Transforming ad space into art space at Upfest

It’s Upfest time in south Bristol – and as well as spotting street artists creating colourful murals at sites around the area, people have been getting involved in a creative workshop with Adblock Bristol.

As part of this year’s ‘Upfest Presents’, we gathered twenty-five people together in a pub on North Street, BS3, to talk about outdoor advertising. Most of these people were new to Adblock Bristol, and it was a great opportunity to hear how people feel about advertising in public space. Collectively we called into question the dominance of big brands in these spaces selling us stuff we really don’t need to hear about – like junk food, gambling websites and vaping products – and wondered how it could be different.

We shared ideas around the values that advertising tries to foist on us – like status, sex appeal and instant gratification. Groups came up with their own ideas around the values that they would rather see represented in public spaces – from nature, to community, to climate action – and then created four different artworks which we went out and installed on an outdoor advertising site nearby.

People were thrilled to be able to cover up this ad space with their own messages around being kind to nature and each other. One group created a piece challenging the noise of advertising and traffic, asking people to ‘listen to the birds’ instead. Now, imagine if all outdoor ad spaces were sites for messages like this instead – listening to nature, not advertising noise. Sounds good to us.

Thanks to Upfest for having us, and thanks to all the people who joined us for the workshop. Check out more upcoming workshops, events and live painting at Upfest 2024, and check out the latest from Adblock Bristol too.

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