A night at the museum, Bristol style

2011-01-26, Comments

Horace Brodsky, by Gaudier-Brzeska, Bristol museum

There’s a perspex chair on the upper gallery by this sculpture. It’s for the museum staff, obviously, but I didn’t think they’d mind me using it. I pulled it into position, sat down and began sketching.

When I’d arrived, half-past five-ish, the museum had been quiet. Not empty, but quiet. I knew a bit about the sculptor, Gaudier-Brezska, but who was his subject, Horace Brodsky? Certainly, he looked remarkable. I could hear activity in the entrance hall below, muted voices, footsteps. I drew in the gallery’s stone rail, tracing it back to the bronze musicians and the bust of Henry Irving. One day I should try and draw those wonderful chandeliers properly.

When I’d finished I walked down the stairs towards the British wildlife gallery. The noise levels had increased. The rear hall was packed out. Positive, laidback, funky, exciting, spectacular actually. All the chairs were occupied, people were sitting on the floor and stairs, leaning on gallery rails. On the screen was the promo video for M Shed, which will open — at last — in 2011.

It turned out, the main event wasn’t about M Shed, it was about the work done digitising the South West’s film archive followed by a screening of some of the archive’s contents. It was the first of a series to be held on the last Wednesday of the month for next few months. I watched for a while. They were showing some archive footage of trams gliding around the centre Bristol, accompanied by piano music. Next up, a street party held to celebrate the coronation.