The Burg Arts project is a community arts billboard in the St Werburghs neighbourhood of East Bristol, UK. From 2010 – 2013, the site featured a prolific series of artworks organised by local artists. In 2018, Adblock Bristol re-launched the project working with local groups such as the St Werburghs Neighbourhood Association and St Werburghs City Farm.
The billboard has not been used commercially for advertising for many years. By providing a positive alternative to corporate advertising, the Burg Arts project is part of the wider community campaign against the 8 corporate advertising billboards in the area that are often promoting fast cars, junk food and multinational chain stores.
The Burg Arts project is a project by Adblock Bristol and is continuing into 2023. If you’re interested in producing a piece for the board please contact us via adblockbristol[at]gmail.com.
Rosanna Morris and Claire Watkins
In early 2024, Adblock Bristol collaborated with the new group Bristol Allotmenteers Resist, who formed to counter controversial council allotment proposals to double fees, fell mature trees, charge for introducing ponds, ban bird feeders, disallow wildflower planting and reduce access for non tenants. Allotmenteers Resist called for a “rowdy mob of Allotmenteers with rakes, pitchforks, goats, banners and costumes required this Sunday to help install our campaign billboard!” which made for a great crowd while we pasted up the print. In the end, Bristol’s goats were there in spirit only.
Speaking to Bristol 247, artist Rosanna Morris said her allotment in Bristol was “a huge part of my family’s lives. It’s so important for us to have a connection to the food we eat when our lives are so plastic-wrapped and industrialised.”
Read more in Bristol 247: Growers install artwork in fight over allotment rent hikes.
Ben Menter aka Chouette Design
We installed Ben Menter’s gorgeous “Spread Love” design in November 2023. Plenty of passers by stopped to chat and welcome the new design and lots of friendly car honks met the message given by the arts board, simply to bring love to our communities. Thanks to Ben, aka Chouette Design, for contributing this design. In Ben’s words:
“When so much of the global and political narrative is being driven by hatred, division and conflict, it feels more important than ever to approach life with empathy, understanding, acceptance and kindness. With this piece, I wanted to deliver that simple positive message in a playful way that everybody can relate to.”
Bristol 247: New billboard brings colourful message to St Werburghs.
Above: Surrealist artist Laura Erviti hand-painted this beautiful design on canvas. We pasted the printed artwork up on the Burg Arts board on a rainy day in July 2023. Laura’s “We Are The Endangered Species” artwork includes themes of nature, love, connection and climate anxiety. From Laura’s instagram:
“I always paint how I feel, and I am trying to be more honest as time goes by. We are taught to embrace/show only the good emotions, and is just when we embrace and share all our emotions that we can actually process them and let go. Also trying my best to make this platform a bit more real • However, what about climate anxiety? What about processing an emotion that doesn’t end with you, but is correlated to everything that lives? Agh that is a tough one. Best thing to do is to focus on the things that I (you, us) can do about it, not the ones that scape our control. For me, it is painting.
Art is a cathalyzer of change, wth each song, performance, illustration, painting, we get a clearer idea of how our reality feels like, from different points of view, from different universes. When focusing our art and culture on a particular issue like our unstable climate and its causes and solutions, much more could be understood, communicated, processed to then act upon it. That’s my dream, and will keep working on that.”
Local street artist DazCat @dazcatgraff collaborated with us to make this “Local Food” artwork, which celebrates community and local food, in resistance to advertising that promotes global corporations that are making our health worse and trashing food sovereignty, culture and the climate.
DazCat’s artwork takes a cheeky sideswipe at the billboards on the other side of Mina Rd roundabout which usually feature a (usually defaced) McBurger advert.
Soofiya: Paint By Numbers
Brighton-based artist Soofiya designed this “Bristol Airport is Big Enough” billboard in response to a Brandalism project targeting airline greenwash – supporting calls to ban advertising for fossil fuels, including greenwashing, which justifies airport expansion and prolongs aviation’s emissions.
Soofiya kindly made us a black and white version of their artwork. We pasted up the decolourised design the night before, and the next day brought brushes, tins of paint, ladders and lots of people to paint it in.
We teamed up with Brandalism on their Barclays #FossilBanks project in 2021; this art design by Rhonda Anaconda features a Barclays executive dinosaur who is ‘banking on our future extinction’.
According to the 2022 Banking on Climate Chaos report, Barclays is the world’s 7th largest financier of fossil fuels. Between 2016 and 2021, the bank pumped US$ 166.74 billion into environmentally destructive fossil fuels.
Grace Kress – Shelby x studios
You are Appreciated – Celebrating grassroots revolutionaries & the upcoming Black History Month.
