Bristol has always been a City overflowing with Artists and Creatives of various types which makes it all the more surprising that there are few spaces for exhibiting non traditional artwork. Excluding the Arnolfini and Spike Island which tend to curate major international exhibitions years in advance, Centrespace is really the only other permanent space large enough and suitable for Installation, sculpture and video works. There is also a long standing tradition for Artists in Bristol to be quite proactive in organising Art Trails, Setting up studios and creating Pop Up events long before that term existed!
This all has the positive advantage that those in the know will always be willing to visit non traditional or paid for spaces without the prejudice that has sometimes be associated with such proactive ventures in some Cities in the past. The Pop Up shop & event phenomena of recent years has also added to the acceptability and excitement of such events.
Having achieved the fortunate position of Galleries paying me & supporting the installations in various ways it was something of an experiment, a leap of faith, to return to a self curated and invijilated exhibition. With less than a month to organise, create new work, publicise and set up the show we had no way of knowing who would visit the exhibition or if it would be listed anywhere. Knowing that exhibitions of less than a weeks duration are rarely listed in National publications, I concentrated my efforts online and in local magazines and was fortunate enough to be a Venue magazine 'recommended' exhibition despite deciding not to send out my usual press release or images.
Centrespace Gallery is an excellent space with very good facilities but it is down an ancient long, and narrow, if atmospheric alleyway in the middle of Bristol. We knew in advance that the usual walk-by surprise element the sculptures in particular offer would be missing. We also discovered that the Gallery appears to have few frequent visitors, of the hundreds that came into the show, with the exception of Artists from the adjoining Studios, only a couple appeared to know of its existence and had visited before.
Overall the exhibition was well worth organising despite the short run up, the shop in particular with items I had made and Kevs Classic Comics area were very successful. We met some very interesting people and renewed old friendships. The complimentary mince pies were a really good opening conversation starter for browsers and potential collectors alike. There was no time to organise anything like our previously successful sponsorship deals and we knew we were unlikely to get anything like the numbers at previous openings as the Christmas (corporate, council and friends) party season came to a massive steaming head of Pound shop Santa hats on the very night we chose as there were no other real options with set up being on the Thursday night and Friday early morning. It was however a turnout of quality if not quantity!
Many big hearted thanks to Kev for his continued support and help. Cheers to a productive & successful New Year! New website design on it's way!