Bristol is Cass Art’s newest home, and a hub of creative energy, exhibitions and artist collectives. But one of the most intriguing projects at home in the city is the Bristol Creative Spaces Project – a legacy of the Capacity project started by Ruth Essex, which aimed to turn Bristol’s disused spaces into creative places.
Running since April 2014, the Creative Space Project offers affordable, enthralling spaces in which to show work, gaining artists exposure and the experience of running an exhibition or event. But what’s most interesting is that these spaces aren’t your average white-walled galleries. Quite the opposite, in fact.
One of them, The Edwardian Cloakroom, is an old public bathroom, preserved with its original features of a Victorian Edwardian tiled floor, high ceilings and a large mirror in the Ladies' side. The second, The Control Room, is a semi-circular cabin with a window running around its top half so that any exhibited work can be seen from the outside.
We wanted to take a closer look at these quirky artist spaces – to showcase the curiosity and genius of the Bristol art scene, as well as inspire you to go and check out these surreal places for yourselves.
THE EDWARDIAN CLOAKROOM
Located on Woodland Road, opposite the Esso Petrol station, there are two separate spaces that make up the surprisingly charming Edwardian Cloakroom.
The Gentleman’s Cloakroom entrance can be found just off the Park Row pavement through gated arches. The Ladies’ Cloakroom can be accessed through a separate entrance through a door at the end of the garden on the left side of the building on Woodland Road.
The Gentleman’s Cloakroom offers an open place space with a large glass, high-ceilinged space as well as two toilet cubicles for the artist to use for any creative need.
The Ladies’ Cloakroom consists of a washroom with three sinks, a mirror, a cloakroom attendants’ quarter and three individual toilet cubicles.
The Edwardian Cloakroom is open to the public and is free of charge, and the artist is usually there to greet visitors and talk about their work.
Bristol makers and artists have used this space previously for art exhibitions, interactive installations, pop up shops and performances. A particularly memorable show was held by Claudio Ahlers, where two models of black velvet genitalia measuring 7ft high were left for visitors to interact with and be photographed.
THE CONTROL ROOM
Found in the North Cabin on Redcliffe Bridge in Bristol, The Control Room isn’t actually open to be explored – it is in fact a self-contained space with viewing access, which is a great option to showcase work if the artist can’t be there to man the space every day.
Often used for video or installation work, a previous show by the street artist Boswell in collaboration with Klumpox transformed the space into a large light box, filling the set with dark fantasy style art and imagery.
It measures 5 metres wide by 9 metres in length, and there are two plug sockets available for use.
HOW DO I GET INVOLVED?
You can apply to use The Edwardian Cloakroom or The Control Room through the Creative Space application form. The details of your project will then be assessed by the Arts Team.
Due to the popularity of the programme, there is a seasonal calendar that the Arts Team need to work to.
Whilst anyone of any creative ability or background can apply to use the space, it’s important to note that priority will be given to artists local to the South West of England, to promote local artists.
If successful, it is free to use the space with a £50 deposit, and you’ll have the chance to show your work to passers-by, locals, tourists, art-lovers and any confused yet intrigued person who might wander into the space by accident.
Our Bristol art shop has just opened on Park Street, a ten minute walk from The Edwardian Cloak Room. We'd love to see you there, so please drop by to browse and ask about any of our art materials!
Apply to use either the Edwardian Cloakroom or the Control Room on the Bristol Creative Spaces website here.