Well the weekend saw me in the south west – a recent birthday treat! As the weather was changeable on Saturday, we decided to visit Bristol for a whistlestop tour. First a big thumbs up to Wapping Wharf car park – £2.50 all day and really central – other cities take note!! A trip along the Harbourside saw us pop into the M Shed where the history of Bristol and its people really came to life – not only that, but the architecture of the building was great too and on the walls of the stairwell was ‘River Avon Mud Circle’ by Richard Long – a long time favourite artist of mine! The M Shed is worth a visit and it’s free entry to boot! Walking further along the dockside we were invited to step aboard The Matthew, a replica of the ship that John Cabot sailed to Newfoundland on in 1497. Once again, entry was free and the organisers were very knowledgeable. Standing on the deck of this very small ship, it was difficult to believe that this tiny vessel made it across the Atlantic – the hardships they endured must have been terrible. One has to admire the courage and determination of these early explorers though!
Our visit to Bristol did see us go from one extreme to the other. Further along the Harbourside we popped in to the Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition at Spike Island. This is a platform for emerging artists and consists of work by recent graduates – BA(Hons), MA and practice-based PhDs. Whilst supporting these artists, the exhibition also provides ideas of possible trending themes and mediums in the future contemporary art world. Even for me, a recent graduate, this exhibition was challenging. In the main I prefer an artwork to speak for itself, without too much artists’ blurb, but I have to admit that here I would have liked a little hint into the artists’ psyche! Perhaps I am not cutting edge or challenging in my approach, but I just didn’t GET some of the works – and I don’t think that is necessarily my fault! If you are in the area pop in and see this exhibition – I would love to hear your opinion.
From here we went to the Arnolfino where (after fighting our way through the hoardes of hopefuls waiting to audition for the new Star Wars movie) there were exhibitions by Michael Dean and Mierle Laderman Ukeles. I liked the Dean exhibition and its interactive nature – the way I as a viewer engaged, not only with the sculpture (yes you were allowed to touch), but also with the exhibition space as a whole, from the lighting to the carpet. Laderman Ukeles work addresses often overlooked aspects of society. I liked the Touch Sanitation work that she produced when artist-in-residence for the New York City Department of Sanitation. This highlights the unremitting work the employees carry out and that we, the public would prefer not to think about – I think this applies to a lot of other areas too!
As I said earlier, our visit went from one extreme – the Bloomberg exhibition at Spike Island with its contemporary art – to a Roman Empire exhibition at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. In partnership with the British Museum, this exhibition included some wonderful sculptures and jewellery, and the children’s clothing was amazing. Alongside this, the museum contained works by Pissarro and Derain, as well as a porcelain sculpture by Nagae Shigekazu – Forms in Succession – and a glass piece called Ku by Ikuta Niyoko, both really beautiful!After all that artwork we had gallery overload and went for a well deserved meal!! Bristol, I really enjoyed my day and will be back!!
That wasn’t the end of my weekend but I will save that for another time!