Jewels of St Paul’s. Podcast Episode
Lawrence Hoo and Charles Golding
Jewels of St Paul’s, 2022
Podcast available on Spotify and iTunes.
This podcast explores the process of producing a new mixed media public artwork set in the ground floor windows of the Moxy Hotel, Bristol, by artists Lawrence Hoo and Chaz Golding. Four jewelled shapes are cut into the windows, overlaid with a poem dedicated to St Paul’s and its people.
As the viewer peers in, a combination of lights and mirrors reflect their own face back through the artwork, situating them in both St Paul’s and the artwork itself. The gem symbol weaves through the piece, speaking to similarities in the ways both communities and precious jewels are forged through pressure over time.
Lawrence Hoo is a poet and educator based in Bristol.
Charles Golding, Lawrence Hoo and Rowan Bishop reading the Moxy Podcast Charles Golding is a designer who creates narrative driven immersive design. He is a dynamic art director, proficient in taking concepts from inception to completion, with a skill-set covering live action direction, 3D motion graphics, and sequencing. Lawrence and…
Lawrence Hoo and Charles Golding
Rowan Bishop 00:05
Lawrence Hoo is a Bristol based poet and educator. His work is known for throwing a powerful light onto the overlooked experiences of those living in Bristol’s under-supported communities. It also invokes the inspiring under-celebrated histories, which are the inheritance of local immigrant communities. In 2021, Lawrence was commissioned by Bricks to create an artwork to be permanently installed at the new Moxy hotel in St. Paul’s Bristol. To create the work he enlisted the help of his longtime collaborator and friend Chaz Golding, a designer and creative director. Lawrence has a deep connection to St Paul’s, and this new work for the Moxy hotel shines a light and lifts up the local community. As such, in this podcast, Lawrence wanted the voices of local residents to be heard as well as his own. So we took a walk through the streets of St. Paul’s with a microphone to capture what people love about the area. So embedded in the community is Lawrence that we could barely walk for more than one minute without someone stopping us for a chat or a quick hello. I could see that Lawrence felt as at home in the Georgian terraces as it was possible for anyone to feel anywhere. In this podcast, you’ll hear the voices we collected on that walk along with a conversation between Lawrence and Chaz that took place at Lawrence’s office in September 2021. At the end of the episode, you’ll hear a poem written and performed by Malizah, a Bristol based poet and writer Lawrence commissioned to write the piece specifically for this podcast. Malizah read the poem for us on a beautiful sunny day in Portland Square, St. Paul’s.
Lawrence Hoo 01:37
Let me ask you a few questions please: why do you love St Paul’s?
Community member 1 01:41
This is where I was born and grew. Born and grew.
Lawrence Hoo 01:46
Sum up St. Paul’s in one word for you, what would that be?
Community member 1 01:49
Is there one word to sum it up?
Lawrence Hoo 01:55
My name is Lawrence Hoo, I’m a Bristol poet, co-founder of CARGO, storyteller, mischief maker, and that’s me.
Chaz Golding 02:06
Storyteller, mischief maker. I like that. Might put that in my CV. My name is Chaz Golding. I’m creative director of CARGO. And I am a creative working in quite a wide range of media, from film through to digital interactive, as well as physical installation, sculpture, architecture, and work on a lot of live events, creating content as well as fabrication of environments.
Lawrence Hoo 02:43
So what do you love about living in St Paul’s?
Community member 2 02:46
The community. Basically, I love it around here, because everybody looks out for everybody. Nobody don’t see you for a couple of days, they’ll come and knock at your door and say are you alright? And everybody walks past and say Hi, good morning, good evening. And I’ve lived here more or less all my life and I’m not moving!
Lawrence Hoo 03:09
You wouldn’t want to move, would you.
Community member 2 03:10
No, not going anywhere.
Lawrence Hoo 03:12
That’s right. So if you had to sum it up in one word, what would be your one word?
Community member 2 03:18
Lawrence Hoo 03:19
Very good. The funny thing is the project had gone out for an open submission, I think for a few weeks, and I had a look at it. And I’m not going to lie. When I actually read the brief. I thought it was written for us. And that’s, that was the beginning. The main idea was a conversation around what we’re going to do around what they were looking for, for democracy. And how could we represent St. Paul’s and all the change in communities and everything that’s contributed to St. Paul’s over, over like quite a long timeline. And it was coming up with the idea of, of the idea of a jewel. And the fact of our jewel, our diamond, it’s actually created over a long period of time, created over layers and actually for the pressure of these layers over time creates something that’s really beautiful.
