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Archive for the ‘Local Issues’ Category

KWMC supports new Bristol Digital Futures Institute

We’re delighted to be supporting a new Bristol-based initiative that has just received funding to explore the impact of digital technologies on society.

The Bristol Digital Futures Institute (BDFI) will be based at the University of Bristol’s new Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, offering space and facilities to research and test how technology could be utilised in the future.

As the Bristol Living Lab, KWMC already supports people to imagine new ways of using technology to tackle society’s challenges, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with the BDFI and communities across the city to explore how future technologies could impact people’s daily lives: from our communities and workplaces to our health and environment.

Our Director Carolyn Hassan explains: “we want to make sure that everyone – particularly those who are least engaged with digital technologies – have a say in shaping our city and its digital future.”

About BDFI

To set up BDFI, University of Bristol has received a £29m grant from the Research England UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (RPIF), which has received £71m of match funding (£16m of philanthropy and £55m from 27 partner organisations).

BDFI will be housed in a new 6,000sqm space on the university’s Temple Quarter campus. Facilities will include an interactive auditorium and the world’s first ‘reality emulator’ to enable the study of future digital systems, such as how we could protect ourselves against cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure.

BDFI aims to generate 30 new collaborative projects per year.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Bristol, said: “This funding announcement is fantastic news for the University, the city of Bristol and the wider region. It provides an opportunity to think about our futures differently – to build on expertise from right across the university in collaboration with industry, government and people in the City; to think about the world we are creating with digital innovation and ensure that this ethical, socially responsible and inclusive – helping to support the creation of future ‘tech with a conscience’.”

Find out more

The organisations that have pledged their support and financial support for BDFI include: Aardman, Ashley Community Housing, Airbus, ARM Ltd, Babassa, BBC,  Bristol Media Group, Black South West Network (BSWN), BT, Business West, Digital Catapult, Dyson, Evolyst Ltd, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, Gregg Latchams Solicitors, Hargreaves Landsdown, Knowle West Media Centre, National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Quin, System C Healthcare Ltd, Thales UK Ltd, Three, TM Forum, Toshiba, Ultrahaptics Ltd, Watershed, West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

BDFI is being funded through Round 6 of Research England’s flagship capital investment scheme the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF).

For more details visit the University of Bristol Bristol Digital Futures Institute website.

Knowle West a hotspot for ‘Creative Civic Change’

Knowle West is one of fourteen communities across England set to transform their local areas as part of the new £4 million Creative Civic Change programme, which launched this week.

With funding of up to £200,000 for each community involved, as well as a programme of support including advice and mentoring, Creative Civic Change will ‘help every area make social, economic or environmental changes that matter to them locally.’

In Knowle West, Filwood Community Centre will work with residents to transform spaces in and around its building and support people to develop their own creative projects. The Community Centre is an 80-year-old former school, which now houses event space, dance studios, a gym and an art room. It is run by Community in Partnership Knowle West (CIPKW).

Through the three-year Filwood Fantastic programme, CIPKW aims to help the Knowle West / Filwood community thrive by responding to local priorities in creative ways.

As part of Filwood Fantastic, Knowle West Media Centre will support Filwood Community Centre and local residents to develop creative projects in collaboration with artists, and use new digital making technologies at our manufacturing workshop KWMC: The Factory.

Filwood Fantastic

During Filwood Fantastic, residents can get involved in activities including:

dance, drama, community radio, arts and crafts, and sewing
building street furniture, signage, lighting, and planters for Filwood Broadway
making furnishings and features for Filwood Community Centre

They can also apply to CIPKW for small pots of funding to set up their own group or event.

Makala Cheung, Creative Director & Business Manager at Filwood Community Centre, said: “We’re looking forward to working with people of all ages over the next three years to make Filwood even more Fantastic: having fun, getting to know our neighbours, and making the changes that people have told us they want.”

Melissa Mean, Head of Arts at KWMC, said: “Knowle West is already full of fantastic people and community energy. The Filwood Fantastic project is a great opportunity to tap into that energy and KWMC is excited to be part of the mix. We’ll be helping by bringing in specialist artists and lots of creative tech, like 3D printers and laser cutters, to create some fantastic things with local people.”

Find out more!

On Thursday 16 May, Filwood Community Centre and KWMC will launch the Filwood Fantastic programme with a ‘Mix Up Party’.

The evening event will include circus performances and a showcase of creative projects and art pieces designed by artists and residents working together.

Makala explains: “the event aims to ‘mix up’ different people and types of art and see what happens next! If you’re interested in creative things happened in Knowle West or are an artist or creative person making work in the community, then this event is for you.”

