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Archive for the ‘Local Issues’ Category

We Can Make: Construction begins on a strawbale house

Over the spring of 2017 a large wooden structure has slowly taken shape behind Filwood Community Centre. The moveable house is fully plumbed and wired, has walls made of straw bales, triple-glazed windows and a large wooden deck. Known as the TAM (Transportable Accommodation Module), the eco-friendly home is big enough to house a couple – and it will open its doors to the public soon!

The TAM has been built as part of  We Can Make…Homes. Led by Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC), the programme has brought together local people, architects, artists, policy-makers, academics and housing industry professionals. Together, we’ve been exploring how communities can play a greater role in creating new homes – including deciding where and how they are built.

Housing is now the least affordable it has ever been in the UK, with the average house costing 7.6 times average annual income, compared to 3.6 times in 1997 (Office of National Statistics 2017). Communities like Knowle West need more affordable options. We Can Make has developed five new affordable designs for homes, including the TAM, that would suit the many ‘microsites’ that exist in Knowle West (located in large gardens, spaces between houses and on the corners of streets), and which would allow building work to be carried out by local contractors and at local cost.

Melissa Mean, Head of Arts at KWMC, explains: “From our research and conversations with families in Knowle West we’ve seen that the current, competitive, housing system doesn’t work for many people – they are struggling to find the kind of home they need at a price they can afford. However, there’s a keen interest in trying something new. 90% of people we asked said they thought ‘micro-plot’ homes were a good idea for the neighbourhood and 73% thought they were a good idea for their street.”

The TAM is one of the five designs developed through We Can Make and the first to be built. Created by Bristol-based architecture company White Design, the TAM uses the ModCell straw bale building system and materials provided by Coobio, a renewable materials innovation company. Local people have been helping to build it too.

Local people have been working with artists Charlotte Biszewski and Alex Goodman to make the new house a home, using natural dyes to make curtains, cushions and tiles. The kitchen of the TAM will also be designed and made by local people over the summer months, using digital fabrication tools at KWMC: The Factory at Filwood Green Business Park.

The TAM will open its doors for the first time on Thursday 7th September with a housewarming party and BBQ; all are welcome and you can register for a free ticket at wecanmakehousewarming.eventbrite.co.uk. There will also be tours of the house at Knowle West Fest on Saturday 9th September.

In September and October the TAM will be available to local people who would like to try out living in a community-made house. Get in touch with Martha King at KWMC on 0117 903 0444 if you would like to find out more about staying a night, or even a week, in the TAM.

Craig White, the architect behind the TAM, adds: “If anyone is passing Filwood Community Centre, do drop by and say hello. We’d love to show you around – and during the summer you could even help with a bit of decorating. We’ve loved working with everyone in Filwood – my company, White Design, might have designed it, but the TAM is definitely made in Knowle West.”

Come along to the housewarming party on 7th September and find out more!

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We Can Make: Making Natural Dyes

Over the last few weeks artist Alex Goodman has been collecting leaves and plants from across Knowle West to create a range of natural dyes. The dyes will be used to decorate and furnish the interior of a new home currently under construction in Knowle West as part of the We Can Make Homes project. Find out what Alex has been up to and the huge variety of plants she’s discovered in the gardens and hedgerows…

Alex’s blog

As a friend and collaborator of Charlotte Biszewski I’d heard a lot about the We Can Make Homes project at Knowle West Media Centre and her door knocking cyanotype escapades. When she told me about the second phase of the project, involving designing the last parts to fit out the TAM building [the first prototype We Can Make house] and make it into a home, I was pretty excited about the possibilities.

Like Charlotte I come from a print-based background but in the past few years my work has begun to explore processes that get me out of the studio and into the garden, park or any bit of derelict land where wild plants grow. Being a countryside dweller and daughter of a gardener it was inevitable that my work would eventually turn towards the leaves and this project was no exception.

