UrbanCanvas

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street-artists from Liverpool, UK.

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UrbanCanvas on the BBC BIG SCREEN!

March 31, 2012

Last month: February 2012, saw us launching two new videos onto the BBC BIG SCREEN in Liverpool. These will run twice a week on a continuous loop.

Both feature internationally renowned 3D pavement artists PLANET STREET-PAINTING from Holland. These where amongst some of our highlights from our 2011 season; we would like to thank the BBC Big Screen for helping us to put pavement art back on the streets, and offering their continued support.

And a big thank-you personally to Jeremy Buxton & Phil Chapman from the BBC! :-)

 

The ticking of a clock against the window of time.

December 31, 2011

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve 2011, and that’s typically a time of reflection on the past and optimistic anticipation for the future. So how does 2011 compare with regards to street-art?

Well, every year is different and unique in its own way, and this year has proved no exception; new art, new places and new challenges. Highlights, lowlights and lots of in-between lights have guided us through another eventful year working the streets. It started last February with our first visit to the Turkish delights of Istanbul and the İstinye Park Shopping Mall. Probably one of our hardest gigs of the year, for the sheer weight of children wishing to get involved; we had an incredibly stressful time trying to run a workshop and ‘pulling the work back’ into resembling something like ‘art’ It was one of those moments where we wondered WHY are we doing this!!!

One of our most memorable highlights was our trip to the beautiful Channel Island of Guernsey to take part in their annual Liberation Day Celebrations. A busy day with a great atmosphere, we loved the event and I think they LOVED US! They must have done, because we are going back again in May 2012 to do it all again. We look forward to renewing old friendships and visiting our beloved HERM ISLAND again.

This year also saw us travelling to the wonderful city of Waterford, Ireland for the magnificent Spraoi International Street Arts Festival, which has been staged in Waterford, since 1993. It’s a real community event involving everybody in the town. We had a great time here with the Irish just taking to pavement art, like a duck takes to water.

WATERFORD, Ireland.

Again, the year has seen us taking our unique brand of pavement art the length & breath of the United Kingdom; from the far north, Dundee in Scotland to the far south, Channel Islands. Across to Norwich (three times this year!!); South Wales (Barry Island and Merthyr Tydfil), Nottingham, Liverpool, Widnes, St Helens, Andover and Greater London. Nobody can say that this pavement art lark doesn’t “get you out of the house!”

ANDOVER: Our last gig of British Summer-Time!

So what does 2012 hold in store? Well much more of the same really. As of this year, we expect to visit MORE new and exciting places; a second visit to Istanbul, Turkey is on the cards, a trip to Qatar in the Arabian Gulf, A visit to the South of France and Mexico for two major street art festivals (Toulon & Bella Via) plus holidays in the Canary Isles & New York, USA thrown in the mix, and not to mention all the, as yet unknown, to be confirmed bookings and appointments.

2012 is shaping up to be a classic year for UrbanCanvas and innovative pavement art……and we hope that you can join us somewhere along the road…..from ourselves (Philip & Catherine) we wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR! (With bells on!)

:-)

Sutton Winter Festival

December 13, 2011

A Street Arts Family Extravaganza!

Sutton Winter Festival 2011

Sutton Winter Festival 2011

Last weekend (Saturday 10th Dec. 2011) saw us taking part in the Sutton Winter Festival organised by the excellent ZAP ARTS from Brighton in partnership with the Crime Reduction Partnership.

A family event attracting the crowds

A family event attracting the crowds

We had a great time throwing paint around on the street, with our Urban Action-Painting pavement art activity. This is our own personal homage to Jackson Pollock and on paper; the idea of throwing paint around with complete strangers on the street is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. The potential for utter chaos is apparent. It’s one of the great things about street art, that you never know exactly what’s going to happen, who’s going to come along  and ‘make or break’ the art.

Urban Paint Bombing!

Urban Paint Bombing!

We love the abstract quality and challenging nature of action painting in a public place. Everybody has an opinion.

