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The Data Says It All

We are delighted to share a new video work made by Richard Layzell especially for Knowle West Media Centre. It is a reflection on his work with us since 2010 and a poetic weaving together of his experiences of being in residency in the neighbourhood and working with members of the Knowle West community. It was made during the COVID-19 lockdown as a way to keep sharing his work with audiences.

Richard Layzell is an award-winning visual and performance artist based in London. He has completed several residencies with KWMC and regularly shows his work internationally.

Richard’s practice and ongoing collaboration with KWMC demonstrate the importance of artists who work within communities spending time immersing themselves in an area – building relationships, talking and listening, and understanding what’s important to people – and the impact that this immersion can have for both artists and community.

We are committed to supporting artists and communities to work together and will be developing new ‘slow residency’ strands in the coming years.

Thank you to Richard for sharing this film with us and for the inspiration, curiosity and generosity he continues to bring to Knowle West and KWMC.

Transcript: The Data Says it All – Richard Layzell

It all began in Shanghai one Saturday morning in 2009, when I stood for sixty minutes on the corner of Shilong Road, counting vehicles without exhaust pipes. These were bikes of all kinds and the occasional electric scooter. There were 2000 in that hour. I was keeping a record of this moment, to make an environmental comparison with the west, a comparison that would be very different today, now that the car has stepped up to take up its rightful place in an even more developed Chinese economy.

I had a bike, myself, to get around the square mile where I lived and worked in the south of the city. It was called Shuangzulong, which ironically translates as ‘bipedal’, because one of the pedals fell off the first time I used it. Anyway, this was data collected and when the Knowle West Media Centre advertised a project called Whose Data? a year later, I talked about this Shanghai experience in my application. And I remembered it when the work began. This time the counting happened in shops, the convenience stores of Knowle West. I stood close to the till, trying to be invisible, noting down the categories of what people bought, rather than the brands: soft drink, energy drink, booze, fags, tobacco, lottery, white bread, eggs, crisps, biscuits, milk, newspaper, Paypoint, sweets, pie, onion. I wasn’t aiming to be judgmental about their purchases, but when I read from these lists at a public event a few weeks later, a local councillor described this as significant research into cultural deprivation. Hmm.

I also looked at biodiversity, the range of other species living here, and I had Steve, the Media Centre’s then caretaker, as a special databank. I came to realise that his local knowledge of wildlife was embedded in him. I borrowed a sound recorder and met Steve just before dawn. He took me to the Wills Site, the Bommie, the Black Path, and the Horse Field. The birds were enough and he knew it. The dawn choruses were fantastical symphonies of competing soundscapes, natural and man-made. We stood in silence listening acutely to what was being recorded, trying not to cough or sneeze. In between recordings, Steve spoke guiltily about his boyhood experiences as a poacher, and with authority that this was a green corridor for birds and other creatures. From their perspective Knowle West is a rich source of food, cover and safety. Up here, the pattern of open land, housing and the many patches of green space are only interrupted by the major highway that is, Hartcliffe Way.

Still thinking about data I came back a year later with another idea, this time related to binary code. I would visit every street in Knowle West and photograph all the house numbers that contained a one or a zero or both. These were, obviously, numbers 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110 and 111. It took quite a while. The photos were then displayed side-by-side in the gallery, and all the residents of the featured houses were invited to a special event to find their number on the wall, with one lucky winner going away with a Morrison’s voucher for £50. It was a binary bonanza, a celebration of numerology, and a record of house number manufacturing over a 90-year period, and another unique view of this unique neighbourhood.

Then came the Artist Hotel project, joining in the research for the idea of imagining an artist hotel for Knowle West. Some of my research focused on hotels in London and the South East that branded themselves as ‘artistic’, including the Artist Residence Hotel in Brighton and the St Martins Lane Hotel in London. I tend to see hotel lobbies and foyers as semi-public spaces that can be occupied, and that’s what I did. I asked the price of a room. I wandered around to get the ambience, sometimes behaving on the edge of performance, to see how far I could go before being stopped. When it came to the presentation of my findings I’d not long been back from a visit to Ethiopia, where corrugated metal sheets are a base building material for many homes and shops, so I decided to include hammering on a piece of locally sourced corrugated steel as an antidote to the glamorous hotel culture that I’d been experiencing. Artists don’t need a swanky hotel. Nor does Knowle West.

