Colin Moody’s new book, The Great Bristol High Street, published in September by The History Press, documents the people living and working on Gloucester Road.
“The book I have made celebrates the people of Gloucester Road: the shoppers and traders who make it the vibrant and thriving cornucopia of independent businesses,” says Colin.
“As a photographer I am constantly drawn to this energetic environment. It has allowed me to make this visual record of the road.”
These are Colin’s top-five Bristol favourites:
“Stokes Croft can be everything you need or nothing to you. Depends. Over recent years, getting to know the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, I’ve learnt a lot more about this dynamic area. Some say it’s a few years past its prime as the trundle trolleys moving in at all hours can be heard as the new bass tone. Has it bumped that of the art, music and creativity? Has that hum gone? Not sure. Don’t think so. Any wall here can change into a wonderful artwork pocked with fly posters. A restaurant here cooked all the food and gave it all away to the homeless and those in need when Boris asked people to avoid restaurants back in the early Covid days, so there is heart here. A huge beating bass tone rich heart that will not be outplayed. Not yet.”
“I’m not gonna make it easy for you. You try and find the shop in this photo. It’s on or near to the Gloucester Road. One hell of a strip of indie businesses. From dawn to dusk there is always something going on on this road. And they need us now. I started to make my photo story about this street one dark winter morning at 5am and I was by 6am in a bakery’s vast cavernous ovens. I watched Amy the butcher sharpen her knife before laying out 12 feet of quality products and the papers all sorted, windows cleaned. Knew then this was a real community street. A place where shopping is just part of it. It’s a social act.”
“It’s not a proper gig if Jeff isn’t there. Some say. I miss the Thekla. It was the last gig I went to before lockdown. Bass heads all bouncing off the hull, sipping on gin and juice. Our music scene may be all grassroots now, but hasn’t all the best of Bristol always been so? I’m sure that what ever happens next we will jump in with both feet and support it. Why is the Thekla red? Because those who make our shows come alive, the technicians and all those behind the scenes are desperate. Its a red line. They need us now too. We may all need to go to gigs a lot more after all this.”
“Bristol punches above its weight in arts and culture. But we do tend to keep it here, for us. Nothing wrong with that. It’s healthy. It’s got people talking about us. But when I crave a huge national perspective of international art thinking as a fix, I come to the Arnolfini. Our society here is constantly enriched by a perspective from the outside. From another world of thinking. In this photo, Grayson Perry is asking us to think on about what art is. What is it? Fill this town with artists. Yes please. But always we need this source of next level thinking to add to the mix.”
The third bench from the bus stop by Sainsbury’s on the edge of Queen Square
“Lots of places to stop and chat in this city. Pick a bench. Sit down with someone who matters and be together. Why this bench? No big reason. But this city is amazing. You find someone who might have the same liberal mad tattooed way of existing in this crazy world, always spinning. But for a moment you can sit down and take it all in. You can be here, right now, in this city of sanctuary, and find another person who wants to be like you. Isn’t that just the best. So go find that special person. People. They are here. And then take a seat. Take it all in. Best feeling in the world.”
Main photo by Simon Boddy
Read more: Interview: Colin Moody