BLUEPRINT: Housing & Wellbeing / Call Out

Bristol Photo Festival joins forces with Arnolfini to offer a commission opportunity for a Bristol  based artist or artist collective to work together on a short project that uses photography to explore ideas around  housing and wellbeing. The project should embrace the medium of photography, although this can be combined  with text, sound, video or performance. We are interested in experimental approaches, socially engaged  practitioners and those who have previously co-developed photographic projects with community groups or  explored health issues although this is not mandatory. Photography should be a critical part of the creative  process. The outcome will be exhibited at Arnolfini and feature online on the Bristol Photo Festival website.

Jo Spence Only when I got to fifty did I realise I was Cinderella 03. Collaboration with Rosy Martin

The Commission

This  commission is a collaboration between Arnolfini, the Bristol Photo Festival and Golden Key, a partnership between statutory services, commissioners, the voluntary sector and people with lived experience working together to improve services for Bristol citizens with the most complex needs. 

We invite applications from artists or collectives responding to the commission theme identified by the Festival:  

Blueprint: Housing & Wellbeing 

“We don’t always have the ability to recognise the importance of these affective messages as images or  symbols, but these creative imaginings and their resonances can free us from what the psychiatrist and  psychoanalyst Charles Rycroft called the ‘veils of our defence’ (1979). It is the recognition of the  dialogue or the links between the phantasies of the artist and the projections of the viewers or analysts within this dialogue that bring awareness as a form of working through or thinking together within a  collaboration.”  

Understandings of ‘home’ are complex and multi-dimensional. By nature the experience of what makes  a house a home to someone is highly subjective. In the subjective understanding of home, when viewed  as an existing residence, ‘home’ is found to be critical to personal and emotional support, given its place  as a haven offering comfort, warmth, relaxation, nourishment, retreat, sanctuary as well as peace and  quiet. ‘Home’ is deeply personal and highly emotional, and as such is critical to each individual’s  understanding of themselves and their quality of life. The home’s role can have a direct effect in the  residents’ self-fulfilment and self-development emphasised in respect of health, both physical and  mental. Security and safety is also important, as is the engagement with the natural environment.  Exploring people’s understanding of ‘home’ can lead to further explorations about a sense of wellbeing.  

This theme raises questions around the meanings given to the places we call ‘home’ and it’s relation to wellbeing.  We welcome a breadth of creative proposals that might explore where we live well, how ideas of what a home  represents changes over time and space, the negotiations of private and public space within the home, how we  represent self within the home through creative experiments, the gendering of domestic space, and the social  nature of housing. We are as interested in other living spaces that people create and occupy that are more  transient and temporary, and what ‘home’ means for the displaced as well as the settled.  

Timeline / Artist Fee

One commission will be made and t he successful artist or collective team will have a fee of £1500 to fund costs.  This fee includes any costs for the production of the work. Bristol Photo Festival and Arnolfini will cover the  printing production of the final display. The closing date is Monday 26 October 2020. The timeline for this  commission is:  

October 26, 2020 Applications submitted  

October-November 2020 Arnolfini and Bristol Photo Festival works with successful artist or  collective to develop the commission  

November 2020 – January 2021 – Research and production  

February 2021 Display of the work at Arnolfini and public talk  

How to Apply 

We are awarding one commission aimed at artists, photographers and art collectives based in Bristol with a track  record of producing high quality work. A strong commitment to working at a professional level. Ambition for their  work and practice.  

● The work must be made in a 3 month period between November and January 2020.  

● To Submit please FILL THIS FORM with the documentation  mentioned below:  

○ A copy of your most recent CV 

○ Examples of previous work & website links. This should be attached in a pdf file.  

○ A description of the work you propose to do and the community you are intended to work with if  any (maximum 1000 words), what it is your intended outcome as well as any initial ideas about  the display. Please also include how you are planning to spend the budget (no special  requirements on how to spend the budget).  


A short 3 minute video covering the above. Please upload your video onto youtube and include  the link in the application. 


The selection process for this commission will be delivered by a multidisciplinary jury panel composed by a series of professionals and artists: Keiko Higashi (Arnolfini Engagement Producer), Alejandro Acin (BPF Engagement & Education Director), Tracy Marshall (Bristol Photo Festival Director), Claire Hyman (Hyman Collection), Heather Agyepong (Artist) and two members from Golden Key. 

