The communities of Clifton and
Hotwells chose to celebrate Brunel in not just one way, but in three ‘strands’,
to highlight and celebrate how Brunel’s achievements surround and
dominate those areas of Bristol.
Firstly, local practising artists were
asked to produce work around a Brunel theme, which attracted around 30
contributors working in many disciplines including sculpture, drawing,
print, pottery, glass, oil paint and watercolour. The group were also
proud to host work from internationally-renowned artist Richard Long
RA. This work was exhibited during April 2006 at the CREATE Centre in
The Stove Pipe Hat Competition formed the second
strand of the project. The brief was to find an alternative use for
Brunel’s hat, with
a £250 prize kindly provided by the Hotwells Pantomime group. Hotwells
School and Teyfant Primary School took a joint role in the competition
producing some super results.
Entries were imaginative and diverse; Bristol
Blue Glass produced an ice-bucket hat made of glass, a chocolate hat
was submitted, Clifton Village Pottery showed a hat moneybox. Others
drew inspiration from the screw that drives the propellor of the ss Great
The winner, chosen by Peter Lord of Aardman Animations,
was the Stove Pie Hat (complete with pies) designed for Brunel to keep
The organisers felt
the most rewarding to be involved in, was one involving the children
at Hengrove School, who had worked in conjunction with the Detached
Youth Group based at Eagle House in Knowle West.
Students created intriguing
images from stovepipe hat pinhole cameras, made from beer cans! The results
from the workshop have since been displayed in the Arrivals Lounge at Bristol
Later in the year Hotwells Community Group hosted ‘An Audience
with Sarah Guppy’ in the lecture theatre at CREATE. The show was
a performance by Kim Hicks for Show
of Strength Theatre Company, based
on the life, love, work and inventions of Sarah Guppy, one of Brunel’s
supporters, and mother of Thomas Guppy, a fellow engineer. Additionally,
Sue Stops and Pauline Barnes presented an evening for the Magpies (the
support group for the University of Bristol).
group felt that they suffered from a lack of publicity in the local press,
they had received over 600 visitors by the half-way point of their project,
and continued to receive positive comments and feedback from visitors.
“I like the bird seed one.”
“I like the toilet one, it made me laugh."
“I have seen many exhibitions here in CREATE
and I have to say this is one of the best! There is variety, quality
and liveliness. Great, very impressive work!”
“The Winner! Fabulous exhibition, Bristol is such a beautiful
city, enjoy it and be proud of it.”
“Interesting to see so many people’s very different view
points and experiences of Bristol and the bridge, and what it means to
Photography: Mark Simmons.