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My Bristol Favourites: Anna Rutherford

By lowie trevena, Thursday Sep 3, 2020

After training as a bioscientist at the University of Bristol, Anna went on to set up the city’s Pride festival, spent a successful five years as executive director at international theatre company In Between Time and is now director of The Architecture Centre.

Instead of the usual Bristol Open Doors weekend, The Architecture Centre is launching three new audio tours.

Hidden Bristol will explore our city in a series of digital audio walking tours. Uncover the city’s secrets, guided by some of the people who know Bristol best.

These are Anna’s top-five Bristol places.

Pero’s Bridge

Fujiko Nakaya created a “fog bridge” to celebrate the city’s status as European Green Capital. Photo: Paul Box

“I have history with this bridge. We covered it in Fog in 2015 to highlight our changing climate with the Japanese artist and octogenarian Fujiko Nakaya.

“I vividly remember the taste of cloud, the flailing, smiling kids charging at you, as they emerged from the mist, and trying to engineer the fog to perform for a live BBC Breakfast broadcast at 6 am on a dark winter morning.

“But the city has history with this bridge too, and these days it’s that legacy I reflect on, from our Architecture Centre home on the harbour. Vanessa Kisuule ponders on this lonely memorial to Pero Jones in our Hidden Harbour commission.”

Bristol Old Vic

Bristol Old Vic has recently reopened following lockdown. Photo: Haworth Tompkins

“Who doesn’t love the drama of the new theatre and bar? Steve Tompkins the Bristol Old Vic’s designer, is a poet of the built form.

“Steve was the first ever architect to be named as “The Most Influential Person in British Theatre” by The Stage, beating the likes of Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber to the title.

“The RIBA award winning Bristol Old Vic tipping him into national treasure status. It’s a living case-study of what great architecture can do for a place. I love to just sit there and stare at all the angles. What a gift Steve, Emma Stenning and Tom Morris have given to our city.”

The Gallimaufry

The Gallimaufry’s kitchens were used by Bristol Food Union during lockdown. Photo: James Koch

“I grew up a massive music geek, clutching at record sleeves, blowing dust from the covers. So the Galli is a spiritual home, and the place I end up, scribbling funding proposals, after-hours (I have my own table).

“James Koch and the team have built a home for artists, for musicians, for beer lovers and foodies, for the local community. It’s astonishing. I’ve seen hungry folk given food, “unemployable” folk given work, lonely folk given friendship. We could all ‘be more Galli’. Their Monday nights inspired us to revive Bristol Folk Festival.”


Thekla encouraged Anna’s move from science into culture. Photo: Khali Ackford.

“The northern soul night Espionage, complete with cheese toasties served on the top deck cemented my choice of Bristol for a PhD. Thekla then kick-started my move from science to culture.

“I programmed their 25th anniversary birthday concert, before launching the first LGBT club night (Mutiny) at a major venue there back in 2009 with friends. Backing from Thekla management lit the kindling for us to start Pride in Bristol.”

Temple Church

Temple Church is a recent favourite of Anna’s. Photo: The Architecture Centre

“A new favourite is Temple Church. An oasis tucked just off Victoria Street. Founded by the Knights Templar, a living war memorial, and a place for sanctuary and nature.

“Every 100 years or so it reclaims a place, centre stage in the city. I’ve been lucky enough to sit inside the ruins regularly this year, working on a secret new project with Steve Tompkins and English Heritage.

“You can hear more of that secret at Bristol Open Doors this year. Historic Bristol – Through Time & Temple.”

Main photo: Anna Rutherford

Read more: My Bristol Favourites: Colin Moody

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