That’s great for art; comments like “it’s just a mess” and “it’s beautiful, I wish it was permanent” are made side by side. We love the anarchic nature of it all and it certainly gets people talking. One guy said that “if Damien Hurst had have done that on the pavement it would be a tourist attraction worth millions of pounds,” and he’s probably right. I even had a group of ‘Religious Types’ blessing us on the street, and saying “the Lord had drawn them to us.”

The great thing about street-art is its ability to create a sense of community amongst complete strangers—people start talking to each other. I read today of the Mary Portas report to the government warning that the high street could ‘disappear forever’ 

Urban Street-Painting

Urban Street-Painting!

The High street is not all about shopping and materialism, people are not just money machines filling cash tills in shops; events like this, organised by an enlightened city central management provide real opportunities for creative activities and a richer more personal experience for residents and visitors. A creative and playful approach to high street marketing is the way forward and high quality street-art is at the vanguard of this movement. And its good to see go-ahead councils like Sutton leading the way.

A 'Jackson Pollock' to you!

A 'Jackson Pollock' to you!

Sutton is a delightful ‘satellite-town’ of the Greater Borough of London, situated in the south west corner of the metropolis; A nice atmosphere with a very Christmassy feeling high street. We’ve done a few of these towns in and around greater London and always enjoy them much more than working in central London. Each one has its own identity and individual community feel.

Urban Art by Remote Control!

Urban Art by Remote Control!

Urban Action Street-Painting in the middle of winter is technically more difficult than in summer due to the fact that paint just refuses to dry in the freezing conditions. We’ve never done this type of painting event in December before, so were unsure if people would be interested enough in taking part and hanging around the streets when they could be in a nice warm shop. Our fears were unfounded and the public reaction was magical, loads of kids, families and adults where loving the event and made for a very popular and busy attraction. We were more than pleased with our reception in Sutton and would welcome the opportunity to return someday.

UrbanCanvas down in the hood!

UrbanCanvas (Catherine & Philip) down in the hood!

Event made possible through Fools-Paradise Ltd.

The Little Chalky’s of 2011

November 28, 2011 1 Comment

We are pleased to announce the results of The Little Chalkers Children’s Pavement Art Competition, held as part of The James Carling International Pavement Art Competition and part of The Bold Street Festival, Liverpool.

Sunday 25th September 2011

We had over 80 children taking part in three different age categories: 5 and under, 6 to 10 years & 11 to 16; three winners in each group.

After long consideration the winners were chosen by photographer Mike McCartney.

THE WINNERS:

5 and Under

FIRST PRIZE: Ollie Horscroft aged 5 from Liverpool

FIRST PRIZE: Ollie Horscroft aged 5 from Liverpool

SECOND PRIZE: Daniel Streatford age 5 from Birkenhead

SECOND PRIZE: Daniel Streatford age 5 from Birkenhead

THIRD PRIZE: Millie Smith age 3 from Wigan

THIRD PRIZE: Millie Smith age 3 from Wigan

6 to 10 years:

FIRST PRIZE: Loran Morris age 9 from Liverpool

FIRST PRIZE: Loran Morris age 9 from Liverpool

SECOND PRIZE: Dylan Ewan age 10 from Holland

SECOND PRIZE: Dylan Ewan age 10 from Holland

THIRD PRIZE: Michael Edwards age 9 from Liverpool

THIRD PRIZE: Michael Edwards age 9 from Liverpool

11 to 16 years:

FIRST PRIZE: Jade Hancock age 12 from Liverpool

FIRST PRIZE: Jade Hancock age 12 from Liverpool

SECOND PRIZE: Holly Fearon age 13 from Liverpool

SECOND PRIZE: Holly Fearon age 13 from Liverpool

THIRD PRIZE: Amy Putt age 13 from Scotland

THIRD PRIZE: Amy Putt age 13 from Scotland

prizes will be in the post today (28th November)

CONGRATULATIONS to all our winners and many thanks to all the children who took part, even if you didn’t win, it’s the taking part that counts :-)

Also many thanks to Mike McCartney for judging, and for his continued support of visual street art throughout the city.

This event was organised by UrbanCanvas and supported by City Central BID, Liverpool.

