Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023

Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023 was on my radar when it was first announced earlier this year.  Having photographed the street art in Digbeth, I have ventured further afield to Bristol and Leamington Spa to look at their street art.  The Paint Festival in Cheltenham has a reputation of being well organised and attracting some of the top street artists from home and abroad.  The festival director and artist Andy Dice Davies (aka dice67) had produced an audio map for the phone.  I downloaded the interactive map and whilst there was a bit of a learning element on how to use the software, I found it very useful.  I would love it if there was a narrative that I could listen to as a continuous streaming or even a podcast of the event.  Still the interactive map was very good and I have used the app for reference for this blog.

Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Admiring the Street Art by @n_4_t_4

North Place Car Park

Not knowing the geography of Cheltenham, I did my homework.  I found on arriving that the town has NCP car parks and I needed their app to get a good rate of parking.  I parked centrally and made my way to North Place Car Park.  Many street artists were painting on the surrounding walls and the place was a hive of activity.  There were many photographic opportunities as I walked around the walls. I struck up a conversation with one of the artists @mycutecreatures.  Her work was only just being started but it was possible to see the design that was planned.  I find it fascinating how the artwork develops as the artist is painting during the day.  I moved down along the walls where other artists were working away.  The murals were on different themes, with different images and most of all differed in colours and content.  Certainly a feast for the eyes.

Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Painting the walls of the car park (AjaxPiper)
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Reflections in the glasses (@Jenksart)
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Street art has wings (Demoisellemm)
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Decisions and discussions. (Guts dc and Jimmer Willmott)
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Alphabet and number soup (@DFTE)
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Work in progress (daub.jg)

Holiday Inn

Next stop was the Holiday Inn to see both last year’s mural and the progress on this year’s wall.  Last year’s mural is amazing whilst the present mural is facing towards the town.  When taking pictures of the street murals, I always look to take a different picture and seeing the mural, I lined up the traffic lights with the face.  This made for an interesting picture.  Curtis Hylton painted the pea hen for a previous festival whilst the uncompleted work in my picture is by Epod3000.  Check his Insta account to see the finished painting.

Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Artwork in progress @Epod3000
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Work on the Holiday Inn wall by Curtis Hylton

Previous Festivals Artwork

There are so many murals to visit, and I went to several places to find street art that had been completed during previous festivals.  As you see from the set of pictures each mural tells a story.  I visited on the Saturday and several works are incomplete.  This just means that I will have to revisit at a later date!  This blog provides a real time account of how the festival was taking place.

Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
An open window. Detail of Killing Joke by Dice67.
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Beautiful face in the Car Park (Jim Vision)
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
An evocative piece of street art jointly painted by Rocket01 and Faunagraphic.

Whilst I was in the area around the Holiday Inn, I met Stephen Gledhill, a street art blogger, who runs the  Natural Adventures blog.   This covers street art up and down the UK.  Stephen was looking at the stencil done by the Street Artist Pogo Stencils UK.  Stephen explained that this artwork was a wonderful example of complex multi-layer stencils.  There is good attention to detail, and it is possible on close inspection to identify the layers.  I love the explanations to paintings in art galleries and was indebted to Stephen for taking me through the Street art.  I took a picture of Stephen next to the street art that was painted at a previous Cheltenham Art Festival.

Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Stephen Gledhill, Street Art blogger with picture by Pogo Stencils

Frog and Fiddle

Stephen recommended visiting the Frog and Fiddle which turned out to be a real gem of a pub.  Ordering myself a drink, the bartender gave me some of the background to the place and gave me permission to wander around.  I went upstairs where there is another example of the stencil work of Pogo.  The positioning of the partial face against the windows adds a haunting feel to the pool tables.  At the back of the pub, @Dice67 has painted a portrait of Jet Black, the Strangler’s drummer who is sadly no longer with us. There were other street artists at work in this area and were happy to chat about their work. This festival does provide a buzz to the town.

Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Frog and Fiddle Pub
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Pool table and light (Pogo Stencils)
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Jet Black of the Stranglers painted by Dice 67.
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Artist at work (@phasechan)
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Paint cans at the ready.

