Art installations reveal life in Knowle West

All images by Ibolya Feher.

Multi-media art installations were unveiled on Thursday (17 October) uncovering life in Knowle West through the generations – with one staged within a resident’s home.

They were part of 100 Years of Knowle West Style – a project run by arts charity Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) exploring hidden stories within the community.

Built nearly 100 years ago – Knowle West was founded on the principle of a Garden City – surrounded by green spaces.

Artists have been working alongside residents to gather memories of what it’s been like to live here – devising creative ways of of sharing these with the public.

The event was a showcase of the work they have developed and part of The Festival of the Future City.

Visitors were invited into a resident’s home to to view an audio visual piece called I, Object – created with local people by artist Holly Beasley-Garrigan, supported by film maker Dee Hassan.

It featured interviews with people born in ten different decades, since the estate was built – from Violet (1928) to six-year-old Lexi.

The exhibition explored objects that were important to them – including a doll and new trainers – along with observations about living in the area. The common thread was that Knowle West was a place “where people looked out for each other.”

Talking images of the interviewees were projected on household furniture and fittings – from cushions and a table to a dolls house – and even the kitchen sink.

Holly said: “I’m obsessed with storytelling, visibility and learning to take up space… Stories from estates like Knowle West are interesting and relevant but they are often lost, judged or not given the platform they deserve…’’

At Sew Clever in Filwood Broadway, another artwork featured a digitally embroidered display on a curtain – showing the different style homes found across Knowle West.

At night written quotes from residents were lit up across the display.

The work was created by artist George Lovesmith, working with local sewers and textile enthusiasts. He has been meeting with local residents since May to catalogue the adaptations and decorations in many Knowle West homes and gardens.

He explained: “The 100 Years project is an opportunity to ask: ‘how can we celebrate the thing you would lie down in front of a bulldozer to protect? Which bits justify some nurture? What makes you roll up your sleeves and get stuck-in?’”

Visitor Rachel Miles said of the installations: “I really like the projections, stories and recordings. I like the way they are part oral history and part a contemporary discussion of what it’s like to be here.. I like the mix and the fact people are allowed to speak…

“It’s  also nice to see the works in the space they come from.”

The exhibition was part of “Homes for Heroes 100” – a programme of events and activities across Bristol marking the centenary of the 1919 Housing and Town Planning Act.

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