5th Bristol Radical History Festival

Saturday, 22 April

5th Bristol Radical History Festival

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2023 sees the 5th annual Bristol Radical History Festival. This is hosted as usual by the fantastic M Shed, the museum on the city’s historic harbourside that tells the story of Bristol and its unique place in the world. We warmly invite you to join us at this popular event. We have a full programme, which is again based on two main themes:

Radical Bristol and the Visual Arts

This theme explores radical visual artists in Bristol over two centuries. Hazel Gower and Leigh Thomas will discuss Romantic-era painters Rolinda and Ellen Sharples, influential not just for their art, but as founders of Bristol’s Royal West of England Academy (RWA). We look forward to a rare “return” to the city by the charismatic nineteenth-century designer and political philosopher William Morris, who lectured at the Bristol Museum and Library in 1885. Moving forward with our time machine, Marie Mulvey-Roberts, co-curator of a highly successful exhibition on Angela Carter and visual art at the RWA will discuss the delights and challenges of curating works reflecting the visual imagination of one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. Members of the Monica Sjöö Curatorial Collective will discuss the relationship between the art and the radical activism of long-term Clifton resident, Monica Sjöö, while Stephen Lisney will consider the modernist work of the feminist-socialist painter, Doris Hatt.

Bristol Trade Union History Then and Now

This theme will aim to provide a historical context for the recent burst of trade union activity in Bristol and throughout the U.K. Ralph Darlington, Mike Richardson and Bob Whitfield will focus on trade union disputes in the past and Sheila Caffrey, President of the Bristol Trades Union Council in its centenary year, and Dave Chapple will be bringing the story up to date. Silu Pascoe will be speaking on the ‘Bristol Bus Boycott: Race, Unions and Civil Rights’ and there will also be a screening of ‘100 Years of Struggle’, a film made by BBC Bristol to mark the Council’s centenary.
Its not just talks…

The exhibitions of photos, flyers and posters will include:

Facing up to the Fascists: Confronting the National Front in Bristol in the 1970s

The Anti-Apartheid Movement in Bristol

Visual mapping project – Women’s threads of Bristol

There will be history walks, performance and lots of stalls with books and merchandise from local and national groups. As always, the festival is a free event with no booking required.

Saturday talks:

- Doris Hatt : Art, Principles and Politics with Stephen Lisney
- The life and legacy of artist, activist, eco-feminist and writer Monica Sjöö (1938-2005) with Su Fahy
- The Bristol Bus Boycott : Race, Unions and Civil Rights with Silu Pascoe
- Curating Angela Carter: Bristol, Art and Writing with Marie Mulvey-Roberts
- Trade Unions Then – Tramways 1901 and Print 1985-86 with Mike Richardson, Rob Whitfield
- Painted out of History – Ellen and Rolinda Sharples with Hazel Gower, Leigh Thomas
- Labour Revolt in Britain 1910-14 with Ralph Darlington


Date & Time: 

Saturday, 22 April, 2023 - 10:00 to 16:30

Is this a callout or mobilisation?: 

  • international callout


  • book shop/info shop/library
  • course/workshop
  • discussion/presentation
  • exhibition
  • film
  • guided tour
  • meeting
  • music/concert


  • Bookfair
Princes Warf, Wapping Road
United Kingdom

Since 2006 BRHG have organised over 250 events; staging walks, talks, gigs, historical recreations, films, exhibitions, trips through the archives and fireside story telling. We have several active research projects, publish a range of books and pamphlets and host an archive on this website.


  • book shop/info shop/library / course/workshop / discussion/presentation