On the 30th of January 2016, a group of Instagram photographers descended upon Bristol's Colston Hall for a behind-the-scenes look at the historic venue.

The goal was twofold: for the oft-unseen back rooms and empty auditoriums of the venue to provide interesting subjects for the photographers, and for the photographers to provide publicity for the much-needed renovation of the hall.
I was privileged to be a member of this group; what follows is my own take on this unique venue.

The group gathered on the roof-top seating area for refreshments, an introduction by our hosts and a chance to unpack and test our assorted camera gear. This area is part of the hall's most recent cosmetic facelift. 

The main auditorium was designed before the advent of amplified sound; as such it provides excellent acoustics but is increasingly ill-suited to the use of large speakers and other bulky kit that accompanies modern musicians.

Despite its age, the hall features many attractive individual details including surprisingly comfortable seating, beautiful lighting and a magnificent pipe organ.

The IGers Bristol crew very quickly warmed to the photographic opportunities presented by low lighting and a high stage.

One of the hall's most grand features is the Lantern, dating back to the Victorian era. It provides soft natural light to the lobby area but it is in need of cleaning and renovation.

The hall's secondary concert room is a much smaller area, featuring more intimate lighting and this photogenically marred piano.

A maze of narrow, scuffed and dim corridors connect the stage and backstage areas. The battered walls bear testament to the difficulty of moving the heavy equipment required by contemporary performers.

The group re-convene in the hall's Green Room before moving on to the cellar rooms; these are normally not open to the public.

The hall's basement is currently in a state of grimy, fluorescent-lit disrepair and littered with miscellaneous old props, leaflets, pallets and bicycle parts -  these provided ample fodder for poignant photographs.

The plan is for this area to be transformed into an additional venue to add more performing capacity to the hall. The group gathered here one final time for photographs, before heading back up into the light of the rear lobby.

The Colston Hall in Bristol offers a rare experience - that of an active, live and and bustling venue with both a long history behind it and an increasingly interesting future ahead of it. The small touches around the building such as this lighting in the rear lobby provide a glimpse of what could be achieved through renovation; a synthesis of the old and the time-worn with new and unusual flourishes.

More information about the renovation project can be found on the Colston Hall's dedicated campaign website.

All Images copyright of ARTaylor Photography. Special thanks to IGersBristol and the Colston Hall team.