Connecting Riverside Communities

Uniting 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.

Due to Covid 19 restrictions we were unable to gather people out in their neighbourhoods, so we found alternative ways of connecting. Last 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.

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.

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.

Anna Haydock-Wilson 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
Amy Hutchings has designed and painted murals with communities of Hotwells and Withywood
Grace Kress of ShelbyXStudios campaigns for cItizens rights using accessible graphic design and community arts
Annali Grimes facilitates and instigates interventions at the M32 Spot in Easton and community activities in Eastville Park
Gill Simmons writes songs and performances with communities about their environments
Jo Bushell is a social practice artist based in St Anne’s. Jo is currently working with refugee communities in this area.

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 Team, Refugee Women of Bristol, Bristol Refugee Festival and local planning groups.


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.

Anna’s personal motivation in devising this project is her experience of growing up in diverse Inner City London, which has been feeling development pressures since the 1980s