50,000 flock to See No Evil street art festival
A RECORD 50,000 people from across the UK and Europe flocked to Bristol over the weekend for the city's See No Evil street art festival.
Organisers estimate more than 20,000 poured into Nelson Street during Saturday daytime alone for the urban art festival, which saw 40 top street artists from across the globe showcase their work.
Last year's event attracted 30,000 visitors and organisers say they are delighted this year's street art festival – the biggest permanent art installation in the world – has seen such a surge in visitor numbers.
See No Evil was organised by Team Love, made up of music producers Dave Harvey and Tom Payne plus festival director Mike Bennett and art curator Inkie, with funding from Bristol City Council, the Arts Council and London 2012 Festival as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
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Mr Harvey said: "We have had people from all over the world come to See No Evil. We have had slightly fewer graffiti artists taking part this year but we wanted them to do pieces of art which had a bigger impact.
"We are all so pleased with how the festival has gone and to be doubly as busy and welcome nearly twice as many people is just fantastic."
Twelve drab buildings in Nelson Street became massive canvases for artists during the festival.
Artists from as far away as the USA and Poland had been painting since early last week, creating 50 colourful and individual pieces.
New for this year was a piece by artist SatOne who painted for six days to create an abstract mural on the building opposite The Lanes, paying homage to superheroes.
Between them, the artists used 3,500 spray paint cans and 700 litres of paint.
US graffiti artist Mark Bode was one of those flown in to give Nelson Street a makeover.
He said: "The festival is amazing. I'm sure it will be decades before there is anything similar, on this scale, in America.
"It's really hard to get any funding for something like this, legally painting the streets, in the States. It's so inspiring to come here and see so many people here, taking pictures and enjoying the art."
Fellow artist Mark Lyken, 39, who flew in from Glasgow last Tuesday and has been painting street art since 1986, created one of his well-known colourful abstract pieces for the project.
Mark said: "During the whole week there has been a really relaxed vibe and even when I have been painting super-late, people have still wanted to stop and chat."
As well as the art, visitors to the festival were also treated to a range of live music and breakdancing competitions, as well as bars and food stalls.
Lauren Lennard, 26, and friend Kirsty Bowman, 26, both from Clifton, visited See No Evil for the second year running.
Lauren, a marketing executive, said: "It's an incredible event.
"We came last year but this is much bigger and better and really exciting with so much going on.
"Nelson Street is normally a cut- through to Broadmead and it's great that it's been turned into an outdoor art gallery for everyone to enjoy."
Peter Maynew and wife Julie travelled from Bath to see the exhibition for the first time.
Nurse Julie, 42, said: "This is the first time we have been to See No Evil and the exhibition is totally amazing. The energy and detail put into some of the pieces is amazing."