Bristol Open Doors DayBy Robert Frische on Fri, 09/14/2012 - 16:57
Bristol Open Doors Day has been going for almost 20 years and gives the general public unfettered access to the most important monuments in the city.
That includes the chance to see where and how the mayor of Bristol lives, guided tours of the Wills Memorial Building and the Clifton Rocks Railway.
The 2012 Bristol Open Doors Day was particularly blessed with lovely weather, which was an added bonus for the second weekend of September.
Unfortunately as many of the tours need to be reserved on arrival on the Saturday, quite a few of them were fully booked by people who had been enterprising enough to wake up early.
Nevertheless we got a chance to see the walk through the impressive Wills Memorial Building, and the beautiful library used by earth sciences students at the University of Bristol.
Another highlight was the Unnatural History exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy, which is normally a paid entry exhibition. Although some of the artworks there were definitely on the disturbing side (a naked Minotaur statue and a weird baby riding an ostrich, to name but two) they are of the highest quality and loaded with Freudian significance.
The side of the academy which is normally reserved for art students was also open with some free still life drawing and print production classes set up. A 10 minute sketch competition was a great way to indulge creativity and blow off some steam, but probably not so fun for the model who had to sit there all day!
The Mayoral Mansion was also incredible to see, and is now home to Bristol’s first openly gay Lord Mayor. Councillor Peter Main was on hand to guide visitors through his opulent drawing room. He told a story about a painting of the Queen arriving at Bristol but not leaving her carriage, potentially due to the royalty holding a grudge against Bristol for supporting the parliamentarians in the Civil War.
These were just a handful of the 60 odd venues on offer - we look forward to more insight into the history and culture of this great city next year...