We often celebrate people from history and those in the public eye. ‘You are Appreciated’ is a project that highlights and acknowledges the contribution of everyday community activists. The people who may be known in their local community but not wider afield. The people who do the legwork in campaigns without seeking public recognition. The people that offer inspiration to those around them, galvanising collective action. The grassroots revolutionaries.
This billboard is a tribute to Angela Francis, whose life and work should be appreciated for the tremendous impact she had. Angela was a talented and unique individual. As renowned DJ Lady Gee, one of the first female black DJs in Bristol, she had a way of making you feel, see and even taste music. Her home was a display of her creativity, covered in rich peachy tones, gold and leopard print. Her incredible painted sculptural artworks took pride of place alongside her record collection and posters that represented her interests in spirituality, musicians such as Peter Tosh and radical activist – Angela Davis.
She was an outspoken activist, always aware of black history and not afraid to speak her mind. She was heavily involved in organising community events such ‘freedom 90’ which celebrated the release of Nelson Mandela and a series of events to mark the bicentennial of the ending of the slave trade in 2007. Her vivacious character is witnessed in her going out in the streets dressed in costume from the 1800s reminding everyone that although slavery might have ended, black people continue to suffer. After the uprising in St Pauls in 1980, Angela was on a cover of the New Statesman magazine. She was also crowned carnival queen at least once.
SHELBY x Studios is launching this new project to highlight grassroots revolutionaries. If you have someone you would like to nominate, please send us a photo (at least 2MB and 300 dpi) and 300 words about why they are your community activist hero.
#AdBrake – Matt Bonner
We team up with Brandalism for their #AdBrake project satirising car advertising. Read our blog on the topic here.
Rising Arts Agency
We teamed up with Rising Arts Agency and Out of Hand for retheir #WhoseFuture poster campaign of artworks discussing the #BlackLivesMatter moment from a youth perspective.
More information and media coverage can be foud here. BBC coverage here.
NOTHING TO SEE HERE is Jonathan Rolfe’s contribution to The Burg Arts project and will be on display in June 2020. It uses an illustration from 1882 by unknown engravers depicting the Queen Square riot in 1831, part of the Bristol Reform riots. At the time Britain was a divided country with only 10% of the male population eligible to vote. The riots were in response to a local magistrate telling a bare-faced lie in Parliament (who would do such a thing?) when he claimed that Bristol did not want electoral reform.
The artwork plays on brash advertising styles often used to convince us of things we know are not true. It references the current trend for some politicians to bluntly deny or contradict any truth that does not suit them. It also links to the notion that large-scale corporate advertising obscures so much of our city.
Bristol has a fine tradition of radicalism. Check out the Bristol Radical History Group for more information.
Jonathan’s poster has a QR code which leads to his website. Check here his prolific work.
Bristol photo-journalist Colin Moody has been snapping street screnes and night life for years. He explained the thinking behind his photograph of Bristol Waste workers:
“In my photography, I try and give a voice to those who we might not hear a lot from, or to peek into lives in a meaningful way that makes us realise how many layers of community there are in this city. We don’t always notice one person so when groups form in unexpected places I love to snap that and engage with my subject. Hands up for the waste team. Top job.”
Submitting new artwork
We’re looking for artworks that provide a positive alternative to corporate advertising. We welcome artworks that either:
- celebrates community spirit / ethos, or
- celebrates the St Werburghs area in particular, or
- celebrates Bristol’s radical history support for migrants, refugees, fighting for cycling lanes and green space, women’s history, support for independent businesses instead of chainstores.
However, the above is meant as a starting suggestion only and is not intended to be prescriptive. We absolutely welcome other concepts and ideas.
The billboard is 20 foot wide by 10 foot tall. So far, all artworks have been submitted digitally, printed and then installed on poster paper. It may be possible to paint a piece directly onto the board – but this will require further logistical discussions.
Contact adblockbristol[@]gmail.co.uk to discuss your ideas.
Story, by Lauren Curl
Bristol based Lauren Curl is a visual artist-printmaker. Her piece ‘Story’ raises themes about the dominant story-tellers in today’s society. Her piece was originally sourced by tearing away layers of paper billboard adverts to find a new beauty. It contrasts to the corporate bombardment experienced daily from the corporate billboards opposite the Burg Arts community board. You can view Lauren’s work on her Instagram here.
The original artwork is a screen print on birch plywood with laser engraving. The image is derived from a photo of torn billboard posters taken opposite the site. Layers of consumerism reveal a new story here, offering a reminder to stay curious about the world around us and listen to each other’s stories.
See more images and read Lauren’s exploration of this artwork at the Burg Arts blog page.
When the spirits are low…
What do you like about nature?
Bristol artist Ava Osbiston worked with a childrens group at St Werburghs City Farm to ask, “What do you like about nature?” She took the answers and assembled them into a collage piece that was installed in November 2018.