For more info on the history of pavement art ‘LIKE’ our ARTISTS OF THE PAVING STONE page on Facebook.
Visit our history blog: All My Own Work.
For more info on UrbanCanvas street art activities ‘LIKE’ us on Facebook.
© Philip Battle (UrbanCanvas) Liverpool, United Kingdom.

Bloggetty blog, blog!

November 27, 2011

Welcome to our new blog spot!

I’ve separated all my past UrbanCanvas posts out from my own personal blog, something I should have done from the start really, but hey ho, now it’s done!

Hope you like the distinctive new layout…..this is basically our diary and personal thoughts on events we organise and take part in with links, photos and videos about anything that interests us at the time. We hope it makes for an interesting read and will serve to supplement information on our website.

We will officially be launching this blog tomorrow (Monday 28th November 2011) to coincide with the launch of our new film XXL-LIVERPOOL by John Scotland.

Here’s the preview:

 

For more info on the history of pavement art ‘LIKE’ our ARTISTS OF THE PAVING STONE page on Facebook.
Visit our history blog: All My Own Work.
For more info on UrbanCanvas street art activities ‘LIKE’ us on Facebook.
© Philip Battle (UrbanCanvas) Liverpool, United Kingdom.

Thoughts on the James Carling International Pavement Art Competition, Liverpool 2011

November 12, 2011

I wrote this last month in response to some questions from Anthony Cappetto from Street Painting TV.

Competition ID badge- GOCKER

2011 Competition ID badge- GOCKER

•          We have seen that the festival is getting a large deal of attention in the UK, Hong Kong, and Mexico, as well as a jump in attendance from last year via your FB page. Where do you see the growth of the festival in the next 1-3 years in terms of community, sponsors, perhaps extended sister festivals? 

Yes, there has been an increase all round, according to the people with the clickers; footfall has gone up from 14,000 people last year to 20,000 this year. Also the number of artists taking part, in 2008 we started with 14 local  artists, this year we had almost 40 with a 50/50 split between local/UK and international artists.

The event has developed from a one day competition to a six day celebration of pavement art and is now part of Liverpool’s annual Bold Street Festival.  The James Carling competition is considered to be the UK’s premier festival of this art form and this is reflected in the quality of art & artists taking part. Also in the way that funders and local businesses have more than tripled their investment in this year’s event as compared to last year. It’s important to note that all funding is from private investment via City Central BID. This means that we don’t take the tax payers pound or rely on arts council funding, which in this current economic climate can be problematic.

With regards to the festival growth in coming years, we have always viewed this as an organic thing, I’m sure you know the Kevin Costner film FIELD OF DREAMS “build it and they will come” well that’s very much our philosophy, it is not our ambition to become the biggest event ever; we do know of festivals that engage 100’s of artists, they all seem very well organised and attract lots of attention amongst both the arts community and the public. But the bigger the event, the bigger the headache and the number of paymasters you have to satisfy.

We are more interested in the experience and ‘atmosphere’ being created for both the artists taking part and the public visiting. We are not interested in the WOW factor or attracting big named ‘celebrity’ artists, if they want to come well that’s fine but it’s always been about the little things and what impression the individual takes away with them, that’s how you grow an event, through word of mouth.

We always ask the question “did the person taking part or visiting enjoy the experience?”  Little things matter like “is the surface suitable for great pavement art?” and “is this something we’d like to visit or take part in ourselves?”

When I talk about ‘atmosphere’ I’m describing something that is often forgotten about or dismissed, most street art events are centred around the ‘competition’ or the physical reality of the production of great pavement art; there is nothing wrong with this and in many ways it seems to be the most logical approach. But for us this is just the by-product of the creative process. We take a more artist-centric approach.

Pavement Artists do much more than this, they actually curve time and space. By creating art in a public place they enter into a ‘zone’ where time slows down, they are in a different physical reality than the people who visit and observe the
art. So what effect does this have on the event?

Well it changes the ‘atmosphere’ a once drab, uninteresting square in the middle of a big city becomes transformed into a relaxed & friendly place to be, strangers start talking to each other and children start creating art & laughing and magic is unleashed. We don’t understand all the dynamics of this but then we don’t have to, all we need to know is that it works.  To make sure it works we insist on no distractions, no loud music, no performers etc. in the immediate vicinity, these are the details that many event organisers tend to misunderstand…… pavement art doesn’t need any of that stuff, it’s a performance art within its own right and within its own time zone and this is what we should be celebrating. We have been at events where pavement artists are competing with Brass bands & street performers and it doesn’t work, the organisers are just missing the point.

