//Tour de Bristol; an artsy guide to the city//

Hello! I’ve always been a creative person, however since A levels became such a major a part of my life, I’ve neglected my arty side and found myself reaching for a paintbrush or my sketchbook much less then I’d like to (*sobs*). 

But! The wonderful Michelle from The Writing Hufflepuff recently started a new series called The Artsy Hufflehoe, where she discusses art exhibitions she has visited recently in Amsterdam, and I absolutely love it! Although there aren’t as many art  a galleries where I live because I don’t live near a capital city, I do live near Bristol, which is such a multicultural city with a vibrant art scene. Michelle’s​ posts have inspired me to explore Bristol’s artsy side (instead of just staying in the shopping quarter haha – when your friends don’t appreciate art rip me) and as Bristol has become my favourite place to relax and escape the small-town-bubble that I usually live in, I was excited to see a different side to the city.

I’ve been to Bristol many times, due to living in Somerset, yet I still haven’t seen the entirety of it! But recently I ventured into the city with my mum and we visited a few of the museum’s and galleries, as well as discovering some of the outdoor art and just general pretty places! 

However, my artsy adventure is no where near finished, so as well as sharing some places I have already been, I’m going to share some things I would like to do and see over the coming months.

The MShed

The first place we went was the MShed (there’s a bit of a theme in Bristol – there’s an MShed, a Cashed, a Watershed – I could go on – basically, all the “sheds” line the harbourside which used to be part of the busy dockyard there and vital to trading, and they’ve now been converted and modernised). The MShed is a free museum documenting the history of the city. You may be wondering how this is artsy, well, let me explain. The way exhibits are presented in the museum is very modern and intuitive – my favourite but is the little model boats in glass blocks in the shed doors, so when you look out you can see the harbourside. (The boats were painted but it was hard to get a photo to show that!)

There was also an exhibition in the second floor, about democracy, fighting for minority rights and a slave trade memorial. Throughout the exhibits there were artworks, often with a political message behind them, this was my favourite!

On the third floor they house temporary exhibits. When we went it was an exhibit on skeletons, which was a bit gruesome, but sometimes they have art exhibitions there!

The Arnolfini

Next we headed to one of Bristol’s most renowned art galleries. I hadn’t been to many galleries before – I have vague recollections of going to the Tate Modern when I was quite small, and a gallery in Cardiff when I was at secondary school, but I guess I was too young for them to have made an impression then. However I really enjoyed the gallery. I loved how one artists exhibition takes over the whole gallery, and there’s loads of little – and big – rooms to explore. 

The exhibition we saw was The Stars Were Aligned For A Century Of New Beginnings by Egyptian artist Basim Magdy. Magdy is a visual artist, so a lot of his works comprised of video clips of his travels where he used different chemicals on the film and experimented with light leaks to give the clips different overlays of colours and patterns. The first thing I noticed about his artwork is that it was quite pessimistic about life, and it was interesting to see the world from that perspective. My favourite clip was on rules of life, where he used tulips with faces drawn on and many other interesting objects as props. The rule that was most poignant to me was along the lines of “don’t pretend to love nature and the environment, we’re all aliens here” – it really made me think.

Another of my favourites was this collection of his works – some of the captions were very interesting, for example:

Sometimes I wish the sky above was a mirror, he said, instead, all the facism, impression and lost lives evaporate into clouds that are only capable of reflecting massive fires.

It just really made me think about the world in a different way, and how much we can learn by reflecting on ourselves.

In the reading room at the top of the gallery, there were questions asked by Magdy on the walls, and people had left there responses on little cards, which I loved reading!

College Green

After visiting the gallery, we wandered round the city, exploring places we wouldn’t normally go. Collage Green is in the university quarter, and when we went it was graduation, so there were tonnes of graduates in their gowns and mortar boards chilling on the grass in the sun. Whilst College Green is very pretty, it’s only once a year it gets turned into a work of art as graduates hang their old shoes from the branches of trees – it was actually quite pretty to look at.

May have just taken this​ photo because there was a pride flag in the distance (that you probably can’t see, tragic)

St Nicholas MarketMarkets are always full of creativity, with people selling handmade goods at every corner, and this was no exception. St Nicholas Market is a permanent market housed in a lovely building (honestly, the curling was so pretty with sculptures and fairy lights, I wish I’d taken a picture!). I went to a little textile shop, because I needed some lace edging for the hem of a dress I’d made into a top, and there was so much choice! It was so lovely.

The Watershed

I actually visited this a few weeks earlier, but thought I’d include it as well! The Watershed is an independent cinema, that shows films from all around the world and is certainly a hub of cinematic arts. I watched a french film here with a friend, and it was brilliant! Plus, the staff are really friendly!

Future visits

So, that’s just a small selection of Bristol’s artsy attractions, but there is so much more I want to see!

  • Spike Island (a contemporary art gallery on the edge of the city centre).
  • Grayson Perry’s The Most Popular Exhibition Ever! (Which is coming to The Arnolfini in September I think!)
  • Bristol Museum and Galleries (I’ve been before but haven’t been in the galleries).
  • Banksy street art tour (Bristol is home to Banksy and if course many other amazing street artists – I’ve seen a few and they are incredible, so I think I’m well overdue a tour).

That’s it for now! Have you ever been to Bristol? Or explored art in other cities? Let me know below!

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