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‘It’s like we’ve been through wizard school’

– so said one of the makers on our Making It course, when asked about her experience.

On Thursday 26 July – the hottest day of 2019 so far – we held a special event at KWMC: The Factory to celebrate and showcase the work of the 11 makers who have been part of Making It since May 2019.

Over 50 people visited The Factory to meet the makers and discover how they’ve applied digital manufacturing technologies to a range of fields – from model making and construction to fashion and furniture.

Their work includes delicate laser-cut chocolate boxes, a chest of drawers made from nearly 150 pieces of wood, and an interactive book that incorporates lights, sensors and Augmented Reality.

Making It is part of Women into Digital Jobs, Education and Training (WIDJET) – a West of England Combined Authority project, funded by the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.


Meet the Makers

Hannah created an interactive learning clock with a nautical theme: children can pull out the octopus’ arms as and learn how to tell the time.

“I was confident with computers at the start, but I’ve learnt so much more. I now have a good grounding to do more projects and I’ve worked out I can do self- led learning. I’ve spent a lot of time suppressing my creativity. But I learnt to explore my ideas and giving myself permission to do that.”


Ingrid explored how to use laser-cutting and CNC cutting for printmaking purposes. She took rubbings from the bed of the Factory’s CNC router to create a range of abstract designs.

“I have learnt that I’m actually more comfortable with the software than I thought I’d be. Seeing that I could laser-cut textiles, engrave on fabric and make the stamps opened up new avenues. I can now use the software as a tool to aid my work without losing the handmade edge.”


Steph drew on her experience of making installations for festivals and events to produce a large moving sculpture: visitors could watch a caterpillar eat its way through the apple as it rotates.

“It surprised me how accessible the software was to use – it was a simple introduction into something I can do at home. As a self-employed artist, this will open doors for future work.”



Charlotte used Sketchup software to design a camper-van conversion for a VW van, including a flatpack, flexible bed and storage system.

“I wanted to do the course to try and advance where I am professionally – I needed digital technologies to keep up in my industry. I am now already using what I’ve learnt in my freelance work – I can now take on work that I wasn’t able to before.”


Emily also used Sketchup and has created a large hexagonal light-box for designers and makers to use in their studios. It includes colour-changing lights and has an integrated cutting mat.

“This is what I’ve always wanted, but this course has made it more possible. I can now look at something and have a good understanding of how it was made.”


Alfie designed a chest of drawers using 2D design software – putting together 142 individual pieces of wood and hand-painting the drawers to create a truly unique piece.

“I didn’t realise I could accomplish something so big with such a small amount of experience. In a perfect world I would become a freelance illustrator/designer. In September, I’m going back to college to start my journey towards this.”



Nikki made a laptop-inspired chair using 2D and 3D design software and a range of techniques including vinyl cutting, heat pressing and CNC cutting.

“I wasn’t sure this was for me but I persevered and I’m glad I have. I’ve learnt that a lot of ideas I have I could actually put into practice. My biggest achievement has been regaining my confidence.”


Becky developed an interactive story book inspired by Norse mythology, which combines traditional craft skills and new technologies, including Augmented Reality (AR).

“I always thought things like Arduino would take years to learn and this was out of my reach. I’ve had these doors opened now and seen how everyone else is also still learning. Everyone on the course has been so encouraging and facilitating to make the project a reality.” 


Kathryn crafted a collection of custom gift boxes for her homemade natural chocolate business. She utilised a technique called a ‘living hinge’ to make circular 3D boxes using the laser-cutter and 2D design software.

“I want to carry on making designs and using these techniques for my products – both for the packaging and for stalls. I’m one step closer to making my business a reality and opened it up to a whole new market as well.”



Bella drew on a range of inspirations including Bristol graffiti, kitsch postcards and vintage fabrics to create a range of clothing and accessories that combine digital fabrication techniques with traditional fashion design.

“My biggest achievement has been translating paper designs into physical products using digital design and the kit here. I’ve learned to keep going with what I’m doing and be more confident about my work and what I can achieve.”


Anika designed an interactive puzzle and engraved fabric piece inspired by Ilish/Hilsa – the national fish of Bangladesh. Her project explores conservation and the effects of climate change in Bangladesh.

“I like to make things people can interact with – I like people to share an experience. I now know how to use 2D design software and how to utilise things like SketchUp for 3D design, which requires a different mindset to what I’m used to.”


