Category: Uncategorized

New trees and new ideas for 2019

new trees

Former fountain with spring growth along original tile pattern

The council have planted a few more trees and HCCA have agreed plans and budget for more planters and benches. To help us with more designs and ideas for helping the space to thrive we’re setting up a Friends of the Hotwells Piazza group so that we can bring together locals, artists, skaters, gardeners, historians, environmentalists, women who love parkour and anyone else who fancies a natter and some tea and cake.

women love parkour

Last year we added sedum beds, a fern garden and a couple of rockeries by taking up the old Sun Ray tiles designed by Sylvia Crowe and we’ll continue to plant into the cracks to create more green areas on the site. For more details visit HCCA community projects

planting ferns

Sadly some places are bare and boring and close to the roads, so for these we’re adding new planters. We’ve been designing some that can be moved around and we’re also designing some ‘sociable seating’ with hexagonal planters in sunny spaces looking out to the lock gates and the river.

site for new planters

We have plans for the former children’s play area too. The concrete blocks will move so they work better for children, trial bikers and the kinds of kids who like to experiment with their scooter.

tagged with rabbits

As well as re-painting the floor games and marking route ways and play lines we’re hoping to commission more street art before the rabbits take over!

rosemary flowering

West Bristol Arts Trail 2018- Silver Bells and Cockle Shells

West Bristol Arts Trail is a lovely community event, attracting thousands of visitors to Hotwells& Cliftonwood over the weekend. The weather is usually kind to all those traipsing the streets (and lanes) of our community and the artwork rarely disappoints! 

collaborative painting design

Designed by Luke Palmer and painted by him, Kwase and Anna

At the Cumberland Piazza we have nothing to sell, only an invitation to wander round and look at our eclectic mix of street art, mural paintings and planted areas. This community led regeneration project was instigated by the late, great Ray Smith of Hotwells and Cliftonwood Community Association who invited Anna Haydock-Wilson to get involved in 2010 to see if arts could play a role in changing the site from a grey, empty, underused and vandalised space into a vibrant community space. It is a work in progress, but thanks to all the members of the community, artists, architects and landscapers we’ve had working with us, things have changed dramatically over the past few years.

This weekend you’ll be able to see the work of

  • The local community, who painted the pillars in tonal colours and help with community gardening days
  • Dave Bain who designed and painted the ‘hidden forest’ 
  • Amy Hutchings who created the Herons and the Hotwells Primary Mural and Women of Hotwells and Cliftonwood
  • Hotwells Primary and other local children who’s art work Amy beautifully transcribed
  • HCCA and Art within the Cracks who commissioned and collaborated with Amy 
  • Luke and Paris who have provided the piazza which some epic street art and patiently repainted over several bouts of tagging in increasingly inventive ways
  • Luke Carnaby and Thomas Sale who created a Pocket Park with play sculptures in collaboration with Anna and HCCA 

Anna will be around on Saturday and Sunday 3-5pm to talk about the project and help you make some ‘art’. Did you bring too many beach stones or shells back from holiday this summer?

shellsIf they’re not decorating your garden please bring them along and place them in our railings rockery. We can’t literally have silver bells to go with our cockle shells, but we will be experimenting on sunday, tying old keys to the railings to see what sounds they make.

If you have any ideas for more Art under the flyover, please come down at the weekend or email

Water and Wheelie Bin Bob, artwork by Hotwells children & celebrating Hotwells women

What an arid month it’s been! Our rain butt on the Piazza ran dry a couple of weeks ago and the lovely team at the Rose of Denmark, who came to our rescue in some dry weeks last year, were not able to help since the pub sadly closed last month. You may have spotted Wheelie Bin Bob transporting water to the Piazza for desperate plants, many thanks to him and others who may have overloaded bicycles with containers.


Our aspirations for creating green space that responds to changes in our climate lost out to the responsibility we felt to existing trees and flora, particularly the catalpa and dog wood shrubs we planted in memory of Ray last year, and we have hired a standpipe for the next four weeks from Bristol Water. It’s bound to rain now!


Amy Hutchings, who painted the lovely Herons and the Charles Place Playpark mural has been working with Hotwells Primary after school club (ELASC). The children have produced some beautiful drawings that Amy has copied onto the wall and invited them to come and progress the mural with stamps of flowers, grass, waves and worms. The mural is funded by Hotwells & Cliftonwood Community Association as part of Ray Smith’s legacy.




