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Finding Common Ground - First Steps

Finding Common Ground is the latest social engagement project on which I will be collaborating with Anna Haydock-Wilson. Anna is a social artist who specialises in producing arts and community activities and events to bring people together. Finding Common Ground will explore social and environmental realities. It is a collaboration, exploring the issues that link communities within cities and the messages we’d like to share with authorities to improve social equality.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the project is currently being adapted for physical distancing restrictions. The initial stage of the project saw artists delivering a walk and talk to members of the public, with the intention of triggering conversations with communities across Bristol about their relationships with their city and how they can be part of decisions for infrastructure and development, place-making and well-being.

A collaboration of artists - a number of whom have worked before as part of Art Within the Cracks - Finding Common Ground made its debut via Walk n Talk events, focussing on diferent parts of the city.

I was involved with Walk n Talk 2, which was a circular river walk, commencing at the Cumberland Basin. It followed the river, from the mouth of the harbour, over Ashton Bridge and into Ashton Meadow, before making our way along the Cut, crossing at Vauxhall Bridge and continuing on the north side of the river to Wapping Wharf. It was led by myself and Anna Haydock-Wilson. We introduced participants to the community-led project at the Cumberland Piazza, (Art under the Flyover) and explained how we are trying to adapt a piece of public space to community needs and climate change.

We walked over the historic lock gates, which defend Bristol from flooding at the Hotwells end, working in harmony with Netham Lock, near St Annes (St Annes was explored in another walk), round the bonded warehouses and along Coronation Road to Vauxhall Bridge. Passing Spike Island Art Space we noted the most recent spots under planning application and discussed those developments that have recently come to fruition.

We discussed the history of the area, flood risk, development proposals, private land (the harbour as a commercial asset rather than a community) and how we can influence development and active travel infrastructure (widen pavements, link up cycle lanes, etc.)

It was an extremely blustery day, with stimulating conversation and rgeat observations along the route.

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