Charlotte and I sat down and talked about what makes a home, what objects are important, what aspects of home decor and adornment could we look at and create in our own way. We looked at the cyanotypes she’d created with inhabitants of Knowle West and thought about that process: [the] images were drawing pictures of home with light.

I had a little look into cyanotyping as a process and it came to light that the man responsible for inventing the beautiful prussian blue process was John Frederick William Herschel who also invented anthotypes, which is a similar technique that takes a lot longer but uses plant-based material. Anthotypes are cyanotypes’ non-toxic plant-based counterpart: [it] involves juicing natural materials then coating paper in the liquid and then exposing the photograms for a long length of time to the sun, bleaching away the colour exposed and leaving what is covered.

As part of my practice I’ve been investigating and developing ways to incorporate plant-based processes into my work from herbalism to natural dying. Inspired by Herschel’s anthotypes I wanted to get out into the leafy green streets of Knowle West to be find some of the colours hiding in the local plants.

Gallery

Armed with a long list of dye plants that could easily be found in the local area I went out to inquire where and who might let me snip a few leaves for the dye pot to extract some local colours. Scrambling up the Northern Slopes up to Knowle West with a rucksack full of bags ready to find local plants I wandered up to The Park Local Opportunity Centre. After a conversation here with secateurs in hand I snipped away some leaves from the ash tree and some purple buddleia. It has begun!

[With] two very different yellows sorted now I needed to seek out some oranges, reds, greens and pinks. I walked and chatted and collected different plant material from blackthorn, nettles, cherry leaves, willow, lavender, sage, plums and rosemary from across Knowle West. Getting to know the local flora and those who tend it was a real treat: there are a lot of keen gardeners in Knowle West and it was really wonderful to hear people’s trials and tribulations in digging and nurturing their little patches of ground. With my many bags I trudged home to the kitchen to pop the ingredients into pans and gently let them simmer to extract their colours.

With the colours sorted I now needed to find and make my mordants to fix the dyes into the fabric. A mordant helps to create lasting dyes and also, depending on what you use, it can adjust the colours. I went for two different mordants: one being a mix of rusty metal I’d picked up on a street corner mixed with vinegar and oak gauls (because of their high tannin content) and another using alum. The alum brightens the colours and often exaggerates the yellows in the dye as the rusty tannin dampens and darkens them, creating silvery greys and blues.

My technique isn’t an exact art and there is a lot to learn about natural dying – you can easily get sucked into the chemistry of it – but personally I prefer more of the folk method or ‘witches brew’ style. It’s exciting to experiment with different materials and some of these plants I haven’t used before and others I know well look totally different to when I’ve used them in the past.

The idea behind collecting  these dyes from the local area was to create a palette of colours that came from this landscape, from its very fabric. From this we’d make our designs and incorporate these colours, celebrating the shades that Knowle West harbours, hidden in its leaves and rusting away in skips.


Alex Goodman is an artist, writer, and performer who makes work investigating how stories and relationship to landscape reflect the navigation of our everyday lives. Originally from Cornwall she recently moved to Bristol and has lived and worked in many different places in various forms of shelter including sailing boats, caravans and temporary spaces in Cornwall, Scotland and London.

Through performance, installation, events and page based media Alex’s work is seeks to create a visual and audible poetry. She weaves together narratives of journeys with striking lino-cut prints and collage to create images and and stories that invite the audience to step inside. She specialises in lino-cut printing and teaches simple printmaking for beginners.

Change Creators: Hack a Heckle Campaign Launch

On 22nd July the Hack A Heckle campaign officially launched at Bristol’s Harbour Festival! Catch up with Collective blogger Olivia to find out more:

We were very excited and anticipated this moment for months. Beforehand we were organising, practising and refining our music for our 1 hour set on the Bristol Plays Music stage and couldn’t wait to share it with our community!