To extend the mural along the whole wall, Amy and Anna have selected Dinah Black, a freed slave, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelly, Ellen Craft, Eliza Walker Dunbar, Angela Carter and Sylvia Crowe to highlight what amazing women who’ve lived, passed through or improved the lives of people in Hotwells & Cliftonwood over the centuries. The idea was inspired by Jane Duffus’s Women Who Built Bristol and Bristol Women’s Voice, who published and are selling the book. Anna has also contributed some funding from Art within the Cracks of Women’s Lives. Amy will finish the mural over the next week or so- heat hasn’t helped progress. Let’s hope the taggers leave this one alone.

image1 (1)

The murals will be complete over the next week or so- heat hasn’t helped progress. Let’s hope the taggers leave this one alone.

Massive thanks are due to Carmel and Barbara who have been litter picking all around the area for the past month or so. They’ll be sharing news with us soon.

If you’d like to join in with projects at the Cumberland Piazza or in Hotwells and Cliftonwood generally, or receive monthly local new bulletins, please email


Winter 2018

The Piazza has seen some vandalism this winter with an increase in tagging and areas around trees with mosses, seedums and succulents, wild flower seeds and spring bulbs cleared and the debris dumped around the tree trunks.



In the short term we have painted over the tagging, artists have re-painted their work, we are applying anti-graffiti coating and we have cleared around the tree trunks to preserve the trees. We are waiting to hear from Bristol Waste about a proper clean of hard surfaces on the site that are gritty and slippy.

During 2018 we will be working with artists to design and paint artworks with young people cover all the tagged surfaces on the site and we will coat these to prevent future tagging. We’ve thought about a ‘tagging wall’ which might work for local teenagers, but we believe the taggers are probably in their twenties and not local.

This year we will also be producing some landscape plans and we’ll continue to ‘green’ the site. We’ll have a spring community gardening day- details to be confirmed.

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Autumn Activity

September was very colourful at the Cumberland Piazza with a wide array of plants and people gracing the scene.

heron painting

Amy Hutchings painted some beautiful bird life with her three herons mural

piazza with portway

The Peaceful Portway event brought thousands of people through the site and some of them stopped to dance and learn from LiveGraft how to plant moss on concrete as part of our site greening programme.

moss 2.jpg

And we have added three interpretation panels telling the stories of the site from the beginning of the 20th century

interpretation panel

The West Bristol Art Trail is coming up on 14th & 15th of October and we’d love you to come down and see what we’ve done so far and help us plan for the future. On Saturday 14th from 12-4pm you can talk to some of the artists, write or draw your ideas for new enhancements and add to the colourful array by planting a seed or two of your own.

All materials will be provided and everything is free of charge. Please contact to find out more.

Peaceful Portway 2017 17th September 2-6pm

We’re delighted to announce that the Peaceful Portway event for September 17th this year is shaping up to be a wonderful occasion!

Art under the Flyover and HCCA are hosting a fantastic workshop free for all at the Cumberland Piazza we have Alex Patience from Live Graft on how to encourage plants to grow on tarmac and concrete and some live graffiti to enjoy.


New this year is the Brigstowe Village Band, who will entertain with singing and dancing at the Cumberland Piazza in Hotwells and invite you all to join in.

The Gurt Lush and Bristol MAN Chorus choirs are returning to sing and the Avanti String Quartet will once again fill the ‘Gallery’ under the Clifton Suspension Bridge with beautiful sounds.

The Rotary Club of Bristol are back and busy organising community activities and sharing the projects they support at the Sea Mills end of the road.

Weather permitting hot air balloons will rise out of the galley, some tethered for organised rides and others taking off on their journeys on the wind- a spectacular sight awaits us!

Bristol Festival of Cycling will be bringing their Carnivelo to join us too with demonstrations and workshops from BMX guru, Matti Hemmings, Cargo Bike games, ‘Spicycle’ providing vegan food, Bike Zebo with a stall and bike parking, and Lyons Davidson will have a  stand with information and giveaways.

Adult peregrine falcon (Helen Hall Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project)

We also welcome a friendship walk with the City of Sanctuary, a fantastic nature and history trail created by the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project with performers and story-tellers revealing the secrets of the gorge and tales of boats, goats, peregrines and tides.

The Climbing Academy will be with us enjoying the rare opportunity to climb in this unique landscape free of the rumble and roar of traffic.

Groundwork, the Avon Wildlife Trust, the National Trust and Bristol Water are all back to share their projects and local schools will get the kids out for fun-runs and bike rides.

Avon Gorge early evening (Phil Jearey) (1)

Even with all of that and more going on there’s still miles of peaceful Avon Gorge and River to enjoy, so put the date in your diary, 17th September 2017 2-6pm! Visit the Peaceful Portway our events page for more details. We will be adding more, so check before the day.

The Portway is fully accessible and safe for all users 

To get involved contact

We rely on volunteers to make this free event happen, so we welcome all the support you can give. To donate quickly and easily please click below

This event is also perfect for photographers, artists and Instagrammers- come down and share your pictures!

