Peaceful Progress

Peaceful Progress

Not everyone likes Bryce ‘Best’ Davies’s work. Many traditionalists in the graf scene he grew up in have snubbed their spraycans at him, but he doesn’t really care. His incorporation of fine art techniques into his graffiti work has found him a wider more accepting audience, as well as some great friends and artists with whom he can collaborate. It has also helped him find himself.

Born in South Jersey to an American mother and a Welsh father, Bryce moved to Bedwas in South Wales with his parents at an early age. However, his father died when he was three years old and he eventually settled with his Mother, her partner at the time and his son in Cardiff at aged 10.

It was his step brother who would first influence Bryce artistically. He was inspired by the art student’s paintings, which themselves were inspired by graf writers such as Mode 2 and Vaughn Bode. It wasn’t until age 12 when given the chance to decorate his room himself that he first picked up a spraycan. The graffiti wasn’t great, think bad Calvin and Hobbes characters, but the buzz was addictive and Bryce was soon out bombing the streets and tracksides.

Peaceful Progress

Unsettled at school, and pretty much anywhere except while painting, Bryce spent most of his time out painting and at 15, alongside a fellow Cardiff writer, set up a legal Hall Of Fame in Haley Park, Cardiff. Here he could spend all day developing styles and working on his letters. The bombing continued until South Wales Police raided his house three times. Luckily for him they went to the wrong person’s house each time and he managed to get tipped off. Many others in the scene weren’t so lucky and after rather too much finger pointing, Bryce decided it was time to go legit.

One of the other major influences on his artwork was Dafydd Fortt. Bryce’s vision was very much rooted in the graf scene but Dafydd influenced him to look at things from a different angle, and be happy in doing what you want rather than worrying too much how things are supposed to be done. He showed him how to stretch canvas and make frames and pushed him to try new techniques. In the studio together Bryce finally found the direction he’d been looking for and painted all the free hours he could. In 2003 both Bryce and Dafydd moved to the Kings Rd Studios in Cardiff. It was here that Peaceful Progress was born.

Peaceful Progress

There were soon many collaborations with other resident artists in the studios, especially Andy Fung and James Charlton, and a number of exhibitions such as Slice which included all the Kings Rd Artists. Peaceful Progress began as a website to showcase both this work and each artist’s solo work.

Around the same time he started painting, Bryce also took up B-Boying and helped to form the Welsh B-Boy crew Uprock Addicts. These were his main expressive outlets and they also became his main income, meaning that he could literally do the things he loved all day. As well as commissions with his painting and various shows with the Uprock Addicts, Bryce began to pass on his skills to the young people of Wales in graffiti and breakdance workshops. Dealing mainly with the kind of teens that he had once been, restless – unsettled and quite a handful at times – he enjoys seeing the familiar spark in their eyes when what he is teaching manages to connect. He is also part of Bassline Circus and has been touring with them for the last three years. Living in a trailer, travelling and the alternative lifestyle of the circus along with regular visits to Coed Hills, a self sufficient community where many of the residents are artists living in yurts and tepees, has lent Bryce’s work a natural, organic feel and helped him to think more about the environment he’s painting in and for. A lot of the work and exhibitions recently are site specific and he thinks more about the placement of pieces, his murals are also noticeably fuller, with the background, shapes and letters all working well together. Some of his recent commissions have been for, amongst others, Glastonbury, Bestival, Green Man, MTV, Cargo and Big Brother.

Peaceful Progress

The most important for Bryce is getting on with what he enjoys in a positive and true manner, and working with others on a similar vibe. With a Peaceful Progress tent in the pipeline for next years festivals it looks like we shall be seeing many more collaborations with this ethos.

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