The historic grade II* listed former Bristol Guildhall buildings (built 1843-46) in the heart of the historic medieval city centre of Bristol are being transformed into a bespoke 5 star luxury hotel with 75 bedrooms, a spa, rooftop terrace bar, cocktail bar and restaurant.
The developers are commissioning artists to create site specific new work for the hotel, including a suspended illuminated work for the three storey clocktower that will form the new main hotel entrance from Broad Street. The artist commissions are funded by the developer as part of fulfilment of their planning obligations for the development.
The site has a long history, it was previously built as a Guild of Merchants in the 13th century, and remnants of a 16th century wall and windows from the time of Henry VIII survive and were incorporated into the 19th century Victorian Gothic Revival buildings. The Guildhall was used as an assizes courthouse (where the most serious crimes were tried) from the 1860s right up until 1993. After the Second World War the building suffered bomb damage and much of the interior was remodelled, although many decorative Neo Gothic details remain including figurative stone sculptures and stained glass windows. Closed since 2010, there have been proposals to convert the Guildhall into a hotel since 2013. Building work on Hotel Gotham commenced in January 2023, with the hotel due to open towards the end of 2024.
The public art strategy for the hotel is built around the principles of high quality, craftsmanship and innovation. Where possible the new works will illuminate the historic qualities of the listed building, be impactful, support way finding and be inspired by elements of the building and its history. The artworks should enrich the building, in line with the Neo Gothic approach of the 19th century Guildhall.