My Bristol favourites: Megan Sinfield

7 04 2013

A new exhibition by Megan Sinfield is on display now in the Duke of York pub in St Werburgh’s. Megan is an artist working in digital collage, who blends sections of photographs to create colours and rough textures which resemble painting. Megan’s varied CV has seen her work as a model maker for Aardman, and in illustration, sculpture, photography, 2D animation and film.

Visit Megan’s website at

Stokes Croft
“The hub of all things creative, weird and wonderful. Bristol’s great dance music legacy lives on with Idle Hands record shop as the lively hub surrounded by music studios of Bristol producers like Behling and Simpson, Lukas, Wedge and Komonazmuk. There are a multitude of artists studios in Hamilton House and Jamaica Street, including the talented Dan Parry-Jones. Fantastic graffiti from respected artists like 3Dom keep the walls interesting and the streets are never quiet or dull. I’ve been inspired to make several works based around the area, trying to capture the late night spirit with my prints of Best and Slix (below).”

Slix - Megan Sinfield

Nelson Street
“I’m really proud of Bristol for the See No Evil project. What was once a drab city street lined with ugly 60s office blocks is now a genuine tourist attraction. I’ve actually seen Japanese tourist groups taking photos of the graffiti. I go out of my way to walk down it when walking to the centre and show it off to any friends who come to visit. There are not many cities that would give over a city centre street to such controversial creativity and have a huge free block party to boot.”

St Paul’s Carnival
“Sadly skipping last year due to a lack of funding, this year it’s back on and as a resident of the area I can’t wait. Obviously a lot smaller than London’s Notting Hill Carnival, but arguably more fun and apparently the original (in the UK anyway). Giant sound systems rock the streets until the early hours and the work that goes into the costumes for the procession is amazing. The best party in town.”

“Okay, I’m biased as I used to work there but Bristol’s most famous company (probably) is a truly amazing enterprise. Wallace and Gromit are rightly world famous but the work that goes into all their projects is incredible. The attention to detail is mind-blowing; you can watch their stuff over and over and always see something new. Peter Lord has incredible energy that rubs off on everyone he works with. And yes, Pirates should have got the Oscar.”

The Sugar Loaf (below)
“One of my favourite pubs in Bristol is the decidedly old-fashioned Sugar Loaf on St Mark’s Road in Easton. It has three pool tables, an old-school rock jukebox and old men propping up the bar. There’s nothing remotely fancy about it but it’s my kind of place and something of a rarity these days.”

Sugar Loaf pub Easton - Megan Sinfield

Chance to design new Canteen mural

4 04 2013

A competition is now open for a new mural to go outside The Canteen on Stokes Croft. Artists are being sought by the Facade Gallery, a new organisation based at Hamilton House who in conjunction with CoExist and The Canteen are running the competition to find somebody to re-paint what is known by many as the ‘Limited PR’ wall:

Limited PR wall

The wall is described as “one of the most high profile” in Bristol and opposite Banksy’s Mild Mild West. Organisers intend the competition to become a biennial event, so the winning artist will have their work displayed for a minimum of two years.

Competition judges are looking for “challenging, unique, original submissions that will contribute to the culture of the Stokes Croft area of the city”.

Submissions need to be sent electronically by April 12. They will then be narrowed down to a shortlist, with selected artists submitting their work for display in an exhibition to be held in the Hamilton House gallery.

Further details can be found at

Limited PR wall close

Pieminister cafe and bar in Stokes Croft

23 03 2013

“Let them eat pie.” Those famous words almost said by Marie Antoinette could easily apply to Pieminister, a business who are celebrating their 10th birthday by reinvesting in their original Stokes Croft home; reopening the ground level as a cafe-bar and bringing office staff back under one roof upstairs.

Pieminister new bar

When Pieminister started in Bristol, founders Jon Simon and Tristan Hogg could only in their wildest dreams have imagined the success their company would go on to have.

There is even a Pieminister shop now in Amsterdam, alongside three in London and one in Oxford, but for this weekend at least the focus will be on 24 Stokes Croft, which from today is open from 10am until 11pm with an offer of much more than just pies.

The place is unrecognisable from before, with exposed brick work, neon lights and the plastic bar stools reminiscent of BrewDog and Guerrilla Burger over on Baldwin Street.

It’s not just the decor that is bang on trend; the beer selection also includes some mighty fine brews, from the Bristol Beer Factory and Somerset’s Wild Beer Co. through to that there London’s Camden Town Brewery, with Bath Ales Gem currently on tap.

There are also 15 bottled ciders to choose from, gin from Thornbury’s Bramley & Gage, Extract coffee and if the pies don’t tickle your fancy, other menu options include popcorn crayfish and a cheese board, with the pick of the puddings a “Bristolbocker glory” served with cider brandy.

“Live and eat pie” is Pieminister’s own quote, now daubed on the outside of the building as well as inside their new and improved Stokes Croft home. It’s a motto with which it is difficult to disagree.


Pieminister, 24 Stokes Croft, Bristol, BS1 3PR. 0117 942 3322.

Twitter: @pieminister

Preview: Soft Rockets

7 03 2013

Five venues across Stokes Croft are being taken over tonight for an evening of dance music presented by Red Bull called Soft Rockets. A unique aspect of the night will be the debuting of five tracks made out of unique collaborations as some new Bristol talent were picked to work with some of the city’s best producers to create some brand new music.

Soft Rockets BristolThe collaborations were Kowton and The Kelly Twins, Behling & Simpson and Gramrcy, Sly One and Buggsy, My Nu Leng and OH91, and Break and Crump.

Opening their doors for free tonight are The Bank (Futureboogie vs Hypercolour), Croft (Apex), No.51 (Eton Messy), Pipe & Slippers (Idle Hands) and the Full Moon (Trap magazine).

For more information on today’s events, visit

In other dance music news, the Love Saves The Day festival in Castle Park has announced a second day on Sunday, May 26.

Artists confirmed so far include Ghostpoet, Soul II Soul, Ms Dynamite, Ben UFO, Jacques Greene and Mele.

Poco wins SRA award for environment

5 02 2013

If it were not for Times restaurant critic Giles Coren, I would never have heard of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. But for more than a year, Coren has been including a mark out of 10 from the SRA with all his reviews, so a restaurant’s sustainability credentials are in full view along with the standard of their food.

The SRA’s annual awards yesterday took place in the Oxo Tower in London and Poco on Jamaica Street in Stokes Croft triumphed in the Environment category.

In its SRA rating, the former festival restaurant turned Bristol favourite was judged to have “performed exceptionally well in all three SRA pillars of sustainability, scoring outstandingly in Society and Environment where the restaurant is commended on its approach to waste reduction and recycling”.

Initiatives for which the restaurant could only have excelled in the eyes of the judges are its campaigns such as Tom’s Feast, which raises awareness about food waste and offers opportunities for diners to eat a meal composed of surplus food that would otherwise go to waste.

The SRA add that “Poco’s electricity and waste reduction targets help the restaurant to monitor its usage and minimise the amount of waste produced, and energy used, on a monthly basis”.

Poco Stokes Croft Bristol inside

Shambarber opening on Stokes Croft

21 11 2012

A festival favourite is coming soon to Stokes Croft in the shape of Shambarber. Last seen around these parts during Brisfest at Ashton Court, Shambarber is a barbershop-cum-disco which like Poco just up the road is branching out from the festival field to a more permanent home while staying true to its roots.

Shambarber began at the Shambala festival in 2010. Cutting and styling the festival crowd by day and gracing their ears with the finest house music by night with help from Bristol favourites Alfresco Disco, the idea was a hit from the start.

“We realised we had something that people seemed to really enjoy, the antithesis of the grungy festival mud-off, something glam and stylish but aimed at guy’s hair,” says owner and creative director Steve Parker.

They have sinced popped-up at Love Saves The Day, See No Evil and hosted a room for Bristol house legends Just Jack, before finding this corner site on Stokes Croft a few months ago.

Due to open in December, Shambarber will be a bespoke men’s grooming salon, with a sound system, hand-crafted wood units, a DJ booth and lots of gold paint.

