Artists First

Untitled, Joan Clews Self Portrait, Peter Sutton Mask 1, Kevin Hogan

About Us

Artists First is a group of 16 disabled visual artists with learning difficulties based in Bristol.
We have been working together since 1988. We are used to running our own studios and have organised and been part of many exhibitions, residencies and open studio events.

Artists First includes artists who met while attending Social Services' Day Centres and artists who have lived in long stay residential hospitals, as well as younger members who have different experiences. We believe that as a group we can support each other and that we can do powerful work together, things that we could not do alone.

Since 2005 we have been based in a studio in Southmead, near where most of us live. We are making new work for exhibitions so people can see who we are and what we do.

Right now, most of our work is inspired by our recent 25th anniversary, looking back at the people and events that have shaped Artists First over the years.

To watch a short film introducing Artists First, go to

Exhibitions and News

Peter Sutton, Trip to the National Portrait Gallery

Alternative Visions: Undiscovered Art from the South West We've made the audio guide to this fantastic exhibition that's currently on tour. You can see it next at Poole Museum 21 March – 6 May. One of our members, Peter Sutton, also has a painting in the exhibition inspired by our visit to National Portrait Gallery (see left).

New members' mono printing workshop.

Hear more about us and Artists First history As part of our Heritage Lottery Funded project we are sharing films and stories about us at events over the next few months. The next public event is at Glenside Hospital Museum, Bristol on Saturday 21 April 4.00-6.00pm. A chance to meet us and hear about our history and how we work.

Details and book free tickets

Eddy Hardy and Artists First, 2001

Celebrating our history Our archives have been donated to Bristol Archives, and we've catalogued all our past artwork that we have stored at the studio. We've also made new films about our history and how we work. We'll share all this on a new website, along with lots of archive images and films from June. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Left: One of many archive images, Eddy Hardy and Artists First, 2001


Click here to view information on past exhibitions.

Who We Are and How to Contact Us


Steve Canby, Carol Chilcott, Joan Clews, Brenda Cook, Brian Davis, Stacey Fish, Kevin Hogan, Tina Kelly, Sarah McGreevy, Louise Morgan, Nicholas Selway, Peter Sutton and Charlotte Troop.

Artists First Coordination

Andy Harris and Louise Planton

Artists First Trustees

Michael Prior, Marion Steiner, Pauline Heslop and Felicity Inkpen

Click here for more information about our trustees.

Our Studio

In January 2010, Artists First moved into studio space in The Bristol Centre for Music and the Arts, Stanton Road (off Pen Park Road), Southmead, Bristol BS10 5SJ.

Artists First Contact Details

Artists First
13 Friendship Road

Tel: 07890 524226



‘Artists First Celebrating 25 years’ Heritage Project is being supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund.

Thanks also to The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, Bristol City Council Single Project Fund and Grassroots funding via The Quartet Community Foundation, The Lark Trust, The Speilman Charitable Trust and The Wills Charitable Trust for recent funding support.

Artists First is also supported by donations and the sale of work.

Firebird Firebird Firebird
Lying on Patchwork, Liz Lane

All paintings © Artists First
Photographs courtesy of David Gilliland and Amanda Harman.
Website courtesy of Ben Spencer and Redweather Productions.

Artists First is a Registered Charity: 1128115
Artists First is a Limited Company: 6015649