City Fellows

City Fellows are ambitious and experimental projects co-created by the people of Bristol.

City Fellows exists to create projects born from Bristol and collectively build a city that better reflects the people who live here. Our two ambitious and experimental projects are being co-created by the people of Bristol to address overlooked histories, pick up current conversations and dream for what the city needs next.

Fozia Ismail’s Camel Meat and Tapes will research into the stories shared by families of the Somali Diaspora, through the exchange of self-recorded cassette tapes and Muqalmad (dried camel meat – an important part of Somali nomadic culture) between Somaliland and the UK both during the civil war and after. By sharing tapes family and friends would communicate and connect, bringing intimate voices of loved ones via analogue technology and across hostile borders- into each other’s homes.

What’s happened to these cassette tapes? Have people held onto them? What messages do they contain? The project will look at the way food and sound can transcend physical geographical limits and the efforts the Somali community, led by mothers, aunts and sisters, have made to hold families together.

PECo Theatre’s Rachel Aspinwall and Holly Thomas (collaborating as sighted and visually impaired (VI) artists) will be working with co-creators from the VI community on Could this be the place… uncovering how the organisation and design of Bristol impacts upon our relationship to the city. Aspinwall and Thomas will be bringing visually impaired people together with sighted partners to travel together, recording their experiences as they navigate their way through the city. The group will share and reveal their perspectives on city life and together explore possibilities for the future, giving voice to the incredible value their contributions can and do bring to society.

PECo and their community will work with Dr Ute Leonards, University of Bristol, who is internationally renowned for her research on how the visual environment impacts our health and wellbeing. This collaboration will allow the project to reach a more holistic understanding of the impacts of city of on body and mind.

Aspinwall and Thomas said: “We are so delighted that our group and this work have been selected for a City Fellowship. As artists it’s really thrilling to be recognised for the work we have been doing. The project gives us an our group the opportunity to make heard the usually hidden voices of VI people in our city.”

Do you have lived experience of visual impairment? Would you like to join us to share your perspective on city life while exploring possibilities for the future of Bristol? Arnolfini and PECo theatre are looking for visually impaired (VI) people to join us for journeys into Bristol, uncovering how the city is experienced through multiple VI perspectives. Click below to read details on how to get involved in the project.

Call Out – PDF

To support them as they create new work, Ismail and PECo will work with Arnolfini’s Researcher-in-Residence, Marcus Corrd Brown (Director of Signifier, a UK based think tank that works to advance diversity in the cultural and creative sector). Brown will act as a critical friend and project evaluator, supporting the artists to help turn Arnolfini into a centre for civic action and imagination, acting as a catalyst for social change. Together, Ismail, PECo, and Brown will host a series of conversations, meals, and work-in-progress performances as their work develops – offering Bristol’s audiences an insight into the developing art.

City Fellows has been made possible through generous support from Paul Hamlyn Foundation.