Archive for February, 2017

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.


Women in Film: From Her POV Week One

Come behind the scenes with From Her Point of View, Knowle West Media Centre’s three-month training programme for female filmmakers. Find out more about the experience of women in film with this weekly blog from  Kerrie, one of the young women taking part in the training who is also acting as Press Agent for the films…

What’s the story?

“Fourteen incredibly talented women have been assembled by Knowle West Media Centre as part of their new project: From Her Point of View. Their mission: change the face of the film industry, which currently sees women massively under-represented, by equipping them with all the tools and top notch training they need to create two short films. The group meets for one day and an evening each week.

“The training will include workshops on screenwriting, lighting, sound and camera work, just to name a few. The two completed films will be screened as part of Bristol Film Festival’s event celebrating the contribution women have made to cinema.

“Come back over the coming weeks to meet the team and get an insight into what we’re all up to, through the eyes of either me, the project’s Press Agent, or some of our team!”

Week One: Induction and First Workshop – Practical Film Making

From Her Point of View kicked off on Thursday 26th January with our first evening session. It started with a chance for us all to meet for the first time, get to know each other a little bit and talk a bit about our roles on the project. Along with some games to break the ice, we heard about the project in a bit more depth.

After the games, the women split off into their two production crews and talked more about their visions for their films. On one team we had talk of a coming-of-age drama featuring an all-female BMX gang, with the plans for elaborate and incredible costumes, perhaps with an Elizabethan vibe. The other team had a decision to make, as Director/Writer Kam brought two ideas to the table. Enthusiastic praise was given to both, but eventually the group decided on Where I Came From, dramatizing the story of a female refugee. With excerpts of real testimonial, the film would blend the documentary and drama genres.

We also came together as a whole group for a short ‘mapping’ exercise, where we looked at ourselves, our values and what’s important to us. The challenge was to break these elements down into finer and finer detail. The premise was that the teams could apply this approach to their filmmaking, because whatever else you add to your film it will boil down to two essential elements: intention and obstacle (which we’ll hear more about in our Screenwriting workshop). Each crew member was given a document detailing the different roles and responsibilities on the project.

Throughout the evening I was struck by how enthusiastic and passionate the women are. Being in a room with creative, like-minded women creates an exciting and interesting buzz and dynamic. This quality served us well, as the following day saw us thrown in at the deep end with our first practical workshop!


Friday 27th January  began with a brief induction to all the kit the production teams will have at their disposal to make their films, and how each go about booking all their equipment out, with a little help from Barry, Knowle West Media Centre’s Creative Technology Manager. We were also introduced to Tom  Stubbs, of biggerhouse and JUMPcuts films, who set us our first challenge.

Tom brought with him a selection of everyday objects and split the group up into smaller teams. Our challenge was to create and cut together a film over the course of this single session. We had to chose objects from Tom’s collection and feature them in the films. He also stipulated a couple of other rules: every member of the team must be in the film, it must feature three different types of shot (Wide, Mid, Close up) and it must feature four elements/words: DISCOMBOBULATE, PULSE, DUSK & QUAIL.

I started Friday’s session feeling pretty overwhelmed – I’m a blogger and aspiring writer who had never even thought about approaching film before and with no experience other than watching films and one outing as an extra. Having said that, being thrown in at the deep end was fun and useful: I got experience being in front of the camera, an idea of what makes a good shot, and had a go at cutting/editing a scene.

This programme is supported by Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery funds.

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Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
+44 (0) 117 903 0444

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