It sometimes takes an artist's outlook to show you something different about the city you live in, revealing a curious, unconventional beauty in the spaces more often avoided.
Over the past nine months Simon Hopkinson has shown his work at some of Bristol's hottest exhibition spaces, including the RWA, Grant Bradley Gallery, Tobacco Factory and the Folk House. Serving as a sort of nature trail through the city streets, the pictures ignited a sense of recognition and even nostalgia in viewers, while simultaneously showing them a side of Bristol they've never noticed before.
"It's all there, for anyone to see, but people rarely take the time to slow down and actually take it in," Simon says.
In fact, most of us are more likely to speed up when walking through the kinds of areas Simon is drawn to. "I like subways, abandoned buildings and anywhere with concrete, rusting metal and graffiti. They're the places you're not expected to find beautiful, but I do."
Intriguingly though, Simon has discovered that he's not the only person to respond to the scenes that inspire him: "I've been surprised at the number of people who see beauty in the things that I do and who think that I capture this beauty in my paintings. On the whole my work has received a really favorable response."
The response has been so good, in fact, that Simon has needed to paint a handful of new paintings for his latest exhibition, taking place at Bocabar, Paintworks, from 22 November 2011 till 22 January 2012. Several of his most recent pieces seek out less shadowy places, focusing the corners you might walk through daily without ever truly seeing them. The large warehouse-like space seems ideally suited to Simon's portrayals of the city's unpolished areas.
Simon promises that the paintings will retain his recognisable style, giving Bristol's rough and rubbish-strewn corners an uncommon dignity through his light-infused, colour-rich compositions.
"There's something claustrophobic about tradition, and a freedom in looking at something abandoned and accidental, which society doesn't expect you to like," he comments. "The conventional view is that they are ugly, whereas to me their beauty is obvious."
To glimpse a different side of Bristol's personality and make up your own mind about the paintings, head along to Bocabar (www.bocabar.co.uk/art) between 22 November 2011 and 22 January 2012.
Find out more about Simon Hopkinson at www.simonhopkinsonart.co.uk