Acclaimed Bristol photographer Mark Simmons has created a new set of bold new portraits celebrating Bristolian life.
Mark’s original photographs, taken over 25 years in the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s and documented in his book Bristol Black and White, painted a vivid picture of everyday life in Bristol. The images revealed tight-knit communities coming together to fight against political uncertainty and aggressive redevelopment. The images also showcased the unwavering positivity and togetherness found in some of the city’s most deprived areas, including St Pauls and Barton Hill.
His latest work, Bristol 2019: A New Kind of Community, documents the new-found friendships and opportunities being built through the city’s growing community business movement.
The collection revisits many of the same city streets and suburbs of his original works, however this time showcases an inspiring grassroots fight back, with community businesses working to transform neighbourhoods.
The black and white images were commissioned by Power to Change – the independent trust that supports community businesses across England. The images form part of Power to Change’s ‘Bristol is our Business’ campaign that aims to shine a light on the importance of community business and the role it plays in supporting and responding to local needs.
Mark explains: “Bristol has always had a strong sense of community and when I first started to photograph the city, over 35 years ago, there was a real sense that while the city around us was rapidly changing in the face of uncertain times, the people of Bristol were coming together to face change with positivity and dignity.
“By documenting the lives of the people living across the city, I wanted to show the reality of Bristol, which was a melting pot of people from different cultures and walks of life all coming together and being welcomed – including me. A London boy who moved here for university and was instantly welcomed with open-arms.
“It has been a heart-warming experience and an honour to photograph these community businesses and to see the positive impact they are having on the city’s neighbourhoods.”
The community business projects Mark visited include Bristol Bike Project, Barton Hill Settlement, Southmead Development Trust, We Can Make at Knowle West, Bristol Ferry Boats, Arnos Vale Cemetery and Windmill Hill City Farm.
Barton Hill Settlement’s Chief Executive, Joanna Holmes, says: “We all remember Mark’s photos from decades gone by and they represented many people and parts of Barton Hill. This area of Bristol particularly has always felt a little left behind when compared to other thriving parts of the city and for many years, the people here felt like they had been forgotten. Barton Hill Settlement has been so important in bringing communities together and helping people rebuild their lives and seek opportunities.
“Today, we are at the heart of the community helping people in many ways and Mark’s new work shows how much is being done by community businesses across the city to make positive changes.
“Local people are looking to organisations like ours and other community businesses for hope and a way forward and we’re delighted to be involved in this important collection of photographs.”
In the Bristol region, Power to Change has supported more than 30 businesses, all trading for the benefit of the community.
Speaking about Mark’s work, Power to Change CEO, Vidhya Alakeson, says: “At a time when many areas are facing cuts and a lack of adequate local services, community businesses are playing a vital role by responding to local needs. It is a pleasure to present Mark’s latest photographs as part of our ‘Bristol is Our Business’ campaign, which will draw attention to the essential work of community businesses and raise awareness of the Power to Change mission.”
The Mark Simmons and Power to Change ‘Bristol 2019: A New Kind of Community’ free pop-up exhibition will be on display at Trinity Community Arts, Trinity Road in Lawrence Hill from Wednesday 27th November to Thursday 5th December 2019.
If you are one of the people featured in Mark’s original photographs, Mark and Power to Change would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, please visit www.powertochange.org.uk
About Power to Change
Power to Change is the independent trust that supports community businesses in England. Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trading for community benefit and making life better for local people. There are nearly 7,000 community businesses across England employing 35,500 people, with a combined income of £1.2bn.
From pubs to libraries; shops to bakeries; swimming pools to solar farms; community businesses are creating great products and services, providing employment and training and transforming lives.
For more information please contact:
Rebecca Hardy: Rebecca.Hardy@bjl.co.uk – 0161 731 8141
Laura Hunt: Laura.Hunt@bjl.co.uk – 0161 731 8141