In terms of festival growth & sponsorship these have different agendas such as foot-fall, value to the local economy and positive marketing opportunities for the city; in this difficult economic climate pavement art is uniquely placed and could actually benefit from a recession. People will always want to enjoy art & culture and where better than in a public place….it’s cheaper/free to watch and participate and I think it’s one future for development. The event will change and develop organically as long as we stay true to our core values. Of course the venues and funders may change but after three years we have developed a great working model with excellent local/national & international arts community support. Local people who we have no connection with have started to blog it, sharing videos and photos on-line and taking ownership over the event and that’s very satisfying.

We are all in favour of extending to ‘sister’ festivals as long as we understand what this involves and we can count on local support for cultural exchange funding. We have had a conversation with Rosy Loyola from Festival Bella Via, Mexico about this and indeed this year we entered into a tentative arrangement where two Mexican artists came to Liverpool with flights paid for by Bella Via and we covered meals, travel within the UK and accommodation. This worked quite well and we loved having them here; we would dearly like to build on this relationship but we must make sure we have funding opportunities or sponsorship in place before we enter into formal arrangements.  We are also interested in linking to more local events like those in Toulon in France and Utrecht in Holland.

It’s important to note that we are just lowly pavement artists organising this event from an artist centric view point, so unlike some organisers we are not directly connected to local authorities, marketing or arts council funding…so finding out were money is available and how we can access it can take a little more effort!

 

2011 competition ID Badge- Judge

2011 competition ID Badge- Judge

•          Your thoughts on the children’s’ area of the festival, we are always excited about seeing the street painting (screeving) art form shared and encouraged to future artists.

The Little Chalkers Competition is one of our favourite bits, we organise it on exactly the same lines as the main adult competition where children have to register, are given a pitch & some chalks and enter into competition with other children in their age category. It’s a great feature and one of mine & Catherine’s favourite places to hang out! This year we had almost 100 children taking part, all inspired by the amazing works being produced. To us the children’s competition is a core element to the event, it’s also key from an historical point of view, we must remember that Victorian pavement artist James Carling was only 5 years of age when he went onto the streets as a poor urchin, and became known as ‘The Little Chalker’

Street art is a great way to promote creativity, it ticks all the boxes; it’s performance, visual, physical, creative and playful……remember the olden days when kids used to ‘play-out’ well they don’t do that anymore, or very rarely, many reason for that, but street art offers the opportunity for creative play and that can only be a good thing, also it sets the scene for future artists and festivals leaving the next generation with a really positive impression of this art form that we love so dearly; only time will change people’s perceptions and the so called ‘stigma’ of pavement artists as ‘beggars’ will remain well and truly in the past.

On top of that if we light a flame in only one of those children, who feels inspired enough to believe they could grow up and become an artist then our job is complete….there are not enough artists in the world. Perhaps if there were then wars would be a thing of the past? It’s just a theory!

 

2011 Little Chalkers Eflyer

2011 Little Chalkers Eflyer

•          Let’s discuss the growth of the local screevers, whom are the artists to see and what did they do for the festival this year?

The Liverpool term for a pavement artist is GOCKER, it’s thought to originate in Ireland and was first used by James Carling in 1870.

You know it’s always gratifying to see local artists returning year after year. This started out as a local art event in 2008 and when we introduced an international element to it as we did last year we weren’t sure how the local artists would take to it. Some people did get upset by the prospect of artists coming in from ‘outside’ as they saw it, but most artists have risen to the challenge, realising that there is much to be gained in the cross pollination of art & culture that benefits everybody. The artists we’ve really been impressed with are the likes of Keith Fearon from Liverpool and Christine Edwards from Manchester who before 2008 had never done street art and now they are major prize winners at this year’s event. Also the artists from other parts of the UK like Heike Brinkman from London, Alex Hobby from Newark & Annabel Slater from Oxford.