On the day of the launch the group had a meeting and organised our plan of action for the day. We began by surveying people in our immediate environment around the stage. We were asking the passing public specific gender harassment questions and had an amazing time connecting to people who were sharing their stories.

Our merchandise for the day was a great help: we had cupcakes thanks to Cakeshop, which were a great way to catch people’s eye and to thank them for stopping to chat with us! We also gave out leaflets which gave them a valuable point of access to follow us on our social media pages, visit our website and tell others to share their stories through our online survey!

It was amazing to speak to so many people and gain so much more insight into their experiences. The group was really inspired by the stories shared and were really thrilled to connect to so many people who care about gender harassment and want to see it stop.

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Around 3pm we began our 1 hour set on Bristol Plays Music stage. We had some amazing advice from Eva Lazarus beforehand about song arrangements for our set. This was incredibly helpful as she gave us ideas on how we want our set to flow from start to finish.

We wanted to begin our show with a powerful introduction to our music so we chose our song ‘Lady’ to be first followed by a cover. We then wanted our acoustic slower piece ‘Hide‘ to be mid-set: this is our debut single and is available to download. This was followed by U + Ur Hand and then our speech and electronic track ‘Emily’.

We had a guest spoken word artist Bex Dudley who spoke some powerful words, and this was followed by some more of our music, then ended with a powerful cover of ‘NO’ by Meghan Trainor. This left our audience with a memorable last message and it tied our set together with a high energy outro. The group learnt a lot that day and it was an amazing launch and experience for future events!

Overall we got more than 80 surveys completed which was an amazing number to reach and we would like to thank every single person for stopping and playing such an integral part of raising awareness of this issue! It was amazing to share our music with you and to get the ball rolling! We have so much more planned: our next performance will be At-Bristol on Sunday 6th August from 1-5 pm where we will be performing, speaking and having special guests perform during our 4-hour set.

So keep up to date with our movements on our social media and website and get your friends and family involved by filling in our survey or sharing your specific story.

Written by Olivia Sully-Karlis

www.hackaheckle.org.uk
Facebook: Hack A Heckle
Twitter: @hackaheckle
Instragam: @hackaheckle

Change Creators: XLR Collective meet Kaptin Barrett, Boomtown programmer

This week the XLR Collective met Kaptin Barrett, festival programmer for Boomtown Fair, for a behind-the-scenes insight into working on a huge summer event. Catch up with Change Creator Will to find out what else the Collective have been up to as they get ready for the launch of their campaign to challenge sexual harassment on the street…

19th June 2017, KWMC

Just like last time, we started this week’s session by updating the group on what tasks we’d all completed so far. We’ve all been researching things like merchandise, social media strategies and media promotion. Questionnaires have been drawn up and the basic layout of the website is now finished. The group has also made a good start on songwriting, with more rehearsals booked in the future.

After the updates, the group was visited by local legend and music programmer at Boomtown Fair, Kaptin Barrett. We told him all about our campaign and answered any questions he had about it. Kaptin then gave us loads of advice, ideas and constructive criticism on our campaign, which left us with a lot of food for thought (although it was more like a buffet for thought).

The group then asked him some questions, some about the campaign, some about his job and some about wider topics. This gave the group a lot of insight about the day-to-day jobs of people working in the music industry. […] We discussed the possibility of our campaign doing something at Boomtown Festival, but since it’s quite last minute this may be hard to organise.

Afterwards, the group got back to planning the next steps. We listed everything that was still left to do from the previous week and added the list of tasks from the coming week. We also swapped round some team roles and delegated some tasks differently to before. This is simply due to some people being away or being more confident with different elements of the campaign. We also spoke about the budget and we now have a clearer idea of how to divide it and what some things will cost. There’s still a lot to do, but we’re getting closer!

