I have been invited to exhibit the Natural Perceptions series at the Tobacco Factory arts venue in south Bristol. The waiting list is long, and at this point I only know that the photographs will be on display for a month in early 2019 but I am still waiting for final dates to be established.
The Tobacco factory is owned and run by Bristols first elected mayor George Fergusson. The building was originally established as part of the Wills tobacco empire that was based in Bristol in the early nineteenth century and was saved from demolition in 1993 by architect George Fergusson. As the tobacco industry declined in the 1970’s, Imperial Tobacco moved to more modern facilities on the edge of Bristol, leaving the iconic red brick buildings of Southville to become derelict.
The 40,000 square foot building today exists as a creative hub within south Bristol. The ground floor is predominantly open to the public in the form of a large cafe bar, while the second floor contains a theatre. The third floor is home to a wide range of local creative local businesses offing office and studio space, while the top floor is residential accommodation.
I have been involved with the Tobacco Factory over the last few years in several ways as a freelance photographer. My own studio was previously based around the corner and so I have worked for both the Tobacco Factory itself, and many of the other creative businesses based there. For many years I was commissioned to photograph the legendary New Years parties held at the venue with a full portrait studio based on the ground floor and a team of other photographers to work around the venue who I also employed. Always a hectic and busy event, I would work through the night to have images available by New Years Day. It was also an opportunity to meet a lot of the creative businesses based there which led to many more still life and advertising photography commissions. Over the years I have been commissioned to photograph portraits, still life advertising images for Axa insurance, a huge amount of editorial floristry images and much more, all through the connections I have made at the Tobacco Factory.
The cafe bar area displays a range of artwork exhibitions on rotation and it is free for the public to come in and view the work. Depending on the scale of the projects being displayed, it is possible to utilise the entire space or subdivide it for smaller collections of work. The Natural Perceptions series will be displayed on the entire ground floor of the venue in the main cafe bar area. The ground floor of the venue retains its historical relevance with a post industrial feel to the space. The floor is polished concrete and the walls are exposed red bricks. There is a significant amount of ceiling height and the original windows flood the space with natural light, which makes it ideal for displaying artwork.
As I wait for the final dates of the exhibition to be confirmed, I am filled with a mixture of excitement and fear as I put my work in front of an audience in a way I have not really done before.