Nailsea boy is youngest to paint at Europe’s biggest street art festival

A youngster from Somerset has become the youngest to take part in Europe’s biggest street art festival – aged just 10. Nailsea’s Harry ‘Haz’ Bingham is the youngest person to be asked to be an official performer at the famous Upfest in Bedminster.

Upfest in Bristol was launched in 2008. In its first year around 40 artists took part, but this has grown over the years and now over 400 artists flock to the city to paint. After the festival took a covid-forced hiatus, it’s now back this year with Grove Junior School pupil Harry – who started developing his style of street art during lockdown – among the participating artists .

Football and rugby fanatic Harry turned his creative passion to drawing when he found his legs were too tired for the sport and he needed to channel his energy elsewhere. Mum Leah set up her #hazart Instagram account where Harry found and followed other street performers who in turn followed him.

READ MORE: Upfest: Europe’s biggest street art festival will return to Weston-super-Mare in 2022

Harry is a huge fan of international street artist My Dog Sighs and Paul ‘Monsters’ Roberts. My Dog Sighs’ style is a combination of melancholy and naive portraiture and it uses discarded trash like tin cans.

Paul is a multidisciplinary artist working with mosaic geometric patterns. build abstract forms inspired by nature, architecture and spirituality. Leah said: “He was always fascinated by street art in Bristol and started experimenting with his own.

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“He’s a regular at the Upfest Gallery in North Street, so everyone got to know him. He went to a book signing and a My Dog Sighs talk – I was completely out of my comfort zone. It really inspired him. I applied online and they looked at his Instagram and were accepted.”

Leah added: “I really didn’t expect him to come in so I was shocked and he’s very excited and chilled by it all.” Harry told festival organizers: “Art is my favorite subject at school and I’ve always loved walking around town with my family looking at cool street art.

“I started my own style of street art when I was nine during lockdown. I like to draw in sketchbooks at home and often create boards using POSCA pens.

READ MORE: How Banksy, Upfest and Luke Jerram turned Weston-super-Mare into the UK’s new cultural hub

“I also took art classes where I learned how to make and use stencils and I’m getting better at using cans, but I have to practice that in the garden.” The 5th grader isn’t the only talented artist in his family, as 14-year-old big sister Grace and grandpa Steve also love to draw.

The free festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29. Murals began appearing on the streets of Bedminster from the start of this month and after three weeks of street painting, the festival weekend will see hundreds of artists paint live with festival centers at Usine de tobacconist and Ashton Gate stadium.

For the first year the festival will take over Greville Smyth Park which is on Ashton Gate Road postcode BS3 2EQ as its main venue with live music and painting throughout the weekend. Harry will paint in Greville Smyth Park for two days alongside the music stages and food and drink experiences on the festival weekend on a 1mX1m canvas.

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Reggie S. Williams