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Follow us at:
www.facebook.com/xlrmusicuk/
@xlrmusicuk @change_creators
#xlrcollective
Insta: @xlrmusicuk

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Author: Will Sissons

Will is a member of the XLR Collective, and is leading on branding and web development for the Hack-A-Heckle campaign:

“I like to gig a lot, playing bass in several bands and at regular jam nights, while teaching on the side. I’m also a serial live music fan and sometimes put on my own events. I have a part time job at a small business selling edible cake toppers and I’m addicted to travelling and watching films”

Find out more about Will here.

Will Sissons – image by Jay Carter-Coles

 

Change Creators: The XLR Collective – Campaign Update

Over the last few weeks the XLR Collective have been going from strength to strength as they develop plans for their social action campaign to challenge sexual harassment on the street.  Change Creator Will has been writing a blog about his experience and what the group have been up to. 

You can read his entries for May and June below:

2nd May 2017, KWMC 

This week’s session started with the group pitching ideas for overall campaign names and hashtags for the social media campaign. We discussed the pros and cons of each before voting on our favourites. ‘Hack A Heckle’ was the winner for the campaign name, but the hashtag is yet to be decided.

More of a discussion will be needed in the coming weeks to finalise the hashtag in order to get started with the social media campaign. The thought process behind Hack A Heckle comes from the ‘problem’ and ‘solutions’ we defined on the previous week: we’ll be offering tips and advice for bystanders and victims [of harassment] in how to respond and who to contact after verbal or sexual harassment has occurred. And we’re hacking the misogynistic culture amongst young men by trying to de-normalise it.

Next we started planning our online media strategy, making sure we know exactly who our audience will be, how we communicate with them, the over-arching goals for the campaign and the tools needed to execute it successfully. The individual elements of the campaign include a launch event, busking/campaigning around the city, researching advice, obtaining anonymous stories of verbal and sexual harassment, creating the branding for the campaign and a website that the social media platforms all point to. We also pitched ideas for original content to promote the campaign online. 

Finally, the group decided on team roles and sub team leaders to make sure the workload is evenly distributed. 

15th May 2017 – Arnolfini

The Change Creators met in the Arnolfini this week for inspiration on venues and using different spaces creatively. We had a guided tour round the contemporary arts centre [and saw] the rooms available for hire and the current exhibition: Basim Magdy – ‘The Stars Were Aligned For A Century Of New Beginnings.’ Magdy’s work is ‘rooted in dreams, scientific theory and failed utopian ambitions. Full of humour and quiet melancholy, his works on paper and in film, photography and slide projection reflect on the present social and political climate and our collective failure as, in the desire for progress, we repeat the same mistakes over and over again in a recurring cycle of aspiration, action and defeat.’ It was definitely thought provoking and was good to see an example of how an artist uses different mediums in different spaces.

After the tour, we all met back in the library to go over our personality types according to the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. Some people weren’t convinced by their personality description, but it was still interesting to get some feedback from the group and gave us a different perspective on how we work individually. Getting to know people’s strengths and weaknesses also gave us a starting point for our group’s approach to the campaign planning.

Towards the end of the session, we discussed in more detail our aims and objectives for the campaign, which eventually helped us to describe the overall ‘problem’ that the campaign will address and the ‘solutions’ we will strive for. The problem is that women are objectified every day. The solution to this problem is to de-normalise misogynistic attitudes. More specifically, we will aim to make young men more conscious of how they are making young women feel and raise awareness of objectification. Our objectives will be to campaign around the city and offer advice/responses to verbal and sexual harassment, 

5th June 2017 – KWMC 

After the half-term break, the group returned and started by talking through all the elements of the campaign. This was to make sure everyone was up to speed and to get us thinking about a basic timeline and order of events. With the help of the Media Centre’s Rachel Clarke, we agreed on key campaign dates, dates for performances, deadlines and what work needs doing leading up to them. We wrote a timeline on a large piece of paper and added post-it notes to it, so that we can move things around easily and update it as the campaign progresses.

