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21 May – 3 July 2005
Nathan Coley, Phil Collins, Kathleen Herbert,
Susan Hiller, Silke Otto-Knapp, João Penalva

Early summer will see an ambitious series of new artworks presented in unusual locations around Bristol’s historic centre. The exhibition, Thinking of the Outside, will take the visitor on an intriguing route through the old city, encountering moving image installations, paintings, sculptures and live events in unexpected places.

Six internationally acclaimed artists were commissioned to respond to the city’s historic landscape. Their research has taken them beyond the limits of the city’s medieval walls, to examine present-day boundaries, architecture and attitudes that deal with the relationship between outsider and insider.
Kathleen Herbert took a sea-voyage from Antwerp to Bristol with a crew of 28 men and a cargo of 5000 cars, exploring the lives of contemporary sea-farers; João Penalva, intrigued by the urban myths surrounding the Clifton Suspension Bridge, filmed the murky depths beneath; whilst Susan Hiller scoured cinematic footage to investigate the superstitious tales that surround the stereotype of the outsider.

Curator of the exhibition, Claire Doherty, aims to draw new audiences to experience contemporary art in unexpected sites, inspiring new stories. “This exhibition is not about Bristol in the past”, she says. “Thinking of the Outside uses the metaphor of the city wall to question our urban experience today.”

Bristol has an impressive track record of staging innovative art projects across the city. Having been designated a European Centre of Culture, Bristol’s dynamic mix of the historic and new provides a backdrop and inspiration for this significant new art event.


Opening Times
21 May – 3 July 2005
Tuesday – Sunday 12-5pm
Admission Free

St John’s Churchyard, Tailor’s Court, off Broad Street, Bristol
A sculpture, using a familiar architectural style which amplifies the surrounding cityscape, will be installed in this disused churchyard. Normally closed off to public access, this intriguing piece of land is currently preserved from development. Coley’s work investigates the claims made to public space by different groups of people, and how buildings erected in public space manifest particular values and beliefs.

Coley comments, "buildings are empty vessels given significance by their social history and by the communities that populate them. I'm interested in exploring how cultural views and ideas differ with the passage of time and between locations."

A series of live events throughout the duration of the exhibition. Information posters will appear on bus-stops throughout the city.
Collins belongs to a generation of artists whose engagement with people, place and community is central to their work. Often communicating through forms of popular and youth culture such as dance, pop music and recently, a karaoke machine playing only The Smiths, his work combines an infectious humour and energy that creates an immediate connection with the viewer and participant.

Huller Warehouse, Redcliffe Backs, Bristol
Kathleen has spent the past year working with the Seafarers’ Mission at Portbury Docks in Avonmouth, a vast industrialised area some distance from Bristol city centre. Kathleen was the only woman on a transporter ship with male crew of 28 and a cargo of 5000 cars. Filming their voyage from Antwerp to Bristol, she gained a fascinating insight into the isolated way of life. Seafarers sign up for between 4 to 12 months at sea, coming into port on one tide and
out on the next.

Herbert tells us, “A request to the mission by seafarers at Avonmouth is to be taken to Asda at the local shopping mall – they just want to see people doing normal every day things”.

Castle Vaults, Castle Green, Bristol
A hallucinatory moving-image installation on the superstitions that surround ethnic and religious stereo-types. The artwork will appear in the ruins of Bristol castle, close to the original site of the Jewish community in 12 th and 13 th centuries, outside the inner but within the outer wall of the city.

“It seems clear to me that current hostility toward immigrants and asylum seekers throughout Europe all have deep roots in what might be called our ‘psychic history’. Social attitudes are governed as much by unconscious, as by conscious conditioning. In this sense an acknowledgement of the hidden power of founding stereotypes seems an appropriate way for an artist to begin to ‘see’ the problem”, suggests Hiller.

Custom House, Queen Square, Bristol
A series of watercolour paintings installed in the historic Custom House in Queen Square, inspired by landscape gardener Humphrey Repton (1752 – 1818), who worked extensively in Bristol and the surrounding countryside.
Using Repton’s ideas as inspiration, the paintings will be based on his concept of the garden as an idealised version of ‘natural landscape’ through which one might ‘shut out the city’.

Queen Square, originally planned as an elegant enclave for the city’s wealthiest residents, was the site of the Bristol riots in 1831 and in the 1930s was traversed by a wide carriageway. It was only in 1999, that the square was returned to its original design - an appropriate site for Otto-Knapp’s exploration of nature and artifice.

1-3 Exchange Avenue, St. Nicholas Market, Bristol
Penalva has created a spell-binding film from his forensic-like exploration of the river bed under Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. A beautiful and breath-taking piece of engineering, the bridge is an icon of Bristol’s cityscape, and the subject of urban myth. Penalva takes the viewer on an epic narrative, dealing with reality, memory and myth and the spaces in-between.


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