Amazingly we’ve been trading on Gloucester Road for a whole decade! We’re really grateful to the local and Bristol magazines for writing features to celebrate our 10 wonderful years bringing local art and artists to our customers. Especial thanks to Bishopston Matters
10 years ago Sarah Thorp took over a little pop up gallery on Gloucester Road with the idea of turning it into a permanent exhibition space and shop for local artists. As a participant in the popular North Bristol Art Trail, Sarah felt that her fellow artists could do with a space to show their artwork for more than just one weekend in November and she invited a selection to show their work in her shop. This idea proved so popular that the space rapidly expanded to offer a huge variety of paintings, prints, jewellery, lampshades, ceramics, gifts, cards and more, all by local Bristol artists and creatives. Sarah soon became an active member of the community, helping to enliven her section of Gloucester Road, known as Glos Rd Central, putting on Mayfest, the Christmas Street Party, the Gloucester Road Art Banners and various fund-raising events. She loves being one of the longtime traders on her favorite high street of independent shops!
Many of the first artists to join still sell their work at Room 212 and have become good friends. For instance Rosie Webb brought her popular paintings of quirky animals directly to Room 212 the day it opened and she returned home from London, Katie Johnston’s beautiful enamel jewellery has evolved over the years but is still a firm favorite and Hannah Turner’s ceramics are best sellers even though they are now made by a women’s cooperative in Sri Lanka. Toni Burrows fascinating mosaics and Jenny Urquhart’s beautiful paintings of Bristol always look wonderful in the windows. Many of the artists are still North Bristol Artists and have exhibited on the Art Trail with Sarah in her studio downstairs and in the Eco House in the garden round the back. Lockdown was a turning point for Room 212, luckily in a positive way, when Emma Catherine started displaying her beautiful teal and gold Full Moon paintings in the window – the first one was appropriately snapped up by neighbouring business Lunar Optical! Sarah was honoured that Room 212 was selected as the only shop to feature in the bestselling book ‘111 Places in Bristol You Shouldn’t Miss’ which gave her the boost to continue during lockdown, as did the support Room 212 received through online sales.
As nearly all the artists live close by its likely you’ll meet one or two of them popping in with their latest creations! The big windows on Gloucester Road are perfect to display original paintings by regular and guest artists, tying in with the seasons or Bristol events. For instance there’ll be a celebration of unicorns for the upcoming Unicornfest in July and a display of balloon related art for the Balloon Fiesta. Electric the Cat can often be spotted sitting in a sunny spot on top of greetings cards, watching the passersby on Gloucester Road!
Sarah fondly remembers the first week Room 212 opened, when a customer walked in and exclaimed ‘This is SO Gloucester Road!’. She quickly learnt how much people love unique arty cards and stocks a huge variety which can keep the shop afloat on the quietest days and her window displays are always a delight to behold. Her own creativite output has changed over the years, from knitting and upcycling with decoupage to her current popular range of brass and copper jewellery which she enjoys making at her desk in Room 212. So, if ever you’re passing do pop in for a browse and a chat – you’ll always be welcome! Follow www.room212.co.uk Instagram and Facebook for more info.