Avonmouth, Bristol (UK)

Photographs from the Bristol Port Company archive

Exploring the past, present and future of Avonmouth, Bristol’s industrial port community. 

The village of Avonmouth lies where the river Avon meets the Severn Estuary. It has thus served as a historic entrance to the city of Bristol, a place through which all ships passed on their way to the centre of the city. The port of Avonmouth grew rapidly in the early 20th century, a place where larger ships could unload, avoiding the sometimes treacherous journey up the river Avon to central Bristol. At its height, the port of Avonmouth supported approximately 5000 jobs, however the invention of container ships led to a rapid decline in the number of dockworkers required. 

Today, the port is a successful operation, receiving goods from across the world. However, few residents of Bristol travel to Avonmouth, seeing it solely as a site of industrial work. This belies the fact that Avonmouth is a place that many call home; an intergenerational and multicultural community that contains myriad stories that speak to the changing nature of place, labour and globalisation. 

 In collaboration with Avonmouth Community Centre and the Bristol Port Company, we are building a resident-led community archive, collecting materials that speak to the contemporary history of Avonmouth. We will also be organising a series of micro-commissions, supporting artists to work with local residents, telling the story of Avonmouth today. 

For the festival, we will organise a weekend of events, sharing the outcomes of our work in Avonmouth. Details will be announced Summer 2024. 

The title All That Flows Comes To Rest is inspired by the work of artist Allan Sekula, creator of The Dockers’ Museum, a vast collection of artefacts that form an image of the world from the perspective of maritime labourer; the one who is always standing on the threshold between land and sea.

This project is supported by: