2019, Autumn 4
The 'Front Room Arts Trail' in Totterdown is an annual event where hundreds of artists open the doors to their homes and exhibit their art in (typically) their front room.
Having studied and lived in the heart of Bristol for the last three years, Totterdown was always just a little further than a hop, skip or jump away. But now with hopes of moving closer to the area, the arts trail was an ideal excuse to explore.
I hadn't heard of this arts trail, or even heard of the idea of an arts trail, until just some months ago. I wasn't sure what to expect.
It was a gem of a day, fostering a very real communal atmosphere, as the neighbourhood was transformed into a sort of fayre – with hundreds of small groups touring each home. I'm sure I'm not the first to express this, and I'm sure this atmosphere is the reason such a strange event continues to this day.
While the day generally started with coffees in hands and upselling, as Totterdown grew colder and darker, the artwork almost took a backseat to enjoying the warmth and light of being welcomed into another's home – small talk and offers of mulled wine – all for just ten minutes, before setting back off into the cold in search of the next.
We were never the only ones, often find ourselves walking into the middle of a conversation, fighting the strange gut feeling that we'd intruded. The awkwardness of it all is perhaps even the main appeal — introverted artists suddenly cast into the open, trying to gauge just how much of your admiration for their artwork is genuine or simply politeness.
It's a trouble I didn't end up buying anything. Maybe it's my instinct to walk away from impulse purchases, or maybe – as Rachel tells me – I'm far too picky. Our flat remains virtually undecorated after two years, just the nails in the walls where something would hang. It's important to support local artists, and it's important to cut out the middle man if you can. We walked away with a good handful of cards and details, which I have hopes we'll be returning to.
Rachel and I attended our second farewell party for a friend moving to Australia in two months. We often joke about why we know so many people going to and from Australia. We can only assume it's because it's the furthest place from home.
We've run into an interesting scenario where a lot of our friends are a small sum older than us, although we typically forget. The older you get the less age matters, it seems. We've been to parties before feeling ten years too young, doing our best to seem aged and established. Fortunately, this party was full of people from all walks of life, all worth talking to.
There was even a toddler attendee, who revelled in providing entertainment and discussion for the whole room. A very large inflatable unicorn occupied the centre of the space, though I can't say why. Efforts were made to have the kid ride the unicorn, but he was much more interested in the toy aeroplane brought along.
Excitement arose when the kid decided to give the unicorn another try. In a Larry David moment, shifting my leg with the charitable intention to give the kid more room to play on the inflatable unicorn, the air distribution in the unicorn rebalanced, causing the kid to slip and fall, landing in the space my leg had been. Tears ensued, and despite a wash of reassurances that it wasn't my fault, I couldn't help but feel awful.
It was all smiles and laughter and quickly forgotten.
They've got a girl on the way, and said they don't want to be too precious with her simply because of the fact. It was great talking to them. They seemed like great parents.