The landscape of the place on the hill in Bristol BS4 is always with me. I’ve spent long enough to get under its surface and be inside its weather. I’ve walked those streets, all of them, seen the sun rise and set, explored the wilderness at the back of Greenfield School with the kids, been humbled by Steve’s instinctive knowledge, looked up and looked down, listened and watched… BS4 was even with me in the Alice Springs desert and the Montreal rain when I was working on my new ecological project called The Naming in 2018. As a part of this I came back to Bristol last year to explore the huge tidal range of the River Avon and the Bristol Channel, the second highest in the world, and the potential pollution in the Malago River, using a lo-fi method involving unbleached tampons and UV light. The results were not conclusive, but veered on the side of not polluted, which was great news.

This year I was further along with The Naming and keen to share my discoveries with the people of Knowle West. I wanted to give them a direct experience of ecology in an event called Not Green…. So, in January I spend a couple of days looking around and planning. Walking down the slope opposite the Park Centre in Daventry Road and into the trees, I’m surprised to find a flowing stream. This reminds me of Mardalsfossen waterfall in Norway, a place I’d been to the previous summer, to see the site of the first ever eco-action that was led by the philosopher Arne Naess, in 1970. It’s one of Northern Europe’s most spectacular waterfalls. This stream here is tiny, but the sight and sound of running water are enough to make the connection.

There’s an elegant mature tree in the garden of the old vicarage next to St Barnabas Church. It’s some kind of maple Jim thinks. As a tree expert, he explains that this tree has had regular pollarding. I only know about pruning and coppicing. He tells me that pollarding is to encourage growth and to keep a regular shape. I think of the lines of plane trees in London that have their limbs cut to stumps every year. I wonder what you call this? Mutilation perhaps.

In March, as the day approaches, the weather forecast is worrying. Expect heavy rain, hail and very strong winds. Although we’ve asked people to bring waterproof clothing, strong shoes and an umbrella, the wind will be almost gale force. This could be tricky. Time to rethink. I go back to the Park Centre, our meeting place, to look for ways to keep dry. There’s a neglected lobby tucked away, opposite the reception desk. It’s enclosed and quiet, and I’ll be able to play sounds and video here to the assembled group, at the start. Then I remember one of the main themes of my bigger project, about how the naming of other species can create a separation, as if identification is enough. ‘Oh look this is an oak tree, that’s a hedge sparrow, it’s in a hedge, can you hear the woodpecker, it’s pecking wood, that’s why it’s called a woodpecker, get it?’ So I decide to find another kind of name for some of the trees that live around the edge of the Park Centre complex.

So, we’ll start inside and then go inside/outside to the courtyard, to visit a silver birch tree surrounded by bricks, and then we’ll come back inside to go outside, where we can find the derelict pond once funded by the Princes Trust, and notice the savagely pruned trees at the end of some adjoining back gardens, hacked down without any respect for their feelings or dignity. This is not pollarding.

And now we go all the way outside. We move across Daventry Road to look at the well-shaped tree in the vicarage, and pass through the metal barrier and into the majesty of the Bommie. The rain has mainly kept off. But the wind is picking up. We carefully make our way down the steep grass slope with small sideways steps. Someone is wearing trainers and becomes mud-splattered in a flash as they slip. The rest of us arrive safely, to find the stream, still fast-flowing, and some trees of unknown species (aha!). I climb one of these as a gesture of connection, and to surprise the others. I suddenly feel that this is my land, where I belong. Down here it’s deep landscape, heavy with trees and the sound of running water, yet we’re only a few metres from a busy road. People chat and hang out, as if this is an achievement and a destination. I can see what they mean. Then the hail-rain arrives, lashed by the wind, and we climb back up the hill to the church, where Sam, the long-haired vicar with a nose ring, has thankfully already put the soup on the stove. Once we’re all inside he unlocks the door to the interior garden that no one knows about, except him… and me.

There was a time in the late 1920s, when the farmers sold their land to the council and put the money in the bank. It was theirs to sell. That’s how they saw it. And once (it was) sold they soon forgot about it and were not interested in seeing the houses and schools being built over the hillside where their animals used to graze. Or that it was now called Knowle West. They went on a lavish holiday with some of the proceeds, and wondered if they should have held out for more cash per acre.

With modern farming methods and the decline of hedgerows, those same fields would now be edge to edge, making it hard for wildlife and wildflowers to get a grip, not to mention the introduction of chemical fertilisers. So, up here, over these 90 years, the creation and the development of Knowle West BS4 has proved to be a huge bonus for Bristol’s biodiversity. It’s a thriving ecosystem and a green corridor that puts local farmland to shame. The data says it all.

