The Courts Youth Steering Group

The Courts will become an enterprise hub in Bristol for young people and creative businesses, where we learn and share expertise. 

We aim to make this space positive, creative, and inspiring. To keep young people at the heart of the decision making, we have a youth steering group, who will make decisions for the space.

They are creating art, managing events, learning more about the history of the building to bring the space to life and make decisions on how we can make this a valuable space for young people and creatives.  


Have you spotted Lady Justice perched above the entrance to the courts on Bridewell Street?

The sword in her right hand symbolises the power of judgment, and the scales in her left, the careful weighing of evidence. Her statue is supported by the city’s coat of arms, and carved details of a torch representing the light of truth, and the sword and scales of justice.

These decorative features were intended to communicate a particular image of Bristol’s authority as well as the authority of the law. When these courts were opened in 1880, they replaced the old justices’ room at the Council House on Corn Street, described by one local newspaper as a “suffocating cock pit.” By contrast, the new courts represented modern Victorian Bristol: in their “elegance and general convenience”, “not surpassed by any in the kingdom.”

Lady Justice, as she is represented here, is an image that has been used for centuries. It was influenced by depictions of the Roman goddess Justitia, the Greek Titan Themis, and the Egyptian goddess Maat – the personification of truth, justice and order. It has become one of the most enduring icons of Western law. This image has also been modified, subverted and even rejected.

How might we reimagine Justice now? What would it look like?

Graham Ibbeson, ‘Scales of Justice’, Middlesbrough Combined Court Centre Graham Ibbeson, ‘Scales of Justice’, Middlesbrough Combined Court Centre. Photo © Oliver Dixon (cc-by-sa/2.0)
Banksy Justice

Banksy, ‘Trust No-One’, Clerkenwell Green 2004. Photo Michael Pickard (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

RW comment: I find the use of women’s sex work to represent corruption problematic here.

Logo of the South African Constitutional Court. The tree represents the protection of the Constitution and the people beneath, both protected and nurturing the tree. The court ‘did not want…cliched imaged of the scales of justice.’


Written by R. Wallis Jan 2022

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