One of the most ambitious permanent graffiti projects in the world is currently underway on Nelson Street in Bristol, with international artists bringing the kiss of creativity to dilapidated 11-storey buildings. See No Evil's organizer, UK graffiti legend Inkie, chats to Bella Todd about the blood, sweat and spray cans behind this extraordinary street art happening...
What’s the atmosphere like on site right now?
I’ve been here since Tuesday morning and it’s looking fantastic. Everyone’s buzzing on the fact we’re all here in one place, making this happen. El Mac has done a big six-storey picture of what I think is his niece and nephew. Tats Cru from the Bronx have done a whole wall. Mick Walker is doing a guy in a bowler hat pouring paint down the side of a building, 11 storeys high. And there’s probably another 50 per cent to go. The public are loving it and I’ve got 100 guys coming each day wanting to paint, and we just can’t give away any more wall space.
We’ve seen people painting from cherry pickers, standing on bins…
There’s even guys on top of bus stops painting. We’ve just had a little briefing about health and safety ’cos last night guys were getting drunk and then getting up ladders, and obviously we’ve got the council health and safety guys walking around…
‘I’ve got 100 guys coming each day wanting to paint, and we just can’t give away any more wall space’
Is the mood collaborative or competitive?
They were all there till five, six in the morning last night. Everyone’s got a wall to do, so they make sure they keep up the pace. There’s always competition, everyone wants to be the best. If someone’s on a bigger wall than someone else they can get unhappy about that. The bigger the piece, the better the picture, ’cos really it’s now all about getting your photo on the internet. The biggest hurdle in organising all this has just been trying to balance it out and keep everyone happy.
You and Banksy worked together on another massive graffiti event in Bristol, Walls On Fire, in the late ’90s. But it sounds like See No Evil is on a whole other level?
It’s more than a step up. It’s a ladder up. In terms of scale, quality of artists, international artists, and music as well - the whole street’s going to be a block party on Saturday. I went to the council with the proposition, and I said, look, the Banksy show [2009’s Banksy Vs Bristol Museum] had 900,000 visitors. Melbourne’s graffiti art attracts 250,000 visitors a year to one tiny street and makes millions. Our space is about five times the size.
Have you reserved a spot for yourself?
Yeah, I’m doing a big wall today, top to bottom, four floors, a female art nouveau. I’m ad libbing on it, but it’ll take about 70-80 cans. Personally I get a bit of vertigo. Just going up inside the 11-storey one was enough for me…
Read more from Inkie about what makes Bristol unique in the graffiti world in part two of Bella’s interview tomorrow.
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