Like many artists before and since Bristol born Andrew Burns Colwill was a tearaway in his teens. The only way teachers could stop him from being disruptive was to leave him occupied at the back of the class to draw and paint. Though leaving school without qualifications his talent meant he always worked in art from painting backdrops and scenic work for TV and theatre or on the streets. At one point four buildings on Bristol’s (then popular punk scene Park Street) were canvases for his work. Always a prolific artist he was constantly creating new work. In the early days he used untreated canvas, developing techniques using curtain linings stretched over hand made frames and household paints just to get he work out there.
In the 80’s he played in punk bands, painted 100’s of paintings and created a spectacular exhibition at Ashton Court Mansion in 1988 with over a 1,000 visitors. Those were the heady times which were fuelled and then broken by a time of addiction. However, Burns Colwill was not defeated like many of his friends of the time who did not make it through. He recovered through rehab and took himself to Greece to escape ‘the scene’.
Andrew has been back in Bristol for a few years now, and the mediums he was experimenting with in the early days including soak stain techniques have become his preferred tools. He is constantly developing and currently doing some amazing work on split ply wood into the individual sheets giving his work a greater depth and perspective.
Perhaps it is that depth and perspective which now defines his work. His work is subtle, reflective, not obvious – a viewer has to work at his painting and is rewarded with hidden insights, environmental, political and social commentary and humour.
He is a popular contributor at Upfest (Europe’s largest street paint festival) in Bristol which last year saw his amazing ‘The Inflatable Mr Smith’.
Described by many in the Bristol Street art scene as ‘the next wave in street art’ his work sits between the fine art and urban worlds. Not motivated by materialism his passion is to bring fine art onto the streets.
Throughout April and May Bristol is treated to a real journey in his work. It starts with his three pieces of work exhibited in ‘3 is a Magic Number’. He was invited to take part by curating artists Jimmer Willmott, Jemma Davies, Diff and Guts. It runs till the 14 April and can be seen at the Ropewalk pub in Bristol.
His first piece for the show is ‘Blind leading the blind’ He says this ‘Depicts how parents influence their off spring…for better or worse ….’
His second piece simply called ‘Bubbles…..’
He says this work ‘Depicts how there can be so many different ways of looking at things….the Anchor representing basic sturdy reality….something we all rely on for stability’.
And his third piece for the show is ‘The inflatable Mr Smith’. ‘Depicts how our inflated egos can sometimes put us into a dream world….dragging reality along like a ball and chain.’
Later this month a new five panels plus a wall commission will be revealed for a restaurant in Gloucester Road. The work will take the viewer on a journey of the pipe from an Ancient Egypt hieroglyph and the first recording of a pipe, to the development of the hookah around 1000 years ago in the middle east, to 2-300 years ago and camel traders right up to the 1960’s and then today. It’s epic work – and as always with Burns Colwill’s work – with a twist. (Bristol street artists see the last couple of panels – all I’m sayin’).
Then later in May Andy has a solo show at It’s All 2 Much in Stokes Croft Bristol. The title of the show is ’20/50 Vision’ and will be a comment and prediction on where society will be by then.
Watch this blog – there will be more!
Where you can see Andy’s work:
3 is a Magic Number at the Ropewalk, Bristol on till 14 April
In the Avant Lounge, Gloucester Rd, Bristol – opening soon
20/50 Vision – solo show at It’s All 2 Much, Stokes Croft. Bristol
and later in the year at Upfest, Bristol.