Meet the Artist: Jethro Brice

Written by Alice Marshment of Bristol Bakestress fame. Photography by Kelly Lear (www.kellylearphotography.co.uk).

I am barely seconds into Jethro Brice’s Easton home when I trip over a bike. It’s one of several occupying space in his dining room. “They belong to my housemate” he explains, “she’s a bike mechanic”.  This seems fitting, as bicycles feature prominently in Jethro’s work.  He has recently started a business as a bespoke bicycle art designer (http://jethrobrice.com/bicycle-tattoo-parlour http://bristolpound.org/directory/jethros-bicycle-tattoo-parlour), which of course accepts £B, and a bike is one of several key images on the 1£B which Jethro designed; the reason I am here to talk to him.

Over a cup of lemongrass tea Jethro tells me that he originally moved to the West Country to be part of an organic farming collective in Radford, but three years ago relocated to Bristol in order to concentrate on pursuing his love of art. He enthuses about the creativity prevalent in the area, which supports not one but two community choirs, as well as Bristol Refugee Rights (recently relocated to St Pauls) where he runs a regular art table space as part of the drop-in centre.

Jethro’s winning design.

Jethro’s winning design for the 1£B has an environmental theme, and his aim was to depict the environment as a series of dynamic relationships.  The elements he chose – a fox, an apple tree, and a magpie feature alongside the bicycle – stand out for him as symbols of Bristol both literally and metaphorically. Walk along many of the cycle paths that dot the city, for example, and you will see apple trees flourishing amongst the urban jungle. The ubiquity of foxes and magpies demonstrate the impact people have on the environment since these animals are the ones that are able to thrive in close proximity to their human neighbours. Even cycling is itself a way of defining the local environment in that it demarcates the distance that can easily be travelled.

A passionate supporter of the £B, having already come across similar schemes in Totnes and Stroud, Jethro is particularly keen on the way in which the £B keeps money in the local economy and encourages self-sufficiency. He regularly shops at local businesses that have embraced the scheme, including East Bristol Bakery and the Bristol Sweetmart and says he hopes more will soon join. The £B has already had positive outcomes for Jethro’s freelance work, for example when someone in Australia saw an article about Jethro’s design and asked if he could use his imagery as a tattoo. This led to a new commission from which others have followed.

In addition to the bicycle art, Jethro is the main creator behind the FutureMuseum project (futuremuseum.org.uk) a pop-up installation exploring what mundane artefacts reflect about today’s society from the perspective of the future, and if money talks, it will be interesting to see what the £B has to say.

 

The Miracle of Wörgl

Researched and written by Chris Parsons.

“It softens suffering’s dread; it offers work and bread”

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In fair Wörgl (1930s), where we lay our scene.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away which we shall call Austria, dear reader, there was a small town known as Wörgl. And Wörgl was a place that seemed to hesitate. For whilst the Tyrolean mountains hoisted themselves though the clouds on all sides, as if aspiring to greater heights might bring the sun closer and transform their snowy white peaks to flower-laden meadows, Wörgl stayed low where it was, too shy and timid to really stand out.

A doomed town?

And it was a bad time for the good people of Wörgl. It was the 1930s, a decade when a Great Depression struck down all those who spoke the name of Black Tuesday, the fiercest plague that ever did rise up from the West. Wörgl was a town of industry, its workers forming mighty concrete slabs to construct the future wonders of the 20th Century for all to behold. Or so they thought. But none were spared the Great Depression and the squealing rusty gates of the factory squealed shut for their final time and the men had no other place to turn.

More than one in ten could find no work. Hundreds of families possessed not a penny between them. The town’s taxes went unpaid, its debts mounted and the assets of the local co-op bank were frozen as though caught in the starriest winter Alpine night.

Storytellers bicker over whether the men of the Viennese banks took the form of panicked deer, cackling hyena or idol sloth, but all concur they did nothing to help. Loan interest rates inflated in the manner of a deadly hydrogen zeppelin whilst the amount of circulating money shrank like the denim of Mr Strauss’ very first stonewash.

