Stokes Croft – a hidden gem of street-art-cool in Bristol

Stokes Croft is a bit of a rough diamond in Bristol, a neighbourhood full of street-art, that leads up from the shopping heart of Bristol and has shabby edges but a creative heart. This part of Bristol was my choice when I was asked to suggest a ‘Hidden Gem’ by LookInsuranceService for their Hidden Gems Map. Stokes Croft is one of the best street-art heartlands of Bristol (and the others aren’t far away) where you can still see a Banksy mural above the Canteen cafe. With live music every night there are plenty of cafes to hang out at and be sure to stop at the PRSC (People’s Republic of Stokes Croft Gallery) where they can tell you about all the street art happenings in the area.

Banksy Mural The Mild Mild West on Stokes Croft, Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Banksy Mural The Mild Mild West on Stokes Croft, Bristol

Walk up from the bottom (perhaps you’ll also have time to explore the Bearpit where there are also plenty of murals) and you won’t have to look far to find great street art around every corner, up every side street and decorating many of the shop-fronts. The area has fought hard to keep its independent character and you’ll see the murals protesting against the local Tesco store, seen as a sign of the creeping, faceless commercialism which the locals want to avoid. You’ll be spoiled here for inexpensive places to eat, hang out and make use of the free wifi. Don’t be put off by some of the locals who look a bit down and out – I walk up and down here to work every day and I’ve never had any problem.

Mural on Lakota nightclub off Stokes Croft, Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Mural on Lakota nightclub off Stokes Croft, Bristol

Street art mural on Stokes Croft, Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street art mural on Stokes Croft, Bristol

Street art on Stokes Croft, Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street art on Stokes Croft, Bristol

If you make it up as far as Jamaica Street, take a look down the side street at the painted hoardings which change all the time and pop into the PRSC gallery where they sell artworks, postcards and other locally made souvenirs, some from the Jamaica Street Studios next door – look out for their Open Studios event in June if you like an ecclectic mix of art.

Steet art on Jamaica Street, Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Steet art on Jamaica Street, Bristol

Street art on Stokes Croft, Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street art on Stokes Croft, Bristol

Street-art on Stokes Croft, Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street-art on Stokes Croft, Bristol

If you want to learn more about the street art culture of Stokes Croft and Bristol, it’s worth taking a walking tour with Where the Wall every Saturday, who will tell you all the tales from the neighbourhood. Not far off is Nelson Street which for the last two years has been repainted by international street-artists in the See No Evil festival and there’s also the Upfest Urban Art Festival on North Street in Bedminster, south of the river.

Street art near Stokes Croft, Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street art near Stokes Croft, Bristol

Where to eat on Stokes Croft

You won’t be going hungry on Stokes Croft with many inexpensive cafes, and more springing up all the time. Here are my recommendations;

The Canteen takes up the ground floor of an old office building, Hamilton House that’s now an arts and business centre. This cafe is always crowded, with live music every night and food that’s cheap and wholesome (a free mug of soup with every meal!)

Street art at The Canteen, Stokes Croft, Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street art at The Canteen, Stokes Croft, Bristol

Pieminster – The premier pie company of Bristol with a lunchtime stall in St Nicholas market too – love the Chicken of Aragon (Chicken, bacon and tarragon) but the more traditional among you might go for the Kate and Sidney (Steak, kidney and ale).

Cafe Kino – A spacious, airy cafe where you can sit in the window and watch the world go by. The food is vegan, local and organic and they hold musical and arts events downstairs.

Poco – On the corner of Jamaica street, they specialise in tapas style dishes with an inspired mix of world flavours. Being Stokes Croft of course it’s locally sourced, organic and sustainable with a target of zero waste.

Patisserie Leila – This patisserie and coffee shop makes an elegant change and I always drool over the cakes in the window and sometimes treat myself to a few macarons on the way home.

If you’d like to find some other hidden gems around the UK, take a look at the Guide to Britain’s Hidden Gems from Look Insurance Services and add a hidden gem from around your neighbourhood.

