Exploring our Heritage | From Marsh to Metropolis

22 Feb 2019

In celebration of our Theatre's exciting Heritage offer, we spoke with the artists responsible for creating the various interpretations you can uncover around our building. Here we find out more about 'King Street: From Marsh to Metropolis', created by Bristol-based Bex Glover.

Introduce yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Bex and I’m an artist, illustrator and graphic designer based in Bristol - working in both physical and digital mediums.

What piece of interpretation did you design, and what were the ideas behind it? 
I worked on the artistic timeline of King Street, 'From Marsh to Metropolis'. The idea was to create a timeline of events on King Street throughout its history. We wanted the piece to tell a story (or series of stories) in a loose timeline format, yet still work as a piece of engaging visual art along the corridors of the pit level. 

Why did you want to get involved with the Bristol Old Vic Heritage project? 
I was chuffed to be chosen to work with Bristol Old Vic, through a selection process initiated by the lovely folks at the Upfest Gallery in Bristol. I live in Bristol and am from the West Country, and it was a fantastic opportunity to be involved with such a publically treasured historic and creative institution. The idea of creatively helping people to engage with the past, whilst simultaneously producing something that forms part of the Theatres own history, was an exciting prospect. 

How was the experience of working a team consisting of project managers, archivists and Bristol Old Vic staff?
The process was incredibly interesting. As Artistic Director, Tom Morris was very inspiring and helped me to challenge my abilities and creative endeavours for this project. I worked closely with Liam and Amy from the Heritage Engagement team on the historic details and their insight and support was invaluable in coming up with the concepts. Project manager Tom Bennett from Interactive Places, was also so supportive and helpful throughout the whole process. I worked alongside many other Bristol Old Vic staff during the actual installation process and my lasting impression of the project was how nice all the staff were, how passionate and knowledgeable they all were about the new theatre extension as well as its history and heritage. As such, I really felt part of the Bristol Old Vic team. 

What were the challenges of working on your piece of interpretation, and how did you overcome them?
Deciding what to include in the timeline and how to configure the information was the first challenge. There were so many interesting events and pieces of history, it was hard to choose, but working as a team we developed a concept that we hoped would be both visually and historically interesting. We also wanted the art to be a timeline of sorts, that people could follow around the walls, yet at the same time, simply appreciate at a glance as well as on closer inspection. The final concept was an abstract timeline that starts and ends chronically but has a bit of fun in-between. The first wall focusing on the very early King Street era, when it was built on the original Marshland. The second wall focuses more on the themes of trade and commerce and how King Street and the surrounding area were involved. The final wall reveals various buildings along King Street and snippets of their history, culminating in the present day opening of the new Bristol Old Vic extension. I had real fun creating the characters, buildings and scenes from the various time periods, which aim to address the challenge of showing interesting historic details, whist the more abstract background and marshland references, which feature throughout, pull these ideas together to from an overall piece of art. This was one of the most challenging jobs I’ve done - working on a large scale with so much detail, on a brick surface, creating scenes showing buildings and people rather than the more nature related work I usually do. Working closely with the Bristol Old Vic team and really pushing my comfort zone as an artist, helped me to overcome and embrace these challenges. 

Are you happy with how the final product turned out?
I’m really happy with the outcome of my piece but moreover, so pleased to have my work in the Bristol Old Vic, featuring alongside the brilliant creative folks who have produced the many other exciting interpretations for the Heritage project.

To find out more about our Heritage offer and our Theatre's rich 252 year-history, click here.