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I Open the Door

Can small, personal, creative actions link to actual ‘place making’ where we live and bring about wider social change?

Funded by Bristol City Council, and based on Playing Out’s own creative beginnings, this participatory exhibition in cardboard, tipp-ex, permanent marker and printed photos was designed and created by artist Amy Rose with help from maker Hannah Haberman to explore just this.

We opened the door of the Playing Out shop for the 2013 South Bank Arts Trail and invited people of all ages to come in and re-envisage their streets. Using Google Earth on the shop computer, Amy helped people to zoom in on where they lived. We then printed off pictures and children and adults drew on them to transform their streets in any way they wanted to.

Drawings ranged from the practical (a repaired street bench) to the fantastical (an alien invasion) to the recreational (swimming pools) to the innovative and functional (a raised cycle lane, and bridges to let children cross roads to see their friends..).  Each one transformed familiar spaces in unique and imaginative ways and we added them to the display boards.

Further inspiration came from the rest of the exhibition, where Amy displayed writings and ‘before and after’ pictures from her own early imaginings about how her street could be different.

At home with two small children, she had observed and recorded the happenings on her road and her own responses. She also printed out pictures of her street and drew how she wanted it to be better: greener, slower traffic, more room for children to play. All of this led to talking with friends and neighbours who felt the same way and talking led to doing… Over time, through the actions of lots of people, the street became greener, traffic calming measures were put in place, and the Playing Out Project began.

Will any of the thoughts and wishes from this exhibition lead to more talk, or to change? Let us know if you were there, or if you have any thoughts on this idea. You might want to read Amy’s blogs on taking small steps to change your street: Easy and Effortless Things and  The Place I Call Home Spills onto the Street. And if you want to temporarily close your street and open it up for play, see Playing Out in 4 Simple Steps


This exhibition is available for other contexts. Please contact [email protected] for further information.