“Our only possible home could only ever be Stokes Croft,” says Steve, “allowing us to do something new and unique, a barbershop that is also a festival tent, a club night and in the future we hope to be a record label releasing the finest in Bristol’s house music.”

Shambarber’s future home of 43 Stokes Croft has an infamous recent history.

The building on the corner of Stokes Croft and Hillgrove Street was most recently Abbey Mortgage Services, but it has been boarded up for several years.

In May 2009, soon after the Crimes of Passion exhibition at the RWA, Cheo and 3Dom painted a piece on the boards (below), with the permission of the owner, which was recently painted over by contractors from Bristol City Council.

The People’s Republic of Stokes Croft were not happy, and in retaliation painted the email of chief executive Jan Ormondroyd on the building so people could complain at what they called “council vandalism”.

Ormondroyd apologised, and the council have since adopted a more laissez-faire attitude to graffiti in the area.

Preview: Fear of Fiction Festival

10 11 2012

Fear of Fiction: a magazine, record label and from today a boutique festival which will feature almost 100 acts over venues across Stokes Croft in just one day to celebrate the best in new music. In between the music, there will also be record and vintage stalls, and visuals.

Acts playing this inaugural festival include Dan Le Sac, Toy, Egyptian Hip Hop, Three Trapped Tigers, Suuns, Chad Valley, Blood Diamonds, Arcane Roots, and Idles, a band last seen playing an instore gig this earlier this week at the opening of a Dr Marten’s shop in Broadmead.

Each Stokes Croft venue taking part is being curated by a different organisation. For example, Cafe Kino is being looked after by blog London In Stereo, the Motorcycle Showrooms by magazine Artrocker, and The Cube is in the very capable hands of Invada record label and BEAM.

For more information and the full festival lineup, visit

Stray Dogs

3 11 2012

Hot dogs and waffles. A winning combination of foodstuffs if ever there was one. At Stray Dogs, these are not any old hot dogs either but “haute” dogs, served from a street vending cart that can now be found inside The Bank of Stokes Croft every day between 11am and 10pm.

Following in the footsteps of Bagel Boy in the Elbow Rooms, Stray Dogs have a permanent presence in The Bank until it is returned to its usual usage as a bar.

The new business is the brainchild of the head chefs at the Robin Hood’s Retreat and Zazu’s Kitchen, so quite some calibre, and one that they say comes as a result of years talking about and searching for the perfect meal, “that holy grail of food that we still want to eat, even after a long day spent in the kitchen”.

Their take on the classic chilli cheese dog, at £6.50 the most expensive item on the menu, is made of a smoked beef sausage covered in chuck steak chilli, topped with cheese, grilled and finished with their own hot sauce.

The Mexican dog (£5.50) is a paprika sausage served with guacamole, sour cream, smoked tomato salsa, cheese and nachos; while another of the nine hot dogs on offer is the pig dog (£4.95), a jumbo frankfurter under a blanket of pulled pork, onion rings and barbecue sauce.

“For us this isn’t about guidebooks, reviewers or perfectly folded napkins,” say the chef pairing of Nathan and Chris. “It’s about big plates of delicious food that you can enjoy whilst out having fun with your friends.”

When I visited yesterday, it wasn’t with friends but with my 20-month-old daughter, who gleefully tucked into her first ever waffle, an extremely tasty concoction with caramelised bananas and gooey chocolate (£3.50).

Hot dogs and waffles. Most certainly a winning combination.

Stray Dogs @ The Bank, 84 Stokes Croft, Bristol, BS1 3QY

witter: @eatstraydogs

Tanya Lacey – Born to Fly

6 09 2012

Featuring a very clever journey down Stokes Croft with static photographs mixed with live action, this is a music video from Bristol singer songwriter Tanya Lacey from St Paul’s, who was credited as a co-writer on recent track T.H.E. Tanya’s new EP Head Chef is released next month.

Stokes Croft shops and graffiti

1 09 2012

Following meanders up Cotham Hill and around the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter, it’s time for another visit to an area of Bristol and a look at some of its businesses. In the case here of Stokes Croft, these photographs are not just of shops and eateries, but also of some of its famous graffiti.