We then split up into two informal groups to plan the next steps: one on branding and the other songwriting/busking. The two groups were based on our group roles that were decided in the previous session. The group focusing on branding used a colour emotion guide as a starting point for discussion. We spoke about colour schemes, design styles, inspiration for a logo and what the graphics might look like on various merchandise and social media platforms.

We then answered questions such as:

Who is the audience and what actions do you want them to take?
How do you want them to feel?
What connotations does hack A Heckle conjure up and how might they be different for men/women and younger/older people?
What imagery and connotations do we definitely want to avoid?

Finally, we thought it would be a good idea to create a mood board to help visualise the branding, merchandise and social media posts. We set up a board on Pinterest, which you can view here.

The other group discussed songwriting and busking logistics: First, they agreed on specific locations, dates and times for busking around the city. A shortlist of local festivals was created [so] we can target by setting up on popular routes to and from the events in order to catch the large influx of people.

[…] Event banners will be used to promote the campaign while we perform and video equipment will be needed to document and promote us on social media. The group finished up by discussing the need to hire rehearsal space for songwriting and practising the songs. These songs will be recorded, potentially for some sort of EP release as part of the overall campaign.

The two groups then shared all this information with each other and updated the timeline together. At the end of the session, we made a few adjustments to the different roles of group members and agreed on things we need to do before the next session. 

We also had our project keyrings arrive this week [made at KWMC: The Factory] with the Change Creators’ logo and core values engraved onto them. The core values were chosen at the very start of the project and will be influencing our decisions throughout the project. 

They are: 

Maverick
Authentic
Equality
Respect
Open-Minded
Perseverance 

12th June 2017 – KWMC

This week’s session started early with the branding and website team (Maya, Liv, Will & Jerome) coming in for a meeting with the media centre’s Bart Blazejewski, Rachel Clarke and Daniel Edmund. Together we navigated our way through branding concepts, logo ideas, fonts and colours, graphic styles and photography. Olivia had created a mood board with several interesting concepts and the group had prepared a pinterest board with tons of images, photos, logos and graphics as inspiration for the branding. Bart will be trying out some basic branding elements over the next week, but many of the decisions are now made, which allowed us to move swiftly on to the website.

Rachel had brought in a website brief, consisting of several questions that need answering in order to create a successful website. These questions include:

Who are the key audiences for the website?
What do you want people to do after visiting the website?
What information do you want people to find out from the website?

Will brought in a couple of website drafts to see how things might look, so we could answer the above questions with specific examples. This allowed us to make some decisions based around pages and content. We also discussed the different groups of people who might come to the website and how each group might interact with it differently to others.

After a successful few hours, we linked back up with the rest of the group for the main Change Creators session. To begin with, we updated them on the meetings we’d just had, and other people then spoke about what they had been up to for the last week regarding the campaign. Last week’s timeline was scrapped and we started afresh by splitting into two groups, one focusing on branding/digital tasks and the other focusing on music creation/street campaigning tasks. A new timeline has now been completed with a lot more detail on exactly when things need to happen. Over the next week, we’ll be using the timeline to inform our costings and how best to use our budget.

Follow us at:
www.facebook.com/xlrmusicuk/
@xlrmusicuk @change_creators
#xlrcollective
Insta: @xlrmusicuk

We Can Make: Artist Reflections Part Three

Artist in residence Charlotte Biszewski is working on the We Can Make…Homes project, exploring how communities could play a leading role in developing new housing for their communities.

Charlotte’s Blog: Part Three

Time to hit the streets: Knowle West never saw it coming. Except they did, from a mile away, and it looked like a big blue ice cream trolley.

A bit of a backstory: so, this residency has been about two things, firstly getting to know how people in Knowle West relate to their homes and then getting them involved in creating a collaborative piece of art for the upcoming exhibition.

