Imaginative possibilities building immersive environments within existing walls in Bristol

Entering the realm of Bristol last month was an exciting prospect. Not only was I anticipating an eclectic scene of art and atmosphere, but was equally expecting the unexpected… and this is what I got!

Following a short trip to Centrespace Gallery in the heart of the city spying the gritty street art as we went along, we ventured over to the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery where we were stunned by the magnificent “New York City Apartment Corridor/Ground Floor plus Staircase” installation by Do Ho Suh.

A totally unique build consisting of life-sized fabrications of the various homes he has lived in around the world. With exact dimensions and detail from his home apartment in New York, nothing can prepare you for the sheer beauty of his immersive installation. Bringing to life the feeling of his personal space with the soft architecture of cloth fabrication, Do Ho Suh is bringing with him memories of place in a kind of architectural ‘ready-to-wear’. The line between the physical and imagined space is blurred. His work embodies a sense of unknown exploration in a space he knows so well along with this unshakeable feeling of ‘untouchable nostalgia’ infused into the silken material. The red colour too is mesmerising incorporating a fantastical element, yet still this sense of displacement prevails within the confines of the museum setting.

Refuelling at Spike Island’s cafe prepared us for the alternatively, lively exhibition named ‘Gewasserzeiten’ by Swiss-born artist Reto Pulfer. Combining drawings and paintings plus an array of studio materials alongside a huge, conceptual, super-sculpture installation seemingly inspired by shipwrecked collisions, hand built shacks and fragments of civilisation. A giant net has been suspended like a sail in the main gallery space at Spike Island. Incorporating previous works made of bed sheets which are sewn, zipped and tied together to form a shelter which is adorned with prehistoric-like cave paintings. Further corroborated by the scattering of food objects, steel cans and crude ceramics on the floor and hanging from the ceiling.

The adjacent parts of Pulfer’s exhibition shows a series of large hand-drawn watecolour maps of places that he has lived in or travelled to including Venice, Hong Kong and Yogyakarta (Indonesia) and I especially like these. Drawn entirely from memory they resemble treasure maps that defy proportion and perspective, making visitors have to study them up close. It then follows that you can see his personal narratives recorded in the form of studies, notes and models which all contribute to the awareness of a gigantic ‘mind-map’ showing the roots of his artistic practise leading up to the final culmination.

These complex environments were in line with my own thoughts on creating ‘total artworks’ that need to be experienced rather than just seen. Exploring the construction and deconstruction of spaces is an intriguing prospect and brings an excitement and tangibility to the 'consciousness of space and place' in line with my own practice.

Do Ho Suh pictured with one of his installations

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P.S. I lost my original images so these are from a selection of sources

Please take note that your art may flourish from reading this blog :)


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