Chaz Golding 04:02
Yeah, I think that was the real start for me, because I was thinking… you came to me with the brief and then I went away and I had a think about it. And then we both came back, and I came back with some different ideas, and you came back and told me about the jewel idea which I really loved. And I thought that kind of took us into a different direction really. Because I was thinking about borders and lines of community and separation and all of those kinds of things and then you came in with a jewel and a jewel was such a great idea because it was such an uplifting metaphor for a community that has not often been looked at in such a good light. Where it was, where the hotel was, was fantastic, kind of a shopfront for the community wasn’t it. You see that it’s the corner of the window, you know, it says that’s the first thing you see when you come into Bristol.
Lawrence Hoo 04:48
So yeah, then you went off with that to put some imagery together. That’s like creating the images to go with that. I wrote a little piece first of all, wasn’t it – a small piece of the poem and gave you that.
Chaz Golding 05:04
I thought it was important to get to be authentically reflecting the culture. And by asking the residents what they felt about it, because I felt that the opportunity was to have an authentic voice.
Lawrence Hoo 05:20
What do you love about St. Paul’s?
Community member 3 05:21
It’s a very natural area, right? Community has expired, has gone to the peak. How do we get over the peak? It is not what you see every day, it is how they communicate in the community. And it’s atrocious at the present. There is no sense of meanings.
Lawrence Hoo 05:46
If you had to sum up St Paul’s in one word, one word only?
Community member 3 05:50
Love, love. That’s all I got a deal with, is love.
Chaz Golding 05:56
It was quite unique for Moxy to, you know, or Bricks to have this approach of getting local artists to contribute to pieces of work within the foyer because often it’s a bit more of a kind of a chain conglomerate kind of approach, where we’ve got our stock artists, they come up with some generic artwork, there’s nothing site specific. This is the first time they did this. So it was, that was for me, it was quite an interesting opportunity. And I thought let’s keep the integrity of that initial offering by going to the community and asking them directly what they want to see and what they really feel about the community. One of the ideas was about collecting objects, found objects within the community and creating a display around those objects. That was not one of the chosen ideas, the idea was more photographically led and and I think that then was an opportunity for us to then go out and find some of that imagery, but then also ask the community for that imagery. So they can bring us some of their old archival photography. And then we can combine that with some more immediate fresh new stuff, and then collect a kind of a collage of imagery.
Lawrence Hoo 07:01
Like, right, we got to involve all the community and people and make this be connected. So yes, we started building up on that, we submitted one outline with a few options. And it’s come down to what we’re actually trading now, which is using imagery for the different layers, layered jewels, which are going to the… originally it was four windows, then we find that that actually one window was like two windows in one.
Chaz Golding 07:25
There’s four individual constructions, four individual kind of modular diamond shapes that are going to be made out of multiple pieces, shards of Perspex, which will then be printed on to so there’ll be this kind of three dimensional photographic sculptures that will sit there and light will kind of allow the images to kind of transition and feel as if they are changing over time. So I think it was a big part of the design was to think about this, because this is a solid state installation, it’s like you want it to have a returnable value. So each time you go there, you’re kind of getting a different experience each time of day you see it, it’ll be a slightly different look. Because the daylight will affect it in a different way, then the lighting we use within it as well, and that lighting will be constantly shifting and changing. So you get a sense that every time you go back to see this thing, you might see something different. And I think there’ll be an element of movement in there as well. So they’ll light refraction, colour change. And the fact that you see these kind of translucent shards of perspex overlaid on each other with different images that will allow you to see kind of different interpretations of hopefully a representation of St. Paul’s, like no one else has ever seen before. And a positive representation. And I think that’s, that was a big thing for us.
Lawrence Hoo 08:45
Yeah, it was a great opportunity to celebrate. So much of what St. Paul’s is about, and has been about. And some of that comes from having an understanding of what the community is and has been. And that’s why I thought it was important for us to get this gig.
Chaz Golding 09:01
But that idea of the diamond that you came up with the idea of the minerals being forged over time. So it’s a great metaphor, and it’s just emblematic of the strength of the community and a strength in unity as well because it’s all about the layers and it’s all about the the compacting of culture over time and I thought it was a great thing as soon as you know, Lawrence came with that. I was like, Yeah, right. Okay, now we know what we’re doing.
Lawrence Hoo 09:23
I want to ask you two questions if you’re up for it. Okay, one question is, what do you love about St Paul’s?
Community member 4 09:30
I lived here all my life and I love it.
Lawrence Hoo 09:34
So if you had to sum it up in one word, what would it be for you?
Community member 4 09:39
Lawrence Hoo 09:39
There you go. Yeah, that’s beautiful. Thank you.
