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Artspace Lifespace: Ashton Court Mansion becomes Arts Mansion

While options are being considered for the future of Ashton Court Mansion, Artspace Lifespace (ASLS) has stepped in to take on the running of the mansion house from May 2018.

Artspace Lifespace is known for helping to find solutions for problem properties and transforming them into thriving creative resources. Kathryn Chiswell Jones, Company Manager said: “We are delighted to have been offered the opportunity to invigorate Ashton Court Mansion with arts activity over the next two years. This iconic estate is a hugely popular destination but many people have not been able to see inside the mansion. We look forward to opening up the mansion for a range of activities for everyone to enjoy”. Rachel Buchanan, ASLS Trustee said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for us to reimagine Ashton Court Mansion as a space for all. We hope that everyone will come and join in with the activities, and contribute to the discussions about the long term future of the estate for Bristol.”

Deputy Mayor Councillor Asher Craig said: “We are delighted to be working with Artspace Lifespace to open up the mansion house to the public while decisions are made on its long term future.

“We know how important the mansion house is to the people of Bristol, and it will be fantastic to see it full of life again.”

Artspace Lifespace will be hosting a range of free family friendly exhibitions and activities from Saturday May 19th from 11-4pm. Exhibiting artists in the Great Hall, Panelled Lounges and Music Room include Les Matthews, Suzy Davis and Anthea K. Matthews; James Starr and Sophie Long; Tim Munson, Doug Francisco and Alana Ashley; and Island tenants Brook Tate, Jennie Cave and Toby Ross.

On May 19th Artspace Lifespace will be hosting The Arts Mansion Alternative Royal Wedding. You can view the royal nuptials on a big screen in the music room from 12pm and afterwards participate in an alternative wedding ceremony. Dress code: ‘wedding fabulous’ hats, flower in lapels, bridesmaid or wedding dresses, with a prize for the best dressed. The bar and Stables cafe will be open and you’re welcome to bring a picnic into the music room. On May 20th we will be hosting the first of our Games Sunday sessions from 11am to 4pm. We’re planning lots of other activities over the summer so keep an eye open for further announcements and feel free to get in touch with your own suggestions. Ashton Court Mansion Regular Opening Hours from 19 May will be Wednesday-Sunday: 11am-4pm.

Many thanks to Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council and Womble Bond Dickinson for helping to arrange Artspace Lifespace’s tenure in the mansion.

The Great Hall is available to hire as a Gallery space, and the stunning music room and panelled lounges which overlook the south lawn are available to hire for rehearsals, workshops, classes and events.

To enquire about hiring the mansion from June 2018 then please contact:

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What's on


Exhibition and Drawing Classes: Life in the Asylum

Tue, 29/05/2018 - Fri, 08/06/2018

Glenside Hospital Museum comes to town bringing a taste of its historic collection of drawings, photographs, and artefacts relating to mental health care in Bristol, with a series of experimental drawing workshops, open to all.
29th May – 8th June 2018
11am-6pm weekdays – 12 – 4pm Sat & Sun
For workshop timetable and booking go to

The Vestibules (Park Street entrance), City Hall, at the front of the building, looking out onto College Green, BS1 5TR

Glenside Hospital Museum’s perceptive documentary drawings by Denis Reed (ARCA. RWA), artist and patient at Bristol Mental Hospital, speak volumes of what life was like in this psychiatric hospital in the 1950s, shortly after the NHS had taken over the management. Each of his beautiful A4 line drawings of patients – sleeping, shaving, bathing, walking, talking – retain a startling power. The Victorians had placed a value on occupation as a treatment and previously patients, wherever possible, would have been given a job to do within the hospital community. This was not considered appropriate for the new establishment and this lack of occupation is illustrated by Reed’s drawings.
On display will be a selection of photographs and artefacts to give insight into the hospital at that time. Doctors faced with ever increasing pressures to find solutions to mental illness developed many experimental cures, such as leucotomy, ECT and Insulin Therapy. Although, still relatively little is known about the brain, it is now recognized that many of these treatments, while they may in some part have seemed to help the patient, for the most part were extremely primitive. History however is a powerful reminder that what is considered progress at the time, in hindsight may not be. While less physical intervention is currently used, in the future some of the drugs prescribed today may be considered equally primitive. 

To accompany the free exhibition there will be a series of one hour, £5 per person, experimental drawing workshops, no experience necessary and open to all.
Supported by Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, Bristol City Council Imagination Fund and the Association of Independent Museums Pilgrims Trust Fund, the exhibition is designed to broaden the public’s understanding of mental health and inspire the creative process.


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