To coincide with the opening of the Knowle West Media Centre, a straw bale building, 8 artists at different stages in their careers were commissioned to produce work to link the new programme with the space, and to interact with the community who would be using the building. A number of commissions were developed which are detailed below.
“Greenhouse Britain” Californian ecological artists, Helen and Newton Harrison brought their touring exhibition to the KWMC studio space, and delivered a talk on their work in this country in March 2008. The exhibition featured a large- scale model of the British Isles with projected images conveying the waters rising as global warming starts to take effect. A poetic narrative described the need for us to defend and retreat and to rethink how we live our lives. The Harrisons spent time with residents in Knowle West considering the physical landscape and the changes a community faces as it enters into a major 20 year regeneration planning process with Bristol City Council The Harrisons later proposed ” An Open Canopy Forest” for Knowle West. “Greenhouse Britain” exhibition was funded by DEFRA.
“Seeing at a Distance” was a location based, sensing project by mixed media artist, researcher and performer, Teresa Dillon. On route from Arnolfini to KWMC Dillon collected noise level data represented using Google Maps.
“Boardroom Table” UHC (Ultimate Holding Company) and furniture maker Oli Rodker. To celebrate the activism of the organisation UHC organised a winter solstice storytelling event on Dundry Hill whilst KWMC was being built. They then designed and produced a beautiful ash table containing the embers from the bonfire and the story telling stick held as people recounted their memories of past KWMC projects.
The table edge is inscribed with the Levellers quotation: “and thoughts run in me that words and writing were all nothing and must die for action is the life of all and if thou does not act thou does nothing”
“Untitled” Wei Ern Ong created a large style illustration on perspex for the downstairs stair well area and six smaller pieces for the training room doors. They include images of the young people involved in the Archimedia project.
“The Western Wall” by Simon Poulter, The work situated on the main meeting room glass wall illustrates key points in the development of the Western intellectual thought and references literature, philosophy, music and the history of computing.
“Origins” Antony Lyons considered displacement, dislocation, place-making, and the situation of the new KWMC building within the landscape. Twenty three streets near the new media centre in Knowle West, are named after places in Ireland. On one level, the project is an exploration of the collection of street names – their history and meaning, as well the visual and material aspects of the existing street signs. A series of enamel panels on the site railings were installed on the exterior railings to focus attention on these associations.
Amy Houghton Amy created a new video installation piece based on historical objects and photographs of significance archived by community members living and working in South Bristol. These objects and images were subtly animated, bringing them to life through digital manipulation. The work was presented on small screens in the foyer of the new centre.
Reception Desk Artist and architect Scott Hills was commissioned to design and build the KWMC front reception desk.