Inkie.

Inkie (Bristol resident Tom Bingle) is also one of the event’s organizers, as well as being a renowned graffiti writer and frequent collaborator with Banksy, one of the globe’s most well-known street artists and fellow Bristolian.

Inkie, who was arrested as the head of a collective of over seven other writers in what is thought to be the UK’s largest ever graffiti bust – Operation Anderson – and went on to come second in the 1989 world street art championships, said that the inspiration for the event arose partly from witnessing similarly grand street art projects in Lisbon and Melbourne: “I thought it was about time Bristol, home of urban art in the UK had an installation of this scale.”

There was also reasoning for choosing Nelson Street as the venue, said Inkie, “Nelson Street … is still one of the most depressing, ugly and run down streets in the whole of the city and something needed to be done about it. This project will be a great platform to revitalize the street and encourage its regeneration, as well as turning it around from an area avoided by most people into an attraction and legacy everyone can see all year.”

Whether Inkie’s pal Banksy himself will make an appearance at the event is anyone’s guess, but even without his presence, See No Evil promises to be a rich and colorful event that will bring the often-covert act of street art to the masses.

See No Evil takes place from August 18-20.