Making It

Making It is part of the Women into Digital Jobs, Education and Training (WIDJET) project, which is led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and aims to support women to find jobs in digital roles and address the under-representation of women in the digital sector.

The Making It group came to The Factory from all corners of Bristol: from Withywood, Ashton and Knowle West to Hanham, Easton and beyond. Over three months, the group learned a range of skills including how to use digital design software, follow a design process, and use digital manufacturing technologies and machinery such as laser cutters, digital embroidery machines and 3D printers.

These structured training sessions were followed by open access days where they put their new skills into practice as they designed and implemented a creative project of their choice.

The group also had the opportunity to take part in specialist workshops providing introductions to disciplines including Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, coding and puppetry.

West of England Mayor Tim Bowles visited The Factory in June 2019 and returned to see what the group had produced at the showcase event.

He said: “It was great to see how our WIDJET project is supporting everyone on this course to improve their skills and improve their career prospects. One of my ambitions as Regional Mayor is to improve job opportunities for our residents. I’m also working hard to ensure that businesses in the West of England have a pool of talent to recruit from, particularly in key areas such as digital and tech.”

What’s next?

The Making It group will be able to access regular open access sessions at The Factory from September 2019. It’s been a privilege to join this group on their journeys and we can’t wait to see what they make next…

In September 2019 we’ll also be launching a new Membership Scheme for KWMC: The Factory. Beginning at just £5 a month, benefits will include access to our digital fabrication equipment, wood workshop and prototyping lab, and a programme of members’ events.

You can fill in this online form to be kept up to date with Membership at The Factory or call 0117 403 2306 to find out more about how you can join our rapidly expanding creative community.

Photography by Ibolya Feher.

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.


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.

Co-Creation with WECIL

Here at KWMC we pride ourselves on the co-creation of work with others. Whether it’s organisations, community activists or the individual, we use digital media and technology to empower people to make positive change.

Over the last year, the Our Digital City team have been working across the city to build new partnerships with various organisations. One of these organisations is WECIL (West of England Centre for Inclusive Living), a local disability advice and information service run by and for people with disabilities. After a visit to Knowle West Media Centre, WECIL contacted us to discuss an idea formed by one of their peer support members, Nathan.

One of Nathan’s designs.

As a former designer, Nathan is highly skilled in digital 3D art and design. His vision was to create an informal and creative workshop for people with disabilities to come and use laptops, digital drawing pads and easy to use, open source software to create 3D and digital art. People would be given the freedom to experiment and create with the kind of software traditionally only afforded to industry level game designers, artists and graphic designers.

After some productive meetings and with Nathan’s advice on software and hardware, the Our Digital City team took several laptops and digital drawing kits to the Creative Challenge sessions run by WECIL.

Every participant got the chance to try out the kit and the software and enjoyed the new and interactive way of creating art.

Below are some examples of the creative work by some the WECIL participants.


This is another one of our ongoing workshops that, we hope, will build confidence in using technology and inspire a new and creative approach for people who might not otherwise have access to digital creative processes. But at the heart of this project is co-creation. Nathan had a great idea and we were keen to help make it happen.

Virtual Reality with Bristol Community Links South (Knowle West)

Building new and strengthening existing relationships within communities is one of the key aspects of what we do under the Our Digital City banner.

Bristol Community Links South (located here in Knowle West) is one of the local services with whom we have spent time getting to know better over recent months. Many of their service users are elderly, living with dementia, learning difficulties or visual and physical impairments.

Working alongside the management staff at Bristol Community Links the team came up with the idea to try and offer the service users something that would introduce them to new technologies and experiences for which disabilities hold no barriers… Virtual Reality.

Using the HTC Vive VR Headset, we took several VR experiences down to the centre and ran a taster session. The service users had never tried VR before, so this was completely new to them all.

Doreen visits Indonesia thanks to Virtual Reality

This is Doreen (left). She is a wheelchair user whose condition prevents her from air travel. We loaded up a travel experience that took Doreen all the way to Indonesia. There, she experienced running across white sands, heading out on a speed boat and diving into the clear blue sea and swimming in the reef with exotic sea life.

“I’ve never been on an aeroplane in my life and I’ve always wanted to fly, to see places around the world. This experience was unbelievable. I felt like I was actually there, swimming in the sea with those beautiful fish… Thank you for giving me this experience. It was wonderful...
Keep up the good work you are all doing.”

