Spike Island

Artspace Ltd. archive at the Bristol Record Office

Artspace Ltd. – now Spike Island – was founded in 1976 by a group of Bristol-based painters, sculptors and printmakers who were inspired to create a space for working artists in the heart of the city.

The Artspace Ltd. collection of records, ranging from exhibition publicity to photographs and slides, is now housed at the Bristol Record Office thanks to a Business Archives Council cataloguing grant. Bristol Record Office recruited archivist Ellie Finch to catalogue the collection, with guidance from the Spike Island team and artists past and present.

The fascinating history of Spike Island begins with the artist cooperative who secured the provision of affordable studio spaces in the disused warehouses close to Bristol’s docks. Using SPACE studios in London as a model (founded by artists in 1968 to establish affordable studio space amongst the old dock warehouses of the South Bank), the group brought together a new generation of practising visual artists within Bristol.

Nearly forty years of development and change have seen Artspace Bristol Ltd. change from offering 17 artist’s studios in a disused Victorian industrial warehouse on the Bristol docks with (1976), into Spike Island Artspace Ltd., occupying an 80,000 sq. ft. former Brooke Bond tea processing factory (1998), with workspace for hundreds of artists, designers, printmakers, cultural tenants and students. 

Find out more about the collection now housed at Bristol Record Office.

Sign up to Spike Island’s mailing list to hear about our plans to celebrate 40 years of Spike Island Artspace Ltd. / Artspace Ltd. in 2016.