Tickets to the Mix Up Party are free for Knowle West residents and £5 for others.  Visit the KWMC Shop for details.

For more information about Filwood Fantastic visit the Filwood Community Centre website or call 0117 914 9216.

Creative Civic Change

Funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Local Trust, the Creative Civic Change initiative has been launched in response to the Inquiry into the Civic Role of the Arts Organisations.

It aims to explore a new approach to funding community-driven projects, and share experience to inspire others to use the arts and creativity to make positive local change.

Sarah Benioff, Director of England at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “People are at the heart of what we do and we believe it is important for them to get involved, have their say and make the changes they want to see. Thanks to National Lottery players and this partnership, the Creative Civic Change programme is building stronger networks within communities, whilst bringing them together to tackle issues that are not only affecting them individually, but collectively.”

Artists selected for project celebrating local culture

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve selected three artists to work on the project ‘100 Years of Knowle West Style‘. The project will celebrate Knowle West’s culture, style and stories, and make sure that it’s Knowle Westers who choose what goes down in history.

The artists are: Holly Beasley-Garrigan, George Lovesmith and Lukus Robbins. KWMC Arts Producer Martha King commented: ”we’re excited to be working with passionate artists who identify as coming from working class backgrounds. It felt really important for a project like this – which focuses on looking afresh at the histories and value of social housing – that the artists selected had lived experience of council-built estates and strong practices in socially engaged work”.

We’re also thrilled to be working with Cheryl Martin to create a series of neighbourhood walks. Cheryl grew up in Knowle West and lived here for 50 years. She is an experienced health walks leader and also a photographer. Cheryl wanted to work on this project because she believes it’s important to know more about our history: ‘to understand where you’re at, you have to know where you’ve come from’.

Here’s an introduction from Holly, George and Lukus, in their own words:

Holly Beasley-Garrigan

Holly says: “I’m a Performance-maker & Choreographer originally from South London and now based in Bristol. The “100 Years of Knowle West Style” project really excites me. I grew up on benefits on the St. Helier estate in South West London, an estate with many historical parallels to Knowle West. Five generations of my family have lived, and continue to live there since St. Helier was built between 1929 and 1936. My experiences growing up on, and then leaving, this estate have become central to my practice as an artist. I’m obsessed with storytelling, visibility and learning to take up space.

“My most recent work has focused on celebrating working-class stories, particularly the stories of women. Stories from estates like Knowle West are interesting and relevant but they are often forgotten, judged or not given the platform they deserve. My practice attempts to foster an environment where people feel supported and able to celebrate their own unique stories in ways that feel meaningful both personally and culturally.”

George Lovesmith

George says: “there’s special stuff in Knowle West – that’s why people call it home. I’m an architect interested to work hands-on with people who feel stuff about a place. The 100 Years project is an opportunity to ask: ‘how can we celebrate the thing you would lie down in front of a bulldozer to protect? Which bits justify some nurture? What makes you roll up your sleeves and get stuck-in?'”

Lukus Robbins

Lukus says: “I am a participatory theatre maker and digital artist with a background in devised participatory performance and locative media. Growing up on a council-built estate and as someone who proudly identifies as working class, with some of my family living in Knowle West, I inherently understand the language, culture and social challenges of the neighbourhood.

“I wanted to join the project because I am fascinated to uncover, explore, understand and tell the rich narrative of Knowle West’s hidden heritage. More often than not, the residents of council-built estates are marginalised from the wider art world. This rich and exciting culture should not miss out and it is the collective responsibility of individuals and art organisations to engage with, learn from and celebrate what it has to offer. The core focus of my practice is to create intimate encounters between individuals, focusing on the here and now meetings between people in unconventional performance spaces.” 

More details

100 Years of Knowle West Style is part of Homes For Heroes 100, city-wide projects marking a century of council housing coordinated by Bristol Cultural Development Partnership.Homes For Heroes 100 is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Bristol City Council.

Knowle West artists wanted for visual art challenge

Knowle West artists – fancy a challenge? How about creating a piece of artwork in just one hour?

The team behind the We Can Make Chat Show is looking for visual artists* to sit in the audience of two upcoming recordings -on 26th June and 24th July 2019. You’ll listen to the conversations local residents are having about housing and create a piece of artwork inspired by what you hear. The work you create will be printed as a set of limited edition postcards, made by Bristol-based creative publisher No Bindings.

*illustrator, cartoonist, painter or printmaker

Pay

The payment for creating the work is £200 per show, £400 in total. You will need to come to both shows in June and July and create a different artwork for each show.

