Just when you were running out of things to do on rainy days this summer, Multi-Story Water has paddled to the rescue with TWO, FREE arts competitions for ALL ages, with a chance to win £20 of iTunes/Amazon vouchers in each one. Interested? Read on…

Do you like to draw and design? Are you passionate about celebrating the River Frome? Do you want to see your art work shown around Eastville this September?

If so, then we need you to design an eye-catching, river-themed poster for the Multi-Story Water Weekend 29th-30th September! The winning design will be used to promote this celebratory weekend of events including: dance and circus performances around the river and under the M32, storytelling, science and wildlife river walks, community film and photography exhibition, street art, face-painting and more!

Your design should be A4 portrait size and you should remember to include:

  • title of the weekend – Multi-Story Water Weekend!
  • dates – Saturday & Sunday, 29th-30th September
  • and please leave some space for us to add our logo, web address and final details about the events and locations…

The winning designs will be used to produce the official event posters, but we will share all entries on the website and also endeavour to display them during the final weekend.

(If you’d like some help with layout ideas for your poster, you can see an example of one of our earlier posters here)

Calling ALL photographers of Eastville, whether you use a disposable camera, phone or SLR! The Multi-Story Water Project invites you to submit your photographs on the theme of Extreme Weather in the UK. From last winter’s big freeze to this summer’s flash floods – how did you record or experience the weird and wonderful weather patterns that have frustrated, flummoxed and fascinated us over the past few years? Or, thinking completely outside the box, what else does ‘extreme weather’ mean to you?

Your entries will be used to accompany live performance and/or to produce a slideshow that will be projected outdoors at the celebratory Multi-Story Water Weekend, 29-30th September.

You can submit up to 3 photos per person. Please state when and where taken, plus a sentence or two about what inspired you to take it/them. (The Guardian In Pictures weekly competition is full of great examples of creative photographic responses to a theme)

PRIZES will be awarded to a winner and a runner-up in each competition, and include £20 Amazon/iTunes vouchers.

POSTER Monday 20th August
PHOTOS Friday 7th September
(Please note earlier date for poster to allow us to get it produced in time to promote the September event!)

SUBMISSION Entries to either competition should be submitted by post OR email with name and contact details  to:
Multi-Story Water Project
c/o Nancy Campbell
Faculty of Environment & Technology (FET)
UWE Bristol
Frenchay Campus
Coldharbour Lane
BS16 1QY

Please label your envelope/email ‘POSTER’ or ‘PHOTO’ (or both if you are entering together!)

Remember, the competitions are open to all ages. Winning designs and photos will be selected by a judging panel that will include representatives from the local community, the Environment Agency, UWE and Bristol City Council.


Frome in the Room – Arts Workshop 16th June

The Multi-Story Water arts process officially set sail last month (it’s taken a while for this story to float downstream onto the blog!) with the first workshop at Glenfrome School on Saturday 16th June. A big thank you to everyone who came along and shared their enthusiasm for all things riparian.

Using a heady mix of scrapstore delights, scissors, glue and that other great universal adhesive (imagination not Pritt-Stick), each group created their own artistic representation of the Frome-in-the-Room. Rivers sprung over and under tables, which became topographical features, weirs and waterfalls, or concrete bridges to carry busy motorways. Water flowed into and out of tunnels, whirlpools spun mercilessly, canoeists dropped off the edge of the falls, trees sprung up – and fell down – while, in peaceful stretches amongst the lush vegetation, kingfishers perched and wildlife calmly flourished. It was clear that the river was very present in the creative imagination of the residents of Eastville.

After an indoor picnic lunch, the school gym floor became a boat-building yard and driftwood sticks (collected by me from Aberystwyth beach, the day after the flash floods there on June 9/10th), seaweed, willow from a Fromeside tree in Eastville Park, leaves, and raffia were used to create rafts, boats and crafts to be floated down the Frome.

Using a shopping trolley (one that we’d captured after it had gone feral in the Napier Road underpass) that was speedily converted into a pirate ship (thanks to the genius of Read and Kath), we transported the miniature boats down to the park. It was a soggy crew of rain-coated pirates who processed through the rain behind it, but all the boats proved river-worthy and floated off downstream, though the willows near Stapleton Bridge may have proved too difficult a bankside obstacle to navigate.

We ended the day – courtesy of Chrissy and Justin (thank you!) – with a sneak peak at the Frome as it runs between Cottrell and Heath Roads. Kath told us it was like a ‘Heathrow airport’ for kingfishers earlier in the summer. But they didn’t get their raincoats on to give us a display. But maybe, just maybe they will be making a special guest appearance later on in the project…. (guesses on the back of a postcard)

A huge thank you to all who attended and especially to Mrs O’Callaghan and Glenfrome School for providing a fantastic venue.

Please keep watching this space for the next events in the autumn, and and please feel free to keep adding suggestions or ideas for other river-related arts and performance workshops you might like to take part in or lead, as we progress towards our final celebratory weekend on 29-30 September.

In the following images, you should be able to find, creative culverts, the M32, freshwater crabs, canoes, rafts, desert islands, great crested newts, waterfalls, whirlpools and water snakes, stick-boats with leaf sails, a pirate ship shopping trolley and a boat launch…

with thanks to Chrissy and Steve for the additional photos…

ar ôl y llifogydd 2

On a more positive note, with all the flood debris including lots of freshwater inland wood, reeds and leaves washed up on the beach, I went down to collect some for our boat-making session at the first Multi-Story arts workshop at Glenfrome School this weekend.

