I have often thought there is not much in the way for students and young people within the Clifton Village art scene. However, this summer a new contemporary Pop-up, aptly called ‘LITTLEWHITESPACE’, has emerged. Located on Clifton Down Road in-between WHSmith and the old antique shop, it offers an accessible space for hosting exhibitions, galleries and launch events of which there are many this summer.
At the moment an exhibition of the artist Abigail McDougall’s work is on display. Her paintings have featured in several magazines including Vogue and Art of England, and last year she was selected as an Artist Member of the RWA.
She mostly has watercolour paintings on display, depicting different scenes around Bristol – notably of the Harbourside. The way she depicts the reflections of Bristol buildings in the water is beautiful. She uses many different blocks of colour to indicate the reflections, which conveys movement and depth in a layering effect. Additionally, the types of brushstrokes used vary from crisp, thin lines to thick, blurring smudges. This gives an interesting contrast between realistic accuracy and an almost tangible blurring of pure colour that reminds us of the painting’s materiality and the medium used to create it.
McDougall’s watercolours are striking for the way she chooses bright, invigorating colours. In the past, I have sometimes been uncertain about whether watercolours as a medium can capture scenes of modern urban life, yet in McDougall’s work the watercolours seem fresh, vibrant and modernised. This makes the Bristol scenes seem very sunny and rather tranquil.
Another striking thing about the artist’s work is the way areas of the paper have been left white. Apart from this being a watercolour technique for suggesting highlights and reflections, it has the effect of increasing the feeling of space within the scenes depicted. It invites us as viewers to become involved with the paintings and the scenes depicted by encouraging our imaginations to ‘fill in’ the ‘blank’ areas.
The paintings in acrylic and oils initially have a slightly brash palette, but do convey a lot of energy and vigour. It is refreshing to see Bristol in this colourful and almost carnival-esque light. In particular, the acrylic and oil painting called ‘Bristol from Cabot Tower’ gives mythic (and almost turbulent) dreamscape of Bristol.
It was great to be surrounded by such positivity – and positivity associated with Bristol. The exhibition definitely felt like a celebration of this city. Along the same lines is a fun exhibition entitled ‘Balloons in Bristol’, starting at LITTLEWHITSPACE on 8th August (until 11th). It will celebrate the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. It is refreshing that the exhibitions at LITTLEWHITESPACE are so pertinent and relevant to Bristol and the current events going on within this city.