Bristol is currently art capital of the UK with exciting new spaces and a hotbed of contemporary artistic talent. Hip duo Chippy Coates and Richard Scarry cult bloggers, curators and life partners Country Calling through it.
Bristol seems to be have a happening art scene at the moment with some of the country's most interesting new artists and some brilliant new art spaces. How has that come about?
Bristol’s art scene is booming, there are so many creative people living in Bristol working in digital arts, theatre, music and the visual arts. I imagine that the more affordable studio spaces and living expenses compared to London gave been a major attraction. There are many good studios with good reputations like Jamaica Street, Spike Island and BV Studiios that are all very good at promoting and working collectively to provide a platform for artists to show and excel in their work.
How did you come together and why did you choose Bristol as your base?
Richard lived in Los Angeles and Chippy in Bristol his hometown, we initially met on a date in Bristol when Richard was here on business and the rest is history. A year later and after several transatlantic air miles we decided to give it a shot in Bristol. Both of our families are based in the UK so it made sense.
You have some really diverse and interesting artists on your rosta. Can you tell me a bit about some of your newest clients and also how you choose who to work with?
We work with many artists and we love them all. We are very careful to select based on quality of work and uniqueness of style or subject. Well-executed artwork is a must for us. Sometimes it is just gut instinct but also a piece of artwork will grow on you, finding out more about an artist and the individual piece personalises it so much more. When we are working on group shows and collaborations we are thinking broadly. For our latest show ‘Unnatural – Natural History’ we had to consider the audience and what we are trying to achieve. We are very keen to increase participation in the visual arts from all sections of society. There is no point in inviting artist to make statements and exhibiting works to the same audience over and over again. We wanted to make the show eclectic giving it a feel of a Victorian collection like those people collected and displayed when on the ‘Grand Tour’ therefore there are lots of works in different mediums. There are other factors to consider like the price of works but the main factor is choosing work that fits with the title of the show.
Who should we be watching out for this year?
One new painter we have started working with is Dean Melbourne, his work is very different and unique. He is very influenced by images which he collects in thousands and stores in his studio or on hard drive. His style is very painterly and his colour palette a little obscure due to his tendency to paint and mix paint under artificial light giving an unexpected but welcome surprise in the development of his style.
Another rising star is Deedee Cheriel. This Los Angeles based painters career is going very well and we are fortunate to work with her. Her paintings have the best titles and are all based on real human references that we can all relate to. One of our favourites is a painting called ‘This Interpersonal Drama Is Totally Bumming Me Out’, I think we can all relate to this at some point in our lives. Deedee is also a street artist and supporting females street artists is one thing we are keen on as it is very dominated by men.
For sheer size and skill Luis Sanchez’s stucco works are amazing, allegorical and full of character these pieces over 150cm in length are full of texture and Trompe-Loeil. Astounding pieces of work. There are, of course, many others as always.
Which are your favourite art spaces in the West Country?
The RWA has fantastic galleries with lots of natural light. The Arnolfini also has a great exhibition space as does the M Shed with its new gallery. Apart from these designed commercial gallery spaces it is always great dipping into the open studios at BV, Spike and Jamaica Street.
Pictured: Richard and Chippy aka Coates & Scarry