Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Bristol

Bristol Botanic Garden
Initially lured to Bristol Botanic Garden by promise of their latest art installation, what I found was a tranquil oasis with a range of unusual plants. The explanatory signs placed around the garden explain the species unique to the area, far more than I would have imagined, and the various pollinators that keep plant species going. There’s also a Chinese Garden where you can learn about the medicinal uses of various plants, and greenhouses full of extraordinary species (including the biggest lily pads I’ve ever seen). Autumn is the perfect time to visit as the range of colours move from greens to yellows, oranges, and reds. It is a peaceful, beautiful place to spend a happy afternoon.

Part of The Impossible Garden
As for The Impossible Garden installation, well, it was a lot of fun. Twelve exhibits designed by Luke Jerram can be found around the garden, each aiming to stimulate discussion on visual impairment and perception. What has resulted is an entertaining yet meaningful display.  One moment you’ll find yourself in an Alice in Wonderland type dilemma, being dwarfed by a picnic bench, the next you’ll be tricked into thinking a sculpture is really an open doorway. Around the corner you’ll find yourself thinking about colour blindness or what it would be like not to be able to see in focus. The Impossible Garden is open until 25th November but whether or not you’re able to get there for it, the gardens are worth a visit any time of year.

While exploring the streets of Bristol and marveling at the mix of modern and historic architecture we happened upon the University of Bristol Theatre Archive. They welcome the public in to see displays of a selection of their material. At the moment they have an exhibition celebrating two hundred years of the London Old Vic and an exhibition curated by History of Art MA students on the importance of costume in performances by Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.

Clowns: The Eggs-hibition
Conveniently close by is Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. There predominantly for their unusual clown exhibition, we were first distracted by their Ancient Egypt gallery. A fascinating display on life and death in Ancient Egypt with some thought provoking interactive displays.

Clowns: The Eggs-hibition celebrates two hundred and fifty years of the circus with a display focusing on clown eggs – a unique way of ensuring the make-up and costume of established clowns are not copied. Clowns International started this practice over seventy years ago and each egg can take several days to paint. There are also displays of costumes and opportunities to try some clown tricks yourself. For those afraid of clowns this exhibition would be your worst nightmare but there is mention of clowns wanting to reclaim their image of fun rather than fear. Perhaps this exhibition will contribute somewhat, open until 6th January 2019.

The exterior of Bristol planetarium
Our final educational stop of the day was the planetarium at We The Curious, an attractions that looks fascinating. Planetarium guests can only visit the displays relating to space however, and although small it is packed with interesting facts and interactive opportunities. The planetarium itself is the only 3D one in the UK and on their night-time showings they have two different shows available. Unfortunately an uncomfortable experience (they’re having a refurbishment later in the year which will hopefully make things more comfortable), it was an interesting evening of learning about constellations and what we might have been able to see in the sky had it been less cloudy.
Deers at Ashton Court Estate

On our last day we drove over the famous suspension bridge to Ashton Court Estate. Covering 850 acres and with various activities from pitch and putt to mountain biking it’s bound to have something that appeals. Being on a budget we decided to take a walk in the deer park that offers panoramic views across the city as well as many deer. A pleasant end to the trip.

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