I had meant to post this earlier but I have been a little tired from all the travelling and absorbing new places! Along the lines of a previous post on views from the East Coast main line train, I am adding a few from the Bristol to Brighton train.
First of all a musical sighting.. I was wondering why I had had various Bonzo Dog band songs in my head when I was staying in Bristol, now I know as I had been seeing buses with signs for Keynsham, the title of one of their albums!
I also enjoyed passing through Bath, as you can see a little of the sweeping crescents and houses clinging to the hill, constructed with that famous creamy Bath stone. Here is a glimpse through the window, over the cricket ground.
I was really happy to see this…
I think this is the Westbury white horse, though do correct me if I am wrong. I have happy memories of seeing the Kilburn white horse when I was little, so I do like spotting these additions to the landscape.
After only just finding out about these, and mentioning them earlier today, look what I got in my change today when I went to St Nicholas’ Market 🙂 Aren’t they fabulous?
Today I went to three museums… the Architecture Centre (well, I would, wouldn’t I.. the planner and conservation-ist in me can’t help it!), Arnolfini and M-Shed. I also wandered along the river and took lots of photographs.
At The Architecture Centre they have an ever changing programme of events and exhibitions, sited in a harbourside building. The current exhibition focuses on what the future of the city could look like, and invites lots and lots of post it note contributions to add ideas to the city map. There are showcases of successful environmental schemes and projects, I was amused and intrigued to see “The Bristol pound”, first of all it looks really aesthetically pleasing, but secondly it is run on the basis of community good and helps support local businesses. Great idea! A small display on “Bristol Opening Doors” was really interesting as it invited people to contribute stories and “favourite buildings”, and also showcased a new app which is a walking trail (available on www.bristolopeningdoors.org ). I enjoyed the illustrations and design of this, and of course the wonderful buildings! I am starting to recognise more and more of the streetscape and landmarks here, and this will help discover more. Chatting briefly to the friendly staff there I also was given a flyer for a website called “Know Your Place: Learning and Sharing Information about Historic Bristol”, run by English Heritage and Bristol City Council. I am looking forward to exploring this properly, as yesterday (on my visit to the City Art Gallery and Museum) I was fascinated with the historic maps… this site lets you overlay and integrate different maps from various eras. Oooh! Just what I am after, as I can spot the places where my ancestors lived. Ideal for “Are You Here” research!
This was my first visit to Arnolfini, I have walked past it many times but always en route to somewhere else or whizzing past on my bike. I enjoyed the Susanne Kriemann’s Modelling (Construction School) exhibition, it brings a little of an “art- planning- environment” discussion into a contemporary art environment. The photographs of quarries were quite spectacular, many of the works are designed to provoke discussion on archives, and also problem solving in design education.
M-Shed could keep me amused for hours, it is full of all sorts of historical bits and pieces, I really did get lost in history. Interestingly for me, there was a whole section on Bristol people and families, saying “it’s important to know where you’ve come from so that you know where you’re going”… the question was posed “why did you leave?”.
In the case of my family I suspect it was for work as it would have to be a fairly major reason such as this to move to the opposite end of the country. There are themed galleries at M-Shed, Bristol people, Bristol life, Bristol places (and a special exhibition, currently on chocolate!), all of them have real objects to explore, some thought provoking interactive displays (I loved the one on “what makes a Bristolian”.. very funny mixtures of answers come out of that!), video and multimedia and also lots of transport to explore. No “please keep off” signs here. I am even starting to recognise the different Bristol districts, having passed through them by bike or bus at various points of my several visits over the years, it is nice to recognise things in a “technically not home” city! M-shed cafe is worth a visit, local produce, family friendly, vegan friendly and lovely views.
Oh, and did I mention the view from the roof terrace….
This is a “part one” documenting my work for the sculptural pieces I am doing as part of my current project, planning for an exhibition in July at Gladstone’s Land in Edinburgh. The works form part of a filmed and photographic work, incorporated into an e-book which will be debuted at the exhibition and then released online after this.
I have now completed the letters, shown here with their first coat of paint.
The letters of the project “Are you here” are arranged and re-arranged to form various statements, at three temporary on site locations in Bristol and Brighton, where two lines of my family come from.
These works are designed to question the nature of family and genealogical links to places, making us wonder whether it is a coincidence that we are instinctively drawn to places or if we actively try to create links with places where we have connections (no matter how distant or close).
I was amused to see this owl on a boat by M-Shed museum in Bristol yesterday, he was watching over the city. I spent yesterday meeting up with friends old and new, doing lots of sketches, and also acquired the materials to make my temporary sculptures (more on that later).
Cycling is so much fun in Bristol, even despite some of the crazy hills! It is seen to be the norm here, it is not unusual and as I said in a previous post I feel like a proper Bristolian now I’m on my bike and exploring the city. Someone even asked me for directions yesterday, I must look like a local now 🙂
Some of the many reasons why cycling here is so much fun:
- there are cycle lanes on most roads
- traffic lights have a “cycle” light as well
- the provision of cycle racks is plentiful (and they are all well used, sometimes you have to go elsewhere to find one, which could be annoying but as a visitor it actually lifts my heart)
- dropped kerbs are everywhere, useful not just for cyclists but for those with limited mobility and with push chairs; less obstacles to overcome
- shared bike and pedestrian routes seem to be the norm and are well signposted
- there is a bike culture (there is a bike cafe, I have seen numerous bike shops and repair centres and even specialist shops)
- people use bikes for everything.. yesterday I saw someone who appeared to be moving house from the level of what they were carrying (full panniers, guitar on back, basket on front, bag over handlebars), and also someone who appeared to be making some sort of protest carrying a billboard on their back making a comment about something (they whizzed past me so quickly I did not actually get to see what they were about!)
- the provision of cycle tracks and traffic free paths is extensive
- there are cycle events (I saw bike tag yesterday and there is a “biggest bike ride” planned in June, which has been running for 20 years)
- even pop up events have cycle parking (or so it seemed in Queens Square, where there is a food and drink event in huge tents)
- cyclists are friendly and smiley people here and people of all ages and backgrounds are out and about with friends and family
- Sustrans HQ is here (an added “nice little sustainable transportation fact”)
“Bring bring”.. my bike bell toots with joy.
I am happy to say that yesterday I saw balloons in Bristol, for I have always wanted to see them since I picked up a postcard years ago of the Clifton Suspension Bridge at the time of the balloon festival. One blog which I follow (Picturing England) had a recent post about this very subject, so now I share my own pictures in delight. The seagulls seemed to be soaring with them, the early evening light was wonderful.
I am in Bristol to do some research and artworks as part of my current project (which finishes with an exhibition at Gladstone’s Land, Edinburgh on the Royal Mile from 2nd to 7th of July, do come along!). The project is called “Are You Here” and is a genealogical journey exploring family history, identity and place through illustration and digital media. I have discovered in family tree research which my mum and dad and I have been doing for a number of years that we had 19th century relatives from Bristol on one branch, and early 20th century relatives, two of whom were artists, in Brighton on another branch. Castle Park is now sited on what used to be the area where my family once lived.