The Friends have been supporting Bristol Art Gallery since 1947. In that time, we have helped with the acquisition of more than 350 works of art including paintings, watercolours, drawings, sculpture, rare pottery, glass, antique and modern silver, and contemporary jewellery. In 2010-11 we contributed to the conservation of several important paintings (such as Holidays by Harry Watson) which had languished in the store for many years.
The Art Collection ranges from Old Masters through the Bristol School of the 19th and 20thcenturies to today’s contemporary artists. One of the gallery’s most popular paintings – Jan Griffier’s gigantic Noah’s Ark – came to Bristol courtesy of The Friends.
In the field of applied art, the range is from early Bristol porcelain to the Lazarus collection of almost 200 items of antique glass. The Friends are proud also to have enabled the acquisition of many fine items of porcelain and stoneware from the Far East, as well as a colourful tapestry from Egypt by Mahrous Abdou and numerous Chinese artworks on paper.
Bristol has a flourishing number of street artists, and they too have not been overlooked: recently The Friends helped with the purchase of the dramatic ‘Concrete Form II’ by Ziml (see image at bottom of this page).
The Friends have also published or sponsored a number of important catalogues and books about the collections, including Sheena Stoddard’s survey of the Braikenridge Collection of around 1,500 watercolours and drawings of Bristol in the early nineteenth century.
A major contribution to the enhanced presentation of the city’s collection was made in 2006, when The Friends’ grant of £40,000 funded the refurbishment of Gallery 7, now a sumptuous room full of fine glass, silver and beautiful paintings of the Bristol School. More recently, The Friends assisted with the restoration of the statue of Sir Charles Wetherell, now standing in an alcove in the Red Lodge garden; with the makeover of the Georgian House garden; and with the installation of new signage at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery.
Excitingly, there is now another Museum for The Friends to support – M Shed. Already the Galleries of M Shed contain 50 paintings, all related to Bristol, many of which were either fully or partly funded by us. We also funded two commissions by internationally renowned artists with Bristol roots - Kate Malone’s Lady Gourd, ‘Fruits of my Life’, and the eye-catching ‘River Avon Muddy River Walk’ by Richard Long.
Collectively, the art which the Friends have helped Bristol Art Gallery acquire over the years would today cost millions of pounds to purchase. You can help us continue the good work by becoming a member of the Friends – just click on JOIN to do so.
But the Friends are not just about raising money. We have a lot of fun, too – for details of our social events, outings and lectures, click on Activities or Programme.