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Our story’s “hero”, Mayor Unterguggenberger

Wörgl needed a miracle worker and he arrived at Christmas, a gift-wrapped portent from above. Precisely 622 metres above in fact, from nearby, more elevated Hopfgarten, and his name was Herr Michael Unterguggenberger. In December 1931, the Herr became Mayor and he looked out at a town in crisis. There was no money, no work and an infrastructure crumbling like thin fresh pastry on a home-made Apfelstrudel.

But the Mayor was no charlatan and had concluded all his economics homework with scholarly diligence. He knew he had nothing to lose. He took the town’s remaining few Schillings, lodged them in a bank as security and made his own money. Soon he began to pay half the salaries of his devoted council workers in his own currency, which all the local businesses were ready to accept.

But here’s where the Mayor’s cunning kicked in: whoever was found to be in possession of his notes at the end of the month required a stamp to keep the cash valid, and the stamp cost 1% of the note’s value. At a time of scarcity, nobody wanted to pay the 1%. And whilst they were also free to change the money back into Schillings, the people of Wörgl were even less inclined to pay that 2% fee.

So because holding onto these notes for a year would mean losing a whole 12%, the people made sure they spent the Mayor’s money and they spent it quickly. And when they  ran out of the things they needed to buy, they spent the Mayor’s money on paying their taxes. Early. Yes, they even paid their taxes early, dear reader!

A happy ending

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The front of a 1 Schilling Wörgl note with validity stamps for the first six months of the year

The Mayor was elated. His new money circulated over one hundred times faster than the Schilling and created greater than twelve times more employment than the equivalent amount of national currency. It was the Great Depression and yet the Mayor’s money meant Wörgl built roads, bridges and municipal buildings for all to see yet avoided increasing any prices.

The Mayor’s success was eyed enviously by towns both near and far and soon hundreds wanted to copy his ideas. European ministers and famous American economists came to witness the miracle with their own eyes. A forum was held for the Mayor to share his secrets with other towns ready to follow his lead. Wörgl’s time had come. It no longer hesitated and was neither shy nor timid. Wörgl grew into a beautiful swan for all to admire and everyone there lived happily ever after thanks to the Mayor’s miracle. The End.

The twist in the tale

Except, that’s not how this particular fairytale did end, dear reader. I regret to reveal that the fabulous experiment in Wörgl gave those Viennese bankers a terrible fright and the Austrian Central Bank re-asserted its legal monopoly to issue money, which our heroic town fought valiantly in the courts to overturn without success. So the Mayor’s money was taken away just one year after it was first issued and Wörgl once again found itself in the grip of a Great Depression, with rising unemployment and a stalling economy. And the moral of our tragic tale? Perhaps it’s that centralised money doesn’t give us all the answers after all? Now, if they’d just had enough time to set up a sexy TXT2PAY scheme like Bristol Pound…

 

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“To all whom it may concern! Sluggishly circulating money has provoked an unprecedented trade depression and plunged millions into utter misery. Economically considered, the destruction of the world has started. – It is time, through determined and intelligent action, to endeavour to arrest the downward plunge of the trade machine and thereby to save mankind from fratricidal wars, chaos, and dissolution. Human beings live by exchanging their services. Sluggish circulation has largely stopped this exchange and thrown millions of willing workers out of employment. – We must therefore revive this exchange of services and by its means bring the unemployed back to the ranks of the producers. Such is the object of the labour certificate issued by the market town of Wörgl: it softens suffering’s dread; it offers work and bread.”

 

 

A Morning with Matisse with Mandy’s Make

by Megan Liversey

Join in with Mandy’s Make from 9am to 12pm at the Duchess of Totterdown, Wells Road on the 17th April for a colourful creative workshop called ‘A Morning with Matisse’.

Henri Matisse was a French artist known for his original use of colour, creating some of his most exquisite works by cutting shapes out of brilliantly coloured paper. Delightful, playful and inventive, his ‘drawings with scissors’ sought to discover pure forms and to capture movement on paper with his bold love of colour. He believed that, “scissors can acquire more feeling for line than pencil or charcoal”. In this three hour workshop for £B25, you will be looking at Matisse’s work and recurring motifs and using them to inspire and create two decoupage pictures or table mats which are yours to keep.

