By Sam Rkaina and Karen Purnell / firstname.lastname@example.org
ORGANISERS of the See No Evil graffiti exhibition in Bristol city centre expect thousands to turn out to see it today.
More than 70 artists have been working around the clock to transform most of the buildings in Nelson Street into Europe’s biggest outdoor street exhibition.
Most of the work was completed by Friday night but two of the largest pieces were finished earlier today.
One was Los Angeles mural painter El Mac’s impressive mother and child, which stretches four stories above the Blue Arrow Catering building.
The other is a piece by Bristol’s own Nick Walker, a street artist who developed his talent in the city alongside Banksy.
His image of a bowler hat wearing man pouring paint onto the street below looks set to be the largest individual piece created for the project, as it has gone up on the 11-storey Lawrence House building above Cafe Central.
A “block party” will be held to celebrate the completion of the artwork today from noon. It will be followed by a sold-out music event at the former Royal Sun Alliance building from 9pm until the early hours.
There was universal praise for the art project when the Evening Post went to Nelson Street to speak to passers-by.
Bill Braddick said: “It’s amazing. I like to photograph graffiti so this is brilliant. There’s some really nice work here.”
Alan Blackmoor said: “The company I work for manages one of the properties involved, so it’s fantastic for such a rundown area. Seeing this amount of people here is just amazing.”
Angela and David Adams said: “We think it’s fantastic. We are here on holiday and saw the event on the news and thought we would have a look. They’ve done a lot overnight and it’s a great idea. Where we are from they held an OAP graffiti class. I would love to give it a go.”
Shirley Hughes said: “It’s a wonderful idea to get people from all over the world here. The art is fantastic and it’s very enterprising.”
Martin Woolner, from Windsor, added: “I think it’s great. My son is one of the artists working here so I’ve come down from Windsor to see his work and the work of other artists.”
Trevor Doherty said: “I’m from Northern Ireland, and I believe the councils there should take the initiative from this for young people to create things like this rather than terrorist pictures. It would be great for them to be recognised and give Northern Ireland a better reputation.”
Gareth Jones said: “I think it’s great, since they have somewhere to do it and it brings people to Bristol. There are artists from all over the world here so I’m all for it.”
The project has grown considerably since its beginnings, with three times as many artists taking part as originally planned and more building owners agreeing to having their premises painted.
Bristol City Council put £80,000 into the project, to pay for flights and accommodation for the overseas artists taking part, as well as road closures and the cherry pickers needed to reach the top of Nelson Street’s tall buildings.
The council is hoping to emulate the success of the Banksy exhibition at the Museum and Art Gallery two years ago, as it brought hundreds of thousands of people and millions of pounds into the city.
Deputy council leader Simon Cook said: “It certainly worked in Melbourne where it has been done before.
“We have not suddenly become a third world country, we are still spending on arts events, as we did with the Harbour Festival last month.
“Banksy had an estimated £15 million economic impact and kept many businesses going during that period.”