Although this is the second school year that I am spending in Bristol and I am fairly familiar with the hidden places and the little secrets of the city, I still feel like there is so much more under the surface, always another layer to be discovered. The Edwardian Cloakrooms are definitely among the mysterious treasures of Bristol. On the corner of Park Row and Woodland Road, the old cloakrooms are used sometimes as pop-up shops, sometimes for vintage fairs or for concerts, but this weekend they hosted Unveil’d, a collaborative photo show, which was accompanied by a photo book exhibition and a zine fair.
Thanks to the divided gallery space, visitors could go and see not only one, but two exhibitions. The first one in the ladies cloakroom, put together by Peachy ‘n’ Keen, was dealing with female identities, while the other in the gents room, organised under the supervision of Young Shot Press, was exploring the different portrayals of the male. I found this exciting not only because of the artists’ different approaches to the themes, but a huge plus was that the space itself had this gender-divide, and thus I felt that the exhibition could not have been more powerful anywhere else but in the Cloakrooms.
If I had to pick my favourite things about Unveil’d, the first would be that the curators used the space in an incredibly creative way. I was blown away by the photo zines hanging from above in the old toilet cubicles and the handmade decoration in the ladies cloakroom, which created an almost surreal atmosphere. The other thing I absolutely loved was of course the photos themselves. As the organisers did not give any restrictions to the submitting artists regarding the representation of the given female/male themes, the works on the walls covered an unbelievably wide spectrum. Next to the photos of innocent girls, I found the extremities of female sexuality. On the other side of the wall, the ideas about male identities were ranging from transsexuality to aging, from the sensitivity of a man to the depictions of his inherent strength.
Quite simply, Unveil’d had everything I needed on a rainy afternoon: photos, fantasy, and surprise. The show was on only for three days, so I seriously hope that Young Shot and Peachy ‘n’ Keen will return to Bristol soon…
Thanks for reading!