KWMC is an arts centre and charity and we’ve been based in South Bristol – on the Knowle West estate – since 1996.
Since those early days, our work has centred on working collaboratively with people from different backgrounds to develop new and creative models for achieving positive social change – and supporting people to develop the skills and confidence to be change-makers themselves.
Our current projects include skills training and employment opportunities for young people, supporting community organisations across Bristol in their work, and a diverse range of creative programmes exploring issues from housing to health.
We also operate The Factory, an award-winning making and training space based at Filwood Green Business Park. The Factory provides access to new digital manufacturing technologies (such as CNC routers and laser cutters), offers product design and prototyping services for clients, and delivers a range of free training courses.
Take a look at the ‘Projects’ section to find out what’s going on at the moment and see our projects live in action. Many of them have been replicated and learnt from elsewhere in the UK and Europe!
You can also commission us to undertake bespoke creative projects, such as graphic design, video production, and social media consultancy, and we also offer event, meeting and office space for hire within our straw-bale building.
We look forward to welcoming you to Knowle West soon!
Our origins lie in a Knowle West photography project run by our founder and director Carolyn Hassan in 1996. In the spirit of the original photography project, there are four different ‘lenses’ through which it can be helpful to view our work:
We work with artists on many of our projects and our socially engaged arts practice underpins everything we do. This practice focuses on supporting people to develop creative ideas, opportunities and solutions that are based on their priorities, and questioning ideas about who makes art – why, where and how.
We know that many young people have great talent and potential but haven’t had the ‘break’ or opportunity to demonstrate it; others have experienced barriers to pursuing their goals, such as challenging personal circumstances or discrimination. By supporting young people to develop the skills and confidence to enter new industries and act as agents of positive change, we hope to see the development of places and cultures that are more diverse and value the voices, perspectives and contributions of young people.
As the Bristol Living Lab, we bring people from different backgrounds together to test creative solutions to the challenges that affect them in a ‘real world’ setting. In order to ensure that our work, and especially any technology we develop, addresses local needs and interests, we follow a process called The Bristol Approach, which was developed with Ideas for Change and Bristol City Council. Central to the Approach is starting not with a predefined idea but with people, problems and potential, then working together to see what comes next.
Through our making space KWMC: The Factory we enable people, from seasoned entrepreneurs to brand-new makers, to access the opportunities offered by digital manufacturing, whether that’s developing new business ideas, expanding existing DIY skills or experiencing the joy of creating something bespoke for yourself. We’re keen to explore the meaning of making physical objects in an increasingly digital world, and find ways to ‘upcycle’ old objects, reduce waste and create new sustainable processes.