In flight

On 4 September, Goldfinch Create and Play, a purpose-built café and art space, officially opens its doors. We catch up with urban designer and landscape architect turned business founder, Nicole Strong, to hear all about Westbury Village’s new arrival…

Goldfinch is a space where you and your family have the freedom to connect, create, learn, and grow, where nourished by nature, your imaginations can roam free,” says Nicole Strong, founder of the Westbury-on-Trym newcomer, Goldfinch Create and Play. The new venture is a purpose-built café and art space for children and their parents to enjoy tech-free time together without the confines of a traditional café or classroom.

Officially opening on 4 September, Goldfinch offers art classes for children aged 18 months to 13 years old. The classes include a variety of preschool and afterschool, art and yoga sessions, plus a different adult art series every weekday evening, with a focus on jewellery, pottery, print-making and life-drawing. At weekends, the venue lends itself as a creative space to host children’s birthday parties – all set in an environment built to nurture wellbeing and creativity, whilst also looking after the planet. At the core of Goldfinch Create and Play Café is an inspiring team of creatives, who all have a diverse range of artistic skills, backgrounds, and life experiences, but share a passion for inspiring others through art, craft, and nature.

“The Goldfinch journey began with a desire for change – to do something meaningful for others while having the flexibility to nurture my young family,” says Nicole. Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Nicole spent six years as an urban designer and landscape architect working for social services in her hometown. Her role was to design community facilities and outdoor play areas in some of Cape Town’s most disadvantaged areas. While designing these play areas, Nicole came to understand just how important playing and imagination is for both children and adults.

Nicole moved to Bristol from South Africa with her husband, Mark Finney, and two young children in 2019. Mark, originally from Bristol, is an architect and owner of Seb + Fin Architects. After moving to the West Country, Nicole started looking for creative outlets in Bristol for her young daughters. She quickly realised that there were few available and so started teaching children’s craft sessions at her own home. She taught up to 10 children (aged 5-9) every Thursday afternoon from September 2021 but soon needed a venue to expand her idea.

When Nicole found an old high street building with potential at 10 Canford Lane in the heart of Westbury Village, she commissioned her husband to redesign the building with sustainability and creativity at its heart. The venue has since been re-built to the stringent PassivHaus standard, making it the first PassivHaus Create and Play in the UK. PassivHaus is synonymous with the best all-season comfort, environmentally green with the lowest running costs. The building now boasts clean air and comfortable room temperatures all year round. PassivHaus buildings allow for heating and cooling related energy savings of up to 75% compared with average new builds.

As for the classes available at Goldfinch, Nicole wanted to accommodate as many different age groups and people as possible. “We will start the weekdays with the early years – we have two classes, Stay and Create and Create and Play. Stay and Create is for ages one and a half to five, where the parents can stay with the children. Each term will be different but every class will be inspired by nature – it’s a bit like forest school meets the art class.

“Create and Play is for three to five-year-olds and that’s a drop-off class. Parents can go downstairs, grab a coffee (made by Bristol’s Triple Co Roast), or go and do what they need to do.
“We’re also running an Open Hour session. This is a social project so what I really care about is the conversations that people are having and the support that they’re receiving. I want the space to be full of people all the time; I don’t want it to be quiet. There is such a need for places like this while people are stuck at home and not getting the support they need.”

The inspiration behind the name, Goldfinch, came from Nicole’s love for the great outdoors. “Coming from Cape Town and growing up surrounded by nature, the natural environment is very important to me. I’ve got quite a good handle on different African bird species but when I came to Bristol I started to hear these new bird songs; it’s quite exciting for me in my late 30s to learn about these new species, many I’d never seen before.
“Not long after we arrived in the UK, I watched a Goldfinch flutter into our garden. That little bird, a symbol of well-being, joy, and the natural environment fuelled my imagination and became the face of the next chapter. Bristol is such a warm and comforting place. I’m so proud to now be able to say that Goldfinch Create and Play has taken flight.”

• Set to be a creative and nourishing oasis for the families of Westbury-on-Trym and surrounding areas in Bristol, find out more about Goldfinch Create and Play at:, or visit at: 10 Canford Lane, Westbury-On-Trym, Bristol, BS9 3DH