Chaz Golding 09:42
Yeah, I mean, we met for the first time in a road away from where I live now in London. Lawrence knew a guy called Die who was saying I should meet Lawrence for a long time and I you know, I was a filmmaker making bits and pieces, little short documentary pieces and Die was like you got to meet my mate Lawrence, you got to meet Lawrence. And then I was shooting a video with Die, doing a music video ahead of Carnival in Notting Hill and, and we were roaming the streets looking for locations. And then who drove up in his big ass estate car? Audi estate right?
Lawrence Hoo 10:17
Audi estate, yeah.
Chaz Golding 10:19
Rode up and then that was it and then we just kind of met each other and then started to do work together.
Lawrence Hoo 10:25
And Chaz had actually bought my book. So Chaz was the first person I ever knew ever bought my book. I was amazed that someone actually bought the book, first of all, and we just got chatting and seeing what you did. And we just forged a relationship from then.
Chaz Golding 10:39
Lawrence is always busy working, doing his own stuff. He’s always an independent kind of, you know, just went out and did it, bought his own camera, bought his own equipment before anybody was doing stuff like that. And it was like, “I make stuff”!
Lawrence Hoo 10:52
And I was out there, like to try and do my best to make stuff. When Chaz was out there making stuff well, I mean through his job, through what he did? And I think what intrigued me first of all, when I met Chaz, we kind of come from different ends of the spectrum. And Chaz in certain spaces was just so calm and carefree, where I would be all guarded, and “this is going on, that’s going on”. And so Chaz allowed me to learn quite a lot about some known issues I’d had from growing up in the environment, I’d grown up into. Seeing that you’re a lot freer to travel through the world in spaces so, it’s kind of, he was like a strange kind of a mentor. And a friendship just grew.
Question one: what do you love about St Paul’s?
Community member 5 11:46
My people! That’s what I love about St Paul’s. And it’s the most free space I’ve been in the UK.
Lawrence Hoo 11:57
So if you had to sum up St Paul’s in one word, what would be your one word to sum up?
Community member 5 12:03
Chaz Golding 12:06
I will always remember the plaque on the Colston Hall we put up.
Lawrence Hoo 12:11
So yeah, that was an interesting story. Colston Hall is now called the Bristol Beacon. The new extension was built in 2009. They did it in a very nice gold. That as a trigger colour to see it in gold, it kind of felt to be personally a bit like somebody was taking the mick. Like, here’s a new part of the Colston Hall in the old shell. I just felt like oh, look at that lovely golden building. And that’s a bit like the contribution the African people made to Bristol. And they’re not being recognised and nobody wants to recognise what they’ve done, and there’s no monument of beauty to them. So after getting away from the pain, it was like, Oh, that’s a nice building. Maybe we make that the monument, maybe make this the monument to the Africans’ contributions to Bristol. And that’s what we chose to do wasn’t it. So I added to a poem that I’d already written and just included Bristol to it. We went and got a lot of posters printed, flyers printed, with it on there some information around Colston, Edward Colston on there, created an organisation called Race: Recognising Africa’s Contribution to Europe. We went and got a brass plaque, went and saw Massive Attack, they contributed to pay for the plaque and for the print and everything back then. We went and stuck it to the outside of the Colston Hall, the plaque. And I think the plaque was something like, ‘This is recognising the contribution of the African people to Bristol blah, blah, blah, blah’. We stuck that on the corner to Colston Hall. Luke Jerram sorry, Luke, but he had a whole installation of pianos all through the city to celebrate it. So we stuck posters with the poem and information to every single piano around the city as well as filling up the flyer things in the Colston Hall. They actually got picked up, that people thought it was real, so ended up being in the venue, because I remember Grant coming back to us after saying actually it was in the venue, ended up on the letters page. Lots of people were upset believing that like, the city had actually, they do Colston Hall building as a monument to the African people’s contribution to the city. I never caught that at a time, because that was really funny. And that was the thing about having fun with what we’re doing at the same time of dealing with really serious issues. And there’s always been a bit of that between our relationship is the mischief to create and change. I think that’s always been the main thing is, like no permission is required. We can. What do they say, someone said it’s easier to ask someone for forgiveness than to ask their permission. I quite like that. What do you love about St. Paul’s?
Community member 6 14:45
What I love about St. Paul’s is the cultures clashing, the food, the community coming together, and the history of St Paul’s.
Lawrence Hoo 14:58
So if you had to sum it up in one word, what would you use as one word to describe St. Paul’s to sum up for you?