Richard Layzell, July 2020

About Richard

Richard Layzell has been a leading innovator in the fields of live art, video and installation since the 1980s. He has been commissioned by most major public galleries and museums across the UK and completed many international artist residencies. As an experienced facilitator he’s led creative workshops with people of all ages and backgrounds internationally. He has pioneered socially engaged practice and worked with many diverse communities nationally and internationally. His interactive installation Tap Ruffle and Shave was experienced by 100,000 people of all ages and abilities on its UK tour to London, Manchester and Newcastle.

He is currently working on The Naming, a major action research project which challenges and questions how, through categorisation and naming, we distance ourselves from aspects of the natural world and the cultural world.

Richard Layzell is the author of Live Art in Schools, Enhanced Performance (ed. Deborah Levy) and Cream Pages (ed. Joshua Sofaer). He is an honorary associate of the National Review of Live Art and a course leader in fine art at University of the Arts London.

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England. Additionally supported by LUX and The Elephant Trust.




#LoveBristolArts campaign launches

At this time of year, KWMC and other arts and cultural venues in Bristol and Bath usually announce discounts and deals in the Culture Flash Sale. But 2020 has been no ordinary year…

Instead, from 19 – 23 October, we’ll be joining people across the region in the #LoveBristolArts campaign to highlight simple – and often free – ways to support Bristol and Bath’s cultural sector at this challenging time.

There are lots of ways to help, include joining or watching online events, becoming a member or donor, commissioning or buying art by local artists, and sharing your feedback with venues.

If you’d like to support KWMC, we’ve made a couple of suggestions below:

Check out our annual showcase, which will be happening in mid November – date to be confirmed.

Make a donation if you’re able to – regular payments and one-off donations are hugely appreciated.  As a registered charity, financial support from funders and donors helps us keep our programmes free and enables us to support more people to create positive change in their lives and communities.

Subscribe to our regular e-bulletin, which is usually sent on a monthly basis (but has been quarterly since the COVID-19 pandemic began).

Connect with us on social media @knowlewestmedia @JumpKWMC and KWMCtheFactory for updates about our programmes as they happen.

Why support?

The last few months have been hugely challenging for the arts and cultural sector – artists, freelancers, and organisations and venues of all sizes.

For KWMC, the nation-wide COVID-19 lockdown meant we had to delay projects and activities, and we’ve been unable to generate income through rental of our spaces, digital manufacturing kit and creative facilities.

But our work continues! Over the last six months our team have been working hard to reimagine activities that were planned to take place in-person, offering a mixture of online activities and COVID-safe activities for small groups. This includes digital design workshops, artist meet-ups, creative sessions for young people, and building an outdoor pavilion based on designs created by local people.

KWMC supports people of all ages to explore their creativity, learn new skills, and create the change they want to see in their lives and communities. Many of our programmes are designed to support groups who are under-represented in the creative industries and people experience barriers to accessing the opportunities the city has to offer.

Last year we worked with over 7700 people, including 760 young people under 25, across more than 50 projects. Knowle West resident and new entrepreneur Hayley said of her experience with KWMC and KWMC The Factory:

“Before [I came here] I never used to go out anywhere. I wouldn’t have the confidence to ask people about designs or show people my work. I never thought I was creative and now I think I am. I’ve gained more friends that I also speak to outside the group – my confidence has grown a lot.”

We hope you’ll join us in sharing some love for the local arts and cultural sector during the #LoveBristolArts campaign. Each day has a different focus so keep an eye on social media:

  • Monday: Launch day!
  • Tuesday: Art Galleries, Venues & Visitor Attractions
  • Wednesday: Independent Artists & Collectives
  • Thursday: Arts Companies & Freelancers
  • Friday: Final day!

The #LoveBristolArts campaign is coordinated by the Bristol Arts Marketing Network. Find out more on the Visit Bristol website.

Call for ideas – Knowle West Fest 2020

We are excited to announce that Knowle West Fest 2020 will be happening online this year.  The annual festival usually takes place in the late Summer / early Autumn and celebrates the talent, creativity and community of Knowle West.

Inspired by the many festivals that have successfully moved their activities online this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, KWFest 2020 is going digital and will take place on Saturday 12 September.

Organising the festival is a collaborative effort, with local organisations and residents working together.  Every year one organisation takes responsibility for coordinating the planning, and in 2020 it’s KWMC’s turn!

Get involved

There are lots of ways to get involved:

1) Create or submit online content

This could be:

-a short video showcasing your organisation or community project
-a video of you or your group performing – either from your home or something you’ve made before (music, circus, theatre etc.)
-a live workshop or ‘how to’ video (e.g: a craft challenge, a yoga class, a cooking demo etc.)
-something else?

