Michele Curtis - creator of Seven Saints of St Pauls, Bristol

Virtual street art tour of St Pauls to feature in second annual Adfree Cities conference

St Pauls in Bristol will be one of four locations around the UK playing ‘virtual’ host to the Adfree Cities national conference. The free half-day conference, next Saturday 7th November, is organised by members of local campaigning group Adblock Bristol.

Anyone can register to attend for free at http://adfreecities.org.uk/conference2020 

Michele Curtis of the Iconic Black Britons project, and the artist behind the famous ‘Seven Saints of St Pauls’ murals will be one of the guests, and will speak about her work. She says,

“I created the Seven Saints of St Paul’s project because to me, it’s very important that we use our public spaces to celebrate the people who have made social and political strides for our communities and cities. Creative placemaking projects allow marginalised communities to have a voice and be heard. They allow us to share our stories and control the narrative from a grass root perspective. It is a platform for ordinary people who have achieved extraordinary things in the face of adversity, that inspires us all.”

Three other Bristol-based speakers have been confirmed for the conference:

  • Carla Denyer, a Bristol councillor and author of Bristol’s pioneering Climate Emergency declaration, who will be talking about how to lobby your council to change its policy on advertising;
  • Rosa ter Kuile (known as RTiiiKA), an artist and Campaign Manager for Rising Arts Agency. She recently led the Bristol-wide #WhoseFuture campaign which reclaimed 370+ poster and billboard sites as a platform for 37 young artists to call for racial justice, access and inclusion, wellbeing and climate justice.
  • Josephine Gyasi, a member of Rising Arts Agency, creative producer, director, ‘artivist’ and performer. She recently published her video performance of ‘What Are Your Plans?’, described as ‘a powerful response to injustice’, as part of the #WhoseFuture campaign.

Other speakers include:

Adblock Bristol is part of the national Adfree Cities network and campaigns for happier, healthier cities free from corporate outdoor advertising.

Building on the success of Adblock Bristol, which has worked with local residents to successfully stop dozens of new billboards in Bristol since 2017, the Adfree Cities network formed in November 2019. They look to the examples of São Paulo in Brazil and Grenoble in France, both of which have removed corporate outdoor advertising.

Nicola Round, co-founder of Adblock Bristol, explains,

“We set up Adblock Bristol in 2017 because we wanted communities to have a say in what they see in the city’s streets and other public spaces. Billboard advertising across our city is there without our consent, advertising new cars, junk food, fast fashion – products that are doing us, and our planet, no good.  We support communities to make more space for what we really need – like nature, arts and community connection.

“I am really excited about this year’s conference. Last year we held the first national Adfree Cities conference in Bristol. The event welcomed 150 people from across the UK and beyond, inspired new Adblock groups to be set up in Birmingham, Leeds and Exeter, and led to the Adfree Cities network being established. Despite the current situation there is a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to learn, share and collaborate, so we’re taking the conference online this year. We look forward to welcoming new and old friends, to some inspiring and thought-provoking discussions about consumerism and public space, and to growing our movement together.”

The half-day conference runs from 11am until 4pm on Saturday 7th November, online. It will feature three 60-minute sessions on different topics:

  • 11am – 12 noon. Stop adverts fuelling the climate emergency: How to persuade your local council to introduce curbs on advertising for high carbon products. Part of the ‘Badvertising’ campaign with New Weather Institute and Possible
  • 1pm – 2pm: Street art tour: Travel the UK with us (virtually!) to see some inspiring examples of people taking public space back from advertisers. See community arts billboards and murals celebrating local heroes. Hear from the artists who made them.
  • 3pm – 4pm: Big Bank Bulls*** — Ads, Banks & Climate Colonialism: Activists are ‘subvertising’ bank adverts to create a ‘right of reply’ for frontline resistance movements, exposing the impacts of their policies. Join for stories of resistance from the frontline in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, and to hear about the latest UK-wide solidarity actions.

The conference is completely free to attend and open to everyone, but you must register in advance to receive joining details. Registration is on the Adfree Cities website, http://adfreecities.org.uk/conference2020

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