A creative tour around Bristol
"We asked painters to take a fresh look at unfamiliar places and unusual perspectives around Bristol, and we are delighted with what they have come back with."
This is Michael Porter, organiser of the Bristol Art Prize – a new art competition that asked local artists to submit striking and unusual views of the city.
A total of 114 painters from Bristol and beyond have entered more than 200 paintings for the competition, and you can see the entries in their entirety at the Guildhall Arts Centre in the Old City for the next month.
More than half of the artists who have submitted work are based in the Bristol area – but others have been lured from Northumberland, Cornwall and western Ireland to have a crack at depicting our fair city.
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The painters were each allocated one of 34 locations around town, and asked to produce at least one work inspired by what they saw there. They could also submit other works from other Bristol locations of their choosing.
And the results make for a remarkable portrait of the city. "The response has been overwhelming," Michael continues. "The standard of work is exceptional, and we are delighted with all the entries.
"Visitors to the exhibition will recognise most of the locations shown, but challenging artists to work in places they would never have chosen for themselves has produced a new take on many apparently familiar places and views. The artistry to be found beneath St Philip's Causeway, for example, contrasts sharply with the olde-worlde facades of St Michael's Hill, while impressions of King Street in all its life and vibrancy provide a counterpoint to misty views of the Suspension Bridge."
More off-kilter highlights include a waterside view of the Royal Navy vessel HMS Arethusa as it would have appeared moored at Narrow Quay one morning in the 18th century.
There are also a brace of paintings, in contrasting styles, showing life as seen from the platforms at Temple Meads station.
The exhibition venue is the Guildhall Arts Centre – the Guildhall and Assize Courts building in Broad Street, whose courtrooms, meeting rooms, corridors and cells are enjoying a temporary new life as an arts centre until work begins, early next year, on converting the site into a luxury hotel.
Final competition judging will have taken place as you read this, with the painting that best captures the spirit of modern Bristol receiving a £5,000 prize. £500 prizes will also be awarded to the best works depicting St Nicholas Market, the Harbourside and Cabot Circus. All the paintings on show will also be on sale, with prices ranging from £150 to £5,000 and 10 per cent of all sales going to the Prince's Trust charity.
"These paintings show that art can be found everywhere," Michael concludes.
"From the cafes of St Nicholas Market via the intricate mechanisms of Junction Lock to views of Park Street in the rain, artists have found a rich, diverse range of unusual and eye-catching views of the city."
Art in Bristol - Bristol Art Prize, Guildhall Arts Centre, Small Street, Bristol, from September 28