They all bring their unique talents and vision to the event. We also have a soft spot for our new first timers like Martin Joseph from Liverpool who has never done pavement art before but won a prize at this year’s event.  If you had asked me that question a few years ago I would have struggled to name anybody but it just goes to show that events like this create opportunities for artists that previously didn’t exist. The opportunity to create, shine and learn from others and the chance to share your talents with the world & travel….this can only be a good thing right?

Also we’ve noticed the distinct differences in approach and subject matter between the British, Dutch, Italian, American & Mexican artists; although we are all artists there are differences and it’s something to be celebrated, these differences extend to the festivals and events organised around the world, I know for a fact that an Italian style event such as the one in Nocera, Italy would not work in the UK and probably visa-versa. But the main thing is that we are all creating art and engaging with our public. It’s a great feeling to be part of an international arts movement that is outside the confines of the arts establishment and exists in spite of them and without them!

 

2011 Event Logistics ID Badge

2011 Event Logistics ID Badge

•          Any other items that would be good for us to post but aren’t really enhanced in other posts in social media?

 One of the important things for us was to connect with the past; have a sense of place and remember where you have come from, so when we heard about the story of James Carling back in 2008 from a local history group it seemed natural  for us to organise an event in his name. Until recently the story of pavement art & artists has been poorly documented and the Carling story is one of the very few early accounts and records, it could easily make for a good film. We were pleased to see Kurt Wenner featuring James Carling in his new book The Asphalt Renaissance.

James Carling has sent us on a journey to discover more and we found records, photos, publications and ephemera of   largely unknown pavement artists across the UK and beyond.  The world we live in today is a million miles away from these street artists….a world in which pavement artists have the luxury to write books, travel the world, earn a good living and even become famous through working the paving stone, this would have been unimaginable back then.  And that’s why James Carling matters; it reminds us of where we came from, who we are. It informs our world and gives gravity to our culture and that’s why we celebrate.

For a list of all the winners from 2011 visit The James Carling web-page.

For up to the minute photos of the event visit The Liverpool Chalk Circle on Flickr.

For up to the minute news on next year’s event join The James Carling Facebook Group.

For more info on the history of pavement art ‘LIKE’ our ARTISTS OF THE PAVING STONE page on Facebook.
Visit our history blog: All My Own Work.
For more info on UrbanCanvas street art activities ‘LIKE’ us on Facebook.
© Philip Battle (UrbanCanvas) Liverpool, United Kingdom.

21st October 2011

The James William Carling Pavement Art Competition- 2008!

August 25, 2011

I wrote this in 2008 as part of a press release for our first Liverpool competition of pavement art…..it seems fitting then to dig it out and remember exactly why we started this thing ;-)

“The tale of Irish offspring James William Carling (1857-1887) is of someone creating art and beauty in the face of adversity and abject poverty. It is often said that artists are the eternal optimists, creating beauty were none existed before. The transformation of a single lowly flagstone into a beautiful and valuable work of art is simple and magical, ephemeral. Like butterflies on a summers day, a fleeting glimpse into another world, a child’s memory of jumping into pavement paintings. To marvel at the artists skill and imagination, effectively saying; there must be more to life than this!

James William Carling as a boy

Victorian pavement artist: JAMES WILLIAM CARLING as a boy.

 As a boy James begged and screeved on the streets of Liverpool out of desperation; to eat, to feed himself and his family, to save them from starvation and the workhouse. His reward was to be thrown into prison, to be mocked and looked down upon by the aristocracy of the day.

James once wrote:

“for in Bold Street, the promenade of the aristocracy, the pavement artist did not draw”

the full description goes like this: “Bold Street! My heart sickens at your name. And well it might, for I not only could not draw in that street I could not walk on it. The sight of a ragged coat was enough to bring the harsh ‘move on’ or what was worse, the most brutal application of the staff. On Bold Street, promenade of the aristocracy, the Gocking (pavement artist) did not draw”

JAMES WILLIAM CARLING 1880

How fitting then in Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture 2008 that we reflect on the past and stand on the shoulders of our forefathers and say

“in Bold Street, the promenade of the ordinary people, the pavement artist WILL DRAW!”

