FILWOOD FABRIC at Living, Working, Making Together: KWMC Residency


Living, Working and Making Together was a residency project which took place from June - September 2018 hosted by Knowle West Media Centre in Filwood, Bristol. The four residencies 'explored how local people could work with artists to make new things and create the change they want to see in their neighbourhood' [Martha King at KWMC]. 

This project 'Filwood Fabric' invited local people to make patterns to be digitally printed onto fabric and used for handmade souvenirs of the area, exploring what it means to live in Knowle West through reflecting on the area's past, present and future on the Filwood Community Centre's 80th anniversary. 

Patterns inspired by local icons, signs, curios, flora and fauna were created and collected with residents to create designs for the products they then made. A swatch book of the patterns was created with guides and links to how to make your own printed fabric. 

The project extends and explores ideas started in 'With Art from London' (2011), which engaged residents and shop owners of Lower Marsh and Lambeth in South London in creating an alternative souvenir stall exploring the cultural identity of Londoners.  

After the project I wrote:

Filwood Community Centre sits on a remarkable 80 years of history, as the community and city around it has ridden the waves of regeneration and decline, bringing new opportunities and challenges as it does so. My practice explores urban regeneration and sustainability through a participatory, craft-based process inspired by my love of encouraging the creativity in everyone and my background in community development.

My work often questions the significance of cultural and personal identity, and how that is portrayed in communities and individuals. I am interested in the secret skills living behind closed doors – the making, growing, caring and imaginations lying apparently dormant to the outsider, but which are in fact active or have potential to be activated. The possibilities of these skills correlating with new waves of DIY learning and opportunities for self-employment offered by online courses and resources are huge.

The Living, Working, Making Together residency seemed the perfect opportunity to explore these ideas – from, in and with the community they are responding to. This immersion enabled the project to explore local nuances of the past, present and future of Filwood (known locally as Knowle West) and use those as the creative starting point to make patterns, fabric and products which culturally represent local individuals and the wider community.

In practical terms, this consisted of distributing flyers inviting local people to draw, write or scribble things which remind them of the past, present and future of Filwood. These drawings were then digitised and designed into patterns to be used on fabric souvenirs of the area, and explored further in drawing, making and sewing workshops. This became FILWOOD FABRIC.

I hope FILWOOD FABRIC acts as a catalyst for people living and working in the area to explore new outlets for their skills, knowledge and imagination, and to create new things which represent this brilliant community in new ways.

The project was featured in the residency exhibition from July 2018 - March 2019 at Knowle West Media Centre. 

Read the book of findings from the residency.

Find out more about the project here

Photography: Ibi Feher Photography