The most recent bank holiday weekend saw the return of the annual free-entry Spike Island ‘Open Studios’ exhibition in Bristol.
The event hosted hundreds of different artists, community projects and creatives to display their work in open style workspaces to the public and allow people to get interactive with the projects.
As well as the public being included in the work in the exhibition, many of the projects also have community-driven goals behind them.
The gallery consistently boasts high-quality artwork and exhibitions for viewing purposes, with a range of fascinating different walk through exhibitions on display.
However, the main focus of this particular exhibition has always been tied to a community-driven aspect.
The art projects were separated throughout the gallery in individual studio style cubicles, allowing you to walk from one to the other to investigate and explore.
Many of them were based around the idea of the exhibition-goers being able to step into the area and really get involved with the project.
One of the more noticeable workshops taking place, named ‘Factory’, was an area where members of the public were being invited to take part in helping a group with woodwork and sanding down of wooden blocks. Founder, Jo Lathwood, explained what the workshop was about:
“I’m running a project called the ‘Factory’, which is part of a larger commission to build a pavilion in Yate.
The Factory is something which is open for the public to come and get involved with and help”
Jo talked about the aim of the project: “We’re working with about 4000 pieces of wood to produce modular bricks that will then build the construction later on.
All of the bricks are from building sites and are all made out of off-cuts that might have been thrown away. So, it’s based around the idea if trying to reuse materials.”
This wasn’t the only project of the day with a community goal more in mind than an actual art display. A campaign focussed project that was on display was from a new charity called ‘Bricks’, Jack Gibbon explained what the project is aiming at:
“So, I’m working with Bricks Bristol, which is a new art and community charity looking at how trinity road police station, in Old Market, could have an arts and community feature.
The buildings currently for sale and we’ve put in forward a bid as a charity to buy the building and repurpose it with a mixture of artist studios, exhibition event spaces, community nursery and bike project.”
The event has an obvious community feel to it, with the exhibition aiming to inspire creativity in the public and push community projects at the same time.
This feeling was more relevant than ever this time around, with discussions earlier this year having taken place regarding the allocation of creating funding from the Bristol council after they were awarded millions for arts and culture funding.
The possible organisations the funding could be awarded to around Bristol include the likes of the Watershed, Arnolfini and of course Spike Island.
However, there has been speculation expressed by staff members that Spike Island wouldn’t receive much, if any at all, of the funding.
Jack Gibbon gave his opinion on arts funding in Bristol:
“We are actually lucky that Bristol city council still has an art department, as art departments have been stripped out of many councils nationally.
But there’s always more that can be done. There’s so much arts and culture in this city so I would say they should appropriately leverage the funding up rather than down, but it’s generally gone down by about 20% every couple of years.
We need to support young artistic talent in this city and around the area so that we follow on and help people to make the maximum out of their creative talents, which would benefit the whole of the city.
I think the city trades on our cultural capital to bring in big business and to bring developments in but we don’t look at how that value can be kept by the artists themselves. This is our city, we can’t have it change because of lack of investment.”
Stay up to date with the exhibitions taking place at Spike Island going forward by having a look at their website.