Tell us a bit about yourself…
My name is Andy Council and I’m a Bristol based illustrator and Street Artist, known for creating beasts out of other smaller objects – quite often architectural landmarks and especially the buildings of Bristol. My city creature paintings on walls can be found by walking all around the city of Bristol and beyond.
Tell us about your preferred Bristol walking route and why you love it so much.
I have quite a few walking routes that I enjoy in the Bristol area – it’s hard to choose just one so I will go for two! Manor Woods Valley is one that immediately comes to mind as I live close by. Being in the woods takes me away from being in the city and gives me a sense of peace.
My other favourite is around the Cumberland Basin area. I like it as there are views of Ashton Court, the Clifton Suspension Bridge and lots of graffiti and street art. I walk through Greville Smyth Park, over Clift House road past the self-storage building, alongside the Wessex Water Otter mural of mine then out by Ashton Avenue Bridge. From there you can carry on over the bridge and past the records office to a great view of the suspension bridge and check out some graffiti.
How long have you been walking there and when did you first discover it?
I’ve walked around both places for a few years but it was during lockdown that doing the walks really came into effect for me. Manor Woods is a bit of a Bristol hidden gem that I only found out about around 5 years ago when I moved to the area. During lockdown I went there to get out of the house, exercise and stay sane. It was the same with Cumberland Basin but with that area I found it a good place to walk around and use as a creative outlet, painting in the designated areas under the road. That part of the city is a great zone for people to go and do their own thing. There’s a DIY skatepark and BMX track there along with the graffiti walls – I even saw a surf punk band play there during one of the later lockdowns which was great.
Who normally accompanies you on your walks?
I spend a lot of my time walking the routes of Bristol on my own, but I’m sometimes accompanied by my children and, when out painting, other artists. When out painting places it’s good to ditch the car, meet up with other painters and do a bit of a hike to the spot. Just a bit of a pain carrying all the paint, but it helps keep me fit!
How do you feel when you’re out for a walk?
It makes me feel good, gets me out of a flunk and helps me think things through. I’m able to solve creative problems and come up with ideas. There are things that you only see when you walk places that can inspire and inform artwork pieces. It’s definitely a part of my creative process.
Have you experienced any health benefits from walking?
Walking benefits my mental health in a big way and helps keep me in pretty good shape. Helps to burn off the Greggs!
Do you have any particular kit you take with you when you’re walking? If so, what do you take and why?
When I go out to walk or paint, having a lightweight waterproof coat for the unpredictable weather is good and a refillable bottle of water is essential to avoid dehydration. I often take my headphones so I can get lost in some music, but I do like to hear the sounds around me too. The other thing I take now I am more of a middle-aged painter is a mini fold down stool which helps my old legs when I need a break.
What tips would you give to anyone thinking about getting into walking?
Plan the route and make sure there are regular places where you can stop and rest if you need to. Walks needn’t be long and be in rural areas, there’s lots to see on urban routes around Bristol.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Manor Woods Valley has its own group of volunteers who care for the valley and wildlife, a great bunch of people! They will be running a Wellbeing Walk Through Manor Woods Valley on Saturday 13th May and an Exploration of Manor Woods Valley on Saturday 27th May as a part of Bristol Walk Fest. You can find out more about the Manor Woods Valley Group on their website.