Spike Island


Taking place over the bank holiday weekend of 2-5 May, the inaugural BRISTOL ART WEEKENDER will showcase Bristol as one of the most vibrant and flourishing centres for art in the UK. The Weekender’s FREE programme of performance, sound, video, film, painting and sculpture, reflects the richness of the visual arts in Bristol.

The weekender coincides with Spike's annual Open Studios Weekend, which offers the chance to glimpse into the studios of over 70 artists and creative practitioners based in the building. That same weekend we also open our new exhibition MI!MS (Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity) by Andy Holden, a large-scale installation featuring film, sculpture and performance exploring the output and legacy of the artistic movement which Holden founded with friends before training as an artist in 2003. We're thrilled that Holden’s band The Grubby Mitts will give a rare performance in the Spike gallery to kick off the Friday night celebrations.

Elsewhere in the city Jeremy Deller and JMW Turner will be vying for top billing at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery with Deller’s Venice Biennale exhibition English Magic alongside an intimate show of eight exquisite Turner watercolours. Arnolfini present Between Hello and Goodbye: the Secret World of Sarah Records - a fascinating exhibition about the enigmatic 90s Bristol record label, including the premiere of Lucy Dawkins’ documentary about the label, My Secret World.

Encouraging us to venture beyond the galleries and museums, Situations invites us to seek the unexpected with two new works specially commissioned for the Weekender: Annika Kahrs’ Concert for the Birds in the Lord Mayors Chapel – a bold and stirring installation of 100 songbirds in audience to a piano recital of Franz Liszt’s Legende # 1, a solo piece of twitter-like trills - and French artist, Myrium Lefkovitz brings her performance group to stage Walk, Hands, Eyes– a series of intimate, one-to-one guided walks in which an individual is invited to experience the city in an entirely new way.

Bristol’s hidden gem, the Royal West of England Academy (England's only regional Royal Academy of Art) will stage a major multi-disciplinary survey show of British artists' responses to the sea, from Turner and Constable to the best of contemporary talent. Bristol’s growing number of critically significant commercial galleries contribute to the programme too: Celebrated British artist, Richard Woods continues to traverse the boundaries between art, architecture and design, transforming WorksIProjects’ space, and nomadic gallery, Antlers Gallery will be featuring work by Karin Krommes. The Weekender will also, spotlight several of Bristol’s dynamic range of artist-run initiatives, including Hand in Glove, Showroom Projects, BS Deathdrive, Spike Associates and Bristol Biennial.

Director of Visual Arts for Arts Council England, Peter Heslip says:
'The Bristol Art Weekender promises to be a new fixture on the UK contemporary art calendar. This uniquely Bristolian take on a biennial is a prime example of artists and visual arts leaders producing something greater together than any organisation could do alone. It responds to a flourishing audience for art, which is increasingly curious and open to encountering the work of artists in new contexts. It demonstrates a shared commitment to the city and desire to reveal the enormous amount of talent, which is there, year round. I think they're on to something here.'

Bristol’s mayor, George Ferguson, says:
'The Bristol Art Weekender is an exciting collaboration of Bristol’s visual arts sector. The wealth of visual arts on display in the city at any one time is inspiring and this new, four-day arts festival will further underpin the city’s cultural credentials.'

Phil Gibby, Area Director for South West Arts Council England, says:
'The Bristol Art Weekender is a very natural development for the city. It offers people from across Bristol the chance to engage with art in new and exciting ways, and also showcase the extraordinary array of talent on offer here. Do get involved!'

The Weekender also sees the launch of Bristol’s first Art Map, a quarterly guide to the best of visual art across the city, alongside a range of self-guided trails that offer the chance to personalise your experience of the festival.