Learning City: A Self-Portrait Exhibition

In September, we curated a public exhibition as part of the project. An interactive display brought together photographs, film, drawing, personal stories, craft objects and cultural artefacts to capture the ethnographic work of researchers at the University of Bristol, supported by community researchers. The focus was on how people learn outside of the structured education system, whether it’s through community centres, walking groups, protests or charities.

As part of the show, on 2 September, we organised a day of talks exploring how we learn in the city through everyday practices, public pedagogy and social and community engagement. The morning session was structured as a “behind the scenes” gallery talk on how the exhibition was put together, from research to making the artworks. The talk included Professor Keri Facer (research team), Gideon Thomas (community researcher and Cathy Wilson (poetry group) The afternoon session, hosted by Keri Facer, focused on the role of universities in the city, and invited experts presenting their unique perspectives on the learning city. Dr Cassie Earl from University of Bristol discussed critical approaches to public pedagogy and Professor Robin Hambleton (UWE) focused on inclusive cities. The final closing event on 7. September included Tommy Jarvis (Bristol Learning City) and Professor Judith Squires (University of Bristol), followed by a poetry evening celebrating the learning city. Many thanks to all contributors and visitors for their feedback.

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