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The Community Table, Bristol, January 27, 2023

The Community Table has been running at a hotel in north Bristol for three months now, where rhythm and ritual enable a space within which play, memory and imagination can often emerge with ease. Each week we are welcomed by the familiar faces of staff and residents, and through the materials, we witness moments of daring, risk taking, home building - of past and future - and fantastical creations, as well as connection to other people using and moving through the space.

This week we were joined by two men who had previously connected with us at the edges of our space over several weeks through smiles and storytelling, today finding their place to build and map. Our ‘regulars’ also came to use the materials and engage in conversation making links through shared use of both Arabic and Farsi across cultures as well as English, which enabled a new resident to be welcomed and quietly build a small courtyard with a tiny bird and cat at the door.

Imagination and engineering met with confidence as we watched two buildings rise up from the table: one of Japanese and Persian influence, the other a British commissioned, Afghan built tower that people would come and marvel at. The tower’s development was watched by us all including family members on a video call who were introduced to us and the table.

Increasingly, we find ourselves joined at the table by family members who are video calling to catch up and share news, and these warm, every day, normal conversations add a poignancy to the layers of meaning in the individual creations and connections across the table.

Word by Sarah Robinson & Amy Wilson

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