BABE Arnolfini Art Gallery Bristol


It is late Sunday morning. The sun is shining. The air is cool. It's April and we are wearing scarves. People are steadily pouring into the Arnolfini art gallery. Inside crowds are gathering and huddling to fit in the spaces. We start at the bottom of the building. There are three floors, over 80 artists, bookmakers, and printers. Scarves are removed and layers are shed. Strange and familiar encounters. Observing and being observed. A quick scan across a table of books and a swift move before engaging eye contact or a gentle hello, the delicate hold of an object, the turn of a page, the making sense of... followed by a question. Responses vary. Some like tour guides jumping in with detailed descriptions of the process, the history, the essay, while others hide with heads down in a book or in conversation with their neighbour. And another stumbling upon the unexpected - complete resonance with a word or a line, a shape and then a meeting of souls, a gentle smile and understanding. A realisation. A moment of seeing.


I was moved by artist Gemma Lacey's work. Particularly her series of drawings and poetic text of a walk she made with her sister along the coast of Norfolk 'From Cromer to Hunstanton' in honour of her grandma who now suffers from dementia. "In this work prints, drawings and text are collected into a book form that reflects the coastline" Gemma Lacey's - blog

Gemma's response to her grandma's dementia resonates with my own experience of printing 'Venus' after my grandma died last year. I drew Venus in my grandma's home in between visits to the hospital. It helped to move through the feelings of sadness and loss through the process of drawing, carving and then finally printing.

How does the artist breathe life into his work? By summoning the spirit of art that lives inside him. This is the same with all kinds of art. Power comes from the artist’s spirit, warmth from his tenderness, serenity from his prayers.
— Shiko Munakata The Woodblock and the Artist - Edited by Souri Yanagi - Southbank Centre London 1991

I have taken home a small collection of business cards, leaflets, posters and books to remind me of some other inspiring and joyful exchanges throughout the day.

Bristol Arts Book Event - Arnolifini Gallery Bristol