133 Cumberland Road
City of Bristol
0117 929 2266
0117 929 2066
Spike Island is an international centre for the development of contemporary art and design. A vibrant hub for production, presentation and debate, it invites audiences to engage directly with creative practices through participation and discussion.
The organisation’s vision is to position art as central to society. It does this in two ways: by offering a high quality, challenging programme of exhibitions and events; and by fostering a dynamic and critically engaged community of artists and designers. Spike Island collaborates with local and regional partners as well as with international institutions, museums and universities.
Open seven days a week, Spike Café serves a range of drinks, snacks and meals in a sunny, laid back spot overlooking the river. It’s an ideal place to relax and refresh whether you’re visiting the exhibitions, wandering around the Harbourside, meeting friends or working in the building.
Gallery, Artist studio or collective
Galleries: Tues-Sun 11.00-17.00
Café: Mon-Fri 8.30-17.00, Sat-Sun 11.00-17.00
Free entry to gallery; some events ticketed
Spike Island seeks to be fully accessible. There are three Blue Badge parking spaces directly outside the main entrance. The building is entirely wheelchair accessible.
We welcome guide and hearing dogs. An induction loop for events is available by advance request.
Large print texts are available upon request from reception or by contacting us by email or telephone. Baby changing facilities are available in the ground floor toilets.
Cara Tolmie Pley
London-based artist Cara Tolmie works across performance, film, audio and installation to explore the ways in which meaning is created and, in particular, how context shifts our reception and understanding of events.
Her new film, Pley, was shot inside a structure specifically designed by the artist to host a series of encounters between three strangers. The set is comprised of two spaces, one inside the other, though at no point while watching the film does the viewer see its exterior or understand fully its internal architecture. Over a number of hours the participants undertook activities devised by Tolmie that were deliberately left undocumented. Instead, the interviews that the artist conducted afterwards form the basis of the work. Filmed individually, the participants reflect on their assumptions about each other, about Tolmie herself and about the tasks they were asked to fulfill. Their responses reveal differing inclinations to accept or challenge the temporary social setting into which they were placed.
Tolmie’s non-linear edit interweaves the participants’ reactions and interpretations with sequences filmed with a fourth person: an actress marking time in the set. The woman appears to report back via her phone to an outside world whose characteristics quickly seem to shift as she reveals different personas. It is through these scenes that we glimpse aspects of the set and its various props, such as a heap of gravel and a fish tank filled with water, mud and stones, which also may have been used previously by the three participants in their activities. Moving between the assured actions of the actress and the dreamlike recollections of the participants, the film shifts our perceptions of what constitutes naturalistic and nonnaturalistic behaviours.
Pley is presented for the first time at Spike Island as a single large-scale projection with seating designed by the artist. Tolmie’s use of bright colour and geometric shapes within the installation references the visual aspects of the film set that are more often spoken of than actually witnessed. This reflects the artist’s wider concern with the performative role that language plays, both in reflecting on reality and in shaping our understanding of that reality through speech.
Pley is commissioned and produced by Picture This.
Additonal support for Pley is provided by Hamilton Corporate Finance Ltd and The Island.
Jessica Warboys Ab Ovo
Ab Ovo is the largest exhibition to date by British artist Jessica Warboys, drawing together new and existing films, paintings, sculptures and performance.
The title of the exhibition translates as ‘from the egg’, a reference to new beginnings or origins, which are recurrent themes in the artist’s practice. Warboys’ works are often poised on the verge of being something else, and readings of them are subtly shifted by the context in which they are placed and their relationships to other pieces. Canvases and objects reappear as props in subsequent films and performances, while form and colour are repeated to symbolic affect.
At Spike Island the artist presents a series of sculptural paintings she began in 2009 with Ladder Ladder, a repainting and retitling of a found artwork from 1977. The artist has developed further works from this starting point, each a reflection or variation on the one preceding it, while remaining faithful to the formal qualities of the original. Abstract, geometric, stretched and unstretched, all fifteen paintings produced to date are included here.
In contrast to the structured Ladder Ladder group, the large scale Sea Painting, Dunwich, 2013, part of an ongoing series, was made by throwing mineral pigments directly onto a canvas that was submerged in waves at the seashore andthen dragged along the sand. The process is a physical one and is strongly related to performance, a discipline Warboys sees as central to her practice.
Time and landscape, literally embedded in the Sea Paintings, are invoked visually in her films. Pageant Roll (2012), Stone Throat (2011) and Ab Ovo (2013) are autonomous films with distinct and intermittent soundtracks, yet operate here as a triptych. Each presents ancient landscapes — standing stones or sandy beaches — as the backdrop for the animation of idiosyncratic yet familiar objects. The use of such emblematic landmasses, or the egg referred to by the Latin title, brings prehistory into dialogue with modernist abstraction.
Weaving has been used as a metaphor for Warboys’ practice: throughout her work, themes and motifs are threaded together, building a structure of visual echoes. This operates very much in the way that words might in a poem, intensifying images to create a rhythmic, temporal experience.
Jessica Warboys (1977) was born in Wales and works between London and Paris. She received a Master of Fine Art from Slade School of Art in 2004 and a BA(Hons) from Falmouth College of Arts in 2001.
Recent solo exhibitions include A painting cycle at Nomas Foundation, Rome (2012), Victory Park Tree Painting at Cell Project Space, London (2011) and Land & Sea at Le Crédac, Ivry-sur-Seine, France (2011). Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany (2012), Camera Britannica at Centre Pompidou, Paris (2012) and Los Pasos Perditos at Galerie Andreas Huber, Vienna (2012).
Artist James Richards’ work often incorporates films by other artists and footage taken from digital and analogue media sources such as found VHS tapes, moving image archives and the Internet. His practice is not merely concerned with the act of sampling, but with reanimation and recontextualisation.
Here Richards curates a group exhibition that reflects on theme of memory, language and representation, including works by Cerith Wyn Evans, Christodoulos Panayiotou and Stuart Marshall, amongst others.
The project is produced by Picture This and presented in partnership with Spike Island.
Melissa Gordon Material Evidence
Spike Island presents the first solo exhibition in a public British institution by this American-born, London-based artist.
Gordon's work as a painter and printmaker follows the cyclical relationship between surface and reproduction, representation and abstraction, seeing and reading. Her focus is on the by-products of history, of medium and of making
these include the grid structure of Modernist painting, the dot matrix of the silk screen and details from her own painting studio.