I wanted to open up questions of home and what makes home… well, ‘home’ really. I wanted to look at objects, what we surround ourselves with, how we adorn the place with live and why we do this. How the physical space inside our homes makes us feel ‘at home’. Admittedly it has been a bit of a challenge – to get people to let me in their homes and have a nose around really.

I couldn’t imagine that asking up-front would work. So I built a mobile cyanotype unit using a bike trailer; it was something I could take door to door, asking people to bring me an object and take part in making long wallpaper hangings. This is how a typical encounter looked:

Knock Knock.

‘Yes?’

‘Hello, my name is Charlotte, I work at the Media Centre.’

The door remains ajar, the owner unwilling to open it fully to this stranger, who has just turned up at their house uninvited. There is a silence.

‘Do you know it? Yes? Well I work there, I am an artist. I am creating a large wallpaper hanging. In my trailer here I have wallpaper covered in this photographic formula.’

I bring out my scraggly piece of tattered blue demonstration wallpaper – it shows the silhouettes of coat hangers and lace curtains, captured in the deep blue of cyanotype. They look at me curiously – untrusting but interest.

‘I’m sorry we already have wallpaper and we don’t want to buy anymore.’

‘No, I’m not selling it, I am making it. I am asking residents of Knowle West to bring me an object. I put it in the trailer, and I expose the silhouette onto the wallpaper, it will be a long hanging artwork out of everyone’s objects from the area. It will be exhibited in the Media Centre in May.’

They pause, their face continues to be unimpressed, dead-pan.

We wait like that for a few seconds, me expecting them to slam the door on my face, or tell me to politely jog-on.

Hang on a minute! They turn back for a minute and return, triumphant-looking, with a child’s toy/ glass ornament/ frog statue/ brass ring/ some strange cooking implement.

‘Will this do?’

And then we put it in the trailer and wait for ten minutes. In this ten minutes we are locked into a conversation. In this time they tell me their stories. Their lives in Knowle West, how they came to acquire the object, the way their neighbourhood has changed, their successes in Weight Watchers, the pain of losing a partner, mother, son, the difficulties in finding a job, a place to live, a recent pregnancy. They show me war medals, Crufts awards, trinkets, gifts, tools and cups of tea. I am sniffed by a hundred different pugs, poodles, dobermans and a Jack Russell who licks my leg for about 10 minutes.

The people of Knowle West are as generous with their personal life stories as they are with their offers of tea and biscuits. It has been eye-opening – not just to the objects and stories but the people behind each door who surprised me every time.

I’m looking forward to seeing it all now at the Test Space Launch on Thursday 11th of May…

Change Creators: The XLR Collective – Communications Planning

On 20th March the XLR Collective focused on communications planning and how they might start to tell the story of their project. It was their final session before they jet to Barcelona to meet activists, campaigners and musicians working on the international stage. 

During the session the group worked with KWMC’s Communications Officer Rachel to practice ‘elevator pitches’: short introductions to the Change Creators programme and the issue they’re passionate about tackling. 

Some of the key questions included:

What are the key points we want to convey?
Do we use any ambiguous words or concepts that might need more explanation?
How can we keep things short avoid the temptation to ramble on?!
How can we make sure our conversations and dialogues are meaningful – not people talking at each other?

The group recently decided that they want to explore the issue of gender inequality; as part of their leadership training they will meet professionals working on gender equality initiatives in Barcelona before creating their own music in response to the experience.

The pitches will come in especially handy when the Collective visit an English-speaking radio show – follow the group on social media next week to see how they get on and look out for the Barcelona update coming next month!

www.facebook.com/xlrfest/
@change_creators @xlrfest
#xlrcollective

We Can Make: Artist Reflections Part Two

Artist in residence Charlotte Biszewski is working on the We Can Make…Homes project, exploring how communities could play a leading role in developing new housing for their communities.

