031 The Island

TheIsland-rama Sidz

The Island, formerly Bridewell Police Station



Location: BRISTOL


hero Island

The old police sign cheekily changed by Motorboy

Finding the time to sit and write The Spiralling each week can be tricky. I am currently working three jobs on zero hour contracts and this often means I work two jobs on the same day, usually with a funny split in the middle. I started looking for some desk space and I was lucky enough to find a space in a studio at The Island.

The building that houses The Island was built in 1928 and opened as a police station in November 1930. It closed as a working police station in August 2005. In 1992 Artspace Lifespace was born in London. They are an artist led initiative that recycles vacant, under-used and problem properties into thriving active creative resources. They took over the old disused Bridewell complex in 2007. It hosted spectacular 1000 person capacity events and was run by volunteers and affiliates of Artspace Lifespace and The Invisible Circus. In 2008 they transformed the site into it’s current incarnation of The Island. 


One of the many workshops being held at The Island

The Island is a self-funded multi use arts facility and creation centre. I managed to catch up with Dina who is one of the Project Managers. “Like the name suggests, The Island is an isolated centre of creativity and energy located smack bang in the city centre.” It hosts a wide variety of creative spaces including artist studios, making spaces, dark rooms, recording and music production studios, and a space for circus training, dance and other classes such as Aikido and Yoga. There is also a gallery space for exhibitions and a suite of early 20th century police cells which Dina accidentally got locked in one day! “Our studios are of varying sizes and range from huge open spaces, to smaller solo studios. Our converted cell studios are exclusively used by artists who work with sound and music.”

Currently there are over 120 studio holders and another 200 artists from all disciplines are affiliated with The Island through their studios and use of the creative spaces. “All of these artists are the beating heart of The Island, continually producing and showcasing new and engaging artwork.” The project is self funded and is not-for-profit, so all income that’s generated from the use of spaces is invested back in. The Island has two Directors from Artspace Lifespace and a small core team who run the building. They are all passionate about art and creativity and share a ‘make things happen’ attitude. 

john lynch studio

John Lynch in the studo

The Island is going from strength to strength. “It has been a fantastic year with vibrant programming of regular workshops, training classes, performances and events. Artists from all disciplines now occupy all spaces at The Island. The variety of our spaces allows people from all walks of life to host their own exhibitions, or start their own class or group, which creates a widely varied collection of artist led projects.”


The Spiralling HQ

My space is in the Old Moth Studio, so called because when everyone first moved in there was a box full of old dead moths that someone had been collecting. I share with six other people who are all involved in different projects. If you want to read more about us check out our new website here. Also please take the time to check out Synedoche, a project that some of our studio members are involved in.

The Island’s future looks hopeful, “There are always going to be difficulties from being based in an old building and how best to turn it into a vibrant space. An element of stress and uncertainty comes with it.  We hope to stay in the building for the next 3-5 years and carry on with the same passion to provide space and support to Bristol creatives.” There are so many unique spaces at The Island that it makes an ideal venue for all sorts. Upcoming events include Room237 presents Objekt on May 1st, Timedance on May 8th, and Born on Road on May 15th. The Island is also hoping to have an Open Studio event in September. If you would like more information on what’s happening at The Island then check out their website below.

Contact details:





artists at work studio

An artist hard at work


5 thoughts on “031 The Island

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