Street art festival brightens up Sunderland

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STREET artists have made their mark on the walls of the city.

The first UpNorthFest, a street art festival, was hailed a huge success with more than 50 artists from all over the country turning buildings into a blaze of colour.

Nile Street and Villiers Street, just off Sunniside in Sunderland was the venue at the weekend for a Street Art Festival. Northeast artist Chris Hamiltion is pictured bringing some colour to an otherwise featureless brick wall.

Nile Street and Villiers Street, just off Sunniside in Sunderland was the venue at the weekend for a Street Art Festival. Northeast artist Chris Hamiltion is pictured bringing some colour to an otherwise featureless brick wall.

Organised by Studio Q in Nile Street, and Sunderland City Council, the event saw 16 walls on seven buildings around the studio and in Villiers Street transformed into works of art.

Some of the pieces - including a painting of a woman’s face - was so huge, the artist had to use a cherry picker crane to paint it.

Frank Styles, festival organiser and co-director of Studio Q, said the two-day art extravaganza was a great success.

He said: “It is amazing to look at – the standard of work is so high, it’s fantastic.

“We have had nothing but positive feedback about the festival, no-one has had a bad word to say.”

The 30-year-old said he was grateful to everyone who has helped support the venture, including the council, the landlords of all the buildings and Sunderland building company Paul Potts and Sons, who loaned the scaffolding.

Frank got the idea for the Sunderland festival after visiting the UpFest Street Art Festival in Bristol, which is the biggest in Europe, and decided it would be a good way to brighten up buildings in the city and give people an insight into what street art, which involves spray painting, is all about.

One of the painters who went along was Gav Golightly, 28, a youth worker and graffiti teacher from Houghton.

He said: “The festival is an awesome idea. It has been great to see familiar faces, people you have worked with in the past and catch up. I like to make my work as bright and pretty as I can.”

For Fred Fowler, a former Royalty Theatre set artist in his late 60s, the street art with spray paint was a first for him, but he really enjoyed taking part.

The Hendon artist, who is a member of Studio Q, said: “It is a really good idea. This whole area was supposed to be an art quarter for Sunderland, but what we need is cheap art studio space which would attract more people.”

Chris Hamilton, 40, travelled from Craster in Northumberland with his 15-year-old daughter, Catherine, to take part in the festival.

A working artist, Chris said: “I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do until I got here, but as an artist it is great to be able to paint freely what you want.”