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Arnolfini - est 1961

Four days celebrating art across the city from 2-5 May 2014.

Taking place over the May bank holiday weekend 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.

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. Across the city, renowned art space Spike Island builds on the ever popular Open Studios Weekend, offering the chance to glimpse behind the scenes of over 70 artists’ studios and unveiling three new temporary works commissioned especially for the weekend.

Meanwhile in Spike Island’s enviable gallery, Andy Holden presents film, large-scale sculpture and performance exploring the output and legacy of the MI!MS (Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity) artistic movement, which Holden founded with friends before training as an artist in 2003. In addition, Holden’s band The Grubby Mitts will give a rare performance in the Spike gallery to kick off the Friday night celebrations. Just a short ferry ride across the Harbour, Arnolfini present Between Hello and Goodbye: the Secret World of Sarah Records – a fascinating exhibition about the enigmatic 90s Bristol record label, including the preview of Lucy Dawkins’ documentary about the label, My Secret World and performances from selected artists.

Encouraging us to venture beyond the gallery and museum, 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.

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 programming a tightly selected group show including the work of Karin Krommes and Geoff Diego Litherland. The Weekender will also, spotlight several of Bristol’s dynamic range of artist-run initiatives, including Hand in GloveThe Parlour Showrooms, 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. Tweet us @BrisArtMap.

Further information and full weekend programme will be announced on 19 March.

Join the mailing list here.

In partnership with the city’s primary visual arts venues, artist-run initiatives and arts producers, including Antlers Gallery, Arnolfini, Bristol Festival of Ideas, Bristol Museums Galleries & Archives, Bristol Biennial, BV Studios, Field Art Projects, Future Perfect, Hand in Glove, Royal West of England Academy, Spike Island, Spike Associates, The Parlour Showrooms and Works|Projects.

Admission and booking details

FREE entry to exhibitions, installations and studios excluding RWA (free ‘open gallery’ event on Bank Holiday Monday tbc). Some events may be ticketed. Details will be available from 19th March.

Funders, supporters & sponsors

We gratefully acknowledge the support of Arts Council England, Art Fund, Bristol City Council, Bristol Ferry, Bristol Festival of Ideas, Clifton Hotels, Frameworks and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.