More Street Art in Bristol

Is Bristol the Street Art Capital of the world?
The Banksy Exhibition in Bristol
Graffiti Tourism in Bristol

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This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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Is Bristol the street-art capital of the world?

Bristol is my home town so forgive me if I’m biased, but if you’re a connoisseur of street-art, you’ll find rich pickings in Bristol. Bombed in the war, Bristol has its fair share of gritty urban architecture, some unremarkable grey office blocks just waiting to be brightened up and some down at heel neighbourhoods that are happy hunting grounds for street art. I walk around these places every day on my way to work so let me take you on a personal tour of the street-art of Bristol.

The Mild Mild West by Banksy, on Stokes Croft Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Mild Mild West by Banksy, on Stokes Croft Bristol

Bristol’s Banksy Heritage

It’s practically impossible to mention street art in Bristol without Banksy coming up in conversation. It’s a good few years since Banksy and his Bristol street art contemporaries were out and about in Bristol putting up murals which the Bristol City Council was just as quick to clean up and paint over . These days a council lucky enough to find a Banksy popping up on its streets is more likely to cover it over with Plexiglass to avoid anyone vandalising it. In 2009 Bristol’s favourite street artist held a free Banksy art exhibition in the Bristol City Museum and the queues to get in snaked around the block, as fans flew in from all over the world, to take the rare opportunity of seeing fresh work from Banksy. These days there aren’t too many Banksy murals left in Bristol, so take the opportunity while you can to see an early Banksy – The Mild Mild West above The Canteen in Hamilton House on Stokes Croft (always crowded for the affordable food and live music). There’s also the naked man hanging from the window towards the bottom of Park Street, but the Police Marksman on Park Row has unfortunately been painted over with a mural of the Queen.

Banksy then and now on Park Row, Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Banksy then and now on Park Row, Bristol

The Nelson Street project – See No evil

Once you’ve sought out the naked man on Park Street, then it’s a short walk from there down the hill to Nelson Street where the latest street-art project has been intent on brightening a dull back street in the Bristol city centre, filled with 1960s concrete buildings. In August 2011 top street artists from around the world converged on Nelson Street and over a weekend it was transformed into a colourful outdoor art gallery. I highly recommend a walk along Nelson Street with your camera, taking the time to look up and down, climb steps and walkways to see the artwork in all directions. Watch the See no Evil video here.

Street art on Nelson St, Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street art on Nelson St, Bristol

The See No Evil project will continue in August 2012 when a similar weekend event of street art and music is planned – for more information, visit the See No Evil website. It says a lot about how far Bristol Street Art has come that the project now has funding from the Art’s Council.

Street art on Nelson St, Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street art on Nelson St, Bristol

Stokes Croft – Bristol’s street art heartland

Stokes Croft is the neighbourhood that I walk through on my way to work everyday and is the heartland of Bristol’s street-art scene. If you walk up from the roundabout near Cabot Circus and Debenhams, keep your eyes peeled to look down side streets and up above the shop fronts to see street art that is often themed for the shop or music venue it is decorating. This is an area that is somewhat down at heel and you may see the residents of various nearby homeless projects congregating in doorways with a can of Special Brew in hand although they’re all pretty harmless. In the last year or two the community has been at odds with the Bristol City Council in their efforts to keep the area full of individual artists and businesses rather than being homogenised with mainstream shops and offices. It seems to have worked and there are a number of great, inexpensive cafes on Stokes Croft as well as a few design shops springing up.

Street art on Stokes Croft, Bristol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Street art on Stokes Croft, Bristol

The art on Stokes Croft is ever changing depending on what builder’s hoardings are up but I recommend that you walk up at least as far as Jamaica Street where you’ll see ahead of you the Jamaica Street Artist’s Collective, which has an open day each summer that is well worth visiting. Turn left here and you’ll find a small shop gallery of the PRSC or People’s Republic of Stokes Croft. This group co-ordinates much of the street-art and other cultural events on Stokes Croft and you can find art, postcards and souvenirs on sale in the shop, and perhaps have a chat about latest street-art projects in the area.

