By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter
AN AMBITIOUS plan to transform a drab street into a major tourist attraction could help put Bristol on the international map, it has been claimed.
As exclusively revealed in the Evening Post yesterday, the See No Evil art project will turn Nelson Street in the city centre into Europe’s largest outdoor art exhibition.
More than 20 of the world’s biggest street artists will paint more than half a dozen of the rundown street’s largest buildings, some 11 stories high.
These include St Lawrence House above Cafe Central and the juvenile court building. A street party will then be held on August 20, with music, street stalls and outdoor bars.
The project was officially launched yesterday at the Tobacco Factory in Southville. See No Evil has already won praise from Bristol City Council – which is putting £40,000 towards the running costs.
Executive member for culture Simon Cook is hopeful the event will be Bristol’s biggest and most successful cultural attraction since Banksy took over the City Museum and Art Gallery two years ago.
One of the brains behind the project is Bristolian Tom Bingle – better known as street artist Inkie. Inkie has worked on a number of projects with his more elusive colleague, and hopes See No Evil will celebrate the city as a leader on the street art scene.
Mr Cook said: “This project is very exciting for Bristol. We are known for our street art and for nurturing artists like Banksy and projects like this will put us on the map internationally.
“The essence of street art is not only its punchy social commentary, but also the fact that it is by definition transient. Using a location like Nelson Street thus fits perfectly as currently it is a rundown area in need of re-design – and it will no doubt be rebuilt at some point in the next few years.
“In the meantime, however, we are about to see it become a backdrop for artistic expression by some of the most talented street artists in the world. They want to come here because they have heard about Bristol and it is yet another expression of the incredible reputation we have as a unique cultural centre.
“What they create here will draw people from all over the world – as the Banksy exhibition did – and thus once again culture shows itself as an economic generator.”
The Banksy museum exhibition attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors in June, 2009, and was estimated to have brought millions into the local economy. Artists involved in See No Evil include Nick Walker, another Bristolian artist who came to prominence during the same period as Banksy. International painters include El Mac, who is known in the graffiti world for large pieces taking up the entire side of a building.