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November 2022, Bristol

For the past two months we have been delivering The Community Table in temporary hotel accommodation for asylum seekers in Bristol, many of whom have been transferred from other hotels or barracks while their asylum applications are processed.

In the last three months, staff and residents have welcomed access to communal spaces for eating and other activities where the possibility for forming new connections, strengthening their networks and benefitting from word-of-mouth communications can take place with greater ease.

Across an afternoon in mid November we were welcomed by staff and residents, and we welcomed others in turn to join us around the table where focus and concentration were met with playfulness and experimentation. Small scale bridges linked spaces between people, featured on a video from a village in Afghanistan and exchanges between strangers enabled tasks to be completed and …enabled new skills to be learned and tasks to be completed.

Previously untouched in recent weeks, the overhead projector offered a route in to portraiture, scene building and exploring both light and perspective, while others remained absorbed in drawing at the opposite end of the table, one person moving between spaces to help with directing the photography and back to his drawing.

The hum of the projector sat underneath all of the activity until it was time to pack up, with a small group continuing to draw and build until we said goodbye.

Words by Sarah Robinson & Amy Wilson

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