Spike Island

Spike Island Open 2012Across the weekend


5 to 7 May 2012, 11am–5pm


Free, no booking required

Event type


Spring is in the air, which means that it’s once again time for Spike Island’s annual Open. Throughout the year you might enjoy coming to our exhibitions and events, taking part in an activity, or having a meal in our café, but there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes at Spike Island than you might realise. This popular three day event invites visitors to explore the areas of the building that are normally closed to the public and to meet the people who work in these spaces.

Take a peek into the studios and offices of artists, designers, filmmakers, animators, printmakers and other creative practitioners based here. See their work and have a chat with them about what they do. Have a go at producing something yourself in one of our hands-on activities, attend a talk or discussion, or indulge in a treat from one of the pop-up cafés dotted around the building.

The following spaces are open each day, and you can see separate schedules for opening times and events on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Join us also on the evening of Friday 4 May for a preview from 6 to 9pm, followed by a party till late. This is part of the Harbourside Arts Night held in partnership with Arnolfini, Picture This, Works|Projects and Bristol Diving School.

Download the full Open programme →

Looking and talking

Artists’ Studios

Over 80 artists open their working spaces to the public, sharing their processes and inspirations alongside recent projects. Special features for the Open include:

  • Each studio group hosts an exhibition of members’ work. Top Floor Studios have invited Bristol Diving School to curate a show, while Sculpture Studios present an exhibition of anonymous small scale works available for purchase. The artists’ names will be revealed after the sale is completed!

  • Rebecca Swindell presents an installation of new work, Wall Drawing Chronicles 12 to 25, in the ground floor yard.

  • Rod Maclachlan displays like being, a new installation specially created for the Open in which he utilises the captivating qualities of large format slide projection to investigate visual perception. The subject matter of his images – landscape and still life studies – creates a dialogue with painting traditions, whilst the use of this analogue media reinforces an awareness of process, immediacy and physicality. Much of Maclachlan’s work explores the interplay between observation and imagination, as well as the tensions that exist between physical and virtual spaces.

  • A web-only screening programme of artists’ moving image work selected by artist Sean Edwards.

Spike Design

Members of Spike Design present their work and highlights of the last year in a large-scale banner. Find out more and peruse their products at their information table, and join them for a table tennis tournament on Sunday.

Associates Space

Members of this network of artists, curators, writers and other creative practitioners have invited two peer groups to transform the Associates Space for the Open weekend with the aim of promoting inquiry and dialogue.

  • The Library of Independent Exchange is an independent reference library based in Plymouth. This weekend they present a selection of publications from their permanent collection of over 300 contemporary art publications. The aims of the Library of Independent Exchange are to develop discussions and exchange exploring the processes of publishing, collaboration, and dissemination.

  • Members of The Lombard Method, a studio and project space in Birmingham, invite you to join them for Flap Jacques Derrida, the third incarnation of an ongoing project that uses a modifiable and portable stand as a point for opening conversation. They distribute both printed Derrida texts and flapjacks to visitors throughout the weekend. The group seeks to develop individual practice through critical dialogue and group interaction, and to engage with other artists and audiences through a programme of residencies, exhibitions, and events.

  • Actagram are Bristol-based producers of collaborative publications and events. For the Open 2012 they have invited 12 Spike Associates to make work that references a future, virtual or pending exhibition for a new series of printed materials, Pamphlets for Latent Exhibitions. These include contributions from Phil Owen, Annabelle Craven-Jones, Marie Toseland and Hannah James, among others, and are distributed throughout the weekend from the Associates Space.

Speakers’ Corner

Roll up, roll up for short but sweet introductions to members of the Spike Island community and special invited guests. See the full schedule here over the Open weekend.

Spike Print Studio

Visit this unique work space to see demonstrations of printing techniques, to find out how you can get involved and to see CHROMA, an exhibition of work by studio members. Throughout the weekend you can take part in Print for a Pound and buy tickets for Monday’s prize draw to win a course of your choice, with ticket money going to towards new equipment for the learning programme. 

Eating and drinking

Spike Café

Spike Café serves its regular tasty range of salads, cakes and drinks alongside a barbeque.

La Bonne Crêpe

This traditional crêperie serves fresh pancakes with a variety of sweet and savoury toppings.

Mother's Brew Bar

This mobile stand serves up fresh coffee made with beans from local roasters Extract and a selection of sweet treats.


Picture This

A newly commissioned 16mm film by French performance artist and filmmaker, Jimmy Robert, consensus rouge noir (Bristol), is exhibited in the Picture This Studio. Robert also discusses his work in an event on Saturday. Open 1-6pm. The exhibition continues at Picture This until 17 June.


In his first exhibition at Works|Projects, Magnus Quaife presents 1968 and Other Myths, a new series of paintings that considers the power of the image in relation to events or moments that have helped shape our cultural myths. The work marries images of student protests, rock concerts, art performances and political rallies with the seemingly insignificant and forgotten to create a new kind of history painting which investigates the separation of images from their meaning. Open 12-5pm. The exhibition continues until 16 June.

Bristol Diving School

Bristol Diving School opens its doors to nine artists’ studios and an exhibition of members and recent UWE photography graduates and in association with the Bristol Festival of Photography.


Superpower: Africa in Science Fiction is a group exhibition that surveys the recent tendency for artists and filmmakers to apply the forms and concerns of science fiction to narratives situated in the African context. Open 11am to 6pm.