What will Hengrove look like in 500 years’ time? And what will life be like? Artist Matt Stokes was invited to develop a proposal for a highly visible, extraordinary and temporary spectacle for Hengrove.
The Venturers: Epilogue takes the form of a fantastical film with an accompanying musical soundtrack, sited on Hengrove Park. Through extensive conversations with local residents and independent research, Stokes became interested in Hengrove’s brief fling with aviation which culminated in the opening of Whitchurch Airport in 1930. At the time of its construction, civil aviation was hailed as the future and enthusiasts wholeheartedly believed that flying would rapidly spread into the wider populace, beyond the privileged few. Stokes also looked in to the history of the former Hengrove School, which had an extremely active music department in the 1960s and 70s and was renowned for producing ambitious musical ‘blockbusters’, involving the creation of original compositions and large-scale orchestration. One of these musicals, The Venturers based on Bristol’s past and then present,was performed and recorded in 1973 at Colston Hall, Bristol.
Taking this concert and all of his research as a departure point, Stokes’ proposed film navigates Hengrove’s past in order to look forward and imagine a portrait of the community as it is now, and as it might be in times yet to come. Working in collaboration with local students, musicians, youth groups and organisations, a pool of written, drawn and recorded responses would have provided a rich source from which to begin visualising film sets, costumes and props; brought to life by a cast of local residents.
At the Neighbourhood Partnership meeting in June 2013, Hengrove councillors felt unable to support Matt Stokes’ proposed project and voted against taking it forward.