Brunel 200 Legacy Hotwells Community Group - Hats off to Brunel!
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Hats off to Brunel!

The communities of Clifton and Hotwells chose to celebrate Brunel in not just one way, but in three ‘strands’, to highlight and celebrate how Brunel’s achievements surround and dominate those areas of Bristol.

Firstly, local practising artists were asked to produce work around a Brunel theme, which attracted around 30 contributors working in many disciplines including sculpture, drawing, print, pottery, glass, oil paint and watercolour. The group were also proud to host work from internationally-renowned artist Richard Long RA. This work was exhibited during April 2006 at the CREATE Centre in Bristol.

The Stove Pipe Hat Competition formed the second strand of the project. The brief was to find an alternative use for Brunel’s hat, with a £250 prize kindly provided by the Hotwells Pantomime group. Hotwells School and Teyfant Primary School took a joint role in the competition producing some super results.

Entries were imaginative and diverse; Bristol Blue Glass produced an ice-bucket hat made of glass, a chocolate hat was submitted, Clifton Village Pottery showed a hat moneybox. Others drew inspiration from the screw that drives the propellor of the ss Great Britain.

The winner, chosen by Peter Lord of Aardman Animations, was the Stove Pie Hat (complete with pies) designed for Brunel to keep his Clark’s pies warm!

The organisers felt the most rewarding to be involved in, was one involving the children at Hengrove School, who had worked in conjunction with the Detached Youth Group based at Eagle House in Knowle West.

Students created intriguing images from stovepipe hat pinhole cameras, made from beer cans! The results from the workshop have since been displayed in the Arrivals Lounge at Bristol International Airport.

Hotwells Community Group - Hats off to Brunel!

Later in the year Hotwells Community Group hosted ‘An Audience with Sarah Guppy’ in the lecture theatre at CREATE. The show was a performance by Kim Hicks for Show of Strength Theatre Company, based on the life, love, work and inventions of Sarah Guppy, one of Brunel’s supporters, and mother of Thomas Guppy, a fellow engineer. Additionally, Sue Stops and Pauline Barnes presented an evening for the Magpies (the support group for the University of Bristol).

Although the group felt that they suffered from a lack of publicity in the local press, they had received over 600 visitors by the half-way point of their project, and continued to receive positive comments and feedback from visitors.

“I like the bird seed one.”
Bonnie, age 2

“I like the toilet one, it made me laugh."
Jazmine, age 10

“I have seen many exhibitions here in CREATE and I have to say this is one of the best! There is variety, quality and liveliness. Great, very impressive work!”

“The Winner! Fabulous exhibition, Bristol is such a beautiful city, enjoy it and be proud of it.”

“Interesting to see so many people’s very different view points and experiences of Bristol and the bridge, and what it means to them.”

Photography: Mark Simmons.