Example

Digital artist Rediat Abayneh’s work in progress during the pilot show in December 2018 (pictured below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Will Taylor

Rediat created an image of tools underneath a world of green-roofed houses after she listened to the hosts, guests and audience talk about We Can Make houses being designed to increase the greenery of the area with “living roofs”, as well as being built by local tradespeople. Rediat’s work was printed onto postcards (pictured below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: No Bindings

Interested?

Send the We Can Make Chat Show team a link to your portfolio, whether that’s a website, Instagram account or something else. If you’re not online, we’re also happy to see your work in person, just get in touch and we’ll sort out a time to come and see your work.

Email your expression of interest to hannah.clark@kwmc.org.uk by Monday 20th May 2019.

Questions?

Call Knowle West Media Centre on 0117 903 0444 and ask for Hannah, Melissa or Rachel.

What is We Can Make?

We Can Make is a housing initiative based in Knowle West, Bristol, that aims to support people to create the homes they want and need.

Since November 2016 Knowle West Media Centre and architects practice White Design have been working with local residents, architects and policy-makers to try out new ideas for affordable housing. These ideas include building homes on ‘micro-plots’ of spare land.

The environmentally friendly We Can Make test home was built next to Filwood Community Centre in the summer of 2017; hundreds of people have stayed overnight to test it out!

At a time when working people can expect to pay around 7.6 times their annual earnings on purchasing a home in England and Wales, We Can Make is all about making sure communities, not property developers, call the shots: where homes are built to meet local need using local skills.

The We Can Make Chat Show is recorded every other month in the test home. The show is hosted by local residents and features local guests. It covers a range of topics relating to housing – from affordability to what it means to be a good neighbour.

Film training programme puts volunteers in the spotlight

In early 2019 the Our Digital City team were approached by Hartcliffe & Withywood Community Partnership (HWCP) and asked to help teach a group of local residents and community leaders how to shoot, edit and produce their own short film, showcasing the excellent volunteer work being done by local residents  and groups within their community.

Today’s consumer technology can empower almost anyone who can think creatively. You can use smartphones and tablets to write a bestselling book, record a number one song, capture a profound moment through photography, and even tell a story through film. They say that the best camera is the one you have with you…

The group decided that shooting the film with smartphones would be a great idea: as many people own smartphones, the group wouldn’t need to rely on high-end and expensive equipment, thus creating a sustainable model for future film projects. The Our Digital City team shared their skills and knowledge with the group, supporting them with the initial storyboarding, advising how to achieve their desired shots most effectively, and helping with filming techniques and editing processes.

Gallery

From there, the group went out into their community and interviewed a range of volunteers and groups: by implementing the techniques they had learned with the Our Digital City team, the group felt confident enough to organise the shoots and film everything themselves.

When all of the footage had been filmed and collected, it was time to put the final piece together, so the ODC team taught some members of the group how to use Apple’s iMovie editing software in order to produce a finished film.

In order to make a film that was truly accessible for all viewers, Sam from the HWCP group (left) added subtitles to the whole film.

The project was a great success and the group finished with a completed film that showcased the great work that is being done by individuals and groups within the communities of Hartcliffe and Withywood.

Participant Sam Parker said:

“I really enjoyed the sessions with KWMC. I really enjoyed the editing of the films –  really simple and easy to understand but now I look like I really know what I’m doing!”

This project also demonstrates that by utilising the technology we carry in our pockets in a creative way, we can be empowered as a community to shine a light on those who work hard to make a difference in their area and enable them to tell their own stories.


The sessions were delivered as part of the Our Digital City project – please get in touch with Jess or call 0117 903 0444 if you would like to run something similar in your area.

Discounts on courses in 24 hour Flash Sale

The 24-hour Culture Flash Sale is back for 2019: for one day only, discounted tickets and offers are available at a host of venues across Bristol and Bath!

From music, theatre, art and museum exhibitions to talks and theatre and dance classes, there’s plenty to see and do.

The sale begins at 10am on Thursday 17 January 2019 and runs until 10am on Friday 18 January 2019. Offers are limited – when they’re gone, they’re gone!

Read on for details of discounts on our Spring laser-cutting and photography courses, and offers from other organisations involved in the Flash Sale.