The VR technology showcases how technology can be used to tackle the potential mental health issues that can be caused by long term limited mobility. At a time when the pace of technology is ever changing, it also serves well to break down the barriers of digital isolation that many elderly people face today.


With Virtual Reality, we can give the service users of Bristol Community Links South an opportunity to try something new and experience an adventure they might not otherwise get to live.

KWMC one of England’s most “innovative and disruptive companies”

In May 2018 Creative England announced their annual list of “the most exciting, innovative and disruptive creative companies and individuals across the country” – a list that includes Knowle West Media Centre!

In their announcement Creative England highlighted a “move towards technology and creativity merging to create meaningful solutions to real-world problems” with many of the companies shortlisted “championing diversity, and giving a platform to unheard voices.”

They praised our team for “exceptional work within the local community” and concluded that KWMC is “working on a community level to drive real change”.

We’re thrilled to be included in the CE2018 list and want to take this opportunity to thank our fantastic team of staff and volunteers for their dedication, our partners and funders for their ongoing support, and the communities, artists and makers we work with for their enthusiasm for trying new things and working together.

We’re excited to be expanding our programme this year and want to enable more people to access new manufacturing technologies, set up their own enterprises, develop new skills, and address the issues that are important to them and their communities.

If you’re interested in getting involved with KWMC or working with us then we’d love to hear from you: drop in Monday to Friday, contact us on or 0117 903 0444, or have a chat with us on social media @knowlewestmedia.

You can read the full CE2018 list here.

Roger’s Journey: tackling technology in just 12 weeks

It is easy to feel left out when trying to understand the rapidly changing technology around us. Especially when you don’t have access to a computer or someone in your life to support your learning. Gaining digital skills, can help people feel more connected to what’s happening in their community and more confident both at work and doing everyday tasks.

Since 2011 our team of staff and dedicated volunteers have run an informal weekly drop-in class which has welcomed people of all ages from Knowle West and across Bristol to learn more about computers, the internet and technology.

A regular attendee of the class is Roger, who bought his first smartphone at the age of 75. He was referred to us by the charity LinkAge as he was hoping to meet more people. Roger has now been attending the weekly drop in for over three months and has grown in confidence in using technology in his everyday life.

Here’s how he tackled technology in just 12 weeks:

Week 1

Roger’s first session. We started with a chat about what he wanted to learn. He brought his new smartphone and we worked together to show him the basics (charging, unlocking, answering calls).

Week 2

We continued to support Roger to get comfortable with the phone, moving onto messaging, adding contacts and understanding the operating software of the device.

Week 3

Roger downloaded his first app. He then found apps for news, sport and billing for his phone provider. That afternoon he joined us at our Celebrating Age event and tried a virtual reality headset in our technology taster session. We introduced him to south Bristol social groups including a local history group and retired men’s woodworking group.


Week 4

One month in, Roger started to learn more about browsing the web and being safe online. We supported him to resolve an issue by contacting a company via their help pages online.

Week 5

We introduced Roger to Learn My Way, a free website which provides online courses in using computers and navigating the internet. We also continued to help him get the most out of his smartphone and he started to watch sport on an app when out and about.

Week 6

This was Roger’s second week progressing through the Learn My Way online courses. He also continued to browse the web with our support.

Week 7

Roger received a letter prompting him to renew his driving licence online and we helped him through the online process. He brought in photographs of his fishing success stories and we discussed how he could digitally scan them and share them online.

Week 8

We supported Roger to check his pension and savings accounts securely online. Together we also researched social clubs and art classes in his local area.

Week 9

Roger learned how to travel the world on Google Earth. We virtually toured a restaurant he visited in Malta over 20 years ago.

Week 10

We continued progressing through the Learn My Way online courses and Roger shared the news with us that he had joined a running rugby group.

Week 11

This week saw more web browsing and we started learning about online shopping.

Week 12

Roger won a ham at a local raffle so he researched cooking tips and recipes using online video tutorials.

We’re really proud of the progress that Roger has made and we’re looking forward to learning new things with him each week. Our drop-in sessions are free for the first six weeks and then just £3 per session.

We’re always keen to welcome new members and volunteers to the class, so if you’d like to refresh your digital skills or start from scratch get in touch and join us.

