This year, Upfest is teaming up with John Nation to bring his first ever curated exhibition titled ‘Graffiti Nation’ to the gallery from Friday 28th April

Highly regarded in the Bristol graffiti and street art scene as the Godfather of graffiti, the Graffiti Nation exhibition is inspired by the urban art movement that has evolved in the city over the last 30 years and will be on display in Upfest, North Street Gallery until Friday 12th May.

Well-known for his role as a youth worker in Barton Hill where Banksy, Cheo, Jody and more were discovered, John Nation is regarded as the main advocate for street art in the 80s. His work enabled artists to develop and nurture their art and styles by helping provide the space and environment they needed. Nowadays, John is also a tour guide for Bristol street art tours ran by Where The Wall.

Graffiti NationImage © Sepr

“The exhibition will be another highlight for Upfest”, says Stephen Hayles, co-founder of Upfest Gallery. “We approached John towards the end of last year to curate his own show and we’re delighted to have his launch exhibition here at Upfest. The response from artists to be part of the show was phenomenal, which speaks volumes about John and what people think of him.

“John is seen as the Godfather of the Bristol graffiti scene and was fundamental in encouraging artists such as Inkie, Jody, Cheo, Shab and a lot of other Bristol greats…”

“John is seen as the Godfather of the Bristol graffiti scene and was fundamental in encouraging artists such as Inkie, Jody, Cheo, Shab and a lot of other Bristol greats to paint at Barton Hill Dug Out; essentially facilitating a lot of the artists you see today and those that come to Upfest every year.”

Graffiti NationImage © Indy Skyz

“The idea of curating my own exhibition is something I’ve always wanted to do so I’m excited to be finally launching an exhibition with Upfest”, says John Nation. 

“Bristol is a massive city for arts whether its art, music, theatre or street art. The main purpose of the show is to celebrate and appreciate all the diverse artists that came from Bristol who have helped make the graffiti and street art scene what it is today. This is a collection that highlights the artists who have produced some inspiring and genre pushing art over the years.”

Graffiti NationArtists: Soker & Voyder; Photo credit: Neil James Brain

“I look back now and I feel proud of what all of these artists have gone on to achieve, the reputations they have built for themselves, and most importantly that a lot of them are still painting. Many of them are now in their mid forties and you’ll be able to see this through my eyes and experience at the Upfest Gallery.”

“The exhibition features a solid line-up of artists from a range of disciplines but you’ll find a lot of lettering and the different styles of letter writing ; that’s what graffiti started as and that’s what most of these artists started with.”

Full line-up of artists exhibiting at Graffiti Nation:

3DOM | 45RPM | BANDITO | BUNTS | CHEO | DEAMS | DECAY | DIBZ | EPOK | FUEL | INDY SKYZ | INKIE | JODY | KID CRAYON | KILO | LAIC 217 | MENTS ONE | MINTO | PARIS | PAUL MONSTERS | REMER | ROWDY | RS75 | RUSK | RYDER | SEPR | SHAB | SHADE 1 | SILENT HOBO | SLED ONE | SMAK | SOKEM | SP27 | SP:ZERO | T REX | TEO | TES | TICKZ | TUROE | VEKS | VOYDER | ZASE

For more information on Graffiti Nation or the Upfest street art festival, visit upfest.co.uk

Feature image © Bunts