10% off: Make your own…Laser-cut Valentine’s Day Gifts

Treat your loved one to a personalised card and gift this year: learn how to design and make laser-cut Valentine’s Day items at KWMC: The Factory. Beginners welcome! Ages 16+

Deal: 10% off the usual price of £38. Visit our online shop during the Flash Sale and use the code valentineflash19
Date: Thursday 7 February, 6 – 8.30pm
Venue: KWMC: The Factory, Filwood Green Business Park

10% off: Make your own…Laser-cut Jewellery

Design your own jewellery and stand out from the crowd! Learn how to design and make laser-cut pieces in wood and acrylic at this weekend workshop at KWMC: The Factory. Beginners welcome! Ages 16+

Deal: 10% off the usual price of £55. Visit our online shop during the Flash Sale and use the code jewelleryflash19
Date: Saturday 16 March, 10am – 2pm
Venue: KWMC: The Factory, Filwood Green Business Park

10% off: Make your own…Laser-cut Easter Decorations

Create colourful Easter-themed delights to decorate your home: learn how to design and make a laser-cut Easter card and decoration. Beginners welcome! Ages 16+

Deal: 10% off the usual price of £38. Visit our online shop during the Flash Sale and use the code easterflash19
Date: Thursday 11 April, 10am – 12.30pm
Venue: KWMC: The Factory, Filwood Green Business Park

Gallery

10% off: Introduction to Digital Photography

Leave the ‘auto’ setting behind with our one-day beginners’ course. Topics covered include understanding aperture, shutter speed, white balance, focusing, capturing fast moving objects and depth of field. Ages 16+

Deal: 10% off the usual price of £65. Visit our online shop during the Flash Sale and use the code photoflash19
Date: Saturday 9 March, 10am – 4pm
Venue: KWMC, Leinster Avenue 

10% off: Advanced Photography Skills

Step up your skills or refresh your current knowledge with this practical course. Learn how to photograph a model, use off-camera flash, make the most of light, and re-touch your images. Ages 16+

Deal: 10% off the usual price of £65. Visit our online shop during the Flash Sale and use the code photoflash19
Date: Saturday 23 March, 10am – 4pm
Venue: KWMC, Leinster Avenue 

10% off: Introduction to Studio Photography

Learn more about working in a studio environment in this practical one-day course. Practice setting up a studio and working with a model, and learn more about editing and lighting. Ages 16+

Deal: 10% off the usual price of £65. Visit our online shop during the Flash Sale and use the code photoflash19
Date: Saturday 6 April, 10am – 4pm
Venue: KWMC, Leinster Avenue 

Other Bristol deals
After Hours: LOVE at We The Curious

An evening celebrating that curious thing called love for friends and lovers alike. Be part of a guided exploration of a heart and be challenged, engaged and entertained with some intriguing activities around this most human of emotions. Age 18+.

Deal: tickets just £5 each during the Flash Sale (full price £8.95)
Date: Thursday 14 February, 6.30pm

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

To mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery will be displaying 12 of his finest drawings from the Royal Collection as part of the national celebration #Leonardo500. 

Deal: 50% off advance adult tickets during the Flash Sale
Dates: 1 February to 6 May 2019

Keen to know more? Search #CultureFlashSale on social media and read the full list of Flash Sale offers on the Visit Bristol blog.

 About the Flash Sale

The Culture Flash Sale is co-ordinated by the Bristol Arts Marketing Network in co-operation with Bristol and Bath Cultural Destinations Project and Visit Bristol. This is the 10th edition of the sale.

Photography Course images by Alistair Campbell

We Can Make housing initiative one of 50 ‘New Radicals’

Every two years Nesta and The Observer New Review showcase 50 individuals and organisations that are changing the UK for the better – and in 2018 a Knowle West initiative is one of them!

Our We Can Make housing programme has been selected as one of 50 ‘New Radicals’ – a list of individuals, organisations and initiatives from around the UK “developing creative ways of tackling society’s biggest challenges.”

At a time when working people can expect to pay around 7.6 times their annual earnings on purchasing a home in England and Wales, We Can Make aims to ensure that communities, not property developers, call the shots: where homes are built to meet local need using local assets and skills.

Led by Knowle West Media Centre and White Design, We Can Make brings together Knowle West residents, artists, academics, designers, architects and policy makers to try out new ideas for sustainable, affordable housing.

Almost a year to the day since the straw-bale We Can Make test home opened next to Filwood Community Centre, the initiative has been recognised as an innovative approach to tackling the challenge of unaffordable housing – an issue that affects communities in Bristol and across the country. Read the New Radicals profile of We Can Make here.

For more information about We Can Make and how you could get involved contact Melissa or call 0117 903 0444.

The We Can Make test home hosts an open house every Thursday afternoon from 2-6pm if you’d like to drop in and find out more.  Find the house on the corner of Barnstaple Road and Marwood Road, next to Filwood Community Centre.