Celebrating Women of Knowle West

2018 marks 100 years since the right to vote was extended to some women in Britain. Activities and celebrations will be taking place across our city and country this year and we’re keen to make sure that the women of our community are recognised and remembered.

Through our recent projects exploring local history and celebrating the hidden talents and skills of local people, we’ve seen that many women in Knowle West have made great things happen in their community and beyond, and had a profound impact on the lives of others.

Beginning on International Women’s Day (8th March 2018), we’ll be gathering stories about amazing Knowle West women and creating a special Women of Knowle West gallery at

Illustration by Joff Winterhart

Do you know an inspiring woman or group of women from Knowle West?  If so, we’d love to celebrate them!

She could be well-known or known only to you. Maybe she’s a friend, relative, or neighbour. She could be someone you’ve never met, an inspiring woman who has passed away, or a historical figure.

We’re keen to hear about:

– women living, working or volunteering in Knowle West (past and present)
– historical figures with a connection to Knowle West
– groups of women
– women of all ages and backgrounds

Share a story

If you’d like to share a story, please get in touch with us and tell us:

Your name and contact details
The name of the woman / group you’d like to celebrate
Why they’re special to you (100 words or less)

You can e-mail us at, call 0117 903 0444 or text 07520 634144.

Everyone who sends at least one story will receive a free photoshoot session later this year!*


Stories: Stories will be published at They may also be displayed at Knowle West Media Centre (for example, in our annual showcase event) and feature in publications created by KWMC (such as our annual report).

Privacy: We understand that some women may appreciate being put forward for the collection but may wish to remain anonymous or keep details of their story private. We may need to seek permission from a woman or group of women before their story is included, or edit the story you have submitted to protect their privacy.

*Photoshoot: everyone who shares at least one story before 31st May 2018 will receive a free photoshoot session. We will offer at least two dates for you to choose from and dates will be confirmed soon. Photoshoots will take place at KWMC and will last approximately 15 minutes each. You will need to come ready to be photographed: make-up and styling is not included.  After the photoshoot you will receive digital copies of photographs taken during the session.  KWMC will retain the copyright of these pictures; you are welcome to print them or use them for personal use but we ask that you contact us if you would like to use them for other purposes (such as for business).

Texting: The text number is a text-only number and calls will not be connected. You will be charged your standard network rate.

Illustration credit: Joff Winterhart

Change Creators: XLR Collective meet Life Coach Sam Holman

This week the XLR Collective looked beyond the launch of their campaign to challenge gender harassment, Hack a Heckle, to consider their hopes and fears for the future.  Campaign Leader Will explains more…

17th July 2017, KWMC

This week’s session started early, with three of the collective meeting Daniel (Communication Coordinator for the Young People’s programme) for a chance to plan the social media strategy for Hack a Heckle. Our primary sites are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but we will also be utilising Soundcloud, Bandcamp and YouTube throughout the campaign. The four of us agreed on things like tone of voice, post frequency, and different types of content.

We were then joined by Euella from Rife Magazine and we explained about the Collective and what we had done so far during the course of the leadership programme. We spoke about the [Hack a Heckle] campaign in detail and what we wanted to achieve at the end of it. Ella was really interested in what we were saying so she decided to record an interview with us and we hope to partner with her and Rife more during the campaign.


After the rest of the collective joined us at the Media Centre, we were greeted by Sam Holman, a life coach and careers advisor from Holsam Life Coaching. She spoke to us about letting go of internal fears and visualising success. Sam taught us an alternative to SMART Goals which allowed us to think deeply about what we want to see, hear and feel when the campaign is over. It also made us think about any negative effects, either personal or professional, that success can create and how we can limit these during the campaign itself.

Using a piece of string to represent our life, Sam then made us pinpoint different stages of life and think about what our fears are at present, where they may have originated from and what advice an older version of us would give. This definitely gave an alternative way of looking at our current situations and has given the group some fresh ideas of how to move forward with the campaign and where it might go afterwards.

Written by Will Sissons

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

Check out Holsam life coaching here:

Women in Film: From Her POV Week Twelve

Catch up with the young women on the From Her Point of View training programme, as their time with us is nearing its end. Hear from Kerrie, one of the young women taking part in the training who is also acting as Press Agent for the films…

Week Twelve

It’s week 12 and we’re back from our Easter break straight into post-production. That’s right, both films have now wrapped! Before I tell you about what we got up to this week, I just wanted to backtrack a little to last week, where I have a little anecdote to share around my experience of filming with the Black Cherry crew, whose last day of filming fell on our Easter break from usual sessions at Knowle West Media Centre.

