Spike Island

Open 2013


4 to 6 May 2013, 11am–5pm


Free, no booking required

Event type

Other events

Join us for our annual Open weekend of inspirations and conversations, questions, provocations and delights.

Spike Island is a place where art is made, exhibited and discussed.

On any given day here, artists are working away in studios, designers and other creative practitioners are running their businesses, students are learning and visitors are attending exhibitions and talks by the most exciting figures in international art and design. It’s unlike any other arts organisation in the United Kingdom, both for those based here and for those who engage directly with these people, processes and conversations through our public programme.

Once a year everyone in the Spike Island community comes together to showcase the breadth and diversity of the activity that takes place here. The weekend offers visitors not only the opportunity to explore parts of the 80,000 sq ft former Brooke Bond tea packing factory that are not normally accessible to the public, but to meet the people who work here and to get involved themselves.

This year’s Open focuses on showcasing the production and processes that make Spike Island such a dynamic hub, and visitors are encouraged to get involved themselves. Groups and organisations based in the building run special events designed to introduce their work: try out your own creative skills in one of our hands-on activities, chill out in the Associates space, see an exhibition or get into a debate with one of the presenters at Speakers’ Corner. Pop-up cafés around the building offer a variety of meals, snacks and treats for visitors in need of refreshments.

Join us also on the evening of Friday 3 May for a preview from 6 to 9pm, followed by a party till late. This is part of the Harbourside Arts Night held in partnership with M Shed, Arnolfini, Works|Projects and Bristol Diving School.

→ Download the Spike Island Open 2013 programme (pdf)

Support us

Spike Island is a registered charity and the Open weekend costs us more than £5000 to run each year. If each visitor gave just £1, we’d be able to cover our costs and put more resources toward our year-round programme of exhibitions, talks, tours, and activities, many of which are free.

We hope you will consider making a donation at one of the information points around the building during the Open.


Artists’ Studios

Spike Island's studios are home to over 70 artists at all stages of their career, working with a broad range of styles, methods and materials. They benefit from a lively communal culture of peer support and collaboration, as well as quiet, accessible, affordable working spaces.

Spike Associates

Spike Associates – a membership network of artists, curators and other creative producers – invite visitors to take a break in the Associates’ space, offering a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of the Open weekend. There’ll be a chance to talk to Associates about what’s on offer from the programme and what’s taken place over the last year.

Spike Print Studio

Spike Print Studio is an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation providing exceptional studio facilities for fine art printmaking. Visitors can see the workshops, find out more about classes and buy prints, artists’ books, cards and other items.   


Situations, the producers behind some of the most challenging forms of public art in recent years, including Alex Hartley's Nowhereisland for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, invite visitors to stop by their studio to explore "What can public art be?"

UWE Fine Arts Studios

In a chain of rooms operating like parts of a ship, University of the West of England Fine Arts students exhibit work that explore the act of navigation pursued for its own sake.  Art, charts and performances furnish the vessel from the bilge to the wheel house.Closes at 3pm on Monday 6 May.


Works|Projects is a commercial gallery established by the independent curator Simon Morrissey. Since its launch in November 2008, Works|Projects has presented a distinctive programme of solo exhibitions, curated group exhibitions, talks and events.

Information points

Stop by one of three desks around the building to chat with staff, find out more about Spike Island, get recommendations on what to see and do, sign up for our newsletter or make a donation.

Exhibitions and projects

Jessica Warboys, Ab Ovo

This is the largest exhibition to date by British artist Jessica Warboys, drawing together new and existing films, paintings, sculptures and performance.

Cara Tolmie, Pley

Tolmie’s new video installation explores the ways in which meaning is created and, in particular, how context shifts our reception and understanding of events.

Spike Print Studio members

This group exhibition showcases the wide range of processes and styles used by Spike Print Studio members.

John Lynch

Lynch was the recipient of Spike Print Studio’s 2013 Peter Reddick bursary, and here presents new works-in-progress that explore urban decay using computer-generated, photographic and hand-drawn elements.

Spike Island studio holders, What is Art to an Artist?

This artist-curated show features finished pieces, reference material and objects found in artists’ studios around Spike Island, highlighting themes that link divergent practices together.

Mike Ricketts, The Vessel

At Works|Projects, Ricketts presents the story of the UK’s only prison ship of modern times, HM Prison The Weare. The exhibition features a film narrating Ricketts’ attempts to access, photograph and track the barge, plus ephemera and other artists’ paintings of the ship.

