“Exchange” – A review

Art, Artist, Arts, Bristol, Events, Exhibition, Inspirational, Launch

What do Spike Island’s volunteers do when they aren’t volunteering?

They create an exhibition of course.

So the other night, I headed up to Spike Island’s test space to check out the exhibition run by and created by some of Spike Island’s volunteers.


There was activity in the air as soon as I entered, and as I turned to walk into the Test Space, I was greeted by a wall of people. Wading through the unfamiliar and familiar faces, I began my experience at “Exchange”.

The exhibition aimed to “explore the exchange between volunteers, art institutions and the public” by demonstrating the “breadth and depth of talent and the variety of artistic interests that come together within the group”; and I feel it managed to do just that.

The work exhibited was varying and showcased a wide variety of talent. It included a range of pieces from photography to sculpture to performance artwork, and even more.

003One of the best features of the exhibition had to be its interaction with its visitors. One of the ideas that the curators had was to create a physical “exchange” of ideas there. There was a corner dedicated to this idea where visitors were encouraged to create drawings and pin them to the wall, then to take another in exchange.

I feel this worked really well and you could see that the wall was busy with people pinning their own drawings up. By the end of the evening, the contents of the wall had completely changed from when it had started. I have to admit, once I got started, it was hard to stop. I can’t resist a bit of drawing!

What was remarkably simple worked incredibly well as it got people involved with the exhibition in a way that they normally wouldn’t consider.

I was able to interview Fiona Clabon – Young Arnolfini member who was also one of the artists there.


She told me how she was fascinated by textures and she was always “stopping every five minutes on a day trip for a photo”. When I asked her why she wanted to present these images, she told me how she wanted to capture the beautiful details of things that we normally miss.

These images certainly do capture that. Each one of them was incredibly interesting and different. I found myself studying them intently. Perhaps her best photo shows the miniscule ice crystals forming on a wooden post – a detail I would have never stopped to admire.

“Exchange” was a really enjoyable exhibition and it was great to meet the volunteers at spike and check out their work.

For my full review, including another interview, check out my post on the Bristol Art Collective website.

For more of her work, check out Fiona’s Website or Facebook page.

Thanks for reading!


Young Arnolfini are Recruiting


YA Application PosterSome big changes are coming for Young Arnolfini. We’re starting to work on some new projects and have got some big ideas. But to work on these ideas, we need some more members. Young Arnolfini are looking for young people to join our team and to participate on new and exciting projects.

I think the poster pretty much sums it up to be honest.

Thanks for reading

Street photography- living in Bristol

Bristol, Photography

I thought I’d have a go at street photography, so took my camera in to the centre and had a little wander.  Naturally, I went with a friend, and if anyone asked, we were tourists or worked for the government. Nobody asked but I was on edge the whole time.

Corn Street Bristol | Billie Appleton Street Photographt

Just to be clear, I’m not a photographer, and I know little or nothing about photography. In fact, I found the best pictures seemed to come from spurts of excitable enthusiasm, pointing the camera aimlessly, or at something shiny that had happened to catch my attention.

Well the best and the worst.

My main obstacle was trying to get an interesting composition, or catch a sneaky pic of a guy with a particularly weird hair, without looking like a complete and utter stalkerish weirdo. Which is how I felt. The looks some people give you.

But the most frustrating thing was how difficult it is to capture those moments you really want. In the couple of seconds it takes you to steady your camera and adjust your focus, it’s gone. No one’s going to believe you when you tell them. It’s especially frustrating when the most interesting people you want to capture, are also the people you least want to see you taking a picture of them. I felt like a spy.

Anyway. A few of them I kind of liked, and I’ll admit that it makes you notice things. And people, it makes you notice people, and what very odd and interesting things they are.

A fun game to play if you’re ever people watching, is to imagine what random strangers would be like as super villains.

Old man and van | Bille Appleton Street Photography

I digress. I’ll leave you with a few of my favourite and let you get on.

The Ammerdown Experience w/ Salaam Shalom

Meditation, Nature, Reflection, Roundup


Over the course of 5 days, Maz, Emma and I took part in a residential courtesy of Salremadelogobestressstxtsmalleraam Shalom, an organisation keen to promote dialogue of all kinds between young people. I went to Ammerdown with an open mind, even to the Buddhist meditation which left me as I was – uptight and tentative. Still, I’ll try anything once except incest and morris dancing, though watching Russell Peters draws the line somewhere near the former. I think of ‘atheist’ as a shoddy word often inexorably linked with ‘materialist’ and ‘pessimist’, but would never protest if bundled under that label. It’s just simply not that I don’t believe in God(s), but that I don’t know or claim to know the mind of this deity, knowledge I view as man-made and positively unattainable.

I find my beliefs are largely unmoved, but through the Salaam Shalom programme I am all the more richer culturally. It was utterly fascinating to be a part of a Passover seder meal, which involves an analogical meal – including mellow Israeli wine – and the joint, jaunty singing of songs in Hebrew. A highlight was the opening of the front door for Elijah’s spirit to join the table and help himself to a modest meal laid out in Judaica porcelain, after 5 seconds of which a young boy declared ‘He’s not here!’, followed by many a ‘Perhaps there was nowhere to park’ joke.

