• Theaster Gates Sanctum Complete

Between October 29 – November 21, 2015 Theaster Gates staged his first UK public project in Bristol as part of the cultural programme for Bristol 2015 European Green Capital.

We believe in the capacity of artists to imagine new visions of the future for our environment and to sustain and enrich our lives. One of the foremost American artists of his generation, Theaster Gates is renowned for his acts of transformation, such as the re-activation and redemption of abandoned spaces and the redeployment of disused objects and materials.

In the autumn of 2015 a temporary structure rose within the remaining shell of the 14th century Temple Church for a continuous programme of performance. Having sought out discarded and dormant materials from former places of labour and religious devotion across the city Gates built this extraordinary work, working alongside AN-Architecture. Entitled Sanctum, the artist invited musicians and performers across Bristol to sustain a performance of sound and spoken word continuously for 24 days, 24 hours a day.

Sanctum was open to visitors day and night, capacity remaining limited to ensure the intimacy of the space. Whether a headlining band, spoken word artist or gospel choir this secret schedule contributed to the sense of Sanctum as a gathering space for collaboration and new encounters.

The project was developed through Gates’ working principle of seeing and reflecting upon the unseen, unvisited and under-heard. Gates sought the city’s voices, and tested how future spaces of contemplation might supersede the sanctuaries of the past.


Theaster Gates is also one of the artists included in our book Out of Time, Out of Place: Public Art (Now), available now from the Situations shop.

A 360 degree Google Tour of Sanctum

Associated Events

Part of the Art Weekender – Bristol & Bath, a three-day celebration of visual arts across both cities also produced by Situations and involving over 35 arts venues, artist-led projects and activities.

Theaster Gates held a one-off performance lecture on Saturday 31st October, St. George’s, Bristol to mark the opening of the project.

Partners and funders

Sanctum is a Situations project for Bristol 2015 European Green Capital funded by Arts Council England Exceptional Fund and the Henry Moore Foundation. The project is produced in Bristol in association with MAYK, BYEP (Babbasa Youth Empowerment Projects) and LARA (Lorraine Ayensu Refugee Arts) and in partnership with English Heritage.

Photo Credits: Sara Pooley, Jason Schmidt, Kenturah Davis.



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