Evaluation Criteria: Artistic merit, strength of participation, connections to sense of place, creativity, feasibility.  


The following are Words of Wisdom that might help guide you when planning your project.  

● Be clear at the application stage about how much time the project will take, what your contribution  will be and what other resources you might need.  

● This is only a 3 months commission so make sure that you propose something realistic that can be  achieved in this time-frame.  

● Projects may be co-created and co-led. If you want someone to be involved but they can’t commit the  same amount of time as the rest of the team, why not include them as assistants instead?    

● Ideas should flow between the artists and the commissioners – avoid one-way flow of information and  ideas. The knowledge generated by the project should be mutually beneficial.  

● Be prepared to step outside of your comfort zone and experiment with methods and approaches, and  output formats you may not have worked with before.  

● Don’t underestimate the value of frequent, face-to-face meetings with the group you are working with.  Remember that there is value and learning from those discussions, as well as pursuing the project itself.    

● The projects are generative – while there might be the immediate outputs for the display at Arnolfini in  collaboration with Bristol PhotoFestival, many projects have taken months or even years for the research to  develop, secure further funding, crystallise approaches, and create further outputs.


A bit about the Arnolfini, Golden Key and Bristol Photo Festival  

Woven into the fabric of Bristol since 1961, Arnolfini is a pioneer of interdisciplinary contemporary arts,  presenting an ambitious, eclectic programme of visual art, performance, dance, film and music, carefully curated  to appeal to a broad audience. Housed in a prominent Grade II listed, accessible building on Bristol’s  harbourside, Arnolfini is an inspiring public space for contemporary arts and learning, greeting over half a million  visitors each year and offering an innovative, inclusive and engaging experience for all. An  internationally-renowned institution, throughout its history Arnolfini’s programme has welcomed artists from a  wide variety of cultures and backgrounds, supporting and developing their work, investigating their influences and  aspirations. Arnolfini is an independent organisation, proud to be a part of the University of the West of England,  Bristol , supported by Arts Council England and the Ashley Clinton Barker-Mills Trust , and run with the invaluable  guidance of its Board of Trustees.  

In Winter 2020, Arnolfini will present a major retrospective of Jo Spence, an exhibition drawn from The Hyman  Collection which will focus on the intersection between arts, health and wellbeing. The exhibition will celebrate  Spence’s work as a photo therapist, using photography as a medium for psychological health. 

Sitting alongside Spence’s work is A Picture of Health , a group exhibition of contemporary women  photographers from The Hyman Collection who have responded to subjects of health and wellbeing. Featuring  autobiographical perspectives to social commentaries on the wider society, A Picture of Health is a timely  exhibition as those throughout the world are united by the effects of the current global pandemic.  

The exhibition will draw together a model of community co-curation with health and wellbeing issues impacting  our audiences locally, nationally and internationally, to develop a new practice of inventive audience engagement  at Arnolfini and to lay the foundations for Arnolfini to become a Centre for Wellbeing, a recognised space which  will welcome and support our community to access art programmes which improve and maintain good mental  health and wellbeing.  

Golden Key is a partnership between statutory services, commissioners, the voluntary sector and people with lived experience across Bristol. We work together to improve services for Bristol cizens with the most complex needs. 

Our work focuses on those who have been idenfied as having complex needs. All our clients experience a challenging mix of homelessness, long term mental health problems, dependency on drugs/alcohol and offending behaviour. 

By working closely with these clients, we are able to see the system through their eyes and pinpoint areas where it is not working. We use this informaon to idenfy the changes services need to make for the beer, both strategically and operaonally. 

We are an eight-year project funded by the Naonal Loery Community Fund. Our work is connuously and independently evaluated. This is so lessons can be learned about how services can be improved for the most vulnerable – not just here in Bristol but across the whole of the UK. 

We are bringing about change at every level – from the way we structure services, to the way we run the city. 

Bristol Photo Festival is a new biennial festival with a year-round programme of commissions and  collaborations, culminating in a series of exhibitions by both local and international artists in spring 2021. For the  first time, all of the city’s major visual arts institutions, alongside independent and unconventional spaces, have  come together to create a programme to demonstrate the power and diversity of photography. Each edition of  the festival will be themed and display existing work by emerging and established artists, alongside newly  commissioned work engaging with multiple aspects of the city of Bristol. The theme of the inaugural festival is A  Sense of Place .