Legendary Bristol street artist to take on city’s biggest and most famous wall

For years it has been the biggest and most famous wall filled with street art in Bristol – and now the ever-changing canvas that is the side of the Tobacco Factory is changing again, but this time not as part of the annual Upfest street art festival.

Instead, Tobacco Factory owner and former Bristol mayor George Ferguson is the man behind the transformation of the wall opposite Aldi, which over the years has enthralled and divided Bristol as the iconic showpiece for the city’s street at Upfest.

Last year’s beautiful work ‘Wonder’ by Devon street artist Sophie Mess, which showed giant purple and yellow flowers, has been painted over, preparing the way for a new and huge work of street art.

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The transformation is expected to take around ten days, and will be a work of art to promote the Planet Local Summit, which takes place in Bristol at the end of the month.

Backed by the Tobacco Factory, Bedminster BID and Local Futures, the wall will be painted by Bristol artists Inkie and Silent Hobo.

Inkie is probably, after Banksy, the most famous artist to emerge from the Bristol street art scene of the 1980s and 90s, and his distinctive images and typeface can be seen across the world – including recently in a project to take street art to Sierra Leone. Meanwhile, Silent Hobo is also a distinctive artist whose colourful cartoon-like images have long captured the essence of Bristol.

Mr Ferguson said street art fans would have to wait to see what exactly the pair would create on the giant wall of the Tobacco Factory, but as well as promoting the Planet Local Summit, it would remain until next year’s Upfest.

Upfest organisers took a break this year following the return of the festival in 2022 after the Covid pandemic, which has given many of the regular walls an extra year before being painted over again.

“It’ll be really good, and it’ll be up until next summer,” said Mr Ferguson. “We’re getting to do something that will help continue the theme of promoting local economies, and the whole project is being filmed – we want it to go global. It’ll be lots of figures, lots of images, really collourful, and having the wall painted by two Bristol artists will really fit in with what the Planet Local movement is all about,” he added.

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