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Making room for new ideas in the arts and humanities

Image of one of the rooms with a The Rooms sign

Press release issued: 8 October 2015

Ten projects involving arts and humanities researchers at the University of Bristol will feature in The Rooms, a festival of new ideas which will take over the old Fire Station, Magistrates Courts and Police Station in Bristol City Centre for three days this November.

The Rooms will comprise a series of interactive installations, playing host to 53 inventions designed to change and brighten the world: from a playground filled with battling robots and fabulous beasts, to an interactive light garden, haunted study and enchanted library. Alongside the installations, there will be a programme of free talks, workshops, film screenings and house parties.

The Rooms is masterminded by REACT, the creative economy hub for the South West & Wales.  Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, REACT has invested in collaboration, cultural experimentation and creative innovation between university researchers and creative businesses, supporting them to make new kinds of digital product and experience, and building up a portfolio of 53 projects.

The University of Bristol projects are:

  • Curpanion, an internet-connected, personalised curatorial device that brings life to museum taxidermy
  • In the Shadow of Things, an interactive archive documenting one woman's experience of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • In Touch, an exploration into the subtleties and qualities of haptic interaction in internet-connected objects.
  • Intimate Objects, a digital co-creation service and platform enabling adults to re-imagine, design and create intimate objects
  • Mayfly, a sound journal for storing precious memories of travel, with an accompanying iPhone app
  • Memory of Theatre, a living audience archive of the Bristol Old Vic
  • Quipu, sharing the voices of people affected by Peru’s unconsented sterilization policy
  • Reflector, an object to explore the profound stories of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • Tac.To, a museum display case for the twenty-first century
  • Trove, using objects to support children’s identity through times of change and uncertainty.

The Rooms Creative Producer, Katherine Jewkes said: “REACT are thrilled to be able to open the doors to The Rooms and share with the public some of the amazing talent from the South West region and beyond.  Across the festival we will be showcasing 53 products and experiences that aim to change the way we imagine our world, alongside the brilliant makers and thinkers who brought these ideas to life.

“We’re making The Rooms across a collection of buildings that used to be the old Bridewell Police Station, Fire Station, CID buildings and Magistrates Courts at the heart of Bristol’s city centre.  This is the first time that the whole site is being used together for one event, and we’re very excited to be working with a design team whose collective previous experience spans Shangri-la, National Theatre Wales and the Cultural Olympiad to create The Rooms installations which the REACT projects will live within, and help audiences to see this amazing site in a completely new way.

“We are grateful to the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Arts Council England for supporting The Rooms, along with our REACT Partners: Watershed, UWE Bristol and the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff & Exeter.”

For the full programme and to book tickets go to

Further information


REACT is one of four Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to develop strategic partnerships with creative businesses and cultural organisations, to strengthen and diversify their collaborative research activities and increase the number of arts and humanities researchers actively engaged in research-based knowledge exchange.

REACT is a collaboration between UWE Bristol (the University of the West of England), Watershed and the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.  It is a unique collaboration supporting innovative products and transformational services by bringing together companies and academics across South West and Wales.

It reaches across two dynamic UK regions, and uniquely across three cultural areas and two languages and creative economies. Together we aim to generate a transformation in arts-driven economic and social impact, by combining demand from the Creative Economy with Arts and Humanities research excellence.

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