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

Emily in the Studio

An evening with Artists First Thursday 28 June 2018
6.00 – 8.00pm. Arnolfini. Free

Come and hear about Artists First and help them mark 30 years of working together.

Artists will show new and old films about their work, talk about their origins and reveal their new publication. There will even be a chance to work with them on some new drawings.

This is the culmination of a project to document, archive and share the 30 year history of Artists First, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and resulting in new films and website and events across Bristol.

For more info and free tickets see Eventbrite.

Breadhorse, by Carol Chilcott

New website on its way We've been building a new website. It will be share lots of information about our 30 year history including new films, archive films, more artwork and a timeline of how Artists First have grown and changed over 30 years. It will go live on 27 June.

Glenside Event

Artists First 'on the road' Artists First have been touring their talk and workshop to places around Bristol, including Glenside Hospital Museum and Norah Fry Centre, Bristol University. Everyone who came was fascinated to hear from the artists about their history, meet them and see new films. The artists want to keep on touring their workshop talks. Get in touch if you’d like to host an event.


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: 07935 924229



‘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