Local OFOC members gave Banksy a run for his money, as activists roved the city centre to remind majority Remain-voting Bristolians that their diverse and colourful European city doesn’t need to be compromised by Brexit. Using a clean graffiti technique, we inscribed on the pavements of the Old City “Brexit Breaks Bristol or Bristol Breaks Brexit?”.
If passers-by looked initially baffled at the sight of an industrial power-washer in the narrow cobbled streets, our message engaged locals of all ages. Their answer? Resoundingly the latter.
Such sentiment is unsurprising. Bristol’s relationship with Europe is incredibly close, not only through its resident population of pan-European artists, but also in its success as a centre for innovation, with its universities fuelled by EU funding under Horizon 2020. The EU’s close involvement in Bristol’s technology sector was reflected in our own addition to Stoke’s Croft’s famous graffiti. Airbus has announced that it could be shutting down its Bristol plant, dependent on the details of the final deal. The plant employs thousands in the Bristol area, and is only one among many others, including Rolls-Royce, that have expressed concerns over Brexit.
Amongst the local OFOC activists was Suzie Beckley, a linguist at the University of Bristol and Alice Miller, a student in Liberal Arts at the University of Amsterdam. Suzie said: “My entire choice of degree was predicated on the ability to move and travel in the EU. Now, following Brexit, what could have been a reality for me career-wise now is becoming more and more of a fantasy.
The reception at Bristol was fantastic – watch this space for more stunts around the UK!