Meet the artists taking centre stage of our transformation
- Bristol Beacon News
Four acclaimed visual artists are working on a series of bespoke art commissions as part of our once-in-a-generation transformation.
The public art programme will play a key role in ensuring our iconic building is rejuvenated with artists’ voices at its heart, bringing the art of music-making to life in visual form.
Four artists were selected by an advisory panel with the curatorial advice of Field Art Projects, and invited to make proposals, Linda Brothwell, Libita Sibungu, Rana Begum and Giles Round.
Their commissions will enhance the look and feel of the venue, adding to the richness of the transformation and the experience for visitors. Their work will include a response to our relationship with the water that surrounds and flows through the city; the textiles and fabrics within the new performance spaces; an architectural installation within the new Lantern space; and a contemporary intervention on the façade of the Lantern building.
“The transformation of our building is about more than just the bricks and mortar. It has been an important and iconic venue in the heart of the city for many generations, so our public art programme will help us to ensure we make the most of and celebrate this special space, reflecting the 150-plus years of history whilst also looking forward to the future.
Louise Mitchell, Chief Executive
Louise Mitchell, chief executive of Bristol Beacon, said:
“The four artists that were selected to deliver these commissions have proposed exciting new works that are sympathetic to their surroundings and will help to create an uplifting and joyful space that enhances the music and welcomes people in.”
“One of our ambitions with the refurbishment of the Beacon is to create opportunities where we can profile the wealth of talent that exists within Bristol. We’re delighted therefore that two of the artists we’ve commissioned have a relationship with the city.”
Rana Begum was born in Bangladesh and is now based in London. Her work ranges from drawings, paintings and wall-based sculptures to large-scale public art projects and she is known for her understanding and use of light and colour.
Rana is creating bespoke textiles in the transformed concert spaces. She is collaborating with Bristol-based fabric designers and textile trend consultancy Dash & Miller to assist with translating her work into textiles.
Rana says: “My initial response to the brief was to look at the architecture, the colours, and geometry. I wanted to develop something that reflects the diversity of sound performed in the halls through rhythms, patterns and repetition. It was important that the work responded to different qualities of light and creates movement.
“I’m excited by the functionality of the artwork within the concert hall. I wanted it to be present in the space whilst not creating a distraction for the performers or audience. I wanted it to be bold but also offer a calm experience.
“It’s been a very collaborative process with Dash & Miller. I was keen to work with the local creative industries because it brings a different perspective and history into the project.”
Linda is a visual artist based at Spike Island in Bristol who works internationally. She trained in goldsmithing, silversmithing, metalwork and jewellery and is interested in heritage, place-making and how people look after their surroundings. Her multi-disciplinary practice casts her as a maker of objects, tools and publicly sited interventions.
Her focus for Bristol Beacon is to create a work for the façade of the Lantern building.
Linda says: “This will be the first permanent public artwork that I’ve done in the UK and it’s particularly meaningful to me that it will be in the city in which I’ve lived and worked for almost a decade.
“I began by researching at the history of the site, in particular the sounds and movements of people in and outside of the Lantern building. Working to create a visual representation which reflects some of those events to create an elegant and joyful on a scale appropriate to the building. The piece I’m creating is being developed with a high quality of craftsmanship, with exquisite detail and colour, using materials that are sympathetic to and resonate with both the building and the city.”
Giles Round is creating an architectural installation within the atrium of the historic Lantern building.
Giles says: “The artwork will be integrated into the architecture of the Lantern space. My desire from the beginning was to embed the work into the fabric of the building.
Following research into the history of the building and the extraordinary architecture of Bristol, specifically the Bristol Byzantine, the design references the polychromatic decoration used on the façade. It is in part a portrait of the building itself.”
Libita is an interdisciplinary artist who draws on her British-Namibian heritage to make discursive works that explore personal histories and colonial legacies inscribed in the body. Often creating audio-visual outcomes rooted in collage technique, performance and sound ecologies, Libita’s work seeks to usher subversive pathways into the present through reimagining materiality, movement and collective healing in relationship to the environment.
For Bristol Beacon’s public art programme, Libita has been given an open invitation to propose her own response to the venue and its position on the water. Her commission takes inspiration from collective work, memory, and wayfinding. Through practices of deep listening, in resonance with black diasporic experiences and water bodies, Libita delves into the relationship between mapping and storytelling in order to propose a space for healing. Libita says: “I am creating a soundwork developed from workshops on Bristol’s waterways, with black artists, writers, and historians, that pulls the Bristol Beacon into a different reimagined history with guided meditations, fiction writing, sound baths, and water rituals. Internally I’ve been asking; what happens when there isn’t a place for us to remember?”
“I’ve been thinking about Bristol being built around water, and how the Transatlantic Slave Trade created multiple passages and holes; in bodies, in memories, in time, in mother earth, ocean, in us. And what are the afterlives of these holes and how do we reckon with this violence? I hope the process of making this sound work, this refraction, this spectre – will connect people to the historical undercurrents of Bristol Beacon’s local geographies, providing a place for grief and catharsis through meditative reflection.”
Dash & Miller
Dash & Miller are an international textile studio working out of Bristol who regularly work with trend agencies, fashion houses, fabric manufacturers, lifestyle brands, editors and contract suppliers to inform and inspire the creation of wonderful fabrics.
Their hand-crafted approach to industrial design combines with their breadth of experience to provide relevant and unique design-work. They have been appointed to help Rana translate her designs into the new medium of textiles.
Field Art Projects
Field Art Projects was set up in 1999 by Theresa Bergne, a curator and producer based in Bristol commissioning artists to work in the public realm across the UK and abroad.
In the southwest she has delivered permanent artworks for Southmead Hospital, the Universities of Bristol and the West of England, for North Somerset Council in Weston-super-Mare as well as programmes led through community engagement in Hengrove and Barton Hill.
For the Bristol Beacon Transformation she has led the commissioning process, inviting the four artists to respond to music and sound and celebrate an artform that can be enjoyed both on an intense personal level and as a joyful communal experience.
The art programme is being curated and produced by Field Art Projects for Bristol Beacon and has been designed to bring a contemporary response to the building, inviting visual artists to explore the physicality of sound and to celebrate an artform that can be enjoyed both on an intense personal level and as a joyful communal experience.
The artists’ commissions will be ready in time for the completion of the building’s physical transformation and re-opening in November 2023.
The advisory panel included representatives from Bristol Beacon, Bristol City Council, Arts Council England, the transformation project architects and was advised by Field Art Projects.