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Spike Associate Laurie Lax gained clarity and confidence at Jamboree – and a national network of couches

Only a certain kind of person would sign up to sleep on a gallery floor for three nights with a bunch of strangers. The chances are these people would probably get along just fine…

Often artists are expected to give ‘presentations’ or an ‘artist talk’, but I have found very little guidance on what is actually wanted. Useful from the offset, LOW PROFILE set the task of condensing our practices into 6-minute presentations to share with the group, shaped around three specific questions – the most useful for me being ‘please describe your current and biggest concerns?’

I knew this could be interpreted as something formal that needed to be resolved in the work, or balancing making and paid work, or ‘professional goals?’ However, I posed the question that I am most shy to ask for fear of being pigeon-holed, ridiculed or challenged; the thing that’s been bugging me since I was a student; the thing that’s terribly un-fashionable, the thing that I can’t stop making work about – ‘how to deal with the environment and climate change through my work?’

This was met with a simple but poignant ‘don’t worry about it’. If it’s a genuine concern revealing itself through the process of making, then it is a genuine concern and there is nothing I can do about it. The social, political and scientific effects of climate change are rich territory to explore, but I would still not identify with the term environmental artist!

As well as new confidence in that particular aspect of my work, I will take away from Jamboree the discovery of a little gem in the coast – Plymouth, and a nationwide network of couches to sleep on. Some of us have already met up in Glasgow!


lewdjaw on Jamboree – an audiovisual interpretation

That’s what I want $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

WE (Duck’s fly together)

WE should say YES more to each other, SAY YES. Maybe pp will say YES back?


Place Making: Spike Associates Laurie Lax, Laura Phillips and lewdjaw reflect on what it’s like to be an artist in Bristol


In terms of art spaces, there are only a handful of public art galleries, and LOTS of transitory pop-up spaces and events, giving it a constantly fresh atmosphere. This is reliant on the general public being actively engaged in the arts – it’s quite a fun-loving party city (not surprising given its proximity to Glastonbury, like San Francisco to Burning Man). The downside of that is Bristol lacks spaces that are in-between and spaces for emerging artists that have longevity. Hyper-gentrification is happening, sometimes Bristol is referred to as ‘West West London’ – lot’s of Londoners are moving over. The neighbourhoods are all very distinct from each other, so there is something for everyone. In fact we unanimously agreed on one-word summaries of all the areas (Clifton=posh, bedminster=yummy mummy, Stokes Croft=crusty…)! Quite an alternative politically aware city (Bus boycotts, Tesco Riot, Counterfire, Museum of Palestine, Tony Benn was local MP…)

Main Galleries:
Spike Island (divisive)
Arnolfini (hit and miss)
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery (classic museum but a really good art programme)
Royal West of England Academy (mainly traditional but sometimes contemporary!)
The graveyard of pop-up spaces (in last 6 years only):
Motorcyle Showrooms, The Looking Glass Art Space, Parlour Showrooms, Vericonian Palace, Motorcade Flashparade, Detroit, Bristol Diving School, Central Reservation, Madescapes, Lot, Plan 9… leaving room for new shoots!!!

Regular art festivals:
Bristol & Bath Art Weekender
International Performance Association (various events)
Spike Open Studios
Bristol Biennial
Mayfest (theatre and performance art)
In Between Time Festival…

Healthy pattern of cross-disciplinary collaboration i.e. with music, film and science:
Qu Junktions (booking agents and event organisers who often work with visual artists)
Howling Owl Record Company – label who also put on events and operate in art settings
Young Echo – exciting music collective that put on arty performances
Strong graphitti scene (Banksy!) with the events ‘See No Evil’ and ‘Upfest’ annual graphitti festivals on Nelson Street and North Street respectively, and the outside gallery curated by ‘The People’s republic of Stokes Croft’ born out of the ‘Tesco riots’
Aardman (Wallace & Gromit) and BB Natural History Unit are based in Bristol… so lot’s of media people and facilities around.
Strong circus scene because of the school and venue Circomedia.
Bristol University and UWE means a lot of students of all disciplines.

Local legends: Richard Long, Massive Attack, Portishead…

Art related but still regarded a hidden gem:
The Cube Microplex (radical cinema, stage, hub, co-op, managed and owned by volunteers)

Non-art related:
St. Peter & St. Pauls Catholic Cathedral near Clifton
Narrowways Hill (The Mound) in St. Werburghs – a rare untilled piece of land
Cycle paths – Sustrans (national cycle network) is a Bristol based charity
Bristol Rovers – women’s football team
St Paul’s Carnival – not that hidden but a more manageable party compared to Notting Hill carnival
Greenbank Cemetery
A child curated gallery on Vicarage road, inside the missing brick in a wall

Touristy stuff that’s actually worth checking out:
SS Great Britain
The Suspension Bridge
The docks
The shot tower
The zoo is ‘well kept’ and involved in international environmental activism


Laurie Lax was born in Canterbury in 1987 and graduated from BA Fine Art at Bath School of Art & Design. She is based at BV Studios in Bristol and has completed several residencies including Cow House Studios in Ireland; Nida Art Colony in Lithuania; Merz Barn in Cumbria (supported by a-n’s Go and See bursary); Ricklungården in Lapland (Sweden). Exhibited in London, Bristol, Dundee, Folkestone, Canterbury and Chester; internationally in Germany, Ireland and Poland. Selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2014, and nominated for the Drawing Room Bursary Award 2015. Commissioned works by Supernormal Festival, Antler’s Gallery, Bristol Biennial and the Royal West of England Academy.

Laura Phillips (b.1986) is an artist based in Bristol and is a studio member of BEEF (Bristol Experimental & Expanded Film). Selected screenings include Cornwall Film Festival, Annexinema Screening G39, Outpost Summer Fayre. Awards include: Exeter Contemporary Open. Selected exhibitions as part of Bristol Diving School include: Erial Sutra, Croxhapox, Ghent, Belgium (2015) P-E-R, TOAST, Manchester (2014), Memex: An Autoscopic Exercise, KARST, Plymouth (2012).

lewdjaw is currently based in Bristol, Co-Director of East Bristol Contemporary gallery, and Co-Editor of lockjaws*. Recent exhibitions include shows in Bristol and Bath Art Weekender, Spike Island Test Space, Platform Award Modern Art Oxford, Surface Gallery (Nottingham), Bibliotheque Jean Puy (France), Old Police Station (London).


Jamboree #1: Plymouth was produced and facilitated by LOW PROFILE and developed in partnership with PAC Home (Plymouth Arts Centre’s associate programme) and with the generous support of a-n and Plymouth Culture, in addition to the six main partners: PAC Home and Plymouth Arts Centre (Plymouth), Spike Associates and Spike Island (Bristol), WARP and g39 (Cardiff), Extra Special People and Eastside Projects (Birmingham), CG Associates and Castlefield Gallery (Manchester), Glasgow Sculpture Studios (Glasgow).