Sustainable Growth- Street Art and seedums

At the Hotwells and Cliftonwood Community Association we’re really keen on sustainability, whether it applies to growing our community through events and activities or growing food and flowers- AKA Carbon Absorbers or Pollinators.

On the Piazza this spring we’ve had several community gardening days and we’d like to thank all our amazing volunteers who have cleared, weeded, planted, mulched, watered and shared ideas. We have been entered into Bristol in Boom 2017 and we will be visited by their area judge on the 19th July, giving us a little incentive to get our planters looking really good.


We’ve also been given a gift by a collective of super talented and world renowned street artists who have created a vision inspired by the local environment.

And more gifts of plants by Piazza friends, John and the Rownham Mead Waterfront Garden team have donated cannas- we still don’t know who planted the incredible poppies!

Water has been an issue this spring with a couple of spells of hot dry weather coinciding with vandalism of our rain water butts. We are keen to sustain the planting on the Piazza with rainwater and have been experimenting with what plants survive and thrive in very dry conditions- seedums, lavender and gladioli seem to like the really dry, hot weather. For us this important as we face the threat of climate change impacts and want to explore how we can adapt.

To find out more, get in touch or come along on for the Peaceful Portway event September 17th 2017 when we will have a community ‘mossing’ workshop by Live Graft, arts activities for children and music, including the Brigstowe Village Band and Gurt Lush Choir

If you’d like to get involved join our piazza mailing list


Keeping the Piazza Green & Tidy

As the council cuts diminish non-essential services,  Bristol communities are considering initiatives such as the Clean Streets Campaign. The Hotwells and Cliftonwood Community Association have been thinking that there are elements of cleaning that locals probably already do, like clearing leaves in Autumn, snow in winter and making sure our streets are tidy, but other things we can’t do, such as large waste removal, power cleaning and non residential streets.


The Cumberland Piazza is an interesting example of where this kind of approach has been working since 2010, when locals started to make plans for the site. As the Community Association put on consultation events, we needed to risk assess the site, and so we needed to explore how it was managed and build a relationship with Bristol City Council. Here’s what we discovered:

  • BCC Highways is responsible for the management and maintenance of the site, as it no longer has ‘park’ status; their priority is 24hr access to the roads above
  • They commission BCC Parks to maintain the verges, shrubbery and cut the grass areas and tend to the older trees.
  • Waste Services were responsible for the removal of graffiti and ensuring the site was litter-free which they did on a fairly regular basis, but there was frequent vandalism and bins and benches were repeatedly stolen.

women toilet

Following several community events and surveys, HCCA established that the priorities for the community were to ‘green’ the Piazza and provide more facilities for young people, particularly for sheltered skateboarding. Community volunteers, worked behind the scenes to create plans and designs, develop communications with council departments, fundraise, seek permissions, assess safety and clean out the disused toilets to use as storage (yuk!). We thank the Neighbourhood Partnership for all their support.

Voices of the PillarsWe struggled to raise the funds to cover the whole site plan for creating a beautiful, green community space for all ages. HCCA so nearly achieved £120,000 in a Grow Wild bid in partnership with Bristol Zoo’s Wild Place and BCC Conservation Department- we came second! So we decided to change things incrementally, in a community-led, DIY fashion.

DSC_4721Physical developments began in 2014 with the planting of 8 Acer trees, with money raised by the community association through section 106 and private donations, followed in 2015 by our Bristol Wood Recycling Project Planters, the painting of the pillars and our small tarmac’d ‘skatespot’. In 2016 we built a pocket park, consisting of concrete play sculptures designed to form a MUGA and created many more planters.

piazzaAll this is great, but now the community are responsible for maintaining all the work we have done, without access to water and electricity. This is what we do with the help of our amazing volunteers:

  • We have installed a rain water harvesting system
  • We hold seasonal gardening days and have several community members weeding, planting and watering as needed throughout the year- our next one is Sunday 5th march 2-4pm. Put on some scruffy clothes and come on down!
  • We keep plenty of coloured paints to manage graffiti as soon as possible after it happens- we will soon be coating accessible areas with anti-graffiti paint.
  • We arranged for the council to give us some bins, some of which we keep locked up, and we make sure they are emptied regularly

We always welcome more help and ideas, so if you’re not on our Piazza mailing list and want to be kept informed about gardening days, have ideas for improvements, or are able to litter pick or weed please sign up by emailing us at

We put environmental sustainability and community-led practise at the heart of our work on the Cumberland Piazza and we know sometimes ‘green’ doesn’t always mean tidy, and it’s difficult to always keep things clean when we’re relying on volunteers and we’re certainly not suggesting that volunteers take over services the council ought to be providing.

The Piazza isn’t perfect, but it’s so much greener and more cheery than it was before the community got involved!


