Sculptor, Jo Lathwood has been commissioned to make a new public artwork for 13 – 17 Dean Street in St Pauls, Bristol.

Taking inspiration from Portland Square’s rich history, CIPHER is a response to the key moments that the local area has witnessed; from a boot and shoe factory, to a derelict bomb site, to an area of large scale immigration, to the birth of Ujima Radio and now to accommodation for students.

Fabricated out of bronze, coloured steel to complement the red bricks within the new architecture, CIPHER is a large panel of laser cut patterns inspired by the forms used in the boot and shoe industry. With the help of a key, the patterns reveal a coded message to the public.  Jo wanted the message to be inspired by St Paul’s current community and looks forward to the future of the building being a place associated with learning and education that references the site’s recent history.

photo courtesy of Paul Blakemore

Local Learning have been collaborating with Jo and working with St Barnabas and Cabot, as the two most local primary schools to the site, collecting memories about the area from members of the community. Jo ‘eavesdropped’ into the conversations to create her coded message.

Ujima Radio co-owner and presenter, Roger Griffith who has had a connection with the site since 1991, produced a podcast of the project, recording the process and the stories that the children collected as reference for people trying to identify the cipher in Jo’s art installation.