Best of the West – May 2022

The best art exhibitions coming up in Bristol and the Westcountry – selected by the Friends of the RWA…

Here’s our pick of the best art exhibitions and events happening in and around Bristol and the south west in the month ahead – including a look ahead to upcoming features….


FRIENDS’ EXHIBITION 2022

Create Centre – Friday 13 May to Wednesday 25 May 2022

The popular Friends’ selling exhibition returns! Come and see work by local artists in a stunning gallery space.

Weekdays 11am – 5pm, Weekends 11am – 4pm. Free entry.
Preview: Thursday 12 May 5-8pm

The Create Centre, Smeaton Road, Bristol BS1 6XN. Free parking. Map and details.


AT THE RWA

Me, Myself, I: Artists’ Self-Portraits – from 30 April

Bevan, Tony; Head and Neck; (c) Royal Academy of Arts / Photographer credit: John Hammond

Me, Myself, I: Artists’ Self-Portraits is the RWA’s landmark reopening exhibition following the transformational Light & Inspiration £4.1 million capital project. Opening to the public from 2 May – 19 June 2022, it will take place across all main gallery spaces.

The exhibition includes over 70 works by artists including Sir Joshua Reynolds, Angelica Kauffman and Lucian Freud, alongside contemporary work by Grayson Perry, Gillian Wearing and many more.

Curated by Tessa Jackson OBE, the show provides an illuminating overview and historical context to society’s current interest in self-representation and selfie culture, through an exploration of self-portraiture by artists over the last three hundred years.


CURRENT EXHIBITIONS

Compiled by Sue Quirk and Laurel Smart

1) YoLANDeSCAPE: 2022

6-29 MAY, HOURS GALLERY, BRISTOL

Collages by Yolande Henebury. With the use of collage, paint and collected treasured items, Henebury’s layered and textured work takes us on a journey through her abstract vision of memory landscape. Her passion for bold colour and use of inks, pencil and fabric, enhances the detail in her landscape and still life compositions. We are invited to share in the delights of this rich and intricate work that keeps on giving, with each viewing we discover something new.

Website.

2) KIM VON COELS: THE COLOUR OF LIGHT

UNTIL 9 MAY, HEART OF THE TRIBE, GLASTONBURY

Solo exhibition by Kim von Coels. Photographs, unique screen prints and original artworks exploring colour, shapes and light. Kim is a specialist in her field of Light painting, creating otherworldly, magical and ethereal images using long exposure photography. This fascination with the manipulation of light has led her to explore other avenues of creative photography including submerging her subjects in water, using projectors to light her subject and layering several images over the top of each other using her second-hand Olympus om-10 film camera.

Some of her photographs have evolved into a series of screen prints which are bold and colourful, mostly playing with layers, the shapes of geometric patterns and the female body but occasionally touching on aspects of pop art, street art and glimpsing inspiration from her graphic design background. This exhibition will feature a variety of her photographic projects, unique screen prints and original art.

 Website.

3) ABI BIRKINSHAW: ‘MR. BRIGHTSIDE’S KITCHEN’

11-28 MAY, THAT ART GALLERY, BRISTOL

“I make paintings that narrate my own lived experience as a queer artist; they are a synthesis of my day-to-day life. The work in this exhibition forms a reflection on interactions with death. Headless figures and disembodied limbs co-exist alongside everyday objects in a world saturated with oil paint. This liminal space between the real, imagined, past and the present is where my work often lies. Painting is thinking time. I process things I don’t or can’t talk about very well through the act of making a painting. The titular painting ‘Mr. Brightside’s Kitchen’ is me dealing directly with the fallout from my brother’s death ten years ago. This was the painting that started the ball rolling for the rest of the work in the show. It’s not all about my brother; I started thinking more about death in an expanded sense. I call the show ‘Mr. Brightside’s Kitchen’ because of a memory I have of my brother, Jamie – a memory only I have – of him singing ‘Mr. Brightside’ in his kitchen…”

Website.

4) RUTH PIPER & CAROLINE WATSON: SO YOU THINK YOU ARE SAFE IN THE WOODS?

13-18 MAY, CENTRESPACE, BRISTOL

An exhibition of painting & drawing. Woodland can be seen as a metaphor for psychic space. It can provide a refuge from, or a route into danger. If we drift too far from the main path, we lose ourselves, and in getting lost, our whole survival may be at stake. The diffused and dappled light makes us see things that may not be there and projecting our own hopes and fears into the gloom, we create stories; the content of which hold up a mirror to our own state of our mind. Caroline Watson is an artist based at BV Studios in Bristol. Primarily a painter, she also makes 3D objects which add to and inform her artistic practice. Her work is concerned with imaginative states, and she uses her experiences as a catalyst for making. Ruth Piper is a painter, also based at BV Studios.  Her paintings are composite landscapes, that have a nocturnal appearance. Built up or layered from elements, either invented or observed separately in different places.

