"I care about [Arnolfini] and what it stands for, which to me is definitely at the challenging end of the gallery experience."
When did I first visit Arnolfini?
Crikey. It must have been 1973 or 1974. Although I'm Bristolian, I went away and so the visit at that time was to see friends in Bristol. As I remember, the Arnolfini was in some Shed then – was it W Shed? Can't remember – somewhere near where Watershed is now anyway.
What did I come and see?
Sorry can't remember for the life of me. I do remember from early-ish years Patrick Heron's paintings. Richard Long, of course, David Nash…
What was I doing when Arnolfini began?
In 1961? I was at Primary School – in Bristol in fact – but whether my parents ever took me to the nascent Arnolfini - - - - well, I wish I could claim it, but I don't remember.
What has kept me coming back?
Curiosity. Optimism. Frankly (and don't take this the wrong way) a lack of alternative. Where else in Bristol are we going to see – sometimes - amazing, startling, provocative, troubling, annoying, challenging work by major international figures? The fact that I almost never know of the artists when I walk through the doors, is a good thing – but challenging. Personally I'd love to see Patrick Heron's paintings in the flesh again – and would obviously rush to the gallery to see them. But failing that - faced with names that mean nothing to me - I enter innocently, open-minded, prepared –and hoping – to be transported in some way. Sometimes I am. Often enough to keep returning. Also the bar. Also it's a place – and there aren't enough in Bristol – where people interested in the Arts will gather and be found. I wish we had more places like it.
Why do I support Arnolfini?
Because I care about it and what it stands for, which to me is definitely at the challenging end of the gallery experience. Let's be honest, I've seen quite a lot of exhibitions there from which I've drawn very little. But I'd much rather that than somewhere too lazy, easy, comfortable.
Peter Lord, Aardman animations