2) Be part of the organising team

-help promote the event and spread the word
-be part of planning and event organisation
-help out on the day
-help document the event

KWMC can offer:

-tech support to create your online content (video / audio / live workshop set-up)
-a small budget to cover your time and materials
-marketing support

Get in touch

If you have an idea for Knowle West Fest 2020 that you’d like to share, please contact Martha on

Please tell us:

-What you’d like to do and what you need to make it happen
-Any ideas you have for content to be included in a festival pack (to be posted out to homes)
-Recommendations for local food providers who could do festival take-aways
-Thoughts on any socially distanced outdoor activity that could complement the online programme

Knowle West Fest 2020 is funded by the Filwood Fantastic project and co-ordinated by Knowle West Media Centre.

Project Night explores making work after lockdown

On Thursday 28 May artists, producers and makers who work in and with communities came together over Jitsi (an open-source video call platform) for another Project Night to discuss ‘safe next steps for projects.’

After the last Project Night discussion around ‘Self care and community well being’, where we reflected on our varying experiences of the present, it seemed timely to create a safe space to look towards the future.

We started the session by holding up a drawing or object that represented how we feel now and then a different one for how we feel about the future. The ‘future’ responses varied from blank pages to question marks to words like ‘unpredictable’.

We acknowledged how difficult it feels to imagine the future at the moment. How uncertain and different it is for everyone, with the easing of lockdown opening a sense of freedom for some and increasing fear and precariousness for others. The group didn’t discuss politics in detail, but we acknowledged feelings of confusion and frustration around recent government decisions and actions.

Against this backdrop, we were aware that some artists would have recently received emergency Arts Council England funding while others are starting to find ways to make work or think about projects post-lockdown. With this in mind, we wanted to support each other in imagining possible futures for projects as the situation continues to shift.


We shared some of the questions that our KWMC Arts Producers are asking themselves:

– How are we going to create safe spaces for participation?
– What does safe mean to different people?
– What might hybrid formats of projects look like?
– How do we make sure no one is left behind when everyone’s reality is so different?
– What kinds of impact could so much digital participation be having on our minds and bodies and what is ethical to ask people to participate in?
– What policies are in place to ensure good practice in online formats?

There are of course many more questions. KWMC is currently experimenting with different ways to mix the digital and physical through workshops such as the Making Together workshops in the citizen-led housing initiative We Can Make where people are building things at home using physical making packs and experiencing collective moments of collaboration over phones and video calls.


Before opening discussions around projects, we took a moment to think about two questions:

1.) What do we hope will carry on into the future after lockdown?

2.) What do we hope won’t keep happening after lockdown?

We wrote our thoughts on a virtual cork board at or on bits of paper if people were more comfortable with this. Here are some of the things that came up:

The group hoped these things WILL carry on after lockdown:

that family and friends carry on helping each other out – neighbourly consideration in general

more reflection, being slower and more aware of small things in nature

caring for gardens and growing things

thinking about inclusion more deeply and on so many levels

being able to work in the community and noticing the importance of the little things

That people will carry on being kind and understanding that everyone’s circumstances are different

The group hoped these things WON’T carry on / will change:

the stress and emotion of the pandemic

separation – instead being able to hug people

stop using computers so much in our work – start using technology as a tool rather than the be all and end all of my area of work

flying, driving, burning coal and oil and gas to make electricity

so much pressure and things feeling so hectic

judging others

This led us to a really interesting open discussion around how we have all jumped to using video calling, as it seems the only viable option for participation at the moment – and how we don’t want to work in this singular restricted way. We expressed worries about digital inclusion, the physical, mental impacts and visual pressures of being present on these calls.

This sparked a brilliant moment of creative play where everyone started holding up eyes to the camera (puppet eyeballs, sticky eyes, eyes drawn on fingers!) – ‘we just don’t know where to look when we are on these calls!’ It was suggested that most of us aren’t really being that creative with video conference tools and that we should run a session on how to hack or ‘reclaim’ these tools – following inspiration from the ‘Women reclaiming AI for activism’ project.


Brilliant ideas were shared around how to:

– re-create those ‘notes under the table’ and informal ‘behind the scenes’ private chat moments that we are all missing – the naughty ‘back channel’ communication. (Wisterlitz)

– create a much needed de-brief moment, post-call, when ‘being with’ people suddenly vanishes.

