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Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 13:59 UK
Looking back at Arnolfini's past in the headlines

Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg, David Cameron
The televised debate is taking place at Bristol's Arnolfini on Thursday

Bristol's Arnolfini is at the centre of a media scrum on Thursday as the leaders of Britain's three main political parties head there for the second televised Prime Ministerial Debate.

It's not the first time the former tea warehouse-turned-arts centre has been the focus of media attention though.

Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney chose Arnolfini for one of his first forays into the word of art when he exhibited his paintings in public there in 2000.

Featuring a selection of 500 canvasses, Macca's work was closely scrutinised by art critics, who begrudgingly left the capital to see it ("now, I have to fork out for the train fare to Bristol", moaned one "commentator" in the Independent newspaper).

Blood on the walls

Paul McCartney alongside one of his paintings on show at Arnolfini
Paul McCartney chose Arnolfini for his first UK exhibition

Two years later, Arnolfini hosted a controversial piece of work created using the blood of performance artist Kira O'Reilly.

Blood Walls Drawing I saw Ms O'Reilly use her own blood to paint lines into a grid of small squares created on two walls of the gallery with tape.

These squares were then painted over with white paint.

Catriona Henderson, the gallery's marketing manager at the time, said: "After the artist has gone, traces of her and her art are left behind, invisible but embedded in the walls of the gallery."

Under 16s were not allowed to see the work, described by some as "gory", unless accompanied by an adult.

In 2004, Arnolfini hit the headlines once more - this time not for its art but a job advert.

Civil liberties group Liberty and Law challenged the advert for a curator post at the centre which was "only open to African, Asian and Caribbean curators based in England".

The ad was withdrawn but Arts Council England, which partly funds the gallery, explained the wording should have made clear it was a training post for which there are allowances under race relations laws.

Since these headline-hitting episodes, Arnolfini has undergone a £12m expansion and revamp programme which saw it closed for two years from 2003 to 2005.

It attracts some 500,000 visitors each year.




SEE ALSO
Arnolfini named as debate venue
21 Apr 10 |  People & Places
Arnolfini reopens to the public
10 Sep 05 |  Bristol
'No whites' ad may be unlawful
05 Aug 04 |  Bristol
7.5m for McCartney gallery
28 Sep 01 |  England
McCartney art makes UK debut
29 Sep 00 |  Entertainment

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