Last month we shared some of our observations of the changed visual culture of the city in these new lockdown times (see here:

One month on, we venture back outside to see what’s changed on Bristol’s streets.

Many of the oddities of lockdown culture discussed previously remain true. People’s windows still bear messages of love & support for the NHS and other key workers. The window above, spotted in Montpelier, is one of our favourites.

There continues to be a crossover of government messaging and street art, as graffiti artists use their platforms to support the NHS and to share public health messages. Much respect to Decay for the pieces shared below.

Some things have changed over the last month. As public patience with the lockdown and with the government’s incoherent response to this crisis has started to wear thin, dissenting voices have begun to re-emerge on the streets.

The messages of dissent seem to divide into two distinct categories.

Category one can be defined as The Boris Collection…

Ryder’s Turbo Island piece that we shared last month has also been hit by anti-Boris sentiment.
The other type of dissenting tag to appear on the streets, seems to have mainly been written in chalk, and looks to the future with demands for change.
Even the wishing tree in Purdown – one of Bristol’s most wholesome and family friendly pieces of public art – has become a platform for the expression of anger and frustration.
So, messages of anger have appeared sprayed on the walls, chalked on the pavement and hanging from branches of trees. For those of us who take pride in our city’s naturally rebellious nature, these signs of protest and dissent feel like a welcome returm to normal, which is strange as they are generally demanding the opposite of that.

What about advertising? And posters? Whats going on there?

Right now the strongest sense of living in an abandoned or post-apocalyptic city comes from walking past sites that were previously used for flyposters. Two full months of cancelled gigs have led to the twin disturbing features of out of date posters slowly peeling away and recent ones promising an alternate reality of raves, gigs and festivals that never actually happened.

Some fly posting is continuing though.

After the council’s recent decision to grant planning permission to the developers looking to turn Lakota into flats (see last blog here: these posters have appeared in our neighbourhood.

These posters particularly impressed us by blending public health messaging with protest, thus straddling the two current most popular forms of street art.

Others have used the blank canvas provided by our current suspension of fly posting culture to spread some educational info. These striking posters have appeared under the heading ‘Fine Print’ and offer definitions for some of the words you will find on products in the shops.
And some are using traditional DIY poster techniques to challenge the lockdown, the system and the fear.

What about paid for posters? What’s officially going up on the walls? The short answer is not much.

But alongside the Caring in Bristol poster campaign featured in our previous blog, PRSC has spotted this very strange poster designed by Massive Attack’s 3D promoting the Bristol Food Union. This is for a fundraiser which has so far made over £105,000 for the Bristol Food Union.

The Bristol Food Union does great work and Stokes Croft Food Project (of which PRSC is a part) has just started supplying them with meals.

With the roads still quiet (though getting busier by the day) the billboard advertising industry is still having a quieter time (like the rest of us).

One good legal use of billboards was spoted recently in St Phillips. This is part of a billboard campaign by a group called Led By Donkeys who pay to put actual quotes from our great leaders on the streets where everyone can contemplate them.

And, in the world of guerilla subvertising, these new beautiful billboard posters just popped up by the M32…
Somehow, this huge complex collage piece by PRSC artist Object has made it’s way up there. Entitled ‘A Fall Revolution/All Future Is Change’  it is about living and rebelling in and changing the city.
As you can see ‘A Fall Revolution/All Future Is Change’ sits alongside this striking pair of posters.
Bristol Rising Tide tells us more:

“TOO MANY BILLBOARDS, NOT ENOUGH TREES. New artwork on the billboards facing the M32 in Easton, Bristol.

Last year the tops of trees were cut down to make the new digital advertising screens more visible from the urban motorway.

Cutting down trees on a pollution corridor so that new cars, airlines, junk food and fast fashion can be advertised using an energy-intensive digital screen is….. in our professional opinion……PROPER DAFT.

Who dunnit? We reckon it was the billboard company Wildstone UK who also installed the digital screen.”

– Bristol Rising Tide

Click here to read the original tree cutting story

So, what have we seen?
The visual culture of Bristol’s streets has always been filled with colour, creativity and rebellion.

When the crisis broke over us all, a lot of activity stopped and much of the street art produced was pushing the same government message of stay home, save lives, protect the NHS. Most of the rest was pushing kindness, community or charity (see previous post).

Now after nearly two months of lockdown and with the government instructions a lot less clear (stay alert for what? where?) messages are appearing all over the city expressing frustration with our leaders, while still offering love for the NHS and for our other badly paid, under appreciated, key workers.

And tentatively a new visual language may be emerging which reflects the new normal, whatever that turns out to be.

Alongside all this, individuals in Bristol are still popping out into the streets & parks to leave little messages of love & support to the rest of the Bristol community.

We have enjoyed discovering them and we leave you with a few of our favourites.

These little flags have been appearing everywhere, and are the product of The Art Kindness
These annonymous hearts are hanging on the cycle path.
We don’t know who made this Relentless Optimism stencil. But we are always happy to see this message, which continues to be as relevant as ever.