Everybody in our group engaged well in debates, with one comment often sparking off a thought in someone else, and so on. The times I learnt the most was listening to others, and trying to absorb a simulacrum of the way they see the world: impossible, but interpersonal understanding is one of our better traits. Still, I found myself often immersed in dialectics of one kind or another throughout the residential, whether with seven other people or just in my own head. I never felt trapped at Ammerdown, only liberated; no question was too contentious, no belief dismissible. Ultimately, this journey nicely coincides with my timely discovery of the work of Graham Greene, specifically his beautiful novel The Heart of the Matter which at one point states:

‘How often, he thought, lack of faith helps one to see more clearly than faith.’

– Tom

Ammerdown was a really trying and self evaluating time for me personally, with hindsight I can now appreciate how it has helped me refocus certain aspects of my life.

In particular, our Wednesday morning spiritual reflection session was led by John Preston on Buddhism. Funnily enough, with my Christian background, you wouldn’t have initially expected this Buddhism session to be the one that got to me the most, as opposed to the other Christianity-based sessions earlier on in the week. However I appreciate the fact my lack of familiarity with Buddhism; the concept, beliefs, et cetera; engaged me all the more.

The session was fragmented, with the first section consisting of Preston discussing his life; from being a senior Social Services manager, a counsellor, a lecturer in adult education to his five years of training as a monk at a Buddhist meditation monastery to his current life. Afterwards we had a brief discussion which included asking him our own questions. His honesty and consciousness to not feign being omniscient as if he had all the answers is why I hold him in high esteem because it’s so refreshing to experience such candour.

The last part of the session was a meditation led by John (feels weird calling him Preston, first name basis guys!). I’ve always wanted to successfully meditate but living the city life you never seem to get the chance to and this just seemed like the perfect opportunity. Once we got going I really noticed the Achilles heel of my meditation efforts – my impatience. John’s breathing exercises seemed to go on for so long but what I’ve realised is the meditation worked then for a reason, he seriously knew what he was doing. When I reflect on the actual meditation part it’s hard to describe it. But if I had to pick three words: clarity, consciousness, free.

And it’s the best thing I’ve felt in a long while.

– Emma Blake M.

People. Caring, considerate people everywhere. Ammerdown was an awesome experience for me. I truly loved spending my five days there and spending it with people who I, whether or not I knew them before, developed such a strong bond with. Obviously, it was good to even just get away from Bristol for a while and reflect. Courtesy of Salaam Shalom, we participated in three days worth of workshops and activities (and vegetarian meals), all of which I took something from, whether it was due to the actual activities or the debates they provoked. I felt comfortable during these group discussions and as a result of this, I probably expressed my opinions more confidently than ever before. When I truly felt the love and bond we shared for each other was when I fell ill and everyone seemed so concerned and kept asking me if I was okay. When it came to it, there was someone holding a bucket and reassuring me while I puked. Surprisingly, no-one ran away and I never felt embarrassed.

The final day was very interesting as it consisted of a poetry slam competition (organised by Shagufta Iqbal). For the competition we were put into pairs where we had to put together a poem and perform it. We were judged on our writing skills, performance and audience response. It was nice to end with us collaborating and creating something physical, something everlasting (hopefully) in a way, and then showcasing it to each other. Even when I looked at the program before getting there, this poetry day had intrigued me; I knew I would leave me feeling better equipped to write, even if it was only me discovering Polarbear, and it did. It’s at Ammerdown where I wrote my first ever, what I would call, “official poem”. Being given a broken apple, that someone had been throwing around, to write about, this is what I came up with:

Ever since seven or eight,
They told him: “Oh boy, you better have your five a day
You see it keeps the devil away,
Yes you better have your five a day,
‘Cause it keeps you from going astray.”
But he found that even when he put his forehead to the ground, illness and death still came to play,
Still they say: “Oh boy, you better have your five a day,
You see it keeps the devil away,
Yes, you better have your five a day,
‘Cause it keeps you from going astray.”
But hey! What’s so wrong with those who don’t believe the same???
The more he thought about it, the more he raged,
As a result, he never makes time to pray,
In frustration, he picks up one of his five a day and throws at the wall which breaks away,
This makes him say: “I can still be fit and healthy, without five a day!”

Also, I can’t forget to mention the awesome last night we had. It was probably the first time I’ve danced to bhangra music in front of an audience. Sadly though, the videos of this were accidentally deleted.

– Maz Shar

Salaam Shalom’s Website, Twitter & Facebook.

This is England

Bristol, Nature, Other

After all this crazy weather this week it just didn’t feel right not commenting on it!

This week revealed to me how I have subconsciously forgotten how bipolar English weather can be, from snow to sunshine and clear skies, and most of all… all the unwilling flashing that has occurred!

I felt it was only appropriate to fondly look back on previous hot days…