Website.

5) NICK GOSS: MUD ANGELS

UNTIL 14 MAY, THELMA HULBERT GALLERY, HONITON, DEVON

Imagined floods and submerged landscapes form the catalyst for this new series of paintings and works on paper, which encapsulate the impermanence of our surroundings. Nick Goss collapses time and space by filtering images of contemporary London and personal memories, with documentary photographs of historic floods in the Netherlands and Florence to create places that are simultaneously familiar and intangible. This sense of displacement is sharpened by layering and combining screen-print with painting and a heightened colour palette that borders on that of a dream or apparition. Water is a reoccurring theme in Goss’ practice with a rich connection to art history and literature, and for him the idea of looking beneath the surface of water is reminiscent of the act of painting itself.

Website.

6) DAVID R ABRAM: ANCIENT SITES FROM THE AIR

UNTIL 15 MAY, SALISBURY MUSEUM

Somerset-based photographer and writer David Abram has spent the past five years capturing images of Britain’s prehistoric monuments from the air, using flying cameras and telescopic poles. Taken in beautiful lighting conditions, his work reveals the ancient wonders hiding in plain sight around us, from Neolithic monuments on the Wessex chalklands to Iron Age crannogs in Hebridean lochs. David’s signature pieces are large format composites, made up of hundreds of smaller photographs stitched together to create prints that have an incredible range of tone and detail. Some have been shot perpendicular to the earth’s surface and have an abstract quality, disrupting one’s sense of scale and perspective.

Website.

7) ARNOLFINI: 2 EXHIBITIONS

PAULA REGO: SUBVERSIVE STORIES AND DONNA HUANCA: CUEVA DE COPAL UNTIL 29 MAY

PAULA REGO: Rego makes a welcome return to Bristol (almost 40 years after her first exhibition there in 1982-83), creating an opportunity for a new generation of visitors to explore the artist’s rich and imaginative world. Featuring over eighty prints from across Rego’s extensive career, the exhibition explores her interweaving wit and dark humour, delving into the art of storytelling through Rego’s reinterpretations of well-known narratives and classic tales, repositioning the role of women at their centre. SUBVERSIVE STORIES also looks deeper at Rego’s mastery of the printed medium, exploring the process of printmaking as it informs Rego’s multi-layered interpretations, bringing shadowy readings to childish mischief, whilst casting a light on present-day politics, most notably those affecting women.

DONNA HUANCA: Drawing on painting, sculpture, performance, choreography, video, and sensory interventions, Huanca’s interdisciplinary practice focuses upon the human body, exploring our physical relationship to the world around us. Huanca builds her experiential installations around the architecture of each new site, with CUEVA DE COPAL plunging audiences into a cocoon-like space. Building on past remnants of her own work, Huanca excavates and layers, transforming her live ‘skin’ paintings into new multi-layered and hybrid forms that sit somewhere between performance, sculpture, photography, and painting.

Website.


LAST CHANCE TO SEE

WATCH OUT FOR…

  • LYDIA NEEDLE: FIFTY BEES 5: UNTIL 14 MAY New ecological, collaborative exhibition devised by Lydia for which she has sculpted fifty more bee pieces from wool, thread and vintage containers. ACEARTS, SOMERTON, SOMERSET https://www.acearts.co.uk/2022-2/
  • MIKE PETER: OLD GHOSTS: UNTIL 15 MAY New work by Glasgow-based artist, Mick Peter, taking a wry and affectionate look at the idea of history as an industry. HOLBURNE MUSEUM, BATH https://www.holburne.org/events/mick-peter-old-ghosts/
  • GILL ROCCA: WITHIN AND WITHOUT: UNTIL 28 MAY The first solo exhibition in beautiful new gallery space overlooking Wells Cathedral. GBS FINE ART, WELLS https://www.gbsfineart.com/within-and-without

If you would like an exhibition or artist to be listed please email laurel.smart@blueyonder.co.uk for consideration.


The Friends of the RWA is an independent charity that supports the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol’s first art gallery. 
For just £35 a year Friends can make unlimited visits to RWA exhibitions and enjoy a host of other benefits, as well as making an important contribution to the arts in Bristol and the South West. Find out more and join up here.

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