About The New Radicals

New Radicals is a search led by Nesta, the innovation foundation, and The Observer to find “the top people, projects and organisations offering innovative ways to tackle social challenges.” It was launched in 2012 and runs every two years.

For more information and the full list of 2018 New Radicals visit the NESTA website.

About Nesta

Nesta is a global innovation foundation. It backs new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, through its knowledge, networks, funding and skills. Nesta works in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities. It is a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment. To find out more visit their website. Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.

Power to Change and the Nationwide Foundation support We Can Make

Working people can expect to pay around 7.6 times their annual earnings on purchasing a home in England and Wales: we urgently need new ways to meet housing need.

Our We Can Make initiative proposes that one answer to the housing crisis could lie in people’s own hands and ‘micro-plots’ of spare land scattered across back-gardens and between buildings.

We’re delighted to announce that the project has been awarded just over £200,000 from the Nationwide Foundation and Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses in England, to develop the idea further.

The money will be used to work with a pilot neighbourhood in Bristol – Knowle West – to co-design and create practical tools that people can use to deliver their own affordable homes at “point of need”: making it easier, faster and cheaper to develop on micro-plots.

Community-led innovation

We Can Make has found that in Knowle West there are over 2,000 potential micro-sites where a 1-2 bedroom home could fit. Although not all of these sites will be suitable, We Can Make estimates that 10-15% could be developed. This would create a significant supply of land for affordable housing where and when it’s needed.

The project has a specific focus on people whose needs are not currently being met by the conventional housing system. These include:

– New Shoots’: families with an urgent need for more space due to children growing and needing independence but unable to get on the property ladder themselves.

– ‘Downshifters’: individuals or couples whose homes are too big for them due to children moving out, but they desperately want to stay in their neighbourhood close to friends and family.

– ‘Better fits’: families where one or more member has changing mobility needs that require different living arrangements.

– ‘Making Ends Meet’: those in financial need and who are willing to swap space for extra income, such as people working out how to support themselves through retirement.

Supporting the ‘citizen sector’

With the support of the Nationwide Foundation and Power to Change, We Can Make will develop a set of shared tools to help individuals and communities deliver their own affordable homes. These will include: a shared community design code to set rules about the kind of development that’s welcome; accessible finance models so more people can opt-in; and a design menu so people can choose a home that meets their needs and fits the character of the neighbourhood.

‘Not In My Back Yard’ (NIMBY) is an all too common reaction to speculative commercial developments; We Can Make aims to empower people to meet their own housing needs as YIMBYs: saying “Yes, In My Back Yard!”

Jonathan Lewis, Programme Manager at the Nationwide Foundation, says: “We’re impressed with the innovative, imaginative and forward-thinking approach of We Can Make. Therefore, we’re excited that our funding will help the people of Knowle West to nurture this idea as it moves forward to deliver new, affordable homes and protect existing ones. This project is carefully considering the varying needs of the local residents, putting the community at the heart of decision-making. The development of projects like We Can Make – which could lead to more widespread implementation in time – is key to addressing the housing crisis and changing the system, which doesn’t currently provide the necessary help to people in housing need.”

Michael Lloyd Jones, Programme Officer at Power to Change, comments: “We’re delighted to support the We Can Make project – it’s just what we look for through our Sandbox Ideas Programme; an innovative initiative that has the potential to spark and grow the community business sector beyond its own doors. Community business models are well placed to respond to the challenges facing the housing sector and we are excited to see what valuable learnings We Can Make will yield for community-led housing not just in Bristol but beyond.”

About We Can Make

We Can Make is led by Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) and architects practice White Design.  It brings together residents, architects, policy-makers and artists to create a new system for delivering affordable housing, working with the assets and resources of communities. The project builds on over a year’s worth of research and innovation in Knowle West: an estate of around 5,500 homes and community of approximately 12,000 residents. A report summarising this research can be found here.

We Can Make built a prototype house on a micro-plot next to Filwood Community Centre in the in summer 2017. The house is fully plumbed and wired, with walls made of straw bale panels, triple-glazed windows and a large wooden deck. Local residents were employed in its construction. So far over 100 local people and visitors from as far away as San Francisco, Australia and Berlin have stayed overnight to try out living in it.

Get involved!

KWMC hosts a weekly drop-in at the prototype We Can Make home for residents interested in finding out more: Thursdays, 2-6pm, at the We Can Make Home on the corner of Barnstaple Road and Marwood Road, Knowle West.

We’d love to meet you and see if We Can Make could work for you!

For more information contact Melissa Mean at Knowle West Media Centre: melissa.mean@kwmc.org.uk or 0117 903 0444.

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.

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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