We bring new tech to old school

We bring new tech to old school

Virtually Upfest and beyond

Since 2020 we’ve partnered with arts organisation Upfest on a series of immersive artwork projects.

Our first collaboration in 2020 saw us build a VR platform for graffiti artists to share their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, known as ‘Virtually Upfest’.

Next we created 3 vibrant AR filters to accompany selected artworks from the platform. Each filter was designed to make the graffiti prints pop in 3D, adding a further dimension to the artwork.

In 2022, we also helped Bedminster’s local Business Improvement District encourage people back to Bristol’s streets post-pandemic by animating the artwork on Bedminster’s Six Sisters using 6 new AR filters.

You can read more about this off-the-wall experience here, or read on to find out how we created the original virtual street art festival experience that can still be viewed online today.

Click here to try out Virtually Upfest yourself!


New artworks


Square metres to explore


AR filters


In June 2020 Europe’s biggest street art festival – Upfest – was sadly forced to cancel it’s yearly celebration due to pandemic restrictions. However, in September 2020 we launched Virtually Upfest, an Upfest virtual reality experience showcasing 30 new artworks, thanks to funding from Arts Council England.

Upfest logo
Arts Council England logo

Responding to the pandemic with a VR festival

Curio teamed up with arts organisation Upfest to overcome COVID-19 by unveiling incredible new street art in a VR festival: Virtually Upfest. Upfest founder Stephen Hayles was keen to experiment in the world of virtual reality and create a new platform for the festival and its artists.

Usually over 50,000 people gather in Southville each year, to witness the live work of 400 artists and wonder at new murals. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Upfest, like most other festivals, had to be cancelled. Determined to showcase their talented artists, Upfest challenged Curio to find an alternate way of sharing the festival with audiences, without violating pandemic restrictions.

This inspired us to create the virtual festival, accessible on any device; from smartphones and tablets to desktop computers and virtual reality headsets, users were able to navigate our 3D model of North Street and take a closer look at the artists behind the striking digital artworks.

You can still visit virtual.upfest.co.uk as our digital landscape has extended the usual run of the festival.

Creating a new world to showcase digital art

During Upfest, Bristol’s streets traditionally become the canvas for hundreds of artists. We knew that in order to give Upfest fans a familiar experience, a sense of place within the city was crucial. We decided to build a 3D model of North Street, the usual site of Upfest festival – but with a twist!

Instead of simply recreating the street in a photorealistic style, reminding people of the real life experience they were missing out on, we wanted to give Virtually Upfest users a heightened version of the festival experience. We created a retro reconstruction of North Street, to transport users somewhere new and send their imaginations into overdrive – the perfect backdrop for an arts festival!

This reconstruction was influenced by the 1982 legendary American sci-fi film TRON, which saw arcade owner Kevin Flynn transported into the internal 3D-graphical world of computers, giving Virtually Upfest a futuristic look that nicely offset the artworks.

Just like Kevin, Virtually Upfest audiences enter the digital world, only without the deadly games.

It’s in this virtual world that artists from around the world have been able to showcase their latest work. Upfest commissioned new works from a spectrum of 30 UK artists specifically for Virtually Upfest. Though most of the artists usually work with paint, they had to create digital pieces that Curio could embed into the virtual street.

Each artist was given a specific site in Virtually Upfest where their work would be located, enabling them to work through their familiar process, despite the unfamiliar medium. This new digital approach was an exciting challenge for the artists involved, encouraging them to think about the way they conceptualise space and canvases.

The results of this collaboration are unlike anything Upfest goers will have experienced before.

"I’m a paint-on-canvas artist and I don’t even delve into the digital world so for me it’s really interesting. It’s a great thing to be part of."

Sophie Long – Artist

I’m a paint-on-canvas artist and I don’t even delve into the digital world so for me it’s really interesting. It’s a great thing to be part of.”

Sophie Long – Artist

Instagram Artists Filters

To celebrate the launch of Virtually Upfest 2020, we also teamed up with digital artwork collectors Rendar and Bristol artists, Cheo and Copyright to offer Upfest fans a further opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of street art through 3 augmented reality Instagram filters.

For the first AR filter, we animated Cheo’s piece, ‘Retro Flow’, creating an AR filter that brings the exclusive print to life. Cheo began drawing and painting graffiti characters in the mid 1980s and has a very recognisable cartoon-style, inspired by the comic book characters of Vaughn Bode.

