Spike Island Gallery
Despite being so close to the city, Spike Island feels like it's own little world, separated from Bristol's harbourside by the River Avon's mossy green stream. It's a small island filled with ship builders, workshops, theatrical costume designers and most notably, Banksy's 'A Girl with a Pearl Earring'. It's muted, industrial atmosphere feels like the ideal home for Spike Island Gallery, surrounded by artists, craftsmen and creators - people skilled with their hands.
Originally 'Artspace Bristol', the gallery was formed in the mid-70s by a group of local painters, printmakers and sculptors, arranging affordable studio space for fellow artists. The first studio was only a mere few streets down from its current location, McArthur’s Steel and Metal warehouse on Gas Ferry Road.
Bristol Printmakers opened a space where Artpace members could use their equipment at no cost and there began the collaborative and supportive ethos that Spike Island now prides itself on. To this day, artists can rent affordable studio space, access specialist equipment and receive practical, hands-on help from the gallery. Spike Island is now one of Europe's largest studio complexes, with 70 artists, over 35 creative businesses, over 160 Associates, and hundreds of MA/BA Fine Art students.
The space feels calm and undisturbed as visitors float past in a state of introspection and concentration. Paintings, prints, sculptures and installations are surrounded by expansive white, glossy walls and floors. Entering each room is akin to entering a new world, and volunteers are more than happy to talk about each in length.
After a stroll around the gallery, head to their cafe next door, Bowl of Plenty, and enjoy a lunch made from local, seasonal ingredients with a coffee made from whatever dairy or alternative milk you fancy. Be sure to pick up a selection of free, local magazines and newspapers on display in reception to flick through whilst you wait for your food - I'd recommend Circus Journal.
Spike Island, 133 Cumberland Road, Bristol, BS1 6UX