Bristol is a city that prides itself on independence ranging from its own local currency to a celebration of independent retailers and local food producers. But what about the clothes you wear, the furniture in your home or the bike you ride? What capacity does Bristol have to produce the products the city needs?
And why manufacture products in Bristol at all? Especially if manufacturing is considered to be a dirty and dying industry! Lets assume two scenarios. Firstly that manufacturing is essential for a resilient, innovative and a more inclusive economy. Secondly if cities want to become sustainable and resilient they need to start undertaking circular economy activities. These activities require a manufacturing skill base to repair, remanufacture and recycle the products around us.
So what does Bristol make? Over the last 6 months I have set out to answer this question. I have delved into open data, statistics, company registrations as well as talking to many organizations in the city. Besides the aerospace industry, no one is able to provide a full picture of manufacturing in the city. I now realize that to answer this question requires physically walking the city.
So to start this process throughout April and May I, and a team of researchers and artists that I am building, will walk the BS3 area in South Bristol, which includes Bedminster, Southville, Bower Ashton, part of Totterdown and Windmill Hill. I believe that walking, meeting, mapping and recording local makers and manufacturers will provide a unique picture of urban manufacturing that moves beyond aggregated statistics and incomplete company directories. During these walks we will explore what making in the city looks and feels likes by using a variety of techniques and monitors, including measuring air quality, noise levels, etc. as well as mapping the visual identity of urban manufacturing.
This will be called the Maker Walk and will form part of the RDM|RSC network. Along with the respective Universities of Bristol and Bath, I will be collaborating with the M Shed and Knowle West Media Centre and other artists to capture the essence of making in BS3. During the walk we will produce a series of open data maps and many other outputs that will be openly shared to enable others to undertake the same or similar processes.
If you would like to find out more about the Maker Walk or get involved in any way please email me J.M.Sherry@bath.ac.uk - I’d love to hear from you.
If you know of any makers/manufactures in BS3 please add them to our list here – thanks in advance.
You can also follow the Maker Walk as it unfolds on the following twitter handles, as well as other feeds, under the hashtag #makerwalk