Street Art In Brest

Street Art In Brest

posted in: France, Top Destinations | 12

Did you hear the one about the two lesbians who visited a city called Brest? There’s no punchline to that joke. But we are two lesbians and we did visit the city of Brest in Brittany, France. In fact, we went to Brest and we liked it.

The coastal city has the usual lighthouse, quayside and docks you would expect. It is also home to an impressive military arsenal and huge aquarium complex. But the best thing about Brest is its street art. A few years back, the city had a big problem with graffiti. Kids were spraying their names on houses and the place looked a mess. Rather than banning graffiti, the town council took an innovative approach to fixing the problem. They invited internationally renowned street artists to paint in the city. They got young people involved in street art workshops and taught them how develop their skills. They encouraged citizens to apply for permission to exhibit their own street art on walls around the city. A few years on and street art in Brest has transformed the city into a vibrant and colourful living canvas which residents can be proud of.

Recently we were invited to join street artist Guy Denning on a paste up in Brest. We watched an unassuming blank wall be transformed into an awesome piece of art work for the whole community to enjoy. The first thing Guy did was leave one of his signature branded paint cans on a window ledge in a nearby street. He then sent out a tweet showing a picture of the can and his social media fans went crazy as they began searching for it. Guy does this a lot, his work sells for a small fortune and he likes to make it accessible to everyone. Street art and free art pieces are his way of providing art for the people who can’t afford it, why should they miss out?

A few other artists had turned up to watch the paste up and we were soon joined by council members and some locals who were passing by. Couples, families and older people all stopping to have a look at the new art. Everyone was impressed with the new addition to the city and enjoyed watching it go up. It’s a far cry from the early days of street art when kids spray painted in the dead of night and regularly had to run from the police. Back then street art was controversial, subversive and frowned upon, seen as antisocial and a scourge on communities, so what changed? Those kids with spray cans grew up. They got normal jobs and had kids of their own. They came of age and brought the street art culture with them. They work as teachers, designers, police officers and doctors, some of them work for Brest council. Street art isn’t new and frightening anymore, it’s widely accepted as just another part of the art world.

We watched Guy paste up a series of funky monkeys based on the Ascent of Man. This piece was to highlight the Cop 21 United Nations conference on climate change to be held in France this year. Climate change is an issue close to Guy’s heart and he isn’t afraid to tackle it through his emotive art work. Guy Denning’s Descent of Man warns of an underwater world of the future, brought about by our unwillingness to act on climate change in the present.

The eye catching monkeys proudly stroll down a busy street outside a school. Guy says he fully expects the local kids to add their own marks to the wall. He looks forward to the top hats, handbags, penises and teacups that will no doubt be added to his work in marker pen. The beauty of street art is it is always evolving. Once your art is in a public place it is there for the public to do whatever they like with it. Whether they admire it, take a selfie with it or add a comedy monocle and moustache to it.

monkey Guy Denning

If you find yourself in France and you’re looking for street art, you could do far worse than Brest. There are exciting pieces all over the city and there is even a plan to create an app for a street art walking tour. So for street art in Brittany, remember, Brest is best!

Guy Denning street art

Wandering Wives teamed up with Guy Denning for a street art giveaway. Congratulations to Jake Go for winning an original stencilled spray can. For more street art shenanigans you can follow Guy Denning on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Guy Denning giveaway

12 Responses

  1. wow and you love street art too! Excellent. We had a festival here in south London (around Dulwich) in 2013 and I redid the tour last Christmas to see how it had lasted. I’ve posted several pieces on London and Bristol street art as well as Wellington and Christchurch in NZ

  2. How very refreshing for a city to encourage street art!! Your photographs here are amazing. By chance do you ever look for train art? I’m not sure the appropriate term for it, but moving graffiti on industrial trains, so that the art is seen all over. Forgive me if I’ve overlooked a post you’ve already done on it!

    • Wandering Wives

      I’ve never heard of train art being a thing, haven’t knowingly seen any. We saw lots of street art in Melbourne, it was everywhere, all along the train tracks around the city. I guess the council there have a similar outlook on it as in Brest because there is a lot of high quality art.

  3. So cool! I never would have guessed that Brest was such a street art hot spot. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. This is a delightful and innovative solution to a graffiti “problem” wherein the city has encouraged the positive growth of creative expression so often squashed when young street artists are just labeled “vandals.” I’ve been a fan of street art for awhile, and the photos you took in Brest are really fantastic! Thanks for sharing with us!

  5. What an interesting angle to your visit. I like that you did a bit of a twist on visiting an art gallery. That street art is amazing. The artist you took a tour with is incredibly talented.

  6. I love how Guy uses public art to draw attention to issues but I think it’s just as great that the people of Brest encourage expression from all their citizens and that anyone can contribute to making their city a more beautiful place. Thank you for such a great post!

  7. I love street art. It moves me like none else.

  8. I LOVE street art! That was amazing! If you travel to the USA, Philadelphia has the most street art of any city here. Thanks for sharing that!

  9. It’s great you’re keeping us abreast of your latest travel news.. (sorry) Great post, love the graffiti pics. I’ll check out his instagram & FB pages.

  10. What a lovely interesting post. It’s wonderful to see the world through your eyes! Looking forward to more!

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