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CoochieCrunch.com supports all Bristol Art. Here, Milly Chowles explains her big plans for Bristol’s street art and graffiti.
I adore my adopted hometown Bristol. The air is thick with bass music and ganja fumes and the people are fuelled by anarchy, cider and love. Even on the dullest of November days a walk through Bristol is inspiring. Creativity oozes from the crevices of every street corner. And then there’s the graffiti, the ever changing, mysterious, colourful wallpaper that we have in such abundance. So much so that we Bristolians can be guilty of taking it for granted.
The tourists who visit with street art guide books in hand, know how lucky we are, some times we forget. One day I noticed a piece of street art, a piece I’d seen many times before but this evening I really stopped and looked. Something I noticed provoked a question and so I went home and googled it. I’m nosey; it’s the kind of stalker-ish thing I do. Through my research I came across an incredible story that most people who walk past that graffiti would have no inkling of. There was my light bulb moment. What if I could find the stories behind pieces of graffiti and tell them on the street so people could look at the art and hear the story behind it at the same time?
I’d recently become a bit fascinated with QR codes. It was the potentially mysterious quality of those odd little barcodes that seemed to have popped up on everything from soup to CDs over night. So the idea to interview street artists about their paintings and have links to these interviews pasted up in the street in the form of QR codes was hatched. This idea mutated and developed and I produced some audio slide shows for three pieces of street art on Nelson Street that were painted as part of the See No Evil street art festival. I was pleased to see that no one had done anything like this with QR codes before. Even better the organisers of See No Evil liked the idea and asked me to produce more pieces for the next event coming up in August this year. They also asked me to develop an app.
Well that was all cool but I’d never made an app before. I’m certainly not a techy person. I sought advice from the incredibly knowledgeable people at Pervasive Media who directed me to the app wizards Calvium. I discovered that it’s actually not that difficult to make an app. The App I’ve developed is really quite simple and luckily my niece’s boyfriend is an incredibly talented graphic designer and he made it look all shiny and sexy after I designed the basic layout. So now I have an app that is almost ready for publishing, the crazy thing is I am not exaggerating when I say that three years ago my IT skills were virtually non-existent. I guess I’ve learnt to persevere through the frustrations because of my overriding desire to tell these stories, connect with people and the sheer bloody mindedness of not being beaten by lack of practical things like money or experience.
Through this process I’ve learnt that I’m more than a bit resourceful, totally obsessive and utterly stubborn. There have been many highs and lows. Money has been a huge sticking point, up till now it’s all been funded on a combination of credit cards and call centre work. I’m currently raising the publishing costs through an excellent crowd sourcing website called please fund us. Basically you pitch your idea to an online community of creative people who hopefully like your idea enough to chuck a few bob your way in order to make it happen. In the current climate of cuts to the arts I think we’ll be seeing more of this kind of approach because if we still want innovation and creativity to thrive how else can it happen?
Other than with community action and good old fashioned people power. I’ve been overwhelmed by people’s support and interest in my project; just at those points where I’ve thought it’s too hard, or I’m going to give up, someone or something has just nudged me to instead go the other way and instead of walking away, put a bit more energy and a bit more love into it. It’s come back to me ten fold. I’ve still got a little way to go on the fundraising tip but I’m confident that I’ll get there and just can’t wait to get it out there on to the streets of my beloved Bristol.
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Milly Chowles is the director of Hear Me Now Productions