New art celebrates hidden treasures in Old City

New art celebrates hidden treasures in Old City

Stories from Bristol's past explored by local artists

29 July 2021

Two new sets of art installations have been unveiled in Old City to celebrate the work that has been done to improve the city centre for pedestrians.

The two installations have been created by local artists to bring life to the area and inform citizens and visitors about the heritage of the Old City.

‘Look Up, Look Down’ highlights hidden architectural treasures along a trail encouraging people to find missing pieces of the pattern. The trail developed by Graft (artists Sophie and Rob Wheeler) is made up of thermoplastic images on the streets of the Old City, which mirror fascinating features on the historic buildings. 

The trail starts on Clare Street with a colourful grid that gives a series of clues. From there, visitors are invited to discover the Old City’s streets and alleyways, finding hidden gems in the beautiful buildings. QR codes are placed alongside each image to reveal its hidden story.

The second installation, Old City Flags, created by The Lamplighters, uses original artworks and documents from Bristol Museum & Art Gallery and Bristol Archives alongside original digital photography and cyanotype printing by Amy Peck and digital drawings by Dee Moxon and Stephanie Reeves.

The flags draw together many strands of interest in the Old City, fusing together photographs of historic architecture with remembered stories and accounts from Bristol’s past. This includes both well-known tales such as that of ‘Bristol Time’ on the Corn Exchange, but also lesser-known stories of Bristol’s first gay bar and ‘The Bristol Post Boy’, one of the earliest known newspapers in Bristol. The flags also detail Bristol’s historic links to the transatlantic traffic in enslaved Africans and its legacy in the Old City area. The details behind each flag are available via a QR code at the base of each post.

Mayor Marvin Rees, said:
“During these challenging times, it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate some of the positive things which have happened this year, such as major improvements to the Old City. The pedestrianisation work we’ve carried out over the past year, giving priority to walking and cycling routes, has improved the area for businesses, visitors, and shoppers. The Hidden Treasures trail and Old City Flags are the perfect opportunity for residents and visitors to explore the area on foot, learn more about our history and give our independent traders a much-needed boost”.

Artist Dee Moxon, from The Lamplighters, said:
“The flags represent a tiny fraction of the stories which ooze from the walls of the Old City. Some stories are well known and held in Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, and others like the history of The Radnor Hotel are still held in the living memory of contemporary Bristolians”.

Graft’s Co-Founder, Sophie Higgins Wheeler, said:
“There are so many hidden gems in Old City, from vast murals to miniscule chewing gum art. As passionate learners of local history, we always weave in historical facts and legends – from the extra clock hand showing ‘Bristol time’ to the ‘ghost signs’ and parish boundary markers easily missed unless you look up. We’re delighted to be involved in this project which will encourage Bristolians to find out more about our great city’s history and enjoy it on foot”.

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