Does a street that you couldn’t drive a car down if you tried really need double yellow lines? We’re not sure about that. But it’s arguably the least interesting paint job down Leonard Lane. And just one more quirk that makes this lively street worthy of a detour.
Running parallel with St Stephen’s Street in the Old City, Leonard Lane isn’t the sort of place we’d usually want to wander down. As narrow streets go, it might even be Bristol’s narrowest. Full of exciting street art, it’s likely among the city’s most colourful too.
While the nearby likes of Nelson Street and Broad Street are full of gigantic and iconic murals. (To check out our guide to Bristol’s graffiti head here.) Leonard Lane features some more unassuming pieces. You’ll have to look closely to find them though.
Down on the ground, you’ll find a gum-riddled floor. But instead of being gross, many of the dried-up chewing gums are quite beautiful to look at. Someone has painted tiny artwork onto them. So keep your eyes peeled. Not as easy as it sounds when the walls are also an exciting ever-changing array of street art ready to grab your attention.
Until recently, Leonard Lane wasn’t really known for its graffiti, but since the Bristol Mural Collective started using it, it’s become a street art hotspot. Over recent years, graffiti artists have covered nearly every square inch of the walls. It is a treasure trove of some serious talent, with a lot of the work uniquely Bristolian. The likes of John d’Oh, 3F Fino and Billy Colours have all visited.
It makes sense then that Leonard Lane is also home to one of Bristol’s best galleries, Centrespace. This artist-run space started in 1987 – growing out of a collection of artists that occupied the building in the late 1970s – and offers studio spaces, workshops, events and a gallery for local artists. Indebted to DIY culture, expect a focus on burgeoning Bristol talent working in fascinating and experimental ways.
Despite what one person has sprayed on the wall, Leonard Lane is not ‘231 miles exactly’. It is pretty special, however. Full of imagination, colour and Bristol flavour. (Just maybe don’t wander down it after dark.)