Bristol Blog 2018

The AMNC Executive Director recently spent a few days in Bristol in the UK, a city of 460,000 reinventing itself through the arts and creative industries. An inkling of this was apparent from its comprehensive and inspiring Arts Plan, City of Openness, Imagination and Originators. A Strategy for Bristol Culture. A number of tweets were sent while there and some of these are now brought together below with further comment in our Bristol Blog.


#Streetart Having just arrived in Bristol and being overwhelmed by all that is going on the arts the pic this week would have to be a Banksy

While Banksy may be the most well known aspect of the arts scene in Bristol I would have to say there is a limit to how much street art a city can have, particularly when there appears to be no quality control. Areas such as Stokes Croft known for its original street art and thinking now just appears derelict and covered in graffiti. However there is still no taking away from the interest street art has generates. Just a warning rather than a plea for curated street art.

#Bristolblog Don’t have a guide to Bristol but do have my copy of How to Spot a Hipster by Jeremy Cassar. Very helpful

While there were enclaves of hipster types what was more obvious was the absence of older people. I am sure they are there but certainly there was a buzz in the central city and inner suburbs by not only hipsters but young families. Interesting that How to Spot a Hipster is published in Melbourne but was available in bookshops in Bristol.

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#Bristolblog Seems to have worked art is everywhere and not just street art

What was obviously a deliberate policy that centre of the city around the Avon River has a number of new cultural institutions. These are all in converted former industrial buildings and that character still shines through. The success of this area as a people place highlights the value of cultural precincts. The new institutions include: We the Curious (Science Museum), Watershed (A Centre of Film and Digital Art), M Shed (the Museum about Bristol’s history) and Arnolfini (Centre of Contemporary Art)

#Bristolblog Just added up 4 projects for new or restored performance spaces to open shortly. Value 70 million pounds, that is $126 million Oz dollars in a city of only 460,000.

Included major changes at the Bristol Old Vic. What I loved about that proposal was the exciting program now planned for its Studio Space which is described as

  • A performance space dedicated to the future
  • House the stories of tomorrow
  • Nourish and liberate the artists of tomorrow
  • Witness and facilitate the training and development of the theatre makers of tomorrow from actors, to administrators and technicians
  • Engage,educate,inspire and entertain young people
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#Bristolblog Checked out the innovation at Spike Island today, home to a cutting edge contemporary art gallery, café, 50 artist studios and over 70 social enterprises and cultural businesses, all housed in an old tea factory.

The former Brooke Bond Tea Company building now provides 80,000 square feet of studio space for a wide range of artistic creativity including art installations, film production, sculpture, painting, model making and illustrations. Students from the University of West of England also use the building. Its public funding is just a quarter of turnover indicating its high proportion of its earned and fundraised income.

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#Bristolblog Incredible exhibition at the Bristol Botanic Gardens siting public art for the visually impaired within the grounds and giving others an insight into what that might. “look” like.

The Impossible Garden is a unique set of experimental sculptures, by artist Luke Jerram, inspired by visual phenomena. It involves 12 engaging art works, designed to stimulate debate about how visual impairments can affect our perception of the world around us. Its goal is to encourage greater public understanding about the many processes involved in “seeing”.

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Its value is more than this however. It shows how spaces such a National Parks and Botanic Gardens could on the Mid North Coast play a much greater role in showcasing public art that encourages and provokes thought and discussion rather than just represent or reflect the natural landscape.

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#Bristolblog Insightful exhibition Fabrics of Africa at the Bristol Museum & Gallery telling stories through African fabric and its use in both traditional and contemporary fashion

While this was a small exhibition at the Bristol Art Gallery & Museum of three galleries and a film space it highlight the rich stories that can be told of African migrants and the culture they bring to new places. This is also now becoming more evident In Paris in various ways in Paris with local exhibitions and tours showcasing its current African culture.

Both indicate the potential in Coffs Harbour to expand the excellent work being done with their African community.