This exhibition is an exploration into a city and its people. Art, design and architecture all play an important part in a cohesive look into history, future possibilities and ideas. Architectural models allow us to visualise and interpret the place we inhabit while challenging our ideas about how much time we spend in it and how it limits experience and space. Suitable for most designers and artists, the exhibition has theories that make us think differently about our environments and how we have previously constructed them.
Different perspectives are offered in the form of installations, sculptures, film, talks, documentation, text, collage, performances, family activities and walks. There is also an accompanying text by Jennifer Kabat as well as off-site commissions.
These works, situated throughout Bristol, invite viewers to recapture the sense of wonder that gazing upon a new place brings. This delving into the future of the city is pitched as something that we are supposed to identify with and letting the viewers engage their imagination goes some way in helping to achieve this.
Even inside the confines of the Arnolfini we are asked to think big when confronted with a large model of the city centre and an imagined plan for a museum in Castle Park. This is accompanied by models, documents, photographs and videos, all related to or looking at Bristol’s distinct colourful history as well as its imagined future. Having a single pair of headphones for each TV and obscuring anyone else from viewing feels very fitting for a space where the overriding feeling is the sense of congestion we feel everyday.
Doing Things Separately Together is a collaboratively produced set of maps made from memory. The project strives to show the many ways in which different social groups see Bristol, while simultaneously occupying the same space, some with more subjective information and others with statistical data. These look at everything from Bristol’s banking history, carnivals and surveillance to how football divides the city.
Five off-site commissions are to be implemented in locations across Bristol to spark discussion and again try to coax us into seeing the city in a different light. The M32 may not seem like the most likely place for a performance, but it makes Jeremiah Day’s mix of dance, song and spoken word all the more relevant as he draws attention to how it divides parts of Bristol, the site’s history and the houses that were demolished to build the M4. This happened on the 19th July and is shown in the ground floor gallery.
Another off-site piece is by Kate Newby, titled Mr and Mrs Hands, a series which intends to inspire us to look more into our surroundings. Interventions, gestures and objects explore the role that architecture plays in shaping thought and perception. These will be installed on four sites across the city in overlooked or surprising spaces.
Finally, the installation of harps by Gabriel Lester situated outside the Arnolfini gives a voice to one of our silent cohabitants that we often share the city with. Wind as an invisible force is given little thought unless peaking at extremes, but nonetheless shapes our experiences and environment and is now given the possibility of shaping our audible experience as well. A talk by Lester is being held on the 29th October and is free for UWE staff and students with ID.
This is a project that everyone should get involved in; whether you’re a fine artist, architecture, photographer or none of the above, go and rediscover your city!
The Promise can be seen until Sunday 9th November at The Arnolfini, 11am-6pm. Free.
By Emma Farr