Marcus Jefferies and Colin Higginson, Perpetual City

This new film and sculpture installation showcases recent collaborative work inspired by an archival image of the Democracity exhibit in the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

Philippa Lawrence, A work in progress

Lawrence presents a new work in which a world map is rearranged as a ‘drawing’ in the form of an oscillating atom, elegantly drawing attention to the nature of all things.

Bristol Diving School, Bristol Diving School Does:

This artist collective presents a project reflecting the multifaceted nature of the group’s activity, featuring physical and digital contributions from members in Bristol, London, Lancashire and the Netherlands.

Spike Island timeline

Get an overview of what artists, designers, staff and other practitioners based at Spike Island have been up to over the past year. Highlights include local, national and international exhibitions, performances and residencies, plus awards, publications and more.


This one-stop shop offers visitors an opportunity to purchase prints, books, objects and other artworks produced by members of the Spike Island community, along with Spike Island publications and editions.

Online screening room

Selected by curator and artist Lucy Reynolds, this digital platform showcases a programme of moving image work by members of Spike Island artists’ studios and Associates programme, featuring Katie Davies, Elisa Juncosa Umaran, Mark Samsworth, Edwina Ashton, Bristol Diving School and Paul Harrington.

Activities and special events

Spike Island children’s trail

All weekend

Pick up our playful alternative guide to navigating the building, available at any of our information points. Designed by illustrator and animator Rose Robbins, young visitors can follow the lead of Nettle the studio dog to find clues that lead to a prize at the end.

Spike Print Studio raffle

Available all weekend until draw on Monday 6 May, 4pm

Help the studio to raise money to improve their studio equipment by buying raffle tickets at £1 each. Prizes include a framed print by Clare Cutts and £50 Spike Print Studio voucher.  

Room 13 Hareclive, The Wall of No Easy Answers

All weekend

If you could ask just one question… Collaborate with young artists from Hartcliffe and Withywood and other Spike Island Open visitors by adding your inquisitive voice to their collection of queries.

Spike Design tours

Daily at 1pm and 4pm

Members of Spike Design’s dynamic community of designers, illustrators, writers, programmers and other small creative businesses offer visitors the chance to see the coworking space and learn more about the people based there.  Please sign up in advance at the information point at the main entrance.

Speakers’ Corner

Daily, on the hour 1–4pm

We’ve invited a range of internal and external speakers to deliver informal, ultra-short, lo-fi presentations to Open visitors, followed by the opportunity for questions and conversation. A full schedule will be available at the Open weekend.

Three Short Works

Daily at 12pm

Menna Cominetti and Sebastian Jefford have curated a showreel of images culled from Spike Associates members’ research material, to which an ensemble of musically-inclined Associates (Phil Owen, Ben Owen and Matt Davies) provides a soundtrack to the visual projection in an improvised performance.

A Brief Introduction to the Delicious and Nutritious World of Spike Associates

Daily at 2.30pm

Members of artists’ cooperative the Collect serve up a complimentary fruit salad, inviting visitors to sample an edible representation of the fresh and tasty melange of minds that make up Spike Associates.

Print for a Pound

Saturday 4 May, 1–3pm and Sunday 5 May, 11am–1pm

Visit Spike Print Studio to have a go at creating your own work of art and trying out their printmaking processes. Just £1 per print.

Objectives: a writing workshop

Monday 6 May, 3–4.30pm

Odd socks, pebbles, soap, cutlery — objects all have their stories to tell. Join Spike Island’s writer-in-residence Holly Corfield Carr to build inventive new texts inspired by everyday items. Anyone interested in exploring writing is invited to take part, regardless of experience. Please sign up in advance at the information point at the main entrance.


Spike Café

Our in-house eatery offers a tasty range of fresh meals and snacks alongside hot drinks, juices, beers and wine.

La Bonne Crêpe

Treat yourself to a hot, freshly-made pancake with a variety of sweet and savoury toppings from this traditional crêperie.

Paper Cup Café

This mobile espresso bar features Extract coffee, teas and hot chocolate, all of which are perfect with a delicious baked goodie from Harts Bakery.

UWE Student Café

In a galley amidst their ship-inspired space, UWE Fine Art third-year students serve up treats to raise money for their upcoming degree show.