The Bear-Pit – Bristol’s latest street-art project

At the city end of Stokes Croft under that big roundabout is an underpass called the Bearpit that is also being targeted for a bit of street-art regeneration. Previously a grey tarmac area, where you might pass through but not want to linger, the area is now being brightened up with street art and food vendors are moving in to make it a more social space in the city centre. Walk through and you’ll see murals in all the passageways as well as a shop near the bus station selling all the supplies that a budding street-artist could need.

Now the tide has turned and street-art in Bristol seems to be part of the regeneration agenda for the city, look out for more street-art happenings here, and come visit Bristol yourself to take a look at some of the best street-art in the world.

More things to see in Bristol

Jamaica Street Studios in Bristol
Graffiti Tourism in Bristol – Stokes Croft
Free and Fun in Bristol – 20 things that won’t cost you a penny

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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Brighton – a very British Seaside Town

Brighton has long been the haunt of Londoners who are in need of respite from the Big Smoke. Graham Greene wrote about it in his famous novel Brighton Rock– an interesting insight into what it was like in a time when people went down in their Sunday best clothes and strolled along the promenade in a quintessentially English way.

Brighton Pavilion Photo: Fenners1984 of Flickr

Brighton Pavilion

It has always had an eccentric air about it. Just a look at the Brighton Pavilion attests to this. The Pavilion was built for Prince Regent between 1787 and 1823 so that he could entertain his mistress there. It was designed in a skewed Indian architectural style, the British having liked the architecture in India and attempted to copy it themselves. The result is almost comic, particularly in a classic British seaside resort.

Banksy kissing policemen, Brighton Photo: simonbooth on Flickr

Banksy policemen in Brighton

For sometime Brighton has been known as Britain’s gay capital too. There’s a good gay bar scene. Near to the station, behind (perhaps appropriately) a PVC cover, there’s Banksy’s portrait of two male policemen kissing, quite a nice nod to the community.

Brighton has what you want from a British seaside resort mixed with good pubs, restaurants and shopping. Along the seafront, there are a few fish and chip places including one that serves crab soup, which you will smell long before you see it.  However, the places along the seafront are more expensive than great well-known locations such as Bardsley’s on Baker Street.

The old Brighton pier – West Pier – stands, a charcoal husk just out to sea. It was opened in 1866. Maintenance costs led to degradation, which in turn resulted in the pier being cut off from the shore for safety. Storms after that led to parts of it falling into the sea and a couple of fires after that left it as what you see it today.

There are a couple of decorative iron pieces from the old pier in the Brighton Fishing Museum on the seafront. The pier visitors go to today is to the left of the old one. It has amusement arcades with slot machines and toy grabbing games, a helter skelter, ghost train and a couple of other rides as well as a tarot reader who works from a gypsy caravan on the pier.

Fish and Chips in Brighton Photo: drchrispinnock of Flickr

Fish and Chips in Brighton

The city of Brighton and Hove is known for its cultural and arts scene and there are some cute galleries on the seafront as well as inland. There are also a few market stalls dotted about when the weather suits.

There is (contrary to popular belief) a great train service between London and Brighton. So while cheap car hire would be one way to get there if coming from London, you don’t really need it unless you’re sticking around for a while. Buses here are expensive enough that you might as well.

Brighton Pier Photo: EEPaul of Flickr

Brighton Pier

If travelling in from another part of the UK, trains are still recommended – as long as you book far enough in advance. The UK has the cheapest advance train fares in Europe but the last minute fares are among the most expensive.

This post was brought to you by CarHireMarket.com  and written by Liz Vega who writes mostly about Britain and loves the seaside.

More things to do around England

Ships and Shopping at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
A walk around the harbourside in Bristol – Video
Hunting the Ash-black slug on Dartmoor – in Devon

Photo Credits: Brighton Pavilion by Fenners1984, Banksy’s kissing policemen by simonbooth, Seaside resort food by drchrispinnock,  and Brighton pier by EEPaul.

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Subscribe to Heatheronhertravels Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels

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