Bristol's 10 Contemporary Art Galleries You Should Visit

Vincent Wood

Bristol is a city that is culturally alive and possesses a thriving contemporary art scene. Dotted along street corners or throughout the dockyards are various galleries and exhibition spaces hosting a myriad of established and underground artists. From massive international galleries to tiny little shop spaces, here is a selection of some of the best contemporary art spaces in Bristol.

View

View is one of the largest independent galleries in the South West and is split into zones over two floors, allowing it to incorporate a mixture of media including paintings, sculptures, photography, ceramics and a room dedicated to video installations. The regularly changing exhibitions give returning visitors something vibrant and exciting to mull over whilst the gallery itself tries to create a relaxed and informal atmosphere that allows people to view art in their own way. Their online shop also means that the artwork is available to purchase after each exhibition.

View Art Gallery, 159-161 Hotwell Road, Bristol, United Kingdom, +44 5603 116753

2. Arnolfini

Art Gallery, Bookstore, Store

Arnolfini was established in 1961 before moving to its current dockside location of a grade II listed building, formerly a tea warehouse, in 1975. Since then, it has gone on to become one of Europe’s foremost centres for contemporary arts. It does not only present visual art but also exhibits performance, dance, film, and music events. A partnership with Tate means that it often exchanges ideas, expertise, and programmes allowing it even greater access to some of the most highly lauded contemporary art of the age.

3. Lime Tree Gallery

Lime Tree Gallery

A haven for contemporary fine arts and glass, Lime Tree Gallery holds regular exhibitions, which are always accompanied by a fully illustrated web catalogue so that you know exactly what you’re letting yourself in for. In a glorious setting that overlooks the floating harbour, the gallery has a particular penchant for showcasing contemporary Scottish artists and always has a varied selection of their work on show. Each exhibition they hold is complemented by a selection of individual glass pieces from both Britain and the Baltic states, making it a truly international affair.

Lime Tree Bristol Gallery, 84 Hotwell Road, Bristol, United Kingdom, +44 117 929 2527

Weapon of Choice

Weapon of Choice started out as a monthly hip hop and graffiti night, where local artists were invited to perform in front of a live audience. In 2009 they opened up an art gallery to showcase the best and most sought-after graffiti, street art, and illustrations from artists in Bristol. Since then, they have established themselves as one of the best and most unique galleries in the city. With spaces such as this pushing graffiti forward, an art form that was once defined by its illegal nature is now hovering on the fringes of mainstream acceptance.

Weapon of Choice, 8B Park Street, Bristol, United Kingdom, +44 117 929 1865

4. Spike Island

Art Gallery

David Batchelor, Disco Méchanique
Image courtesy of Spike Island
Another gallery based in an old tea warehouse, Spike Island stakes a major claim to being a hub of cultural significance in Bristol. It is not only a gallery and exhibition space but also a work studio for the production and development of contemporary art and design. It offers a year-round programme of events, activities and talks open to the public as well as low-cost studios to artists at all stages of their careers. With such direct links with artists, as well as with students and staff from the University of the West of England Fine Art BA programs, the gallery has its finger directly on the pulse of the contemporary art scene locally, nationally and internationally, putting it streaks ahead of many other galleries around.

5. It’s All 2 Much

It’s All 2 Much

It’s All 2 Much is an independent art organisation based in Bristol that tries to promote local artists through art residencies, themed installations, participatory events, and art fairs. The gallery, in the cultural quarter of Stokes Croft, contains paintings, sculptures, and photography that is not necessarily definable as any particular style; featured artists are often representatives of street art, underground, and other underrepresented styles. Using this remit to complement other galleries in the area, It’s All 2 Much always has something different to see compared to other galleries in Bristol.

It’s All 2 Much, 124 Cheltenham Road, Bristol, United Kingdom, +44 117 924 7522

6. Centrespace

Centrespace

Although it’s located in the centre of Bristol, Centrespace is tucked away, out of sight from the main thoroughfares of the city. A not-for-profit, volunteer-run gallery that champions up-and-coming artists and craftspeople in the community, Centrespace is a bit of a tricky place to find, but it is certainly worth the hunt. With exhibitions usually running for around a week, there is always something fresh and innovative to discover. With cheap workspaces to hire, it draws the most exciting artists from all around who often go on to display their work in the gallery.

Centrespace, 6 Leonard Lane, Bristol, United Kingdom, +44 117 929 1234

7. Here

Art Gallery, Pop-up Store, Store

Here, 108 Stokes Croft
© Here Gallery
Below a small, unassuming shop that stocks all sorts of artsy bric-a-brac, materials, niche magazines, and books, is a gallery with no fixed remit but to promote work that they feel deserves notice. Primarily dealing with printmaking and illustration, the art on display would usually be neglected by more mainstream outlets. Here showcases both local and international artists and they are always open to submissions for their consideration. The sort of rolling exhibition space combined with the shop aesthetic gives Here a quirky and homely atmosphere that is unique on Bristol’s contemporary art scene.

8. Soma

Art Gallery, Shop

Specialising in limited edition prints and illustrations, Soma has several exhibitions a year promoting the work of local and national artists. Originally opening in the Clifton Arcade in 2004, it has now moved to bigger premises across the road with a dedicated gallery space on the first floor and a shop space on the ground floor. It holds both group and solo exhibitions and sells a wide range of artworks, textiles, jewellery, ceramics, magazines, and books next to the illustrations it showcases.
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