Hotwells Panto, the Catalpa and the Dogwood for Ray

It was just about warm enough on a mid-February sunday to plant a new Catalpa and Dogwood shrubs in memory of Ray Smith, who sadly died last spring.


Ray was a force for good in Hotwells and Cliftonwood, involved in running the Hope Centre in its heyday, facilitating (and performing in) the Hotwells Panto, campaigning about issues important to locals and producing the community magazine delivered to 2500 household three times a year from 2003 to 2014.

The Hotwells Panto paid their respects this weekend by providing a new Catalpa tree and Dogwood shrubs, selected by his daughters, to beautify and add to the carbon eaters in the former children’s play park on the piazza.


Over thirty people gathered to watch the tree go in and while Ray might not have appreciated the fuss, he would have been amused to know that although his colleagues at HCCA managed to gather such a crowd at a days notice, they had given no thought to ceremony or speeches. And we had managed to interrupt the Panto dress rehearsal schedule!

Thankfully, we had Gill Loats in all her costumed glory to step in and pronounce! We will have summer do, when the piazza is in full bloom- if you’d like to be kept informed sign up to our piazza list by emailing

flyover panoramic

If it wasn’t for Ray, the piazza would still look as grey as it did pictured above, in 2013. If you  would like to see Ray explain what the community desires for this space are, watch this video clip.

What’s next? Well we have some funding to experiment with more greening and planting. We hope to make a living wall outside the disused toilets with hanging (shopping) baskets, climbing plants and mosses; we will lift some of the cracked tiles and see what will grow nicely, we want more planters and more green in the former playground. With more green we can get more surfaces tarmac’d or astroturfed for children and young people to play.


Instant gardens by Lois 8 and Rosi 7

If you fancy joining, in we’ll be doing more planting and painting on Sunday 5th March 2017 2-4pm. Just put on some scruffy clothes and come on down!

Art Trail and Healthy City Week 2016

On 15th and 16th October we are participating in Bristol’s Healthy City Week and the West Bristol Arts Trail to profile re-use and greening of a neglected space and neglected objects.


We have been thinking a lot about art and climate change and how to adapt urban spaces into ‘climate ready’ community resources. After consulting with the Hotwells & Cliftonwood community in 2010 & 2011 we commissioned a ‘masterplan’ to ‘green’ large areas of the Cumberland Piazza. We used this plan to communicate with the council about what the community would like to achieve, but to dig up the tarmac proved prohibitively expensive, and we have been unable to raise the kind of money we need to do this.

dsc_4499So, we began to take an incremental approach. Local people generously donated funds to match some council Neighbourhood Partnership Well-Being funding for us to plant 8 new trees. Then, we commissioned the Bristol Wood Recycling Project to build us some scaffold planters, which was paid for by money from developers’ contributions. Luckily we have a big pool of volunteers via Hotwells & Cliftonwood Community Association who helped with assembling and planting.

dsc_3192Volunteers gathered again when it came to painting the the pillars, with Anna designing the colour scheme and organising tests, consultation and painting days. Dave Bain and his team responded amazingly to the spirit of the place and produced a ‘hidden forest’ of murals.


The impact of the painting helped us get a bit more funding from the DCLG Pocket Park scheme, HCCA & Bristol City Council’s Neighbourhood Partnership Wellbeing fund and we have built some sculptures of recycled concrete cast into re-used pallet boxes. Those pallets got turned into more planters and so did the paint pots.


But, there’s still a lot of tarmac left and more plants are needed to combat emissions in a busy in a road system of flyovers. It is becoming harder to access public funding so we’re constantly searching for imaginative solutions. We have developed a new ‘masterplan’ that embraces the DIY approach and puts re-use at the centre of our approach. Please come and have a look at this and all our interventions.


You can help us plant unusable hard hats and draw a ‘living wall’ on 15th & 16th October. We will also be running a ‘green gym’ which is another way of saying, please help us with some gardening and in turn you will get some exercise! Anna Haydock-Wilson, Luise Holder and Amy Hutchings are around at times over the weekend to show and sell prints and sculptures and talk about their work with re-use and regenerating spaces. If you have ideas for more art projects or about stealthily greening cities, come and share and let’s get some collaborations happening!

Details of times and activities:

  • 12-5pm Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th: talk to us about plans for the site
  • 12-5pm Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th: ‘Green Gym’ help us clear the weeds and prepare the planters for the winter months
  • 12-4pm Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th  a chance to meet Amy & Luise and buy beautiful prints and ‘ready mades’
  • 2-4pm Saturday 15th: Paint and draw plants on our future ‘living wall’
  • 2-4pm Sunday 16th: Plant some re-use objects, including hard hats- bring your own old bike helmets!


‘growing more plants might do more to improve our environment than making art about climate change‘