Guest blog – Aunties of Easton

24 May, 2024

by artist, Zoe Gibbons

It has been an honour and privilege to work on this women-focused, public art project on Stapleton Road. I received 120 nominations for women who live, work or worship in BS5. Reading every nomination was heart warming – there are so many stellar women creating positive change and action.

I approached a number of women about being featured in a set of portraits or hand focused images. My favourite part of the project was sitting with each of these women and talking about their lives and interests – they are all genuinely inspirational people. From these conversations I’ve made four images to be displayed on Stapleton Road. I have called them the ‘Aunties of Easton’ as each woman is deeply rooted in her community, which cuts across all ages and backgrounds. The positive efforts of all four women help empower others.

It has been very important that all women consented to their image being used. Understandably there were some amazing women nominated who did not want the spotlight shone on them, so the images I’ve created shows only a fraction of the women who contribute to the wonderfully diverse community that is BS5. A community that is richer for its diversity.

The artwork is made from salvaged billboard posters – which I collage and stitch into layered images. You can see videos of the process on my Instagram page @zoegibbons_art

All 120 nominations will be tufted into a textile map of the city, called ‘Women’s Threads of Bristol’, which will be displayed at the MShed in March 2024. This project is ongoing and covers the whole of Bristol. To nominate someone please go to zoegibbons.com and scroll down to the Women’s Mapping Project, where there is a quick form to fill in. To be eligible a woman simply needs to have made a positive difference. This could be wider, like starting a community group; or more personal, like caring for a neighbour or relative. All are equally relevant.

During the current atmosphere of uncertainty and conflict, I think it’s important to remember that positive local action can benefit us all, across our local communities. Focusing on this gives me hope for the future.

Below are details of the four ‘Aunties of Easton’ who will be featured on flags displayed along Stapleton Road.

Today I spotted a picture of a special lady, Aunty Banu on a banner attached to a street lamppost on Stapleton Road in Easton, Bristol. Aunty Banu is loved and respected by all of the community for her caring and kind personality.
Aunty is a popular figure among the old and young of our community. Aunty Banu was like a sister to my beloved late father. May Allah give Aunty Banu a long and healthy life. 

Ameen Summa Ameen

Bristol Justice

Lesley Wynn
She has recently retired, being the soul behind St Marks Community Café for 14 years, an amazing mother figure to weary families, homeless individuals and open hearted to all. She was very much at the heart of the church and mosque collaboration on St Marks Rd and remains a true inspiration to anyone who meets her.

I am passionate about people, and I want the best for them! 

When St Mark’s Baptist Church had a vision to open a cafe in Easton that would make a difference, my heart sang!  A place where everyone is welcome, served without judgement; offering good quality home-cooked, healthy food at very affordable prices and if you cannot pay you have a meal of your choice for free!  A unique cafe, served by volunteers from all walks of life who are encouraged to reach their full potential.

The cafe closed in the Summer of 2023. I would love to see this change, our cafe was inclusive and diverse and so much richer because of the team of volunteers. All brought their gifts and abilities!

Lesley

Shebanu Azad (known as Aunty Banu)
A true pillar of the community. She came to Bristol from Kenya in mid 70’s as an educated English-speaking South Asian woman. She opened a shop on Stapleton Road which she ran with her husband. She always had an open-door policy at home and at the shop where she has helped individuals and families in so many way ways. She speaks many languages and has always been equal and fair to all. The list of her commitments to the community is endless. But a few examples include this work continues at the age of 78. Supporting families and individuals with filling out forms, giving advice guidance/ counselling, offering her house as free temporary accommodation, giving career advice, and supporting in empowering women in many ways.

I have tried to help anybody that I can over the years. In the shop that I ran with my family, I had many customers that came from all backgrounds and cultures and I always took them as a member of the family and tried to help people. I ran the shop for over 20 years and loved serving the community. It’s a pleasure to be called Aunty Banu by people in my community. It’s a great honour.

Aunty Banu

Anndeloris Chacon 
Anndeloris is a registered Nurse and CEO of Bristol Black Carers. She is a lady of vision with a passion for helping others find their power. 
Anndeloris took on the role of leading Bristol Black Carers because she believed that this was a needed service for the community. She has been recognised as a champion for the community and has received many awards. The most prestigious award received was in October 2023, the British Empire Medal – BEM from His Majesty King Charles III.
Her work in the community cuts across different age groups and backgrounds. She works with communities to help them better understand how to maintain and improve their health and social wellbeing holistically. Her pitch is “Your Health is Your Wealth and Only You Can Spend It.”  
She is the author of a book of poems called “Listen” and she has given it this meaning ‘Look Inside Silently To Experience Nurture’. 
Above all, she is a pillar of the community and a warm, welcoming, wonderful woman.

I have lived in Easton for almost two years. Now, as CEO of Bristol Black Carers, I support Carers and their families in Easton, providing support, guidance, information, advice, and advocacy to the community to help our service users gain access to the relevant services to address their needs/issues which are priorities in their lives. Their smiles and thank yous, keep the joy flowing in me to continue providing these services.

Anndeloris

Sadaga (Azza Mustafa) 
Azza has tirelessly run Sadaga for over five years. Sadaga is a group of Arabic speaking women who meet regularly to connect with each other, the wider community and share their stories. 

Welcome to Sadaga, a thriving community organisation catering to Arabic-speaking women, located in the Easton Family Centre. Every Friday, we provide essential safe spaces for women to share experiences and learn, fostering a thriving network to encourage healing and growth.

Our services at the Sadaga Group are designed to combat social isolation, offering support to Bristol’s diverse BME and Arabic community. We encourage skill development and participation in community activities to help women feel a sense of belonging: supporting women and building a community.

Azza

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