Primary/Bristol: West Town Lane Academy

Simon & Tom Bloor, 'Primary Structure', 2014. Photo: Max McClure. Image courtesy of the artists, Arnolfini and Bristol City Council.


The redevelopment of West Town Lane Academy is part of Bristol City Council’s Primary/Bristol series of artist commissions for primary schools commissioned as part of the Primary Capital Education Programme. As part of the development British artists Simon & Tom Bloor were commissioned by project curators Arnolfini to develop an art work for the school working closely with pupils, teaching staff and Head Teacher Jeremy Hughes.


For West Town Lane Academy Simon and Tom Bloor have created ‘Primary Structure’, a pavilion that offers space for activity, conversation and learning. As the artists have commented:

“We were keen to create an artwork that would be an in-between realm–between architecture and sculpture, inside and outside, formal and informal. For us it was important to create a space for potential rule breaking where there is scope for action beyond the regulations of the more formal school interior.

We wanted to use materials that were standardized and familiar and that are often used in a municipal environment, but to adjust their appearance to create something more dynamic. The form and colours of the pavilion draw influence from Modernist-era art and design via playground climbing frames. Primary coloured steel poles join together an area covered by a corrugated metal roof and a more open space, also linked by screens containing abstract shapes that make up the figures of puppet-like forms that look out form the school onto the world.

Hovering somewhere between a classroom, corridor, stage and play-structure the artwork provides an opportunity for some form of potential use but where there is no defined function. Primary Structure can change depending on the needs and desires of the users­–parents, teachers and children.”

This project has been made possible through funding from Bristol City Council as part of the Primary Capital Education Programme.

Simon and Tom Bloor

Simon and Tom Bloor are London and Birmingham based artists whose works and projects use a range of media including publications, drawing, sculpture and installations. Taking cues from the visual language of mid-20th century art and design they look to history’s moments of utopian potential and flawed idealism. Recent works have focused on our ambivalent relationship with the post-war urban landscape from housing developments to public art to children’s play structures, appropriating, distilling and adjusting a familiar modernist aesthetic to playfully navigate a territory where nostalgia acts as a sort of utopia in reverse, presenting relics of a future that never happened.

Simon & Tom Bloor were born in Birmingham in 1973. They live and work in Birmingham and London and are amongst the founding directors of Eastside Projects, Birmingham.  Their collaborative practice looks at the fabric of urban environments, children's play and the legacy of Modernism. Recent solo exhibitions include Loose Parts, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013) Happy Habitat Revisited, South London Gallery (2011), The Fascination of Islands, Cooper Gallery, Dundee (2011), Hit and Miss, Modern Art Oxford (2010) and As long as it Lasts, Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2009). They have made several publicly sited works including Design for Pleasure, Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum (2013) Nothing should stand in your way, LOCWS International, Swansea (2011), Hey for Lubberland!, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, (2009) and a series of Kiosk projects with artist-curator Gavin Wade (2006–2008). They are developing a number of permanent public artworks for sites in London and Cambridge, which will be realized during 2014-15. Simon and Tom have previously produced a major public artwork, Formula for Living, for Cotham School, Bristol in 2011 as part of Bristol City Council’s Building Schools for the Future programme.


Arnolfini is one of Europe’s leading independent, contemporary arts organizations, and is the flagship art centre for the South West of England with 450,000 visitors annually. 2011 is the year of Arnolfini’s 50th anniversary. Since its foundation in 1961, Arnolfini has built an international reputation for commissioning and presenting innovative, experimental work in the visual arts, always with a strong emphasis upon audience engagement. Many thousands of artists and performers have been involved with Arnolfini during this time, often gaining their first opportunity before going on to long-term success, and this wealth of creativity has been appreciated and enjoyed by consistently large audiences. Much of this groundbreaking work would not have been made or shown in Bristol and the South West region without the Arnolfini. Previous major solo exhibitions at Arnolfini have included: Marcel Broodthaers, Bridget Riley, Richard Long and Liam Gillick, as well as more recently Cosima von Bonin in 2011.

West Town School

West Town Lane Academy is a 510 place Primary School taking children from the ages of 4 to 11 years. The school will expand to a 540 place Academy in September 2014, providing additional places for local families. The school prides itself on the opportunities it offers children, providing a rich and broad curriculum.  In addition to the statutory curriculum, the school offers enrichment activities, theme days, extra-curricular activities and residential experiences for children that provide an 'all round' education. West Town Lane are very proud of their 'Rights Respecting School' status, and are keen to ensure that children leave the school knowing their responsibilities towards others. The school aims for high standards and expects excellent behaviour at all times and in all aspects of school life. The schools motto is West Town Lane: “where learning is an adventure”


  • Commissioner

    Bristol City Council

  • Produced by


  • Partners

    Primary Capital Programme (BCC, Skanska, LEP)

  • Supported by

    Bristol City Council, West Town Lane Academy