Residents join meeting to reimagine public art for Knowle West

Public Art in Knowle West meeting summary

On Thursday 22 April a group of residents and representatives from local organisations came together to discuss Public Art in Knowle West via zoom and in person outside KWMC. 

Carolyn Hassan, KWMC director, and Martha King, KWMC Arts Programme Manager, facilitated the session and gave short presentations alongside invited guest Jo Plimmer, from Bristol City Council arts team. Presentations were followed by lively smaller group discussions.

Carolyn and Martha highlighted that Knowle West is unique in already having a public art strategy, written in 2011 – and with so many new developments happening at the moment in the area, now is a really good time to be: 

  1. looking afresh at the Knowle West Public Art Manual and 
  2. developing joined up ideas for public art in Knowle West – which can then be presented to developers

Martha shared some examples of national and international public art projects – demonstrating that public art can take many forms (much more than just statues) and highlighted some of the great things already happening in KW that could be developed into public art commissions.

Together the group looked at the four Principles, which the manual suggests all artists’ commissions in Knowle West will follow:

And the 12 instructions, intended to be starting points for projects to be interpreted by the artists and curators: 


Overall, people felt these principles and instructions still felt relevant and resonant today – giving useful clear boundaries within which to be creative.

There was a feeling that what the group didn’t want things like ‘’benches funded by Barrett’s that just turned up somehow’’, but instead something that felt part of the community, was properly ‘’integrated into place’’ and grown from what people want. 

Many commented on the importance of neighbourhood celebration, pride and challenging stigmas. ‘’KW as a destination brings pride, we must tell ourselves more often to be proud’’. With more potential to be explored around welcoming signage / creative wayfinding and more public places for the community to meet and have conversations. 

People highlighted how essential it is to think long-term and not just about todays priorities: 

’Build into today’s plans the capacity to recognise tomorrow’s new priorities, creating continuity for each generation as this will become our history line.’’ With discussion around how to involve more young people in the community, in a joined up way. 

Key Questions:

Some key questions raised at the meeting, which will be picked up and discussed more at the next session are:

How can we ensure more people are able to be involved in these discussions? (as someone mentioned ‘knowledge is power’)

What defines a public art project – can it be anything?

How best to share with developers the communities priorities and vision? 

Next meeting:

KWMC will facilitate another meeting on 11 May from 11am-12.30pm to discuss the above questions and create some joined up ideas and priorities for what kinds of public art the community wants in KW. These ideas can then be collated and presented to developers. 

Please RSVP to: if you’d like to attend. All welcome.

The full Knowle West Public Art manual is available to read HERE and if you want a printed copy please contact: