In 1999, Cath Read and Sarah Cowper, who were then strangers, realised that, by coincidence, they were independently holding exhibitions of their art in neighbouring houses in St Andrew’s on the same weekend. The following year they decided to show together and invited 6 other artists to join them.
Many founding artists met each other by word of mouth, often while picking up their children in local school playgrounds. But in 2001 they placed an advertisement in a local community magazine, Points North, inviting other artists to consider showing together. Thus, the first North Bristol Art Trail was born, driven by a sense of community and a need for artists to join together to show their work to local residents.
28 artists took part on the first North Bristol Art Trail, showing their work in 7 homes plus a group show at Café Unlimited (used to be next to Bishopston Hardware) giving away free croissants and coffee. During a following trail people were offered horse and cart rides on the streets round St Andrew’s Park! Early trails had queues snaking down the street waiting to visit exhibition venues and by the third year there was a huge surge in the number of local artists wishing to take part.
Nowadays, more than 100 artists exhibit work in over 50 venues and thousands of visitors look forward to visiting the trail.