– elicit confessionals from our ‘caged boxes’ (Claudia Collins)

-make more of the brilliant things people have to hand and the things you can hear in the backgrounds

Projects shared

Wisterlitz shared and got feedback on their new project ‘Knitwitter’ – exploring ideas of data and privacy through knitting! People are invited to convert secret text messages into knitting and contribute to a participatory artwork for Control Shift – a new art and tech programme coming to Bristol this Autumn.

Claudia Collins shared how her Grape-o-gram project has taken off during lockdown. The Grape-o-gram is a door to door wine and song service, delivered by Claudia dressed as a grape! She shared how she has been keeping safe – using wipes and hand sanitisers – and reflected that now feels like a really good time to do door knocking, even knocking many doors at once and standing back to help encourage neighbours to chat. Claudia noticed that people are really welcoming the chat and that ‘fun and silly is what we need now.’  Another project night artist suddenly recognised Claudia as a grape-o-gram had visited her!

We ended with someone sharing their spoon portraits and sang happy birthday as one of the creatives was surprised by a birthday cake and candles. A session full of honesty and joy.


A blog about online access called ‘Access is kindness’ by Lisette Auton, May 2020. The Inaccessibility of the Future (or What To Do When You Just Can’t Zoom).

‘With For About 2020’: we recommend tuning in to this ‘slow conference’ centring marginalised voices on Wednesday afternoons until mid June – or catching up on their website.

Project Night explores self care and community wellbeing

On Thursday 14 May artists, producers and makers who work in and with communities came together over Jitsi (an open-source video call platform) for another of our fortnightly Project Nights to discuss ‘Self care and community wellbeing.’

After the last Project Night discussion, ‘Being creative with digital tools’, there seemed a need to pause, consider the impact that increased use of digital tools can have on our bodies and minds and turn our attention once more to care; both of ourselves, others close to us and our wider communities.

I personally had been noticing how easy it is at the moment to feel disconnected from my body and also how strange it can feel to be distanced from the physicality of the people and communities we are used to working with and seeing on a regular basis.

Guest Speaker

With these thoughts in mind we invited the brilliant Bristol based dance maker Laila Diallo to join us, open a space for us to connect with our bodies, engage in some quiet reflection and spark a discussion around self-care and community wellbeing.

Laila shared a piece of writing about what she has been noticing lately and led us through a gentle series of movements – we closed our eyes, turned off our screens and gently felt the weight of one hand in the other.

Listen here for Laila’s writing and guided movement activity.

After this stillness and having moved our spine a little Laila invited us to write, spontaneously, for the duration of a song in response to these questions:

‘I wonder what you all have been noticing in these very particular times?’

‘how you have been connecting with those outside of your home?’

‘How it has all felt…?’

Taking care of ourselves

After this reflection, to the tune of Elvis Presley, we shared a few things that people had been noticing:

– the time going by so quickly despite us somehow standing still

– hearing the neighbours more and learning things about them

– seeing new parts of your home as you stare in strange angles during exercise

– the joy of Mr Motivator

– watching spring arrive and learning about nature

– making sound recordings and discovering new wildness in the centre of cities

– doing lots of baking and acknowledging some positive things about working from home – less back pain from lugging props around and more chances to problem solve in new ways

– a tension between more space for noticing and listening and the ongoing pressures of productivity.

– feeling tired, disappointed with technology and frustrated that the promise of more space and quiet isn’t always easy or possible to find.

We acknowledged that the experience of this moment is so personal and different for everyone.

Taking care of others

We moved on to a discussion about how we are taking care of others and our communities. Taking a moment to think about this we chose one thing to share – either something we’d been doing or had found inspiring. We experimented with jamboard to create a web of care: writing our thoughts onto a digital post-it and drawing lines between ideas to highlight connections.

Overall people seemed inspired by some of the new webs of care that are emerging – across fences, in streets or between previously distanced communities – and of course acknowledged those that existed already and have become even more important.

We wondered, how we might find ways to carry on weaving new webs beyond this moment? Are there any practices of care we could try and hold on to?


– Arts Professional has a new microsite for Covid-19 updates around how to: ‘Stay well, supported and creative’.

– Arts Council England share evidence on how ‘arts and culture is good for us’ and some example projects that are ‘making us feel better’.

– Arts and Health South West have curated a long list of resources.

Write-up by Martha King, Arts Producer

Project Night explores being creative with digital tools

On Thursday 30 April artists and makers who work in and with communities came together over Jitsi (an open-source video call platform) for another of our fortnightly Project Nights to discuss ‘How to be creative with digital tools.’