2011 is our third year of presenting this event, for those wishing to find out more about this years competition you can join our James Carling Facebook group for updates and to download application forms you can visit our UrbanCanvas website!

For more info on the history of pavement art ‘LIKE’ our ARTISTS OF THE PAVING STONE page on Facebook.
Visit our history blog: All My Own Work.
For more info on UrbanCanvas street art activities ‘LIKE’ us on Facebook.
© Philip Battle (UrbanCanvas) Liverpool, United Kingdom.

The Art of Freedom!

May 17, 2011 2 Comments

Last week we travelled to the beautiful island of Guernsey for their national Liberation Day celebrations on the 9th May. This was our second time in the Channel Isles; previously we were in Jersey in 2007 for their annual arts festival. This was our first time in Guernsey and the idea of taking part in a festival celebrating freedom and liberation was just magical. The ideology of freedom is as ephemeral as the art we produce and needs to be protected at all costs. It’s no surprise that mankind has fought many a battle for liberty. In coming here my mind was taken back to the week before when we were in Dundee; the place where freedom fighter William Wallace was schooled….on our return from Scotland we stopped off at the National Wallace Monument in Stirling. A magnificent tower built in the celebration of freedom & liberty. For those who don’t know, William Wallace was the subject of the 1995 Mel Gibson film BRAVEHEART. A brave scot who attacked the oppressive English (Edward Longshanks) and drove them back as far south as York. Wallace along with Che Guevara has always been a personal hero of mine.

The National Wallace Monument, Stirling, Scotland 2011

The National Wallace Monument, Stirling, Scotland 2011 Photo: Philip Battle

John Barbour wrote in 1375 “Ah, freedome is a noble thing”  Was the same then as it is now; we find ourselves at the opposite end of the realm, on an island and one of the very few places in Britain occupied by Nazi Germany. A different time and a different place maybe but the principals remain the same….invaded and oppressed by an alien & aggressive force. This was the inspiration for our street art event; War of the Worlds, our own interpretation of the ‘tripods from Mars’ as featured in HG Wells famous novel. We were to be situated on Victoria Pier, the middle of three piers in St. Peter Port; the main coastal town in Guernsey and about a three mile drive from the airport.

St. Peter Port, Guernsey 8th May 2011

St. Peter Port, Guernsey 8th May 2011

We arrived on the morning of Sunday 8th May and the place seemed very quiet, it was hard for us to imagine what Liberation Day was going to be like. We’d been told it was going to be very busy but on arrival our first thoughts were: “where is everybody hiding!!”  St. Peter Port itself is very pretty, a little harbour town with meandering streets, bobbing boats, crystal clear waters and picturesque views.

First stop was a site visit on Victoria Pier where we bumped into Kate & Alex from the Guernsey Event Company; these are the folk responsible for putting this whole thing together. People may not realise that events on this scale take a lot of effort, mostly unseen. It’s very hard work ensuring that thousands of people enjoy themselves, seamlessly and unseen. Event’s organisers are often unsung heroes; people only tend to notice them when things go wrong!

After getting the ‘run down’ from Kate & Alex we took a stroll around the harbour and onto Castle Cornet; an ancient harbour fortress on the south side of St. Peter Port, one of the most prominent features on the harbour front. The castle was modified by the Germans in 1942 with massive gun emplacement designed to protect the harbour against attack. This was the perfect place to do a bit of research into the occupation and get some idea on what it must have been like to be invaded by a foreign force.

It seems like the people of Guernsey take Liberation Day VERY seriously, it is after all their national day when the entire island comes together in celebration, unlike the rest of the UK it’s been decreed a bank holiday with the 9th being a Monday this year. It was of course the 9th of May 1945 when Guernsey was liberated from German occupation.

The following day, Liberation Day was in total contrast to the day we arrived….”where did all these people come from?” I asked; and more importantly “where were they all hiding on this tiny Island??” St. Peter Port was just heaving, we were on-site at 8.10am for a 10 am start and even at that time people were around watching the local school children cross country running and other activities going on up and down the harbour front. It was a fine sunny morning with very little wind so people had turned out in force, the signs where that this was going to be a tough gig. By tough I mean busy; VERY BUSY!!

