Work in progress in the studio, 2018.

Work in progress in the studio, 2018.

Artists First is our name. We chose it and that's important. Choosing to be called an artist first gets rid of the bad names. Being known as artist first before anything else, changes things; it changes attitudes.

We want people to see our art work first, what we can do, what we can create and bring to the world. This is what the last 30 years has been about, coming together, making art, sharing it through exhibitions, workshops and talks.

Artists First is a group of disabled artists with learning difficulties based in Bristol. There are currently 14 members of the group. The studio is led by its members and they meet at the Bristol Plays Music centre in Southmead, as well as visit galleries and host workshops by visiting artists. They have had many exhibitions over the years, in Bristol, the UK and internationally. 

Two co-ordinators help run the studio and a group of trustees and other supporters manage the funding and other aspects of the organisation.

Artists First receives no regular funding and is supported by grants, donations and sales of work.

Meet the Artists



Andy Harris

Andy has worked with Artists First for nearly all of the 30 years it has existed.


Louise Planton

Louise is an artist. She studied Drawing and Applied Art at UWE, Bristol. She started as a volunteer with Artists First in 2005 after coming to an open studio event. Louise became a paid member of the team in 2015. "It's an incredible experience, being involved with the artists and seeing their progression. The artists have transformed my perception of art."


Amelie Taylor

Amelie is a Producer with a passion for artist development. She joined Artists First in November 2021 as Artist Development Associate and has worked with Artists First artists to establish new creative opportunities for them beyond the closure of the charity. This has included securing Arts Council England funding and establishing a new partnership with the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive, meaning that artists will each be contributing their artwork to the collection. 

The Trustees

Michael portrait

Michael Prior

Michael brings a wealth of experience as an engagement producer arts project manager to his position of Trustee.

Marion portrait

Marion Steiner

Marion Steiner is a GP in North Bristol and encountered Artists First when they held an exhibition at her practice many years ago.

Pauline portrait

Pauline Heslop

Pauline has a longstanding interest in the arts and supporting people with learning disabilities, so being a trustee with Artists Firsts brings these different strands together in a positive and productive way. 

Emily in the studio

Stay in touch

Stay in touch with what some of the artists are doing now on Instagram @artistsfirstbristol.

Contact info