I thought I’d take advantage of some rare sun on the beach to practice designing, making and launching a boat…

sea weed rigging

under the jetty

deciding where to launch (sea weed leash so we didn’t lose it! it will be coming to the workshop on Sat!)

it floats!

I’ve collected some weird and wonderful materials from Welsh seashore and Bristolian riverside, I look forward to working with all the budding boat-builders of Bristol to see what kind of varied craft they come up with to float down the Frome on Saturday.

Photos by Sara Penrhyn Jones (diolch!!)

ar ôl y llifogydd ~ after the floods

“I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god – sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities – ever, however, implacable.
Keeping his seasons, and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget…”

T. S. Eliot The Dry Salvages | Four Quartets (excerpt)

A few years ago, I made a durational performance piece little bird, listening with my mum (in her 70s) which we periodically revive at different venues. While I dance and recite from memory T. S Eliot’s Four Quartets, she tells family stories to the audience over mobile phone from Aberystwyth, where she lives and I grew up. The stories are linked to the images from text and the place these poems occupy in our lives. In this way, the poems link us through time and space.

The third quartet – called The Dry Salvages – is associated with the element of water, and these particular words above have been racing through my head this weekend.

Coming back home to work with some local dancers in a remote woodland centre further down the coast on Friday, I was amazed by what I returned to on Saturday. We emerged muddy and unkempt from the sodden woods where we’d been dancing (blissfully, with no mobile signal) to sudden miles of closed roads, traffic tailbacks, RNLI dinghies, police coastguards, helicopters and apocalyptic scenes. Five feet of water racing through the main street in Talybont, houses flooded, caravan parks submerged, bridges bulging, animals washed up on the beach. The statistics were growing exponentially like Chinese whispers – by the time I got home after an hour in traffic crawling the last 3 miles in to town, mum was telling me that 1000 people had been airlifted (it was about 150) but, still it was shocking. My old school opposite my mum’s house was set up as a refuge for the flood victims, many of them holidaying in caravan parks along the River Leri which runs into the sea at Borth.

When I first started working for the Multi-Story Water project, I remarked to the team that I’d never had much experience of flooding until I moved to Herefordshire (the Wye floods quite regularly and rapidly, usually in response to heavy rainfall in Mid-Wales!) because ‘it nevers floods in Aberystwyth’… How strange that I am eating those words now, in the middle of the project. How strange that I’ve been looking at pictures of the River Frome in flood, filming the open sluice gates and then seeing different brown water rushing across familiar childhood roads and submerging the caravan sites that, before they altered the water mains pressure, used to reduce our tap water to a trickle in the summer…

When I was learning Welsh at school, our teacher Mrs Jones used to remind us (in a probably rather un-feminist way) that the gender of the word ‘tywydd’ (weather) was feminine because ‘it is so unpredictable, like women’. Extending the negative stereotype, the word for flooding itself (llifogydd) is masculine, perhaps because it is so destructive a force. These events have really brought home to me (literally) just how unpredictable, rapid and destructive those things can be.

A strong brown god… the River Frome and the River Leri


Opening Arts Workshop, Saturday 16th June 11-5, Glenfrome School

You are warmly invited to the first arts workshop of the Multi-Story Water project. There will be a mixture of artist-led indoor and outdoor sessions to encourage and explore creative approaches to the stories and spaces of the River Frome. It will include a guided activity trail along unusual spaces of the river as it flows from Eastville Park to IKEA, and the opportunity to make and launch your own miniature story boat from natural materials.

Everyone is welcome, no matter what your level of skill or experience in making or moving, painting, performing or playing! Join us for the full day, or just the indoor morning session if you are curious and want to find out more. Please remember to bring waterproofs, suitable footwear and clothes you feel comfortable to move and explore in.

Attendance is FREE with lunch and refreshments provided

Please RSVP by 12th June to Jess Allen, Arts Facilitator  [email protected] | 07949 474155 letting us know  the number of adults and children attending and any specific dietary and/or access requirements. Please note that children under 14 are very welcome, but will need to be accompanied by an adult.

Walk this Way! This Sunday (April 22)

Eastville and Frome Walk This Sunday!

Hello everybody.   We’ve come across something you may be interested in this Sunday.  Its not specifically related to the Multi-Story Water project, but is incredibly good timing for people to walk the area and the Frome and begin thinking about what improvements might be made to the area’s sometimes wonderful and sometimes ugly water resources and features.   Below is the blurb.   Alison, from our team will be going on the walk so you’ll meet her there if you go.   Please let Geoff Haslam of the RSA know if you’d like to come on [email protected]

M32 – Connecting Communities

The M32 has two distinguishing features; it is the shortest motorway in the UK, and it reaches further into the city than any other.

When it was designed and constructed it was clearly intended to bring economic benefit to the city. It is assumed that it continues to do this, but at some cost to the communities through which is passes.

One of the RSA’s guiding themes is “connecting communities”. The local (south west) group decided some months ago to investigate the potential to ‘re‐connect’ the adjacent communities, if indeed this is what they want. At a meeting some months ago a few volunteers offered to take this idea forward. The next M32 event is planned for Sunday 22 April.

We will meet in the middle of the Eastville roundabout (between Tesco and Eastville Park) at 10:00am.

The walk will involve the length of the space under and beside the motorway from the Merchants Arms to River Street. The aim will be to make creative suggestions for improvements. I expect to finish by 12:30pm at the latest.

Please do let me know if you plan to join us. I attach some background information and look forward to meeting you on the 22nd at 10:00am prompt.

Please contact Geoff Haslam for more information and to register your intention to attend – [email protected]