You might know the work of Getting Up To Stuff without knowing his name: the teddy bear with one arm on the shoulder of a hooded figure at the top of Jacob’s Wells Road, the famous cloakroom attendant Victoria Hughes on the Downs sat having a cup of tea with one of the young women she used to help, or the mysterious Princess Caraboo in the Hebron burial ground in Bedminster.
Over the last decade, Getting Up To Stuff has created dozens of works that he has placed across Bristol, some of which sadly get destroyed within days of going on display.
It was only in August 2021 that Getting Up To Stuff gave his first media interview to the Bristol24/7 Behind the Headlines podcast; and now he is going one step further by hosting his first solo exhibition in the garden of the White Horse in Hambrook.
The free exhibition is called Cathedral, which harks back to a time when the artist spent much of his childhood in the woods, “my spiritual home as a boy, dreaming of becoming an artist, surrounded by the soft fold of foliage and choirs of birdsong”.
You can hear from the man himself at 7.30pm in the barn behind the White Horse on October 11, when Getting Up To Stuff will be talking about his “exhibition of weirdness in the woods behind a pub plus a bar, some bloke fluttering on about why he goes out at 4am with a ladder and creepy grey people under his arm and a chance to find out how to chain a penguin to a bus stop, why it’s good to fill pubs with gay pigeons and the things to avoid when pushing a dead body across a golf course”.
All ticket sales from the talk will be raising money for secondary breast cancer charity, Make 2nds Count.
There will mostly be new installations at Cathedral, which is based around the recollections and involvement with the natural world that the artist had as a child.
Speaking to Bristol24/7 ahead of the exhibition, Getting Up To Stuff admitted that the display of sculptures is somewhat contradictory to his usual method of working which usually involves leaving pieces outside that he then sometimes never sees again.
“I always said I would never do an exhibition, but generally I do the very thing I say I will never do,” he said.
“This is a chance to raise the profile of the subject that I am addressing. And the subject is cancer. Having met some amazing people and lost one or two in the process, this is more important than what I’ve been doing and has given me a focus.
“So this exhibition will be saying to the world: come and look at the whole idea, come and listen to the stories, listen to what I’m on about, and then at the end of it, you can be part of this.”
The link to Make 2nds Count came about after Getting Up To Stuff was first contacted by Suicide Prevention Bristol following the appearance of Bear With Me on Jacob’s Wells Road.
“I love an underdog,” he said. “As soon as I found out about them, I thought, let’s do something. I had always wanted to do something in the White Horse, and with the female warrior figure, I thought, I’ve just got to do it.”
Cathedral does not signify the end of Getting Up To Stuff’s modus operandi, with him promising to be putting more works in public spaces soon and his biggest ever work in the planning stages that will see him need the help of hundreds of people to create a giant artwork.
“Getting Up To Stuff is what it has always been,” the artist said. “It’s a personal reaction to things that I really care about. If I stumble across a story or there is something in my past that I really care about, then I will make a piece about it and I will make it into a real three-dimensional experience that other people can witness.
“But I don’t think I need to explain everything to everybody all the time. If you want to know what the back stories are, come along to the talk and I’ll tell you.
“The story will be the original thing that triggered me in the first place, my reaction to it, what I’ve made, and what happens when I put them out there because that’s often more interesting than the story itself.
“You never know what’s going on, and some weird and wonderful things have happened.”
Cathedral takes place until October 20. To get tickets for Getting Up To Stuff’s talk on October 11, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/an-evening-with-gettinguptostuff-tickets-718529931367
Main photo: Getting Up To Stuff
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