Sights for sore eyes. Why art-lovers should visit Bristol

Date Posted: 28/01/2015

The writing’s on the walls, quite literally, in a series of eye-catching events in Bristol this year.

Bristol has much to celebrate this year, in the wake of its recent win of the prestigious 2015 European Green Capital award.

In addition to a selection of special events that honour the city’s award-winning green status, the bustling metropolis will find its streets transformed this year, with a string of live, contemporary and hands-on art-themed events.

Big blue

First and foremost among them will be the Bristol Blue Whale project, which features a life-size interactive sculpture. Opening in April, the walk-in whale will feature an array of audio-visual exhibits on the inside, and will be located in the pedestrian area of Bristol’s harbourside. 

Created in a joint project by Artists Project Earth (APE) and city locals, the sculpture is constructed from all manner of recycled materials. 

The project will represent the beauty of the ocean, along with the growing need to tackle the human-founded threats now facing every ocean across the globe.

Art. The sure-fire way to improve buildings

The hometown of the elusive graffiti artist Banksy, Bristol revels in the artistic works that fill its streets and decorate its walls.

Visitors can take street-art walking tours for an insider’s glimpse into the wry and revolutionary art that adorn the walls of this diverse city.

The urban art festival, Upfest, will also return to the city’s streets from the 25th to 27th of July.

In a weekend of live music and artistic workshops, over 50 international artists will paint live at the free event, with examples of their work, and many others, on sale.

All things ship-shape   

Another of the events specially hosted this year, in honour of the city’s Green Capital award, will be the live art exhibition Withdrawn by local artist Luke Jerram. 

The exhibition features a flotilla of abandoned fishing vessels presented in a surreal display in nearby Leigh Woods, with each ship available for exploration by the public. 

Available for viewing from 1st April to 31st October, the surreal display challenges issues on climate change, falling fish stock and the human impact upon the marine environment. 

Another nautical-themed and multi-award winning attraction in Bristol is Brunel’s ss Great Britain.

Rescued and restored, the steam ship allows visitors to take a step back in time and explore various rooms, from the kitchen and dining room, to the opulent first-class cabins.

With interactive displays and a selection of audio guides, the real-life floating naval museum offers visitors the chance to walk in the shoes of its Victorian crew, with a series of crew talks and challenges, in addition to the Go Aloft! spring activity, which allows visitors to strap themselves into a harness and climb the mainmast and rigging up to a viewing platform located 26 metres above the ground. 

The sheep-fleet

Drawing from the anticipated success of Aardman Animations’ Shaun the Sheep movie, to be released in February, Bristol will find its city streets flooded with a flock of uniquely stylised Shaun the sheeps, painted by local artists and celebrities. 

From 6th July to 31st August, the art trail of 60 five-foot high sculptures will trace across the city, before being auctioned by Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal, which aims to raise money for the Bristol Children’s Hospital.

Take to the skies

With over 150 hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes, Bristol’s International Balloon Fiesta is purported to be Europe’s largest ballooning event. 

In a celebration of Bristol’s award-winning green city status, the world’s first modern solar-powered balloon will launch from the festival’s home base at Ashton Court this summer.

Run for four consecutive days from 6th August to 9th August, the event offers free admission, along with a wide variety of activities, including a Spitfire memorial flight, inflation races and model aircraft flying displays.

Highlights include flight displays by the Royal Air Force Red Arrows and the RAF Falcons Parachute Display team, with a fireworks finale to celebrate the launch of the last 30 balloons at 9pm on the Thursday and Saturday.

Drawn to draw

In an open biennial exhibition to raise the profile of drawing, Drawn will feature the work of a host of artists who draw, or explore the concept of drawing in their work.

With examples of work from videographers, sculptors, illustrators, animators and architects, the exhibition will be open to the public from 21st March to 7th June.

In an exploration of the boundaries of drawing, the exhibition pushes the parameters of the medium, and featured work will employ full use of wall and floor space, in addition to utilising traditional and experimental drawing techniques.

Hosted at The Royal West of England Academy, Drawn invites its visitors to explore the medium as both an independent field of expertise and as an interdisciplinary tool, and provides the perfect destination for those interested in art at its purest and most raw form.

For more information on the events featured visit

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