An exhibition of beer
For Bristol Beer Week 2017, we decided to place a firm focus on the breweries at the heart of the local beer scene. The highlight of the week’s programme of events was an exhibition of work from freelance photographer Nicci Peet. Nicci spent time with seven of Bristol’s best breweries to capture the environment and the story of the people that make some of the best beer in the country.
Nicci's subjects of passion are beer and food and she had been keen to run an exhibition, showcasing these fields, for some time. Nicci actually approached me about working together a week before Bristol Beer Week 2016, so it's fair to say we've been developing the idea for some time.
One original suggestion was to use Centre Space, a cooperative studio and exhibition facility that I know well, having used the Letterpress Collective for beer week merchandise. Whilst it's a great space, I was concerned about the possible lack of footfall, which was key to my idea of doubling up the exhibition as a Bristol Beer Week 2017 information hub.
Having approached the Christmas Steps Gallery a couple of times in the past to investigate using it as an information hub, I was keen to see whether it worked for us. After one visit, Nicci felt the gallery really suited her plans for the exhibition, so we grabbed it.
The initial list of potential subjects for the exhibition was comprised of 16 breweries, including some from Bath, but due to time and space constraints we agreed to cut this down to fit in with the loose theme of 'seven of the best independent breweries in Bristol'.
The breweries we decided to cover were Left Handed Giant, Wiper and True, New Bristol, Good Chemistry, Lost and Grounded, Moor and Arbor. These are the breweries that we felt best represented the forward thinking nature of the Bristol beer scene and would be most enthused about taking part in the exhibition and putting on excellent events as part of Bristol Beer Week 2017.
We took the keys for the gallery on Monday 16 October, which fitted in nicely with the start of Bristol Beer Week on the weekend prior. The intention was to have Monday as a rest day whilst we hosted a private opening to the exhibition, so that the breweries could see it before anyone else. We managed the latter, although it didn't stop a number of venues putting on other events anyway.
The opening party was as successful as we could have hoped for; the atmosphere was fantastic and the feedback that Nicci received on her photographs was incredible. It was wonderful to share beers and chat with good friends in the local beer industry whilst taking some time to reflect on the hard work that had gone into putting the exhibition together. It was certainly my favourite night of the past five beer weeks (scroll down for photos).
Once the opening party was over and all the glasses were cleared and washed, our next task was to set up the Bristol Beer Week 2017 information hub. This was a perfect opportunity to showcase the Bristol Beer Week merchandise, something that I've only previously been able to do via our web shop.
As part of the merchandise, we produced some rather lovely limited edition A5 postcards. There are seven variations, each one including an image from one of our featured breweries; you can now buy a full set of these from our shop.
The gallery became a showcase for Nicci's amazing photography, Bristol Beer Week 2017 and the independent Bristol beer scene as a whole. We opened from Tuesday to Friday, midafternoon to early evening, and we had a relatively steady flow of people coming in to see us, despite some pretty awful weather (one pitfall of staging BBW in autumn, in Bristol). It proved a great opportunity to talk to people about the exhibition and what Bristol Beer Week is all about. The featured breweries also kindly donated beer, which meant we were able to offer tasty 'samples' throughout the week.
On Saturday, our last day open to the public, things got dramatically busier and we had a fantastic day to close things out. All in all, it was a very rewarding and satisfying experience and something we both hope to do again next year. There are a few highlights from our guestbook below.
So here they are, the 14 images that formed Nicci's exhibition. You can also see more of Nicci's images on each brewery's feature page and, as well as the postcards that are available from the shop, all of Nicci's images can be purchased as high quality photographic prints (16 x 24 inches) for £50 (or framed for £100). Please contact Nicci directly if you are interested in buying a print or commissioning work from her (I can highly recommend it).
Without getting too gushing, we'd like to thank the following people for helping us put together the exhibition and information hub:
- The featured breweries for letting Nicci hang out and take photos, and for donating their awesome beer
- Soffle's pitta chips for supplying the tasty snacks for the opening party
- Small Bar for lending us proper nice beer glasses
- Niche Frames for producing beautiful prints
- Christmas Steps Gallery for hiring us the perfect venue
- Joe Aldous for taking photos at the opening party
- Michael O'Connor, designer extraordinaire
- Our exhibition and hub patrons
- Everyone that came by for a look, a chat and a beer
- Everyone involved in the Bristol beer scene
- Anyone else who supported us along the way
I would also particularly like to thank Nicci for putting up with me, keeping me sane and letting me bring something to fruition that I've been wanting to do for some time; it was so much fun!
All images Copyright © 2017 Nicci Peet, Joe Aldous, Stephen Powell.
Please ask us if you'd like to reproduce any of them.