From the last Project Night discussion, ‘Staying Connected with Communities’, it was clear that people were craving methods to go beyond digital and shared some lovely analogue examples of collaborating and connecting through things like snail mail and interventions in the landscape. However, it was also acknowledged that many are feeling an increasing pressure to use digital tools at the moment – not only to connect, but also to continue to be creative and share this productivity publicly. This is particularly a challenge when not everyone has equal access to digital tools and/or internet connectivity and many are juggling responsibilities and suffering from ‘screen fatigue’.

With these contradictory pressures in mind we invited artist Lily Green, who works with communities across a mix of digital and physical spaces, to share some inspiration and prompt a discussion.

Guest Speaker

Lily shared a little bit about No Bindings, a ‘tiny publisher’ that blends print, audio and community and also about her new project Grapevine (co-created with artist Tim Kindberg) which is a new platform and set of tools that enables storytellers to connect digital audio with physical artwork and allows listeners to discover and share audio connected artworks through popular messaging apps.

Lily explained that she is ‘always thinking about using a mix of media and a people-centred approach to how content can be made and shared.’ She shared some tips on facilitating workshops online, highlighting the importance of mixing moments of coming together virtually with time off-screen, and how behavioural games can become tools in themselves, helping us subvert the way the creators of these tools intended them to be used.

We had a go at playing with a great tool for doodling called Whiteboard Fox.

Here are our doodles over the evening:









Lily highlighted how audio can be both a great connector, helping us to move away from constant visual screen use, and a great leveller as everyone has a story to tell.

She told us more about ‘Grapevine nights’ and shared a link to the first ever Grapevine live stream which featured multiple performances direct from people’s homes.

You can watch Lily’s presentation below:


Lily reflected that we can increase connection and avoid the digital feeling a bit anonymous by building audiences around networks that already exist, such as friends and families, placing performances in domestic spaces, connecting via live chats and having live audiences in the same spaces as the performers.

Her top tips for making digital encounters were:

– Intimate (build on personal networks)
– Customisable (like the playful whiteboard)
– Connected to physical (make a tangible memento to take away)
– Simple

In an inspiring closing remark, Lily shared that she has been thinking a lot about immersive theatre and how to ‘warm people up’ for the digital moment. She asked: how could role-play, fake letters, artefacts, costumes or playlists help to set the mood, and be blended with digital? How can we reduce screen elements and stop trying to connect to thousands of people in one go?


One of the Project Night participants shared that they are an immersive theatre maker and would be happy to connect with Lily – watch this space for audio / digital / immersive theatre mash-ups!

Another participant shared that they have been enjoying making interactive story experiences using a BBC tool called StoryFormer – and someone else chipped in to say that they are the creator of this tool! The magic of Project Night.

Here are links to these BBC tools:

Apply here
A new video about it
StoryKit – the wider project

Lucas Sweeney, Digital Innovation Producer at KWMC, then talked us through a few open source tools that are available. He has created a video especially for us to learn more about them:

Overall we reflected that it’s vital to know, not just what creative tools are out there, but what you want to do with them, why you want to use them and how are they’re going to be accessible.

We also learnt from the night that in a short video call with over 20 people it is very difficult to start learning how to use new tools and is a challenging space for in depth discussions! Thank you to everyone who joined us for the experiment and patiently stuck with us through some tech glitches. We will be experimenting with a different structure for the next meet-up and would love to hear any ideas for other themes we could explore.

Please contact Martha for more details on


Finally, people shared some great links:

An online workshop run by Sophie Hope exploring Socially engaged art in a time of ‘social’ distancing (22 May and 5 June).

A Medium article about designing for immersion

An online festival organised by one of our Project Night regulars.

Image by No Bindings

Building a Knowle West ‘chatbot’

Since Autumn 2019 KWMC have been working with Knowle West residents and PhD students from the University of Bristol’s Interactive AI Centre for Doctoral Training to create a local voice assistant or ‘chatbot’ – like an Alexa or Siri but made specifically for Knowle West with excellent local knowledge!

The idea was inspired by the University of Local Knowledge project and aimed to build on our work with artists including Coral Manton and Birgitta Aga, which has been exploring how Artificial Intelligence can be more representative of the diversity of communities – and how local people can influence its development.

So in the spirit of co-design, before the students built anything it was important to start with what local people and those working in the area thought would be useful and accessible.

In November 2019 we held a session with local residents and members of the Knowle West Alliance to discuss ideas, as well as people’s hopes and fears relating to chatbots and Artificial Intelligence in general.

People shared suspicions about chatbots stealing data and it was clear that building trust in chatbots that are made for good would need to be done carefully and over long periods of time, ideally with community members involved at every step of the co-design process.

