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Archive for August, 2017

Hiring: Manga / comic book artists for a 10 week young people’s project

Knowle West Media Centre is running a 10 week manga / comic creation course for young people this Autumn (from 13th September) and we’re looking for a dynamic and talented artist/facilitator to lead the course.

The course will cover storytelling, design, digital and traditional comic styles, and creating a one-sheet comic ready for launch at South Bristol Gaming & Anime Expo in November. 


Ideally you’ll have experience of youth work and designing creative courses for young people, alongside having passion and experience for comic book creation. Sessions will take place on Wednesdays from 4.30 – 7.30pm, working with young creatives aged 10-19.

We will be contacting and arranging interviews with applicants via phone/skype on a rolling basis, so if this is something you’re interested in doing please get in touch with by midday on 4th September and include up to 150 words explaining your experience, why you want to be involved in the project and provide links to your work.

The fee for the course facilitator is £600. An enhanced DBS check will also be required.

Good luck!

Change Creators: XLR Collective Rehearsal

This week the group sat down and talked through what we have all been doing the past week. We also had a small brief about how life coaching will work and our commitment to it. The group also did a value excise where each member wrote down 1. what they value about themselves/ what they think they are good at and 2. what they value about the person sitting next to them to the right. So we each went round and said out loud what we had written and gave the other person the sticky note to keep. The idea was to get us to pin point what we feel we are good at and to think how we can use that more for this project. It was also a nice reminder to each other that we all appreciate the talents that each individual in the group has.

With the other half of the session the group recorded draft versions of our songs so we have references for when we record them properly. Also the two members of the group who produce sat down and shared their work with the vocalists and got some ideas going ready to record on Friday.

Written by Olivia Sully-Karlis

Follow us at:
@xlrmusicuk @change_creators
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A Musical End to The Summer

The third and final instalment to our 2017 summer programme for young people launched with a bang – literally!

After an adventurous Animal Photography course that took us to Bristol Zoo Gardens and the activities of Tech on the Table, featuring a walking, talking robot courtesy of At-Bristol, the Hack a Musical Instrument workshop included making instruments from scratch, composing songs, and a live performance to mark the launch of Luke Jerram’s Play Me, I’m Yours project. Over the course of two days, young people and adults came together to enjoy the unifying power of music.

Day One

With excitement high, we welcomed a band of young people ready to bring some tunes to the surrounding area…Project Manager Dot began the session and introduced those who would be volunteering and lending a musical hand. After a few “icebreakers” it was time to start building instruments. The activity saw rainmakers made of tubes with rice and pasta inside, maracas and even a full drum set put together with plastic tubes and old vinyl records.

The day got even more lively when Adam Amer from Chango World came to deliver an upbeat drumming session with the group. Chango World aim to deliver engaging, memorable and accessible musical experiences to a diverse range of people and their time with us didn’t disappoint.


Day Two

Having laid a solid foundation of music on Day One, the second day took things a step further with an introduction to song composition. The young people created their own recordings using the music production app Logic.

Decorating the set for the Play Me I’m Yours launch was next, which included hanging decorated vinyls around the outdoor piano and setting up their proudly self-made instruments in preparation to play to parents, KWMC staff and a host of other keen listeners.

Showtime came just after 4pm when BBC Points West came along to film the first pianists using the piano. The young people performed alongside pianist Nick Bignall – and were featured on the 6pm news programme!

In just two days the young people successfully built instruments, created songs and even performed live. All of the young people who gave feedback said they would “definitely recommend KWMC to a friend”. We hope to see them – and you! – next term when our after-school sessions start up again.

Visit the Jump Studios page for more details.

Tech on the Table is a smash hit

“Everyone is just ready to try something new; they are curious and motived”

Our Tech on the Table summer activities launched on 8th August with another group of excited 10-16 year olds ready to embark on a creative journey. Two days almost didn’t seem enough for a course that included building robots, interacting with At-Bristol’s fully functioning NAO robot and the Minecraft sessions that continue to be a hit. With some help from our friends at Digimakers from the University of Bristol as well as a handful of other friendly volunteers, it was finally tech time.


