Connecting Riverside Communities

This project sets out to create artworks with Bristol’s residents and workers close to our rivers and find out what is important to them. We are interested in what unites us across the city, focusing on the Rivers Frome, Malago and Avon linking to neighbourhoods in Begbrook/Frenchay, Eastville/Easton, St Anne’s, Bedminster, Hotwells, Hartcliffe and Withywood. We’re developing activities and events with these neighbourhoods and with communities of refugees and carers. These will help us all to look at the future of the city through journeys we make to school, work and for health and to share these stories with the council, architects and designers.

People we talk to are tired of unsustainable development with unaffordable housing and instead are interested in what the water side can offer citizens as corridors of social and nature spaces, that reflect our global & industrial heritage and routes of arrival for many generations.

Artists Jo Bushell, Sherien Elshiekh, Annali Grimes, Anna Haydock-Wilson, Amy Hutchings, Grace Kress, Lizzie Philps & Gill Simmons have been co-creating with communities for many years, making murals, gardens, performances, films, songs, maps, posters, zines and helping people share their ideas. Here’s some examples of our recent work.

  • Anna Haydock-Wilson is a community engagement artist and filmmaker who mainly collaborates with other artists. Artist-led projects include HighWaterLine Bristol & Art under the Flyover. Leading on Art Within the Cracks, she worked with Lizzie, Gill, Grace and Amy and more recently with them and with Jo and Annali on Finding Common Ground walks and at the Centre of Gravity and Sherien & Amy for Spike Print community projects.
  • Dr Elizabeth Philps is an artist and performance maker and is Programme Lead in BA Drama at Bristol Institute of Performing Arts. Lizzie’s GPS Embroidery Project has engaged communities throughout Bristol, South Glos, BANES and Exeter discussing issues of motherhood, equality and environment.
  • Sherien Elsheikh is a graphic designer, the drop in coordinator for Refugee Women of Bristol and a member of Bristol Refugee Artists Collective. She works with Anna and Amy on the Spike Community Print Projects as an artist, community worker and Arabic translator.
  • Jo ‘Chalkblack’ Bushell is a social practice artist. Her approach brings together performative. site-specific/land-based and digital practices – lending itself to working with public engagement, specific community projects or with small groups of individuals who are seeking creative processes for navigating personal or social transitions.  
  • Amy Hutchings is a professional printmaker and arts facilitator specialising in working with vulnerable groups. Instigator of the Spike Community Print Projects, she has recently worked with RWA, Avon Wildlife Trust, Art under the Flyover & Art within the Cracks
  • Grace Kress is a graphic designer, illustrator, activist and community engagement worker. As the founder of Shelby x Studios, she regularly produces collaborative zines with a variety of artists and grassroots campaigns, both locally and internationally. She is currently a fellow on the Bristol + Bath Creative R&D pathfinder, researching the role of publishing in relation to accessibility, hybrid spaces and amplifying radical narratives.
  • Gill Simmons is the artistic director of Brave Bold Drama and a freelance drama practitioner, delivering workshops in children’s centres, schools, care homes, youth clubs, . Gill writes music for productions and develops community and education outreach and creative programmes in BS13, throughout Bristol and online. She also produces audio walks and podcasts. She is a 2021-2022 Resident Artist at Tobacco Factory Theatres.
  • Annali Grimes works within Easton and Eastville communities and has been creating community spaces where the Frome meets Stapleton Road under the M32, tackling issues with the communities from the ground up, engaging with communities, schools, youth groups and universities through workshops, awareness events & exhibitions. Annali is part of M32 Flyover Metamorphosis and RESPiRES, building community resilience in cities.

We are partnering with Bristol Refugee Festival, Refugee Women of Bristol, Bricks Bristol, Action Greater Bedminster and Hotwells & Cliftonwood Community Association. We have also been conversing with Liveable Bristol, Bridges for Communities, Bristol City Council City Arts Team, BCC Communities and Public Health Department and BCC Growth & Regeneration, local councillors, parks groups, ‘Friends of’ groups and many other artists. We would like to expand the project to include areas around the River Trym and downstream to Avonmouth.

Here’s some reading and listening that has inspired us: