During this year’s Food Connections festival, we were delighted to bring together and celebrate two of the most vital and vibrant aspects of Bristol’s cultural identity – food and street art.
Partnering with the Bristol’s legendary street art and graffiti festival Upfest, and supported by Bristol City Council’s Originators Fund, we set out to engage communities in an artistic exploration of the role of food in the city. From quirky cargo containers to thriving markets, fiercely independent restaurant scene to exciting street food stands, there’s a lot to love!
We wanted to discover the experiences and thoughts of a diverse range of people and across the city, encouraging communities to explore Bristol’s food culture – from what is has been to what it will be in the future.
The BFC team and Silent Hobo collected some community feedback on Bristol’s food culture – we had wonderful day collecting opinions on the vibrancy and diversity of our city’s food culture on St Marks Road in Easton.
Together, we explored the wonderful diversity of cultures and flavours in the city; it was beautifully described as a ‘cultural melting pot’ of food from the West Indies, India and the Middle East, enjoyed in home cooking, restaurants and takeaways.
Another common theme was the strong community ties in Bristol – Bristolians have a lot of time for sharing their cooking, recipes and sourcing their food locally – but this was contrasted with the rise in processed and sugary food in our diet.
Looking back, we delved into the era when Bristol was one of England’s biggest ports and used to be flooded with produce from the Caribbean, France and North America.
Switching to a future focus, a broad range of hopes, dreams (and fears) were shared about what lies ahead for the city’s food; from technological solutions such as pizza deliveries by drones, to a return to a more natural way of eating and step away from processed food. Many people hope that we can grow more of our own food within the city, perhaps with vertical growing taking centre stage and fruit trees on every corner.
During the Festival, one of Bristol’s favourite street artists – Silent Hobo – captured this array of thoughts and ideas in a colourful and impactful mural which can be seen on the side of the Marcruss Outdoors store on Hotwell Road. Watch his incredible piece unfold in the time-lapse film (below).
The artwork will be a long-lasting record of the essence of the city’s food identity, including our hopes for what Bristol’s future food culture will become in the years to come. It is a testament to the significance of both food and street art to the cultural fabric and identity of the city both now and in the years to come.