Art / best of bristol

Best of Bristol 2019: Art

By steve wright, Saturday Nov 30, 2019

1. Still I Rise, Arnolfini

A collaboration with Nottingham Contemporary and De La Warr Pavilion (and with us until December 15), this bold exhibition focused on stories of international resistance movements and alternative forms of living from a gendered perspective, as well as (via its focus on black feminist artwork and activism) Bristol’s legacy in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

2. Fire: Flashes to Ashes, Royal West of England Academy

We’d traversed the sea and taken to the air: now it was time to put our hand in the flames, as the Royal West of England Academy unveiled the third in its series of exhibitions themed around the elements.

After The Power of the Sea: Making Waves in British Art 1790-2014 and Air: Visualising the Invisible in British Art 1768-2017, the RWA returned to the elements this summer with Fire: Flashes to Ashes in British Art 1692-2019, a major exhibition bringing together a number of important historical, modern and contemporary artworks on the theme of fire.

The rousing multimedia exhibition explored how vital fire has been to the human experience, through technology, storytelling and symbolism; and how the duality of our relationship with the element continues to fascinate in the 21st century. Incendiary stuff.

3. Upfest Summer Editions

Bristol’s world-famous street festival took a year off – but continued to titivate the streets of BS3 across the summer with its regular Summer Editions. Our pick of the bunch was this stunning mural, by Jody, of teenage climate-change activist Greta Thunberg, with her head partly submerged in icy water. A beautiful, arresting call to action.

The mural is the latest to be unveiled as part of Upfest Summer Editions, as the annual festival takes a year off but still commissions pieces across Bedminster and Southville.

4. The Royal Photographic Society turns Bristolian

Back in January, the prestigious Royal Photographic Society opened its new centre for photography right here in Bristol (and a mere few yards from the Bristol 24/7 office). RPS’ new cultural centre at Paintworks showcases the best contemporary UK photography via exhibition spaces and a 100-seater auditorium, as well as acting as an education resource and archive. Check out the RPS’ fascinating current exhibition Sugar Paper Theories until December 22.

5. Kosar Contemporary

Launched in January, in a 6,000 sq ft former light industrial factory on Malago Road, Bedminster, this space for contemporary art projects was the brainchild of The Artist Project Space, a Bristol collective that came into existence in order to link artists with each other and with places to exhibit their work, in association with Bristol arts charity Gathering Voices. And the programme for its debut year has been adventurous and explorative, adding to the creative energies of an area also blessed by recent arrivals such as our 2018 Best of shortlisters Estate of the Arts.

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