A grey February day to visit Bristol but plenty of colour to see. I will elaborate in more detail in future posts but first a quick whistle stop tour. Our first port of call was the Arnolfini Gallery on the Quayside. This renowned centre for contemporary art has been in existence for over 60 years in various locations.
On the first floor was an installation by Donna Huanca, entitled Cueva de Copal. This complex walk-through installation comprises white sand, mixed media works in natural pigments, sound and the artists manufactured fragrant scent. The aim of the installation is for us to ask how we interrelate with nature. Dispensed in the installation are photo images of skin painted models.
Paula Rego is exhibited on the upper floor. Rego has been described as the most important figurative artist of her time. Over several decades she has produced challenging drawings and prints. Her emphasis has been challenging the patriarchal world and championing the inequities of being female. This retrospective shows Rego at her most challenging with series of drawings of themes of gender identification, abortion, violence and mutilation. We both came out moved and questioning the nature of ‘civilisation’
The Museum and Art Gallery, while housing an excellent permanent collection, is currently hosting Grayson’s Art Club. The exhibition works in parallel with Grayson’s Art Club, a Channel Four programme inspiring everyone to join in. We followed the trail around the museum, which I must say was quite complicated, and also the dedicated gallery. As Grayson says “one of the great things about art is it draws you into nature and the world around you.”
The journey to the museum and Art Gallery took us past two of Bristol’s architectural gems – the gothic cathedral and the fabulous Neo-Georgian City Hall (formerly the Council House). This epitome of Modernist architecture was started in 1938 but not completed until 1956. The building reminded me of my former tutor at University of Warwick, Otto Saumarez Smith, with his love of Modernism.
We had a great day in Bristol. If you cannot get there, though, do find time to see Grayson’s Art Club on Channel Four – a real feel-good show!