I’m reporting to you today from the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft. No – its not an obscure new country in the Balkans, but a principality of the City of Bristol that’s exerting its artistic independence.
Walking to work down Stokes Croft, close to the centre of Bristol, I started noticing the street art on every corner. The more I looked, the more I photographed, the more I found, until I realised that there was something of a street-art explosion happening in this part of Bristol.
The People’s Republic of Stokes Croft sprang from the activities of the Jamaica Street Artists Studios, just off Stokes Croft. Now a whole street gallery has sprung up organised by PRPC – every builder’s hoarding is an opportunity for artistic expression. Their mission is to visually improve the streetscape and create a sense of identity in a part of Bristol that has for a while been a little down at heel.
Take a look at this – Montmartre, eat your heart out!
The building work going on further down Jamaica street is providing even more opportunities – who is that gorgeous goddess?
And on Stokes Croft itself there’s plenty to see…
including the piece by that well-known but anonymous Bristol street-artist, Banksy.
Even the residents are getting in on the act…
Not to mention the shops and clubs…
If you travel further up the road from Stokes Croft to the upper reaches of the Gloucester Rd you’ll also find Guerilla Galleries, a small art gallery that stocks original works and prints from the same artists you can see on the street.
Bristol graffiti fans have mixed feelings about the media hype and commercialisation of street-art, epitomised by high prices that Banksy pieces are now fetching at the auctions. You can judge for yourself – is it art?
or street art?
I say, enjoy it where it started – on the street. And if you like it, put it on your wall too – next time you see it, it could be selling at Sothebys for thousands. Check out what some Bristol Graffiti lovers have to say on the weighty Graffiti-issues of the day in this video.
So if you’re visiting Bristol and want to witness its edgy, subversive side, come and take a look for yourself.
Ready for a break and a bite to eat?
If the pictures above haven’t put you off your food, try some of the wholesome cafes nearby, where you can get a cheapskate’s lunch for around a fiver.
Cafe Kino at 3 Ninetree hill is a co-operative cafe hosting regular community events – with delicious veggie and vegan food and organic, fairtrade coffee.
Kuvuka cafe at 113 Stokes Croft has an African vibe – the owner lived in Uganda and offers an environment for friendship and social justice as well as paninis, baguettes, soup and salads. All the hot drinks are Fairtrade.
Pieminster at 24 Stokes Croft is fast becoming a Bristol food institution – you can also buy their pies in St Nicholas market and they’re branching out in other UK cities too (but you saw them here first). You can choose from loads of different pies with mash and gravy for an updated take on traditional British fare.
Still hungry for more?
Tune into the Bristol Graffiti blog and the blog by artist and photographer Knautia to keep up to speed on Graffiti happenings in Bristol. There’s also a Bristol Graffiti website and a Bristol Graffiti and street-art group on Flickr to view.
You can see all my Bristol street-art photos on flickr here.