Chaz Golding 15:06
Yeah, it’s funny, because at the beginning of the project, I didn’t, you know, I didn’t understand clearly enough the actual structure space where the installation would go. And I was always told there were windows. So I just always assumed that this would be a window into the building. So I thought there was an opportunity to play with people looking in, and how they look in at the community as well as how people look outwardly from within the community. So I thought that that’s, that’s also a bit of a nugget for where the idea came from, because it was an idea about reflection, and how you see things from different perspectives, you know, so I think the big part of what we’re creating is something that can be seen from multiple perspectives. And you can get something different from it from the different angles, which you see it. So that part of the concept still retained. And I think that’s really important, because like with the original idea of it being a layered jewel, or a mineral that’s made over time, there’s lots of facets to that. So I think what would be great for people to take away from it is that every time you look at it, you see something different. And also, you can see different things from moving your position from where you’re stood and where you’re looking at it. So I think that’s, that’s really, that’s really important. I mean, at the front, there will be a diamond shaped cut into the window, so you’re initially asked to look within the window to see inside. So you’ll want to kind of push yourself forward to look in and look through, look through a kind of another eyepiece if you like, and the eyepiece will be the diamond. But as you look in you’ll be able to then see fragments of imagery that will be reflected on different sides of this kind of three dimensional sculpture. So you instantly have to kind of move yourself to look around it to look inside it and and then I think that’s really important because, you know, when you’re looking at a community or you’ve got a perceived understanding of a community, it’s so nuanced, it’s so layered that you’re never going… there’s never one side to any story, there’s multiple sides to every interpretation. So I think it’s really important that that’s one of the take homes, is that these things are complicated and there’s many different types of lives and different types of cultures because it’s not just Afro Caribbean, there’s Somali, there’s Indian, there’s South Asian neighbours, there’s a multitude of people that make up the community of St Paul’s.
Community member 6 15:06
Okay, so this is Malizah, “Gifts make room,Clear Space.” I’m a poet, creative, based in Bristol, born in Bristol, created in Bristol.
Home is where my people are, my food, my music, my colours, my tunes. Home is Pauls, Easton and Fishponds and many other roads. All these that you’ve heard me speak of hold steps from the feet of my family tree that worked, danced and shook hands here. Before the thought of me. Home is in the gold tooth sitting in the corner of Uncle’s mouth. Home is in the hair shop and the smell of food coming from Sister Auntie’s house. Home is on the block Gill Avenue in the youth groups to the road. Outside the corner shop where eldest sat and we will briefly speak. Home isn’t just the judgement, the fear, the news, the stories you’ve been told. Home is wherever my people are. Home is in our soul. Home is what was seen as nothing. But we always made it something. Home is not just a destination, it’s oneness after the separation. Home is wherever my people are. My food, my music, my colours, my tunes. Home is Pauls, Easton and Fishponds, and many other roads.
Lawrence Hoo 18:53
So Malizah, what do you love about St Paul’s?
I think just family and the feeling of community. And just the memories I had, nice little coming here with my parents. And just, yeah, that’s what I love about it.
Lawrence Hoo 19:10
So if you had sum St Paul’s up with just one word, what would that one word be?
I’d say eclectic.
Lawrence Hoo 19:21
St. Paul’s is one of the smallest communities in Bristol, but it’s got a huge reputation. And it’s known. It’s known quite around the world. But a lot of people, kind of, youth, have quite a negative perception of what the place is, basically. It is so vibrant. It has given so much to the city. And it is, it’s worth hunting down. And that’s why I ended up kind of in the piece, of it being a treasure trove. You know, there’s so much that it has contributed to, so much beauty that has come from there. And at the same time, there’s been a lot of pressure there too. I want your voice. I want to ask you two questions. Question one. What do you love about St Paul’s?
Community member 7 20:01
Well, St Paul’s is the best. You can’t beat St Paul’s no matter where you go. Wherever you go, you have to come back to St. Paul’s because it’s the original and it’s where I grew up from when I was a young boy. And I grew up here and I love it.
Lawrence Hoo 20:16
Yeah. And then so if you had to sum up St. Paul’s in one word.
Community member 7 20:22
To sum it up?
Lawrence Hoo 20:22
Yeah, for you, one word.
Community member 7 20:24
Rowan Bishop 20:30
Thanks for listening. We’re Bricks, a social enterprise with the mission to support creative communities in Bristol, helping them to thrive. We work with communities, developers and local artists to produce programmes that support both local voices and Bristol’s creative economy. In 2021, we delivered public art projects across a range of developments from hotels to new housing neighbourhoods, schools, and listed community buildings. If you’d like to get in touch, learn more about Bricks’ public art producing or find out more about the artwork discussed in this podcast, please visit bricksbristol.org and follow us for updates on all the usual social channels. To be the first to hear when we release new podcast episodes, be sure to subscribe to our feed. If you enjoy this episode, feel free to leave us a review. This episode explored one of the works produced for the public art programme at the new Moxy hotel in St. Paul’s Bristol. This podcast was produced by Rowan Bishop. The Moxy public art project was commissioned by Vastint with support from the Jehu group. Thanks to everyone on the creative Commissioning Group for their input.