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Living, Working, Making Together

How do artists and communities live, work and make together?

In September 2017, Knowle West Media Centre hosted a pop-up Artist Hotel in Filwood Community Centre (FCC) raising questions around where artists live, work and make in the city, exploring collaborative approaches to urban planning and how to think and work beyond gentrification.

After this event Filwood Community Centre expressed keen interest in exploring new uses for their building. The centre already runs an active programme of classes including boxing, tap-dance and bingo. However, in light of recent funding cuts there is a need to animate the centre in new ways. There is an appetite for experimentation and a will to collaborate and experiment with different ways to use local spaces and seed new relationships between local people and artists.

In May 2018 KWMC selected five artists, chosen in collaboration with Filwood Community Centre, to deliver four commissions that would:

-explore how Filwood / Knowle West could become a new site for artistic production and exchange.
-create outcomes that can be shared in the community at Knowle West Fest and through an exhibition at KWMC in the Autumn.

The commissioned artists are: Myah CalistaMarc Blazel, Brave Bold Drama and Ellie Shipman.

Myah Calista

A recent graduate of UWE’s Graphic Design course, Myah is a Bristol based multidisciplinary designer who’s work takes a playful approach to the social, cultural, environmental and political. She works across many mediums with a keen interest in participatory design and how the role of designer, maker and imaginer can be flipped within the audience’s realm. Her work is research- and process-led, often investigating and unpicking the meanings constructed around society, food and health, offering critique alongside designed and narrated alternative futures.

Residency project: Myah will assist in growing a community garden and compost heap, encouraging wider use and propagation throughout the community. Her project will aim to translate experiences, learned understandings, limitations and pointers about gardening and food growing, given by residents and other organisations, into a series of accessible and engaging physical objects allowing people to know what is ‘growing on’ in the centre.

Marc Blazel

Marc is a multidisciplinary artist working in video, image making and web theory based between Bristol and London. His current practice involves exploring and creating online communities that push the boundaries of digital expression. For the past few years Marc’s research has been based around exploring digital ‘ghost towns’ and defunct online communities. From 3D worlds to empty chat rooms and forums, the internet is brimming with abandoned locations affected by the advent of social media and conglomeration of the web. His work aims to reclaim these digital neighbourhoods, challenge the current state of online life and see what lessons we can apply to real life communities.

Residency project: Marc aims to use technology and art to showcase the possibilities of ‘edge cities’ and their online counterparts, by creating a new online space that broadcasts the realities of Knowle West and experiments with the idea of a community-led online TV station as a subversive free state of creativity and communication – a new way to digitise the town.

Brave Bold Drama: Gill Simmons and Paul Lawless

Brave Bold Drama are resident at the community arts centre and rehearsal space Creative Workspace in Withywood, South Bristol, and programme community arts outreach events for the venue. Gill writes music for the company’s productions and is instrumental in devising and performing new work, as well as developing Brave Bold Drama’s community and education outreach. In addition Gill works as a composer and musician and her music commissions include work for Kilter Theatre Company (Bath), The Festival of Nature, The Architecture Centre (Bristol) and Frenetic Fox Theatre Company.

Paul is a professional Actor/Devisor and Lyricist who currently resides in Knowle West and co-runs community arts centre Creative Workspace alongside Gill.

Residency project: Brave Bold Drama will visit community groups in Knowle West, including Knowle West Children’s Centre, Filwood Centre and support groups for adults with a learning disability, to find and develop ideas for a Knowle West song. Lyrics will be based on what people like about the area, positive anecdotes of events that have happened here and what people wish for the future of Knowle West. There will be a big performance of the song at Knowle West Fest, written and performed by local residents.

Ellie Shipman

Ellie is a participatory artist living in Bristol. She studied BA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art from 2008 – 2011 writing her thesis on the role of temporary public art in urban regeneration. Ellie completed a research year for her art practice in 2016 through studying MSc Sustainable Development in Practice at the University of the West of England where she wrote her thesis ‘Swell, breach, absorb: How can participatory art use Asset-Based Community Development methodologies to catalyse more climate-resilient communities?’. Debate around sustainability, urban regeneration, wellbeing and notions of community underpin her creative practice. Supported with a substantial body of ongoing research Ellie’s work responds to and challenges public, urban and socio-political tensions through encouraging and engaging the general public and a diverse range of community groups. This often results in co-created craft objects, participatory workshops, installations, audio pieces and printed and digital media as artistic outcomes. Ellie’s art practice, research, background in the third sector and passion for working with people led to establishing the collective ‘something good, something useful’ in 2014, which brings together a multi-disciplinary group who share common values to approach participatory projects.

Residency project: Filwood Fabric’ will invite residents to co-create patterns exploring Filwood’s past, present and future, which will be digitally printed onto fabric and made into souvenirs with local community groups. The souvenirs will be displayed and sold in Filwood Community Centre to prompt conversations about Filwood’s journey over the last 80 years and into the future. The project aims to set up a structure and process for locally-led skill sharing, communication and design. The pattern images and icons created will be left with the community as ‘open source’ designs. Find out more here.

Look out blog entries here to follow how the artists are getting on.

Related Events

The Living, Working, Making exhibition will open at Knowle West Media Centre on Tuesday 20 November, in a special preview event that coincides with KWMC’s annual celebration event. To book your free place click HERE

Contact Us

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

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