250 street artists made their mark in Bedminster this May, as Upfest, Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival made a spectacular return for its first full edition in four years. 

Image - Upfest, credit Plaster

On the 28 and 29 May, Bristol watched in wonder as some of the world’s most talented street artists worked their magic with spray cans and stencils at the festival’s three main hubs – Greville Smyth Park, the Tobacco Factory, and Ashton Gate stadium. 

But did you know that among the artists were four from Bordeaux and Hanover, cities which Bristol is celebrating a 75-year old partnership with in 2022? Prior to the festival, we chatted to Dast and Madina Saifallah from Hanover about their artistic inspirations, home city, and what they got up to while in Bristol. 

Hanover street artist Dast

How did you get into the street art scene in Hanover? 
I started doing graffiti at night, as a little kid doing his tag on walls or cranes. Then when the kid grows up, the art grows up. Today I paint on walls where street art is legal, it’s easier and not so stressful. You can do what’s accepted, and it’s funny to get feedback on your work from people in the neighbourhood around you.

Tell us about your street art style and some of the pieces you’ve created in your home city. 

My style is that I write letters. I love letters, and when they start to move and dance, but slowly and smoothly. Some artists are very brutal to their letters, but I massage my letters and give them form. You can see that some maybe have a wild style, but you can still decipher them.  

Image - Dast & Madina Saifallah painting at Upfest 2022

How would you describe Hanover? What is there to see and do? 
Hanover’s not a pearl like Cologne, Berlin or Hamburg, but if you know people from Hanover, they can show you some lovely places. It’s a small city like Bristol with a lot of different cultures, and when you have someone to show you these amazing places it’s hard not to love it. You can go everywhere with a bike, and I love cycling, so it’s perfect! 

What can you share about what you’ll be creating at Upfest? 
My favourite – letters! I have an idea to show the diversity of letters, of colours, of forming letters, and of styling letters. Every letter becomes another colour, another idea. I hope it goes well!

How will you be spending your free time in Bristol while you’re here? 

I love to see other cities and what they have going on, like the energy of people living there, and their mindset. You can always see people smiling or saying hello here, I’m very glad. Today we walked 16,000 steps exploring Bristol, it’s lovely to see the architecture, like those small houses! 

Image - Dast and Saifallah's completed artwork on display at Upfest 2022

Hanover street artist Madina Saifallah

How did you get into the street art scene in Hanover? 
On Instagram! I tagged myself on #Hanover, there’s a graffiti network in the city who followed me, and I followed back. I saw in their stories that they have an urban nature festival in August every year, so I went spontaneously and saw everyone spraying there. I was so excited and asked to join in, and they said yes, so I grabbed some cans - I’ve been going every year since! 

Tell us about your street art style and some of the pieces you’ve created in your home city. 
It’s very hard for me to describe my style, but I’ve heard people describe it as a little bit oriental. I like to draw eyes and play with light on them, it’s an important area for me because when you talk to someone you always look at their eyes. I also draw a lot of women in my art. I create a lot of my work on paper, but my favourite piece on a wall is the last one I did for the urban nature festival in Hanover, which is of a woman. 

How would you describe Hanover? What is there to see and do? 
I’m originally from Nuremberg and have been in Hanover for eight or nine years. I didn’t like it at first, I thought, why am I here? But if you look closer and make friends they show you around every small corner and you start to appreciate it more. I live in Linden, which is a very nice and colourful part of Hanover, on Fridays you can hear people laughing and drinking, and early on Saturday mornings there’s a market where you can buy fresh fruit! 

What can you share about what you’ll be creating at Upfest? 
I have a problem with deciding. I’m originally from Afghanistan and there’s always a lot going on, the situation there has been particularly sensitive since August last year. It’s something I’m always thinking about, and sometimes when I create, I don’t do it on purpose, I just express messages that I can’t with words. So, there are three options for Upfest; maybe just a woman drinking chai, or two women looking at a screen with their eyes telling stories from the shimmer of the light on them, or maybe a child in the middle of a group of women wearing burkas. But it could end up being something completely different to all of those! 

Image - Dast and Madina Saifallah at Upfest 2022

How will you be spending your free time in Bristol while you’re here? 
Today we just went for a walk without a plan, so when we liked a street, we just went there. We saw the colourful houses, they’re so close together! It’s not flat like in Germany, so you can see a lot of scenery. We’ve also recognised that people here in Bristol are very kind and friendly! 

Image - Cliftonwood houses at sunrise, credit Jim Cossey

More Upfest activity with a twinning twist

This year’s Upfest also played host to two artists from Bristol’s French twin city, Bordeaux – GZ and Lulepi. Don’t miss our interview with them here

Discover more ways the city is marking the 75th anniversary of its oldest twinning relationships in 2022.

You might also like:

Related

Upfest
Arts and Culture
Artist Credit Zabou - Photo Credit StreetArtAtlas

Upfest is Europe’s largest live street art and graffiti festival.