Charlotte’s Blog: Part Two – “On becoming a resident, communal living and further developments in cyanotype”

I can’t believe I have been working in Knowle West over a month now, I actually feel a little bit at home already. I managed to find accommodation at the Lee Abbey house, a Christian missionary community in the heart of Filwood. I have to admit, being brought up a casual atheist all my life, with little experience of spirituality and god, I was a bit unsure of how I would find it. Would the household judge me? Convert me? Annoy me? I’m afraid to let you all down, as I don’t live in a sitcom or a bad horror film, the group were pleasant, warm and welcoming and we all got on like a house on fire.

[The house] was once an ex-convent, inhabited by a community of nuns in its previous life. The house is a beautiful, winding, redbrick maze of creaking cisterns, deckled 70’s wallpaper and soft green carpet. It is home to three different family groups, consisting of five adults and twi children. It was amazing to see how this group integrates together and shares living spaces. Staying in communal living has broken down many assumptions about shared spaces.

I was able to interview the group and discover why they chose to live communally, how sharing space works economically and socially. What boundaries exist in communal living[…]? My favourite question, and one which demonstrates human nature and our interactions, was which room is your favourite room to share with others and which is your least favourite?

It was obviously the Kitchen as the favourite shared space. People love sharing food and cooking. It is a source of heat, a place to talk, catch up, and talk about the day.  And what was the least favourite? The Bathroom.

The Lee Abbey house is part of a wider Christian community and you can find out more they do in Knowle West here.

Building the Cyanotypomatic

The second stage of development [of] my work in taking the cyanotype process further was to make it bigger, by encouraging neighbours to make a large cyanotype piece. Now this was a bit of a thorny experience. What appeared to be a straightforward, simple yet effective concept, as is ever the case, took two weeks of long labour and unforeseen circumstances.

The basic concept is two light-proof boxes which house a long reel of cyanotype wallpaper. This is fed through two slits in each boxed and rolled around a wooden dowel. Inside the trailer is a UV lamp which exposes the wallpaper as it passes between the boxes (imagine how an old film camera looked from inside, when you fed the spool of film from one reel to another).

I had been using a bike trailer previously for portable printmaking workshops – the trailer itself was essentially a big black box on wheels, so perfect for a mobile exposure unit. I won’t go into the details of labour and process of the whole endeavour, but it is now in the existence and ready to take on the real world.

Saturday 4th March – We Can Make…Homes event

Thanks to our wonderful English weather the week leading up to the event appeared to be a little hit or miss, (torrential). But we were fortunate on the morning and the morning could actually be described as sunny. Knowle West Media Centre took over the corner of St Whytes Road for a day, exploring what community-led housing could mean for Knowle West and just how citizens could take part in this. It was a chance to spend time together discussing different ways citizen-led housing could take place. The team arrived early and put the giant gazebo up at a rapid pace, which was to house the PhysiCAD group. A fantastic team who are working with a Lego-inspired interface for virtual and rapid prototyping, they wanted to explore what St Whytes could look like with further developments and look at any potential issues such as parking with the residents. We also had representatives from Wikihouse, the MA Architecture lot [from the University of the West of England] and of course tea and cakes, as provided by the local community centre and the baking group!

I arrived at 11am with my bike trailer, ready to knock on people’s doors and demand they bring out some object for printing with. The event went smoothly – admittedly I only managed to make my way around a few houses – but I had the greatest response, with people coming out to talk and bringing some of their most prized possessions. My favourite was a Betty Boop statue and an Alien ornament.

Then we all had a natter as one of the neighbours was getting ready for their wedding anniversary. We all gathered round to look at the cake she just had made for it. It felt lovely for a minute – standing in the sunshine surrounded by community spirit. And then, as in true Bristol fashion, we all ducked for cover from the torrential down-pour.

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Change Creators: The XLR Collective – Music is Power

This week the Change Creators: XLR Collective’s session was entitled #musicispower.

The session was all about the power that music has to influence, inform and spark change on a personal, national and international level. This session was less about the classic activism songs like Sam Cooke, “A Change Is Gonna Come” or Edwin Star “War” and more based around independent artists who are striving to make a difference within their local communities.

