City Running

Last night I did this: ‘On the night of Friday 30 November 2012, 30 artists from all disciplines will set out to rediscover a neglected part of the city they call home. Taking in shiny new office blocks, Victorian industrial heritage, nightclubs, waterways, hidden alleyways and a major train station, City Running asks artists and audiences the question: how do we experience our city?’

We met at Jackdaw Hall at Paintworks, ate a delicious meal and were then sent off into the night to ‘collect’ stuff for two hours, before coming back at 10 and making a piece of work until midnight…which would then be shown from 12-2.

I wanted to keep things as open as possible, so didn’t plan anything, and walked round the slightly creepy, deserted soon-to-be ‘enterprise zone’ with my camera-phone, taking pictures and videos and talking to the other artists….stopping whenever someone wanted to take a photo of a manhole cover or a light (and once when someone walked into a lampost).

I have included some of the images below. But when I got back, and tried to string them together, it occured to me that it was the act of looking that was unusual – not the things we had looked at themselves.

On the way back to paintworks I had noticed a mural depicting the Bristol Uprising of 1831…and somehow this seemed to link all my odd little thoughts together…I liked thinking of us as a spectacularly unthreatening, but determined, mob.

So below is the piece I wrote. It was written in extreme haste, but there’s something I like about it.

There were loads of great pieces of work – a beautiful tap-dance piece using sensors to create music from Laura Kriefman, a lovely, inventive piece of writing from C.J Flood, and a clever, funny film ‘light industrial noir’ from Nathan Hughes were highlights for me.

I got to meet loads of people, see inspiring work, and challenge myself to something totally new. It was a genuinely amazing night.


Do you know that mural on Bath Road? It’s of these angry crowds and it says, in massive letters, Bristol Uprising 1831. I’ve gone past it loads on the bus, but I’d never really noticed it until tonight.

Wikipedia has told me that The Bristol Riots took place when House of Lords rejected the second Reform Bill which would have given towns like Bristol, greater representation in the House of Commons.

In1830 only 6,000 of the 104,000 people who lived here had the vote and in 1831 an angry mob chased those who had opposed the bill to Mansion House in Queen Square. One of the local magistrates had to escape in disguise.

I can imagine them marching.

In Bristol we like a riot. We’ve had the Uprising, the Bristol Bridge Riots, the Queen Square riots, the St Pauls riots, and all those riots last year.

A riot is a form of civil disorder.

Riots are thought to be typically chaotic and exhibit herd like behaviour.

Riots follow inverted social norms.

Tonight I took loads of pictures. I was going to show you slides, made up of pictures and films I’d taken on my crappy phone.

I don’t think you need to see the slides.

They were pictures of little things. Gaps, railings, lights, cars, doorways, rubbish, hats, lost gloves.

Some of them were of people here. The worst, well, least scary, gang in the world. Snapping and sketching and chatting in mittens and bobble hats.

I didn’t know you all when you were young but I know you were the last to be picked for the football team at school.

One of us actually walked into a lamppost while looking at maps on her phone.

We are a, kind of, motley mob.

Tonight, someone here has carefully noted the way someone else holds their pen. Someone else has taken a photo of a bin that has never been photographed before.

One of us, will have thought about a long dead friend when they looked at someone else’s fifties coat.

We didn’t have long. But we walked together, fast and with purpose, noticing the pavements, the billboards, the lights, the litter, the road, the cars, and the beaten up bikes.

Tonight is a quiet riot. A little riot. An uprising of unnoticed things.


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