We went for a similar approach for the second AR filter, creating an additional layer of free flowing psychedelia for Copyright’s piece, ‘Heal’. One again, by combining the print with its Instagram filter, users could see the artwork leap from the screen and dance for their entertainment, adding an enchanting layer to Copyright’s iconic street art.

We opted for a slightly different approach for the third AR filter, encouraging people to step into the shoes of a graffiti artist using our Instagram selfie filter, complete with 3D Upfest hat and chain.

As physically attending Upfest 2020 wasn’t a possibility, it was vital that our filters enabled people to fully immerse themselves in the virtual festival – even adding selfies to their Instagram stories wearing their digital Upfest apparel!

These 3 examples show the power of augmented reality to really put people in the picture, and have an unexpected experience with art.

Find out how you can use AR filters to engage visitors here.

Upfest reimagined

Running this world-famous street art festival online ensured the continuation of the festival despite the pandemic.

Virtually Upfest enabled Upfest organisers to reconnect with their audience and welcome street art fans from around the world to the virtual streets of South Bristol. The platform allows both national and international audiences to enjoy the festival from the comfort of their own homes, or on the move through their mobiles.

Upfest fans were still able to discover incredible new street art at their own pace via our 3D rendition of North Street, extending from the Upfest gallery all the way to the Tobacco Factory. Not only could they view the exclusive work commissioned for the virtual festival, but they could also find out more about the artists via direct links to the artists’ websites and merchandise.

Access to the Upfest virtual world was, and remains, free for everyone to explore, upholding the Upfest Organisation ethos of making art accessible for all.

Virtually Upfest was an experiment into hosting events in a post-COVID world. Whilst most street artists would still agree they would rather be out painting on a real street, this collaboration created a new space to share their work and reach new audiences, whilst maintaining high spirits in 2020.

Don’t forget to check out our more recent collaboration with Upfest, the Six Sisters AR trail or learn more about the possibilities of our AR trails here.

Six Sisters

Following the success of our previous collaborations, Upfest asked us to animate the six street murals which form the Six Sisters.

A partnership between Upfest and Bedminster’s local Business Improvement District (BID), the Six Sisters are a row of Victorian terraced buildings along North Street. Inspired by San Francisco’s Painted Ladies, Upfest commissioned six female graffiti artists to create colourful murals on the building facades.

Founder of Upfest, Stephen Hayles, believes ‘The Six Sisters is a truly unique opportunity to promote the strength of the female urban art scene in Bristol and inspire a future generation of female artists worldwide’ as it’s ‘the largest series of permanent street art by female artists in the UK, maybe even the world.’

Chair of the Bedminster BID, Simon Dicken, hoped the project would be ‘a huge draw for locals and visitors alike, as they can come to explore the streets and enjoy our local retail and hospitality offering.’

Although the project began in 2016, it’s completion six years later coincides with the relaxation of COVID restrictions in the UK, making the Six Sisters an enticing tourist destination.

Many town centres are embracing technology as a means to encourage local residents back to the high street – see our recent historic trail for Gravesend – but the Six Sisters takes AR social media filters to a new level. We created an AR filter for each painted building to truly blur the line between the street art and the street itself.

Our filters transport you inside the artworks to a world where natural elements like clouds and sunbeams mix with giant butterflies, foxes and bees, and kooky anime characters rub shoulders with stylised female figures. Launched via a QR code menu on a nearby gorilla, the experiences are packed full of Bristolian charm.

We worked closely with Gemma Compton, Zoe Power, Bex Glover, Sophie Long, Ejits and Lucas Antics to ensure the filters retained the message of the murals and still felt true to their artistic style and vision.

Collaborating directly with the six artists allowed us to work from their design files and match our AR animations to line up exactly their real-world counterparts. We carefully cut out different sections of the artworks before playing with dimensions, spatial relationships and animation.

By layering our cut-outs we offer people the chance to step into the picture and explore the Six Sisters free from real-space confinement.

Icon - Social media filters

We like telling your stories

Release your inner artist by testing out the bespoke AR filter we made for Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival: Upfest. Your collections might be more Botticelli than Banksy but that shouldn’t stop you putting your audiences in the picture. With AR filters you can take a selfie in Monet’s garden, clone yourself into a Warhol or add unexpected objects into your frame like Magritte. With an augmented reality canvas, your artistic expression can be limitless.

Learn More