Connecting Riverside Communities

Linking communities along Bristol’s waterways

This project sets out to talk to Bristol’s citizens who live and work close to our rivers and find out what is important to them. As a group of social engagement artists working within communities adjacent to waterways we are interested in what unites us across the city. Focusing on the Frome, Malago and Avon as links to neighbourhoods, we have begun conversations with people in Begbrook/Frenchay, Eastville/Easton, St Anne’s, Bedminster, Hotwells, Hartcliffe and Withywood. We’re particularly interested in connecting refugees and transient communities with more permanent residents. Our work to date has been self-funded and limited by the Covid pandemic, but here is a taste of what we’ve achieved so far.

During the summer of 2020 we led Walk n Talk events within our riverside neighbourhoods looking at how we can help communities be part of the decision making and planning in relation to changes in the built and cultural environments of Bristol.

Here is an extract from a series of podcasts we are making reflecting some of the communities and issues in our city.

This autumn, we teamed up with Bristol Artists’-Led Forum and Diverse Artists Network to co-create participatory activities to. We presented these activities at the Centre of Gravity exhibition at Gardiner Haskins during October 2020. Forevolution, engaged thousands of people in activities and events. We are currently busy reviewing all the input we have had from the public and will make our research available widely. We look forward to being able to bring these activities to Bristol’s communities.

We’re still fundraising, but we’d love to hear from you if you want to join the conversations and journey with us to find common ground.

Who are we? As artists we’ve been co-creating with communities for a couple of decades, creating community gardens, performances, films, songs, maps and, as activists we’ve help people share their ideas.

I developed activities for Peaceful Portway 2015 as part of Sharing Communities
Lizzie Philps lives in the Begbrook Estate, Frome Valley ward- she devises extraordinary arts activities with communities
Annali Grimes facilitates and instigates interventions at the M32 Spot in Easton and community activities in Eastville Park
Grace Kress of ShelbyXStudios campaigns for cItizens rights using accessible graphic design and community arts
Amy Hutchings has designed and painted murals with communities of Hotwells and Withywood
Gill Simmons writes songs and performances with communities about their environments
Jo Bushell is a social practice artist currently working as artist in residence at Arnos Vale Cemetery and St Helen’s CoE Primary, Alverston, part of Vulgar Earth collective https://www.vulgarearth.com  & a member of Diverse Artists Network and Bristol Artist Led Forum.

It’s not just artists, we’re also working with community groups, including Action Greater Bedminster, Hotwells & Cliftonwood Community Association & Frenchay Village Museum. And we’re talking with ACORN Union, Liveable Neighbourhoods, Extinction Rebellion, Bricks Bristol, UWE, Bristol University, Bristol Health Partners, Bristol City Council Communities and Public Health and local planning groups.

Resources:

Alternative Approaches to Architecture talk at Centre of Gravity with Professor Rachel Sara & Thomas Sale. In presentation form here are Rachel’s, Tom’s talk and Anna’s talk

HighWaterLine Bristol report, 2015, Isobel Tarr & Anna Haydock-Wilson is a great resource in community engagement around social issues and a production guide for a city wide project.

My personal motivation in devising this project is my experience of my upbringing. Inner City London has been feeling development pressures since the 1980s, using my home town, Deptford, I have been musing about the impacts with friends which you can see in this film.

Here is a video presentation of how my practice has developed to lead me to Finding Common Ground