not well-defined but its population is of the order of 500,000 - about 10% of the region’s. Bristol is not a city I enjoy going to but it is well-known for its art scene – Banksy is a Bristolian – and some current shows seemed worth a visit.
The Arnolfini arts centre moved to the run-down docks area of central Bristol 40 years ago and regards itself as having set a precedent for Tate Liverpool, the BALTIC and even the Guggenheim Bilbao as a force for regeneration. Looking at this building, just round the corner from the Arnolfini, it’s clear that there is still more to be done.
Richard Long TIME AND SPACE. Long ,like Banksy, is a Bristol artist with a global reputation – for example, CAPC in Bordeaux owns nine of his works including two stone lines (Slate Line Cornwall 1981 left) – but has had shows at the Arnolfini since 1972. Long’s work can be described as conceptualist and minimalist but it also conveys the artist’s personal response to his environment. There seem to be three main areas of activity. He is probably best-known for his sculptures – assemblies of stones in the landscape or indoors, like Time and Space (2015, below) created for this exhibition:
and sculptural images like Bristol 1967/2015, recreated for it:
There are also some of his textworks:
and drawings using mud – on driftwood:
and on a larger scale directly onto the gallery walls in the form of Muddy Water Falls, 2015 made with mud from the banks of the Avon:
Long has also created Boyhood Line, 170 metres of white limestone on The Downs at Clifton in Bristol as part of the Arnolfini show.
Boyhood Line and Richard Long TIME AND SPACE continue until mid-November.
At the RWA (Royal West of England Academy) in Clifton are two exhibitions which will soon be ending. The first is Peter Randall-Page and Kate MccGwire. At first sight, one of Randall-Page’s sculptures, Wing (2009 below), has something in common with Long’s arrangements of stones, but the terra cotta tile arrangement was inspired by a microscopic study of a grasshopper wing:
The bronzes in the foreground, Inside Out (2014, above), like much of his work, are inspired by biological shapes and forms. Kate MccGwire draws from nature even more directly making complex abstract geometries with feather surfaces. Skirmish (2015, below) is made with pheasant feathers and shown in an antique dome:
while Gyre (2012, below) was made over four years with crow feathers:
Peter Randall-Page and Kate MccGwire ends on 10 September.
The other RWA show is Into the Fields: The Newlyn School and Other Artists which was at Penlee House Penzance earlier as Sons and Daughters of the Soil. I’ve posted about art in Cornwall several times and the Newlyn artists as recently as 2013. On this occasion the net has been spread wider than Penlee’s excellent collection to fetch in other painters en plein air under the influence of the Barbizon School with works like George Clausen’s In the Orchard (1871, below left) and Henry La Thangue’s Landscape Study (c1889, below right), neither set in Cornwall:
There are, as to be expected, quite a few works by Harold Harvey, for example, Blackberrying (1917, below left) and The Clay Pit (1923, below right):
And, of course, Samuel John ‘Lamorna’ Birch, for example his Morning Fills the Bowl (1926, below top) and Laura Knight’s impressive if busy Spring (1916-20, below lower):
The model in this picture is Ella Naper, better-known in the same artist’s famous Artist and Model.
Into the Fields: The Newlyn School and Other Artists ends on 6 September.
ADDENDUM 11 September
If my reservations about Bristol seem unwarranted to those who like the city, they should read Bristol, the European capital of green nannying and bureaucracy, in the Spectator on 5 September by a Bristolian, Anthony Whitehead – and the comments.