There are plenty of cafes in Bristol with art covering their walls. But there is only one whose raison d’etre is art, and whose every single inch of available space is packed with paintings, sketches and sculptures, hung closely together at all heights and angles.
By my ludicrously comfortable corner seat, with the stuffing protruding from inside, were four pen and ink drawings by Tim Nurse of the recent eviction of squatters from the former Jesters building about 100 yards away. On the wall opposite were some fantastically detailed pen and ink panoramas by Jonathan Farr showing this corner of Bristol in various stages of development. And near the bar were a selection of colourful bird boxes.
This place is not called The Arts House for no reason. And it is not just visual artists who call the building home. The Arts House encourages artists of all descriptions to join them, aiming to encompass and embrace Bristol artists of all descriptions: painters and potters, woodworkers and upholsterers, singer songwriters and DJs, poets and puppeteers, photographers and cake makers.
There are courses, clubs, workshops, live music nights, a gallery space downstairs, and thanks to a special license with Filmbank, The Arts House can show cinema classics old and new for free. Don’t forget that they are a cafe as well, with homemade paninis, pastries, cakes, salads, soups and tapas, as well as fair trade coffees from around the world and a good selection of bottled beers, ciders and spirits.
Gallery, cafe, bar, cinema, live music venue. The Arts House could only be in Stokes Croft. It is a fascinating and fantastic place.
The Arts House, 108a Stokes Croft.