Everyone felt that if a chatbot could help connect community information in one place, which is often distributed across various websites, Facebook pages and noticeboards, this could be great way to help people be more connected and know what is going on. There was excitement for the chatbot to have a Knowle West accent and a sense of humour about how it interacted with you.

In March 2020 the students shared what they had made so far. The chatbot, at this point, mainly focused on sharing information about local events, rather than specific local tips or facts. Everyone agreed this seemed like a good start, but stressed the need for it to have a wide spread of data, a friendly web interface so people could interact with it easily, and ideally more of a Knowle West feel.

With this in mind, the students suggested we help collect local phrases and dialect to ensure that the chatbot sounds more authentically Knowle West.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak and temporary closure of KWMC’s buildings, the progress of the chatbot has been delayed, but the students hope to continue development when possible.

In the meantime we invite you to send your favourite Knowle West (and South Bristol) words or phrases to – we’ll do our best to incorporate them into the final voice assistant!

Project Night explores how we can stay connected

On Thursday 16 April we hosted our first fortnightly virtual Project Night. KWMC has been running Project Nights for almost a year – these events provide a space for artists and makers creating work in community contexts to share ideas, get feedback on projects and meet each other. Virtual Project Nights are a little bit different in that they have a theme and include a different guest speaker each time, to help give focus in the virtual space.

The theme of this session was: ‘Ways to keep connected with communities during COVID-19 lockdown’.

Guest Speaker

We were joined by a group of artists and creatives who work with communities across the South West and guest speaker Kim Wide from Take A Part. Kim shared a presentation about Take A Part, an organisation based in Plymouth who ‘use creativity as a catalyst for social justice and community cohesion’ and talked more about their live Coxside Carnival artist commission . The deadline for expressions of interest for the carnival is Friday 1 May. You can watch Kim’s presentation below.


This was followed by an open conversation, with everyone sharing ideas for staying connected and telling us more about projects they are working on.

Here are some of the comments, ideas and project updates people shared:

– Megan Clark-Bagnall, inspirational socially engaged artist based in Knowle West, shared that her approach to engagement often springs from her personal passions and never assuming what people will be interested in. She explained:

“I don’t make serious art but I am very serious about making silly art” – I start at a point of silly because that’s what I’m into, and I make it clear, I’m not being silly or childish because I’m patronising the community or because I think that’s the right approach for YOU, it’s just because silliness is what I enjoy. It’s what I like so it’s what I’m bringing. So I start with that because that’s what I know and enjoy and it helps my own wellbeing to be silly and laugh. Then I usually ask a group to share with me the things they enjoy, and the collaboration begins that way…’’  She also shared that she has started a postcard pen pal exchange with another artist in her neighbourhood that she is really enjoying.

– Alison Neighbour‘s work is always beautifully tactile and about connecting people who aren’t online. Lately she has been creating paper zines to help people stay connected. The zines are designed to be posted with an invitation for people to fill in a part and then pass them on. The latest themes have been: ‘ritual’ and ‘moments of joy’. You can download a zine template HERE. Alison freely shares these for anyone who wants to do this on in their own community. ‘The more the merrier!’ she says.

– Maker and artist Ramona Bigwood shared that she has been taking friends who can’t go out for virtual walks using her phone. She also highlighted the creativity you can already find on the streets – for example the bin men wearing fancy dress costumes!

– Amy shared the great tip that the Children’s Scrapstore in Bristol have a ‘pay it forward’ scheme where you can pay £6 ahead for others who can’t afford to buy creative materials.

– Knowle West residents and members of the KWMC: The Factory Megan, Lucy and Hayley have been creating digital designs using the free software, Inkscape, which they can make when The Factory’s making space re-opens.

– Wisterlitz artists shared a sneak preview of a newly commissioned project, ‘Knitwitter’, where they will be working with people to encode messages into knitting during lockdown. They also explained that they’ve been sharing creative provocations with each other and playing with physical maps as a way of journeying without leaving your home. As well as noting how frustrating and tricky it is to play musical instruments over video calls!

– Natasha Watson, who creates community murals and is currently working on one for Filwood Community Centre, is starting to use Adobe tools as lots have been released for free for students during lockdown, as well as painting designs directly onto scanned images of buildings to make future mural proposals. She also commented that there don’t seem to be enough paid opportunities for emerging artists at the moment – mainly large commissions, which can feel daunting.

– Georgia, who works for In Between Time, shared that she has been working with artists to explore if and how research and development can be possible at the moment – asking the question: how can we do the initial groundwork of a project with people when not everyone has access to the digital world and inequalities feel increased?


