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20 February 2011

Three exhibitions in one day: Take one, Paul Hurley and H.Ren in Bristol

(below) A painting by H.Ren

When all seemed quite quiet on the exhibition front, four come along all in the same week! Post recovering from Thursday's private view of 'Exhibition of the teenager' that I was curating at the Brewhouse I set out on Friday firstly to Bristol, for the first in a day of three exhibitions.

Now, of course, whilst in Bristol I could have gone to a number of galleries, however the Arnolfini was changing its current show and in previous experiences of visiting Bristol, I would have to say that the best exhibitions have been the local artist ones (or ones independent from the commercial gallery system). So I picked up a signed copy of Jonathan Safran Foer's 'Extremely loud and incredibly close' at the only part of the Arnolfini I could get into, the bookshop, and then proceeded to head over the bridge and up the hill towards 31 Park Street.

Luckily it wasn't hard to find, and I was soon greeted outside what was the former abandoned sandwich shop by Paul Hurley and I knew I had come to the right place. Paul's friend and fellow artist H.Ren had successfully managed to have full use of the empty shop for a week from Bristol Council. "Awesome!", I found myself thinking upon receiving the email from Paul that explained the aim of their project, titled, 'Transfiguration's: object and action' in which they were inviting people to donate objects during the week so that they could produce art works/performances/interventions/mixed media assemblages etc. throughout the week. How, cool as well that it was free to have the space and that it was in a prime location in Bristol with a shop window in which the public could interact and watch any performances from the street. See their blog for more info: . I knew Paul from the Context residency we took part in during the summer last year (see So you can imagine that it was great to catch up and donate an object of my own (a tool, surprise, surprise) that they may use in their work. The former sandwich shop was looking pretty good, and had some of the remains of the kitchen and a drop ceiling which was now being used to hang artists overalls covered in blue powder paint from. Paul and H.Ren had also hung a chalk board, inserted a pink bicycle (not part of the art, but a means of travel and quite eye catching) and other assorted objects (mostly blue) that they'd collected from the scrap store. It was brilliant to meet H.Ren who showed me her abstract paintings which we talked about and equally good to catch up with Paul. I'm not exactly sure what it all amounted to... I'm guessing it was an experiment, an opportunity to play and try new things and I will keep my eyes peeled to see what may materialise on their blog as a result of their week there. I found myself wondering what I would have done with the space if I had had it for a week? Would I have used it as a studio? Or would I use it for an exhibition? In the shop next door there was another group of artists using the space to exhibit in. Good stuff, and yet another example of how the council are providing these free opportunities to local artists.

So, I left my fleeting visit to Bristol, book in hand and headed back to Taunton on the train thinking several things, like, how much potential there is to make interesting art out of so little, how busy it is here on the train, I wonder what I'll have for dinner? And what will the other two exhibitions I am going to see tonight hold in store.....

(above) A performance piece by Paul Hurley

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