Wednesday, 31 August 2011

I have often walked down this street before - Elen Caldecott

This isn't going to be about writing, I'm afraid.

Instead, I thought I would tell you about the affect that art is having in Bristol.

Like London, Birmingham and other UK cities, Bristol has had its share of trouble lately. Young people have felt an appaling disconnect between themselves and the city that is their home - with ugly consequences.
But two weeks after the riots, a different kind of ugly has taken hold and it has changed the way that Bristolians see their streets, well, one street anyway.

Nelson Street in central Bristol was always rough as a badger's brillos. It has high-rise buildings, many deserted; overhead walkways that smelled of tramp's undercrackers and alleys that may as well have had 'get mugged here' written in neon above them.

But last weekend, a group of international street artists reclaimed the walls. The graffiti they produced is breathtaking in scale. Everyone who walks down Nelson Street now is affected by it.

The most noticable thing is the change of pace, no-one hurries anymore. People stop to stare, take pictures, point out things they want others to notice. Complete strangers smile at each other.

It isn't confined to the usual suspects either, urban hipsters and trustafarians are outnumbered by families, tourists, older folks and children. I saw one older lady being helped up steps to get a better view - steps that two weeks earlier would have needed a bleach enema before anyone could walk on them.

I don't pretend that this will cure all Bristols ills. But I do think that anything that makes us feel more connected, less afraid, can only be a good thing.

Here, with apologies to those using dial-up, are some pictures:



The building my husband works in

Steps and walkways

Slowing for a look

My favourite - these columns are wearing knitted jerseys. And check out the new sign.

Adding greenery to the cityscape



















































Find out more about Elen on Facebook or at www.elencaldecott.com

20 comments:

Miriam Halahmy said...

This is completely brilliant and it is absolutely about writing. Anything that blows my mind this far feeds straight into words for me. Well done for posting this Elen. I went to Crosby beach last weekend to see Anthony Gormley's iron statues marching out to sea and it had the same effect. Excellent. I wonder if TOX was part of the Bristol project?

Rachel Ward said...

Thanks for the post, Elen. This looks amazing, a fantastic project. I'll check it out next time I'm in Bristol.

JO said...

Such wonderful evidence of the reparative power of art. Thanks for these pictures. And a reminder of what a great city Bristol is.

Caroline Lawrence said...

Wot no Banksy? But seriously, this is brilliant. Thanks for sharing it on this. Miriam is right, anything like this that inspires us is about creativity and writing!

Freyalyn said...

Fabulous - thank you for sharing. Now this is the sort of thing that should be making the national news as a counter to all the negative stuff.

Linda said...

Very cheering - and so simple! Now, what if we could pair it with mini-short stories stuck on lampposts for passers-by to enjoy?

Dee said...

Great post Elen. I fell in love with the yarnbombing on the posts, and the 'art in the dirt' on the walls of the building, but didn't even notice the sign! Things like this definitely allow people to feel that is 'their' city, something to contribute to and marvel at, rather than just functioning within. I've only lived here a year but Bristol always provides such an array of adventures to be had, it makes me very happy that I chose to make my home here.

Elen C said...

Dee, is it called yarnbombing? I had no idea! What a great word.
I'm glad I moved to Briz too.

Liz said...

Fantastic. But I often walk down here from Broadmead to get to Park Street, and have never felt as if I was about to be mugged. I find Bristolians smile back if you smile at them, even without a reason to do so... but anything that brightens up greyness and celebrates just being alive and draws different types of people into a community of admiration and helps anyone step outside of reality into a new world has to be SPREAD!

Tabatha said...

Very happy to see your post today! This is worth saving and sharing.
Thanks.

Marie-Louise said...

WOW!!

adele said...

Smashing post! Cheers up the whole day.

Katherine Langrish said...

Brilliant! Thanks for telling us non-Bristolians.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Great Post Elen! And yes it's really another form of story... more immediate than words.

Lynda Waterhouse said...

Love this post. Yarnbombing now there's a concept!

Penny Dolan said...

Cheering and relevant, Elen. Thanks!!!

Catherine Johnson said...

Lovely lovely post Elen xc

Lynn said...

This is truly wonderful! Thanks for posting about it.

Lynne Garner said...

It may not have been about writing but this wonderful art has inspired me and I think I have an idea brewing for a story. So thanks!

bat1412 said...

It may not have been about writing but this wonderful art has inspired me and I think I have an idea brewing for a story. So thanks!