Some people expressed a feeling of overwhelm about the amount of new cultural digital content being generated, feeling sick of the screen and frustrated with the digital tools at hand not being good enough.

There was a clear appetite for non-digital forms of connection and a renewed joy in the old-fashioned post! Everyone agreed the need to be sensitive to the amount of things people are juggling, to increase our compassion and patience and to take time to work out what we need and want. It was highlighted that now feels like a good time for reflection, research and to focus on health and wellbeing: a time to really see our neighbourhoods more and take time to notice.

People shared an excitement in discovering creative interventions in the landscape, whilst on daily walks, such as poems on trees or QR codes as a way for people to get a bit more creative and connected.


Heart of Glass and Arts admin e-digest were highlighted as great places to find artist resources.

The Take A Part newsletter is jam packed with information and they have just created an open source document for people to share ‘NON-digital ways of engaging creatively in a COVID world‘ – including a few ideas from this Project Night conversation. Take A Part are also doing virtual studio visits and offering one-to-one producer support in exchange – find out more on their website.

Coming up

The next Project Night will take place on Thursday 30 April from 6.30pm with the theme of: ‘Creative Digital Tools’. Our special guest Lily Green from No Bindings will share how she uses digital tools through her practice to creatively connect with communities.

If you would like to join the night, have any ideas of themes, would like to be a guest or have any other questions please do get in touch:

Project Night is part of the National Social Art Network:



Free tutorial videos to help people online

Over the last few weeks our team have been working with Knowle West Alliance to make sure that local residents have access to reliable and up-to-date information about coronavirus and the support that’s available in the community – as well as ideas for fun and practical activities to do at home.

We’ve also been making short tutorials to help people get to grips with some of the popular apps and websites that are being used for online meetings, events, catch-ups – and even parties!

We hope these resources will be particularly useful for people who are new to technology and the internet and might need a bit of help navigating online.

If there are other tutorial videos you’d find useful, please drop us a line on or by tagging or messaging us on social media (@knowlewestmedia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and we’ll see if we can help!

Tutorial: Navigating the Knowle West community website

In this short video, our Community Projects Coordinator Lewis talks you through the new coronavirus info section on the local community website

Online Tutorials: Joining a meeting in Microsoft Teams

Are you being invited to a lot of virtual events and meetings at the moment? In these short clips our Digital Innovation Producer Lucas shows you the steps to join an online meeting that’s being held using Microsoft Teams. You don’t need to have an account with Microsoft Office 365.

The first video shows you how to join a meeting on your computer using an internet browser, while the second shows you how to use the free app on tablets and smartphones.

Online Tutorials: Joining a meeting in Jitsi

In these short clips Lucas takes you through the steps to join a meeting that’s being held using the free secure video conferencing programme Jitsi. You don’t need to have an account with Jitsi to access the online meeting space.

The first video shows you how to join a meeting on your computer using an internet browser, while the second shows you how to use the free app on tablets and smartphones.

HOMECOMING celebrates Knowle West’s musical history

On Thursday 19 September we hosted a special night exploring the music history of Knowle West and its influence on the Bristol Sound. The event was programmed in collaboration with Gary Thompson, filmmaker, creative and founder of Cables&Cameras, who grew up in Knowle West and got in touch with us to suggest hosting this event as part of the Homes for Heroes 100 programme.

HOMECOMING was an evening of music, film and conversation, charting the lineage of pioneering musicians from Knowle West and their contributions to the city and beyond.  In September 1989, Fresh Four released top ten hit ‘Wishing On A Star’, an example of the bass-driven and female vocal-led sounds bubbling up from Bristol’s underground at the time. From here, DJ Krust developed an internationally renowned electronic music career. Trip-hop forefather Tricky was a Knowle West Boy, and new talent continues to develop today in bedrooms, back gardens and the music studios of Knowle West Media Centre.


How has growing up in the neighbourhood shaped these artists? What local venues and community champions have supported them on their way? What would Bristol’s music history look like without the cultivating grounds of council estates across the city? HOMECOMING provided a powerful line up of DJs, musicians and filmmakers to discuss these questions and share their stories.

Over 60 people from across Bristol and Knowle West came to enjoy the night, and we hope it will spark many more events where the unique music talent of Knowle West can be widely celebrated.

Special thanks to Cables&Cameras, artists: DJ Krust, Gary Thompson, Kala Chng, 3 Culture, DJ Bunjy and music journalist and host Joe Muggs.

The event was part of KWMC’s creative programme 100 Years of Knowle West Style. 100 Years is part of the wider 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.

Photos by Ibolya Feher

Contact Us

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

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