Ashley Clinton Barker-Mill Trust
Arnolfini Gallery is supported by a linked charity, the Ashley Clinton Barker Mills Trust (ACBMT). The Trust has an independent board of Trustees chaired by Thomas Sheppard. The Trust has been in receipt of funds in a variety of ways historically but the majority of the current funds are derived from the sale of Bush House to University of the West of England, Bristol in 2015. As the brief history below outlines this reflects the way that Bush House was originally purchased via the Trust in 1975.
The Trust’s principle object is to ‘support’ Arnolfini and it does this primarily by making annual grants from the income earned on its investments to make quarterly payments. It has also been able to make small fund one- off capital grants to help the Arnolfini transition to its current financial model.
History and relationship
Arnolfini founders Jeremy and Annabel Rees were first introduced to the artists and benefactors Peter and Caroline Barker-Mill in 1963, by the London gallerist Lesley Waddington. It was a fortuitous meeting that was the catalyst in allowing Arnolfini to develop from a small volunteer-run private gallery into a major international arts centre.
Peter Barker-Mill was the first elected Chair of Arnolfini’s Council of Management. Key to cementing this commitment was seeing Jeremy’s New British Sculpture Bristol (1965), curated as an early instance of contemporary sculpture being exhibited outside in public spaces across the city centre, accessible to people whether they thought they were interested in art or not. It is not difficult to connect this with the values Peter Barker-Mill learned during his training at the Grosvenor School, a progressive art college in Pimlico which from 1925-1940 championed printmaking as a means to make art works of the highest standard affordable for a broad audience. In 1967, he would initiate the Peter Barker-Mill Trust, to provide funding for Jeremy to leave his post teaching typography at the Bath Academy of Art and run Arnolfini as Director full-time.
The Barker-Mills remained dedicated, hands-on Council members throughout the dynamic early decades of Arnolfini, which would see it rapidly expand – Annabel remembers Peter and Caroline laying carpet tiles in the W-Shed, Arnolfini’s home from 1973-75, where Arnolfini’s cinema programme began and they were key to securing Arnolfini’s move to Bush House, our home since 1975. And in 1979, they generously gifted farmland from Peter’s family estates near Lymington, in Hampshire, the rental income from which would support the expenses of running an expanded organisation which by this time was attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors per year. Later, this land would be sold to support the purchase of Bush House in 2001, prior to the major redevelopment which created Arnolfini as we see it today.
The Barker-Mills supported other public arts organisations in the city, including the Bristol Old Vic, and Arts Space Studios, as well as supporting Nature Conservancies in Hampshire and Somerset. They also maintained their careers as artists, with Peter being commissioned to create a memorial for the Tank Corps at Bovington in Dorset.
ACBMT Activity 2018/19
This annual report details two forms of investment from the Trust: 4 quarterly payments derived from investment income of £64,319 and a one off grant of £100,000. The capital grant covered development costs to help drive new income streams and contributed towards core staffing costs and business planning support to enable the organisation to implement its transition plan.
Ms Anna Southall
Mr Thomas Sheppard (Chair)
Mr James McAuliffe
Mr James William Myatt
Mr Geoffrey James Clements