Day One

If you walked into KWMC on 8th August you’d have felt the energy of over 25 young people ready to tackle tech like few of them had ever done before! Meeting in the building’s main studio space, KWMC’s Dot Baker explained what was going to be happening over the two days.

Harry Gee, who currently works on robot education products with the help of Bristol Robotics Lab, led the Pi robot building session.  Those who attended learned how to assemble, code and activate the machine, before seeing it in action. Other sessions included gaming and digital design and our great team of young volunteers had the young people fully engaged.

 “They’re keen and they are up for it!” – Harry Gee

“We really enjoyed today. Everyone is just ready to try something new, they are curious and motived” – The Digimakers student team from University of Bristol

Day Two

Our second day started off with a bang as Beth Cotterell from At-Bristol came to visit, bringing her friend Nell, the NAO robot that so many people have been talking about. As well as all of the young people taking part in the Summer Programme, staff and volunteers came along to Beth’s session too: Nell the artificial intellectual brought young and older visitors together to share a memorable experience. It was a s stand-out moment mixed with a feel-good one: we love a good win-win situation!

Building on the excitement of the NAO robot, the other sessions kept up the high pace of the day. The young people, who had begun to form bonds with each other, got stuck in to digital illustration. At  the end of the day it was great to see so many parents staying around to talk to the staff and young people alike about the day, the buzz from the morning undoubtedly still in the air.

Interested in trying coding, robotics or other tech activities?  Our after-school groups start back after the summer holidays on 11th September; visit the Jump Studios page or contact us on 0117 903 0444 or social media to find out more!

Change Creators: XLR Collective Gig Prep

In this week’s session, we reviewed our original pieces that we performed at Bristol Harbour Festival to see what we could make even better. We set up [a] stage in the main space [at KWMC] so every little detail was exposed.

Beth’s “Not About That” had slight adjustments to the second half of the chorus, making it more soulful with a variation with the vocals that the guitar follows. We kept the edgy verses which amplify the message of the song.

Our song “Lady” took a few steps down tuning-wise so Millie could really achieve her range without busting her voice. Down-tuning actually gives a more mysterious vibe as well as keeping the jazz influences in the melodies.


Courtney smashed “Take Back the Night”. Only a few adjustments were made to make this punch more hard, mostly to do with adding more drums!

We also began working on a new song together around Milo’s hip hop idea. Milo started to demonstrate his rap and an improvised jam blossomed into a song. Beth got in with some backup vocals which help add depth to the song. We now need to confirm the structure to get this one rolling.

We also ran [through] the details of the upcoming At-Bristol gig on Sunday 6th August: we still had to source performers and practice our own sets as we decided to split into more individual performances. The band songs will come [in] useful later on, whether that’s for recording or performing at another gig together – tonight was all about getting us on the same page musically and we’re happy to say that we’re getting there!

Written by Molly Perryman

Follow us at:
@xlrmusicuk @change_creators
Instagram: @xlrmusicuk

Play Me, I’m Yours Knowle West

This summer a world-famous street pianos project will return to the streets of Bristol – and Knowle West will be one of the main locations!

Play Me, I’m Yours is a musical trail of 18 individually-decorated pianos which are installed in public spaces across a city for everyone to play and enjoy. The project, from Bristol-based artist Luke Jerram, first came to Bristol in 2009 and 2017 marks its 10th year. It has seen over 1700 pianos played in over 55 cities across the globe. Each piano bears the simple instruction Play Me, I’m Yours.

From Thursday 17th August – Thursday 7th September pianos will be at locations across Bristol including Broadmead, the Harbourside, The Mall at Cribbs Causeway – and Knowle West Media Centre.


The Knowle West piano will be decorated by young people taking part in our summer holiday activities. They will be working with emerging artists Jasmine Thompson and Nick Ogri (pictured above) to create the designs and make them a reality. The piano will be unveiled ready for the first performance on Thursday 17th August at 3.30pm. Join us for a series of performances and free tea and cake!

