Vanguard | Bristol Street Art: The evolution of a global movement

Power to the Purple

Filthy Luker & Pedro Estrellas / Luke Egan and Pete Hamilton Designs in Air Digitally printed coated nylon, axial fan, LED, air 2021

Pete Hamilton began making inflatable sculptures after a happy accident with a hairdryer in 1994. Realising that he was on to something special he immersed himself in the medium, his fascinating creations gaining notoriety in the nightclub culture of the era.

Luke Egan met Pete in 1996. Attracted by the medium and with experience in sewing and sculpture, he joined forces with Pete and the pair soon became a power-house of ideas and innovation. Through their dedication and endless creativity, the autodidactic duo honed their craft and slowly built a team of creative technicians under the name Designs in Air. The company boasts a legacy of hundreds of installations and diverse clients from Greenpeace to Cirque du Soleil to Fuji Rock Festival in Japan.

In around 2004 the artists took to the streets with their surreal creations. Unwilling to wait to be commissioned and just wanting to “have some fun” with their talents, the artists found themselves carving out a unique niche in the international street art movement with their outlandish urban installations under the alias Filthy Luker & Pedro Estrellas.

The sculpture commissioned by M Shed is a tip of the hat to the vibrant culture of graffiti, political defiance and solidarity found in Bristol. Its irreverent messy purple splat brings humour and its violet hues and curves play off the iconic red angular architecture of the M Shed foyer.