The session began with a series of music videos covering a wide range of topics from Benin City (Club closures), Soundsci (Black Lives Matter), The “Fracking Song” – “My Water Is On Fire”, and also a poignant song from London based MC, promoter and youth worker Shay D entitled “Set Her Free” addressing domestic abuse (below):

The XLR Collective discussed songs and musical experiences that had created a long lasting impression on them. They introduced each other to new music, discussed the impact of the songs and events and reflected on how music has the power to change moods, attitudes and communities. A key question arose from the discussions:

“how can we use this information to create better music events in the future?”

Further exploring the topic with music and events that had an adverse impact, and looking into the reasons why they were ineffective, the session ended with some core values to instil when creating events, and some core aims as a collective in order to create a long lasting impact through their event(s) later in the year.

Keep in touch with the XLR Collective:
www.facebook.com/xlrfest/
@change_creators @xlrfest
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We Can Make: Artist Reflections Part One

Artist in residence Charlotte Biszewski is working on the We Can Make…Homes project, exploring how communities could play a leading role in developing new housing for their communities.

Charlotte’s Blog: Part One

The KWMC home-made commission has been an eventful one so far. It is a project which seems so relevant to so many critical debates and issues in Bristol today. Affordable housing, homelessness, the lack of government services. It has been the first project I have been involved in which has given me more than an artistic inspiration.

Being a born Bristolian, I have to admit the shameful truth: prior to this residency I had hardly travelled up into the hills of Knowle West, so for me it really did mean a chance to explore a new location and a new community.

In order to do this residency justice, it seemed important not just to come in and install another outside exhibition but to fully explore the people and community of Knowle West, and get their input into the work. Letting the citizens lead the housing project and not to make any assumptions.

So how do you get to know people when you join a new place? You go to classes, take up an interest and make friends. Wow, does Knowle West have a lot going on in this way. So far I have been to a gardening group, a sequence dance group, the Retired Gentleman’s Woodworking group, the Filwood Chase Historical Society, the baking group, and my two favourites: the knitting group and Hodge Health Bootcamp. My brain and body aches, but I finally recognise people in the street.

What makes a home?

The next interest for me has been the home: what makes a home to the residents of Knowle West? How to explore what makes a home a personal space – is it the objects you have? The layout of the space? The neighbours? How do you represent this visually?

Knowle West has a unique landscape, the 1930s style housing, semi-detached red-brick islands are unlike the tight terrace housing seen in the rest of the city. The houses feel very separated, and it has been hard to find ways into people’s homes. A successful mission door-knocking and surveying has opened up the resident’s opinions on what new housing could mean for residents. It has also allowed me to experience many fascinating stories so far and I will be sharing some of their stories through work and documentation.

Print making

I have also been using the residency to occupy various locations around Knowle West, specific points of interest in the community – such as the re:work shop and the Filwood Library.

Cyanotype has become my weapon of choice, using it to capture objects and drawings from the project. The antique form of non-silver photography was used originally to make blueprints – it seems a fitting way to explore the home. As a printmaker originally I have had little [opportunity to] explore photography, but working with the Media Centre and the discovery of the Filwood Darkroom it seems only fitting.

I have been using it as a way of capturing object from the homes, in the forms of silhouette photograms. Running drawing and print workshops in Filwood Library using this technique has allowed me to open up conversations and further explore the residents’ experiences in a comfortable setting. I often find that people are more open to relaxed conversation when participating in creative activities.

So eventful so far. I am really looking forward to the test day on 4th March, when St Whytes Road will be taken over by the Media Centre. The We Can Make team will be trying out their ideas for the project, getting the residents engaged with Lego fabrication, interactive activities and cake.

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Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
Bristol
BS4 1NL
+44 (0) 117 903 0444
enquiries@kwmc.org.uk

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