2020 has been challenging for so many reasons for everyone across the globe but this has even affected the arts world and a lot of street and graffiti artists too.
Coronavirus had taken it’s grip on 2020 with almost everything grinding to a halt including the whole street art festival calendar too.
All the huge events like Upfest had been cancelled with many others all postponed to 2021.
The annual Cheltenham Paint Festival was also under threat and it looked like it wasn’t going to go ahead due to Coronavirus and funding. But miraculously organiser Andy Dice Davies has managed to create this street art festival and turn it all around in only a matter of weeks.
Working closely with the council and adhering to social distancing guidelines an ever so-slightly scaled back festival was created and began in earnest on Saturday 5th September through the Westcountry town of Cheltenham.
Andy Dice Davies, director of Cheltenham Paint Festival, said: “We’re delighted to be able to run this year’s festival which has been possible through funding from Cheltenham Borough Council, Cheltenham Borough Homes and The WCD Group.
“This year, in particular, is really important for the artists as many have found much of their work cancelled over the last few months.
For the first time a wall at the Cheltenham Spa train station was painted with a whole host of artists sprucing up the newly reconstructed station entrance.
A range of artists like P0g0 and Inkie painted here on a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon in September – what a way to welcome visitors to the town.
Moving along the now dis-used Honeybourne Railway line and artists painted in both the tunnels as you head towards the town centre.
Estimates of between 100 to 130 artists turned up for the two day event and painted around a host of locations including the railway bridges running through the town.
Westcountry artist The Agent began his stencilling on one bridge whilst on another The Stencil Shed began amending his design from a few years back with a nod to Coronavirus. Lots of people were later seen holding their phones upside down to capture this one!
These bridges made a great space for a range of artists and creative talents to try out different things. Lot’s of stencilling and measurements for those triangles!
Please be assured that we have taken all necessary precautions to reduce risk to our visitors, following current Government guidelines for outdoor events, advice from Cheltenham Town Council and liaison with all staff, artists and volunteers. – Cheltenham Paint Festival
The main location for the heart of the festival is the North Street car park where a range of socially distanced artists turned up to paint on the wooden hoardings that run around parts of the perimeter of the sight.
A wide range of artist styles including stencil work, tape work, characters and just the plain weird were all in attendance!
Highlights include this from Flava and this piece showing two people embracing with masks on by 7th Pencil.
A van which he previously painted was parked outside and his first piece for the festival was nearby.
The main piece was once again featuring more masks and his trademark eyes – his work is always a delight to view and this was no exception.
So the railway line and the car park were the main areas of concentration for the artists so it’s always more of a challenge to find the rest of the work dotted around the town.
But luckily a map was created in time but for hygiene reasons printed copies were not being handed out – online only.
We won’t be handing out maps this year. Instead, please take a photo of the larger map at key locations which you can use to explore! You can also download the map, and find out more about the artists and the event from our website at:- http://www.cheltenhampaintfestival.co.uk
Just beyond the carpark was Lucas Antics painting the front facade of a very lucky resident on St Paul’s Parade.
The artist was the only one with scaffolding and from here painted her traditional bold and bright colours with strong outlines. Featuring red flowers, a pumpkin and some birds.
People stopped to take photos, chat and some even stopped their cars in the streets to shout out how fantastic her work was. This was stunning. Can’t wait to see it without the scaffolding up.
Moving out of town more to the West and discovering Dilk was painting in a small estate on a bricked wall off Sun Street.
Pumping out some old skool rave and drum n bass he carried on painting his colourful abstract creation in the late Summer sunshine.
And a few streets away was a stunning wall by Dotmasters who attending earlier in the week to complete their stencilfest on the local post office in Tewekesbury Road.
(The trainspotters out there may see the map was wrong for this one!)
For once it was a totally bright, sunny Saturday with artists basking in the bright sunlight.
Like Snik whom had a wall near the railway line – which was a great vantage point.
Firstly painting splashes of colour over a black background then carefully unrolling a very long stencil and then spraying it.
Sporadically it was quite breezy during the day and this would’ve proved much more tricky than it looks!
Other walls were nearby and still bare waiting for the artists to attend.
Luckily some smaller walls were being painted by two ladies – Peaches and Leanne Conroy who both painted some colourful birds.
Featuring one of the smallest species in the UK (The Goldcrest) and a kingfisher grasping it’s lunch. Both pieces really compliment each other so, so well.
It’s not always about the big walls or the paint so it’s good to see some stencils and even mosaic work from artists like Angus.
Angus has attended the Cheltenham Paint Festival since the first one and his work is still featured on walls around the town.
This was only accessible through a twisted gate but even the virus didn’t prevent access to see this up close.
So Angus opted to attach his latest tile creation over Nol’s work from a previous year. This time featuring an 8-bit version of Darth Vader, Megaman and some other elements from retro gaming history.
Angus also had another naughty piece for the festival titled ‘Corona Virus’
The Frog and Fiddle and also the 2 Pigs are usually a centre piece for the festival with many artists painting the beer gardens of both pubs but due to restrictions only two new pieces were being painted in the 2 Pigs pub only.
Here Si Mitchell was just putting the finishing touches to his colourful piece which took less than two hours to complete! Also this mask addition from Sam Art was alongside.
Considering we are still in the middle of a pandemic and there has been little time, resource and money – the organisers have played an absolute blinder here in getting such a full-on festival organised at short notice. Well done.
There’s also a short video of some of the artists hard at work!