I’ve only ever been on a set once before in my life, as an extra, but have always been fascinated by the energy they create and have around them. It can be by its very nature a hectic and overwhelming place to be, but I personally love being around the whole atmosphere. Being on an all-female crew set is extra special in this respect: it felt very empowering! Though I wasn’t able to stay for the duration of the shoot, I learned a very important lesson: never offer to look after your sound recordist’s car keys if you know you will be leaving set in a hurry. I realised when I got home, and my dad had to drive back up to set and return the keys to Holly, Black Cherry’s producer!

Back to this week though, where Thursday evening was spent watching the rough assembly of Black Cherry. As with watching Blood Warriors’ rough assembly, it was brilliant to see the film start coming together, and everyone was full of praise and helpful critique for going forward and finishing the edit. I marvel at Redi and Sookie’s patience and how easy they have made the editing of both these films look given how frustrated I got over our foray into editing a few weeks ago. [I] thought if both rough assemblies were anything to go by, these films are going to be very special indeed!

Friday’s session saw us recall Tara’s words around film festival submissions, to give us a platform onto thinking about where both teams might want to go in terms of [their] publicity strategy moving forward. Both teams started researching potential festivals, working on crew bios, thinking about tag and log lines for their films and setting up social media pages and profiles. The films aren’t yet ready to screen, but we’ve learned it really helps to plan ahead and we’re all inspired by the potential and possibilities that are ahead!

Next time, we review and grade footage and enter a brave new world of virtual reality…

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

Women in Film: From Her POV Week Eleven

It’s Week 11 here at From Her Point of View and filming is underway. Catch up with Kerrie, one of the young women taking part in the training who is also acting as Press Agent for the films…

Week Eleven

So, filming is underway, how cool is that? If that wasn’t enough, Blood Warriors have wrapped! Unfortunately I was unable to attend any of their shoot days but all the team tell me they had an incredible time, and if the photography from the day was anything to go by, the ladies have created something they rightly should be very proud of. Much of their filming took place down on Dean Lane at the Skate Park and beyond, where they had amazing weather!

Team Black Cherry were also setting up to film following Blood Warriors’ wrap this week. Unfortunately again I was unable to attend, this time due to my four wheels and the nature of their interior locations. I was thrilled to be attending their final day though, over our Easter break from official sessions at Knowle West. More on that next time…

With filming almost under our belts, we returned to KWMC on Thursday for a session with Tarah Judah: writer, programmer, broadcaster, and Director at Bristol’s very own 20th Century Flicks. Over the course of her career, Tarah has served on several selection committees and juries for film festivals, including: IFFR, Berlinale Forum, Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, CIFF, Glasgow SFF, MIFF, Revelations Film Festival Perth, Encounters Short Film Festival Bristol, MIM, and the AACTA and ATOM Awards.

Those impressive credentials in mind, Tarah was the perfect candidate to speak with us about festival submissions. As has been a trend with my participation in the programme, I know nothing about film festivals, so this session was an eye-opener and if I’m being honest, a little overwhelming!

It seems to be a really daunting task, submitting one’s work for a panel of experts to critique and decide whether they want to show it. And it is daunting, but Tarah suggested that proper research and preparation is the way to negotiate the bumpy ride to festival submission. Have a sense of your film’s identity and where you think it might belong on the circuit. Cast your net as widely as you’d like but be aware of each festival’s rules: some may not take a film that has already been screened elsewhere and so on. Costs also come into play for some, especially the bigger, more prestigious festivals.

Tied hand in hand with research is having a plan for what you want for your film which will guide where you place it: for example, some festivals have prize money, others filmmakers are drawn to for the prestige alone.

Whichever festival you choose, know that it is often a difficult road, particularly for novice filmmakers so a thick skin is a must. More than that, never lose your conviction. New talent and ideas is how this industry will keep ticking over, and it was heartening to hear Tarah speak so passionately and enthusiastically.

As well as Tarah coming to speak to us, we also watched a rough first edit of Blood Warriors! It was amazing to see the film being completed and start being polished and you’ll see after our Easter break this feeling once again abound when Black Cherry wrap…

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

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

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