The piano will then be available to play for the rest of the summer holiday during our opening hours. Drop in between 9am-7pm Monday to Thursday and 9am-5pm on Fridays.

We’re looking forward to hearing Knowle West make music and we’d love to see your photos and videos of the piano, whether you’re playing a classical concerto, writing own composition, freestyling on the keys or doing something else entirely!

If you’re sharing photos and video on social media please tag @knowlewestmedia and use the hashtag #bristolstreetpianos For more information about the project visit

We look forward to hearing your music – and maybe uncovering a piano superstar in the making…

Change Creators: XLR Collective Coaching Session

This week the group had a refreshing session about coaching. We had some guests sitting in with us whilst we did some activities that involved learning how to actively listen, filling out the wheel of life and learning how to respond in conversation to empower the other person.

It was really interesting and highlighted a lot how important it is to to allow space whilst conversing with someone and to focus less on your response and more on how your response can empower the person – rather than just telling them what to do and force opinions onto them. It’s about allowing the space for people to make their own decisions and you being a support.

Towards the end of the session the group went over our new structure for our campaign. The campaign is beginning to take a different shape and our roles will shift again so we spoke about what we want from the campaign in our last seven leadership sessions and how ​to take over the social media and decision making. [We] all agreed the focus for the next few weeks is the recording and producing tracks for our EP.

Written by Olivia Sully-Karlis

Follow us at:
@xlrmusicuk @change_creators
Insta: @xlrmusicuk

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 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!


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.


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.

Jump Studios’ Animal Photography Course

“It inspired my son to be a wildlife cameraman!”

Photography and wildlife unite this summer in Jump Studios’ latest course for young people. To kick off the 2017 Summer Programme at Knowle West Media Centre we took a trip to Bristol Zoo Gardens with fifteen 10 to 16 year olds from the local area.  Some young people were introduced to photography for the first time, while others had the chance to enhance their existing skills in creating, editing and exhibiting original digital photography. With majestic and exotic animals as their subjects, the group embarked on a challenging and inspiring two-day journey…

Day 1: Bristol Zoo

Day 1 started off with the young people arriving at Bristol Zoo and having a DSLR camera introduction from photographer George Hieron.  The first lesson of the day was being briefed on how to adjust light settings for the dark caves they would encounter as well as the brighter outside landscapes. Sitting in pairs around a tall tree just inside the zoo’s gates, the group took turns in changing the settings before embarking on their excursion.

Although anyone with a camera phone can capture an image, during the session the young people were able move beyond point-and-shoot picture taking and understand the different capabilities of a DSLR camera (regardless of the level of skill they had with it beforehand.) The group concentrated on composition, focus and lighting to help them produce quality photographs – and having so many different animals and environments to capture on camera helped them test out lots of different skills!

With six hours of exploring and picture taking under their belts, the group finished the first day with plenty of material for the second part of the course which would include exhibiting their work.


Day 2: Creating the Exhibition

Day 2 kicked off the editing portion of the course. The group discussed how to display the images and the theme they wanted to use. We welcomed Letty from Arnolfini who gave the group advice about how to creatively and strategically produce an exhibition. This part of the day saw the young people incredibly excited, bouncing ideas back and forth about how best to show off their work. In the end they decided to display their images from the least unusual animal to the most unusual.  Although the exhibited pictures are unedited originals, the group also had the chance to learn photo editing skills which can be transferred to a range of different contexts.

The ultimate satisfaction undoubtedly came when the group’s parents came in to see their photographs hanging proudly in the KWMC training room; a feel-good ending to two constructive days leaving one parent to say it was “fantastic! It inspired my son to be a wildlife cameraman!”

Interested in trying photography yourself?  Our after-school groups start back after the summer holidays on 11th September; visit the Jump Studios page or contact us on 0117 903 0444 or social media to find out more!

Contact Us

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

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