War of the Worlds CHALK ROBOT- Liberation Day, Guernsey 2011

War of the Worlds CHALK ROBOT- Liberation Day, Guernsey 2011

 Our chalking art robot was a big hit with the kids and adults too with parents joining in throughout the day, we struggled a bit with crowd control and not enough barriers which meant that people were walking through the art (as they do)….it was just the case of the sheer numbers of people on the pier where threatening to overwhelm us at times. This made the event a bit stressful. Involving the public in creating a piece of art that is aesthetically pleasing on the street and in a live situation is no easy task….

War of the Worlds CHALK ROBOT- Liberation Day, Guernsey 2011

War of the Worlds CHALK ROBOT- Liberation Day, Guernsey 2011

 We stopped the workshop twice throughout the day just to regain control but all in all things were going well until about ten past four when the heavens opened and washed away all our hard work….the frustrating thing was not that we got rained off but that we got rained off before we’d finished the art. Street art is always a gamble against the elements and you accept the fact that the work you produce is only temporary in nature. There is no point in being precious about your work, it’s the nature of the art but on this occasion we were less than an hour away from completion and that’s where the frustration lies in the uncompleted work.

Freedom can mean many things to many people; the freedom to express love,  to play, to roam and to dream and so on and that’s the great thing about Liberation Day, it’s not just about liberty (whatever that means) but about the ideals and ephemeral principles of freedom, to ‘play out’ and ‘own’ the streets & public places and to give thanks to those brave souls who have laid down their lives so we can live in peace and ‘freedom’ I think to be truly free we must first of all understand what it is to be oppressed and the darker side of the human condition.

Viva la Liberation!

Many thanks to Fools Paradise & Kate & Alex of  The Guernsey Events Company Ltd for making it happen.

Workshop by UrbanCanvas

For more info on the history of pavement art ‘LIKE’ our ARTISTS OF THE PAVING STONE page on Facebook.
Visit our history blog: All My Own Work.
For more info on UrbanCanvas street art activities ‘LIKE’ us on Facebook.
© Philip Battle (UrbanCanvas) Liverpool, United Kingdom.

There be DRAGONS……..

March 21, 2011

Norwich Dragon Festival banner

Norwich Dragon Festival banner

I’m getting a bit behind in my blogging, mainly because of work commitments and personal issues but I’ll try to bring you (and me!) up to speed on what’s been happening of late. Last month saw us working at the Norwich Dragon Festival (23rd Feb. 2011) this was planned as our first outdoor gig of the season, a bit early in the year for street art and the chances of getting a mild, dry day in February is very slim…especially here in the UK. And predictably, yes you guessed it, the rain and bitter northerly winds got the better of us. Luckily the promoters had a cunning plan and we ended up inside the Chapelfield Shopping Centre. As with all things, when we turn up at these gigs we have to improvise so we had brought along some paper just in case it did rain.

Dragon Workshop: Chapelfield Shopping Centre, Norwich

Dragon Workshop: Chapelfield Shopping Centre, Norwich

It’s very much a case of “making it up as we go along” but we were given a nice large space on the ground floor in a popular central location of the mall.

The kids and parents couldn’t get over the fact that we would put paper down in what looked to them like a random manner and then proceed to draw a Dragon….one parent asked how we did it and I replied it’s all guesswork and chance, but to be honest it’s much more that that…more like bluff and smoking mirrors and one day we’ll be unmasked for being the Charlatans we actually are……just like Banksy!!! (That’s a joke by the way!)

Norwich Dragon Festival, 23rd Feb. 2011

Norwich Dragon Festival, 23rd Feb. 2011

It was nice to be back in Norwich, this is the 4th time we’ve worked here and we always get a great response. It is true that as you travel the country doing art you pick up on ‘cultural’ differences. For instance in some places the children can be very shy at getting involved or the adults can throw themselves into it more than the kids, and vica verca in other places entire families can’t get enough of the art. The thing that appeals time & time again is the communal aspect of doing art in a public place. Getting on your hands and knees in the middle of the street is not a natural thing to do, so you need a catalyst. Street art is just that catalyst, that excuse to ‘play on the streets’ everybody is equal on all fours……and you can talk to complete strangers like you’ve known them all your life. And people often do. For them brief moments in time, individuals come together to form a ‘community’ a group of people taking ownership over and producing art. It brings out something prehistoric in us. It’s like cave painting and rock drawings that were all done by the community in an effort to tell stories and take ‘ownership’ of a particular space.