Leaving the Frog and Fiddle, I walked up the high street taking some detours to see previous festival work by @Zabouartist and work in progress on a new mural by @liambononi. The latter artwork was above an entrance to a factory.  The artist was painting on a motorised platform with air filter protection.  The tools of the trade.  Having marvelled at the artwork I returned to the path down the high street and came into the Church yard of Cheltenham Minster, St Mary’s. My destination was the Two Pigs pub, the HQ of the Cheltenham Paint Festival.  

Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
To be or not to be – by @Zabouartist
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
High rise street art by @liambononi

The Two Pigs

The pub was busy and had many artists working both in the back yard of the pub and inside. Many of the painters took time out to chat about their work and most were happy to have their photograph taken for my blog. 

Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
The entrance to the back yard of the Two Pigs
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
The sun did show and brought out the colours of the artwork (@sophytuttle)
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Showing attention to detail by @wolfskulljace_art.
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
More artists at work (Sould_ art on the left)
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Artwork on show (Roo art)
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Sign painting by Dawn and Dario Santos inside the Two Pigs

More Street Art

The festival experience is remarkable in that the murals have become an interlinked feature of the town.  I passed beautiful streets filled with examples of Regency architecture.  I walked around the Royal Crescent and then into the streets behind.  Here tucked away in a car park are the Bayshill walls where there were examples of artwork from previous festivals.  

Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Street Photography and artwork by Inkie who also did the Festival logo.
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
The Royal Crescent, Cheltenham.
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Taxi
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Walking past the artwork by Beau Stanton in Bayshill car park.
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Work by Duo Sink at Bayshill walls

Agg Pavillion

Using Andy’s interactive map on my phone, I retraced my steps through an alley way to the Bottle of Sauce pub and Dodo establishments.  I walked through the St Paul’s area, where the houses are predominantly white with some splashes of colour.  My aim was to view an iconic piece of work by the street artist @whoamIrony.  However, I went too far and found myself in Pittville Park.  Here I discovered street artists painting on the Agg Pavilion.  There were 5 artists at work, and I was pleased to meet @Titlegraffiti.  I recognised his work at once having come across his work in Digbeth, Birmingham.  My personal favourite was the intricate work being done by @faye.rai who explained that she was painting in a similar manner to a watercolour.  Other street art at the pavilion included the painting of a Barbie doll on its side by @katiescott_creative. There were others there and  I am hoping readers will fill in the artist blanks for me.

Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
The distinctive artwork by Birmingham street artist @Titlegraffiti
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
A lovely mural taken shape which is being painted by @faye.rai
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
I’m a Barbie Girl (@katiescott_creative)
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
An intricate fish mural (@PeteSheridanArtist )
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Aerosol paint cans at the ready,

I did get to see the iconic wolf moon mural by Irony on the way back.  

Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Howling Moon by Irony

There were also some other artwork on the streets which were fun to photograph.  I went back to the car park and came across @ n_4_t_4 with his colourful mural of a bird.  I introduced myself to Nathan and he took time out to talk to me about his work.  He is a well-respected street artist and this was one of my highlights in my travels around the festival.  Around the corner @mycutecreatures was finishing her mural and several others were nearing completion.  Members of the public were admiring the street art.  

Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
A second painting by @n_4_t_4
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Nearly at the finish for @mycutepictures
Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Discussing the Festival (@sophielongart)

Homeward bound

By now I was ready for home, I realised looking through Andy’s map that I had missed several other large projects such as buildings and carparks.  Therefore, I will have to come back to Cheltenham and see the street art that I had missed and take pictures of those that were in progress.  I did pick up on Instagram what was happening elsewhere and there is a good record on many Insta micro-blogging sites.  

Cheltenham Paint Festival 2023
Thoughts are not facts – @DFTE with the nearly finished mural.

If you want to follow some excellent street art photography, then Max Johnson @Moxsblag is a must.  Her documentation of the artists is first class and very detailed. Another insta blogger is @Streetartuk2023. Again, nice photography and documentation.

Many thanks both to Andy for organising the festival and all those artists that allowed me to take photographs of their work.  I hope that I have got all the credits right and apologise if there are mistakes. I am happy to amend when I have the necessary information.  Please contact me via this website or @dammodammo if there is anything that I need to correct. The featured image at beginning of this blog was by @sam_art_34. BBC Gloucestershire did a feature on the return of the event prior to the festival.