Dragons at the Norwich Forum!

Dragons at the Norwich Forum!

 So why a Dragon Festival? Well as I gather, the dragon is of particular significance in Norwich, I think it’s included in the city’s coat of arms and they even have a Dragon Hall in the city. It’s a nice little festival and after we were finished in the shopping mall we took a stroll over to the Norwich Forum where they had an excellent exhibition of dragons produced by local children.

Dragons at the Norwich Forum!

Dragons at the Norwich Forum!

We have another provisional booking for Norwich later in the year so we look forward to going back, only this time we’ll spend a bit of time in the city and visit a few museums methinks! Tis such a long way to travel just to come straight back home again!

UrbanCath & Phil at the Norwich Dragon Festival

UrbanCath & Phil at the Norwich Dragon Festival 2011

You can find more photos from the Norwich Dragon festival on our Flickr site HERE!

Many thanks to Contraband International for making it happen!

For more info on the history of pavement art ‘LIKE’ our ARTISTS OF THE PAVING STONE page on Facebook.
Visit our history blog: All My Own Work.
For more info on UrbanCanvas street art activities ‘LIKE’ us on Facebook.
© Philip Battle (UrbanCanvas) Liverpool, United Kingdom.

Turkish Delight in Istanbul….

February 21, 2011 1 Comment

İstinye Park Shopping Mall, Istanbul 2011, originally uploaded by UrbanCanvas.

Hello my friends; haven’t blogged for a while; all in all it’s been a very busy month with lots of enquiries and bookings coming in left right and centre. It doesn’t look as if the recession is hitting the street art sector, in-fact I have a feeling that we will fare better than most in the cultural industries. Due to the fact that we are highly ‘visual’ you can’t miss us basically and public involvement gives ‘more bangs for your bucks’ whatever the reality it seems unlikely to slow down as 2010 turned out to be our busiest year on record and this year looks like more of the same.

This month (3rd to 7th Feb) has seen us working in Istanbul at one of the city’s premier shopping malls; İstinye Park in the western district. For anybody who doesn’t know, Istanbul is the only city in the world that is straddled between two continents; Europe and Asia, we were working in Europe….technically at least. But it all felt very ‘eastern’ to us. Lots of Mosques and eastern looking food if food can look ‘eastern’ anyhow it turned out to be a very busy gig and possibly one of our toughest since 2007 and the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Just an unrelenting sea of children all wanting to take part and threatening to overwhelm us at times; we estimated around 900 children taking part over the three days, the remarkable thing was that we actually created anything resembling ‘art’ the sheer numbers where against us as well as the obvious language difficulties.

According to the organisers this was the first workshop of its kind ever to seen in Istanbul….and I can well believe it as the children didn’t seem to understand the rules, most of the time children know naturally NOT TO WALK ON THE ART….this rule works most of the time in the UK, but was lost in translation here. The kids just didn’t get it, not to worry though everybody seemed to enjoy themselves and had great fun messing around with paint which was great…..but I do have to admit it was stressful bringing it all together.

This was very much a last minute gig so all the planning was done on the fly with little time to think thing through….this can sometimes work out good and some of our best art has been produced under pressure.

You can see more images here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/urbancanvas/sets/72157625976153047

And 3D images here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/urbancanvas/sets/72157626057002334

Many thanks to Contraband International Ltd for making trhis event possible

All for now….Off to Norwich tomorrow (22nd Feb. 2011) for the
NORWICH DRAGON FESTIVAL!

Be seeing you…….

For more info on the history of pavement art ‘LIKE’ our ARTISTS OF THE PAVING STONE page on Facebook.
Visit our history blog: All My Own Work.
For more info on UrbanCanvas street art activities ‘LIKE’ us on Facebook.
© Philip Battle (UrbanCanvas) Liverpool, United Kingdom.
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