Camera use for all pictures was with my Fujifilm x100v except for a couple of iPhone pics.  The x100v was on aperture control and colour balance daylight. For the artists out there, I was the guy in the hat wandering around with the silver retro camera.

If you enjoyed this blog then here are my Street art walks around Digbeth, Leamington Spa and Bristol.

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Brighton Beach fun

Brighton Beach fun

I was fortunate to visit Brighton as part of a conference. My hotel was on the seafront and in between…

Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022

Several mornings during July, I ran into Kardamena from where I was staying.  My hotel, Acti Beach, is around 2 miles away from Kardamena.  Getting up early and watching the sunrise develop during the Golden Hour is an unforgettable experience.  Two years ago I was here in August and the sun rose over the sea. In July, the sun rises behind the mountains. Therefore I saw the sun start to rise by the golden colours appearing on the white buildings of the town as I ran towards Kardamena.

Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
The rising sun creating shadows on the walls of the whitewashed buildings.
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
The sun appears from behind the mountains.

I run with my iPhone13 and I was able to stop for a few minutes and capture the golden rays. The fun is getting back to the hotel and seeing what the results are like.  These pictures were taken on different mornings and when posted on my social media, they received a positive response.  I certainly want to get back to Kos in the future and experience more sunrises on this beautiful island. This is the last of my Kos Island sequence and hope you enjoyed them.

Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
Sunrise on the sun loungers at Malibu Beach
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
A view of the sunrise from a jetty at Kardamena.
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
Sunrise in the harbour with golden rays on the Pirate ship.
Sunrise in Kardamena, Greece, July 2022
The day begins.

Here are my links to Kardamena and Kos

I love Kardamena 2022

Reach for the sky

Back in 2020 when I first visited Kardamena

And where it all started with my daughter’s wedding on the beach in Kos


Arrow Park Valley

There is no need to go to far away exotic places to enjoy your photography and I am always on the lookout for local places which lend themselves to a great picture. Arrow Valley Country Park is 20 minutes away by car and is situated close to Redditch town centre. In 1964, Redditch was designated a “new town” and has since kept the name. The town is often the butt of a Jasper Carrott joke about trying to escape the dreaded Redditch ring road. As it happens, you must leave the ring road to get to Arrow Valley Country Park.

Golden hour at Arrow Valley Country Park. The tarmac path does allow cycling around the Lake.
Taken with iPhone 13

I chose a winter’s afternoon to visit knowing from the Photographer’s Ephemeris that the sun lines up along the longest part of the lake at the end of January. When I arrived at the park, the sun was low, but an hour away from sunset so I started exploring around the lake. There is a concrete path that makes up a circular route around the lake. My first impressions were that this was detrimental to the natural layout, but I soon discovered paths leading into the adjacent woods. There was a lot more to this Country Park then I first thought.

Golden light in the woods surrounding the Park
Canon 5D IV – f/5, 1/125, ISO 250
A view over Arrow Valley Park Lake
iPhone 13
Direct shot into the sun with the rushes refracting the sunlight.
Canon 5D IV – f/4, 1/800, ISO 100

The sun was getting lower and my main reason for coming was the sunset. There is a dip around the arrow point at the head of the park. The path comes close to the water’s edge and here you can feed the resident wildlife.

A view from the tip of the Arrow Lake of the Wildlife. This was featured on BBC Weatherwatchers as a background.
iPhone 13

There were a few people gathered there so I had to make do with a point further up the path. This turned out to be a brilliant point of view, a place where the light took on a golden quality and lit up many of the trees and bushes. The heads of the rushes look like spotlights in the setting sun. For the main picture I used my wide angled lens on a tripod with a hard graduated LEE filter. This balanced the light perfectly as the sun touched the trees in the distance. I was not deliberately looking for the hyperfocal distance. However, my auto focus caught the edges of the framing trees and it tied in with the distance needed.

My picture of a wonderful evening of light
Canon 5D IV – f/11, 1/80, ISO 100

Enjoy the pictures of the park and the golden hour light.

Want to know more
Arrow Valley Country Park and all you want to know.
The official Redditch site gives more information.