Mandy’s Make are new to Bristol and devise an extensive programme of fun, informative and practical workshops made to suit everyone, including puppet monster making, clay modelling and furniture facelift workshops. They are perfect for party’s and can also cater for you providing truly scrumptious treats.

You can get involved in the workshops at their HQ in Brislington or they can bring the workshops to you, wether that be to venues, cafes, the workplace or home. There are regular slots at The Old Bookshop in North Street, The Duchess of Totterdown and The Shakespeare Pub in Totterdown where adults can get involved with ‘Art for the terrified’.

At Mandys Make they truly believe that “The best gift you can bestow on anyone is creativity” and they feel a organic connection with the Bristol Pound and the City itself.

Mandy explains “There is something special and unique about Bristol, its a multicultural city full of creative people that aren’t afraid to give new ideas a go. We want to contribute towards this by carrying out creative workshops locally and by promoting the local environment, we believe creativity encourages confidence and independent thinking “.

For more information on Mandy’s Make visit their website http://www.mandysmake.com/ home.html

Only fools eat horses?

Written by Michaela Parker. Photos of Source Food Hall, St. Nicholas Markets

In the aftermath of January’s horse meat scandal where the meat was discovered in several of our supermarket’s processed beef products, many have understandably begun to seriously question the supply chains in the UK’s food industry. To date, more than 17 products tested multiple times, have tested positive for horse DNA and have been withdrawn from sale after being marketed as frozen beef products.

At a time when the battle between supermarkets and independent shops is raging, the scandal has only added further clout to our belief here at the Bristol Pound that we should be supporting our independent traders and businesses. With shorter supply chains independently, and fresher, seasonal produce sold at fairer prices, it seems that many consumers have had enough and are running from their habitual supermarket packaged meat through the door of their local butcher to buy produce which can usually be traced right back to the field.

For years, people have questioned the provenance of the ingredients in certain processed foods. For example, the supermarket sausage has been an article of much debate over the past decade but when challenges arose over the contents of a pork sausage, consumers simply moved to brands with a higher meat content, entrusting that any pork content was the highest quality meat from the pig. And all was seemingly forgotten. In the light of the recent horse meat scandal however, we are yet to see the impact it will have on other meats and processed products which once again will be thrown into the limelight.

An independent butcher has short food links so is often directly linked to the farms that supply his meat. In other cases, the butcher often rears their own cattle and sell their very own meat. Stream Farm, an organic farm in the Quantock Hills in Somerset do just this, believing that our countryside is better served by several small farms selling directly to the consumer than a few huge farms selling to supermarkets. They encourage the selling of meat in bulk and even offer advice on using lesser known cuts of meat as well as to pay half the cost of a chest freezer to those that wish to be part of their vision but don’t already own one!

With consumers being converted to shopping with independent businesses after the scandal emerged, an increase in custom has been noticed by many butchers and more importantly, increased interest in the origin of produce sold.

Joe Wheatcroft from Source Food Hall says, “Certainly, the issue has been good for business and we have noticed an increase in interest in provenance and our sourcing policy.” He also believes that ultimately, the issue will highlight the shortcomings of larger scale operations as people become more concerned with what they eat. “Trade based on trust and a short supply chain can only exist on a small scale and will succeed in areas where the larger scale retailers fail. As people become more aware of the food they eat, small independent businesses like ours will grow in popularity, I’m sure.”

Abbie Hewitt is one such shopper who has changed her shopping habit since the scandal arose. “I’ve pretty much always bought my meat from the supermarket ‘butcher’ but if I ask them where their stock comes from, they only know the country, not the farm. The scandal has made me realise how important it is to know the source of your ingredients and I’ve since been using our local farm shop butcher who can tell me where they source all of their meat including details- down to dates and farmers.”

With Bristol Pound’s farm link initiative allowing businesses such as Stream Farm and The Community Farm to trade in Bristol Pounds despite being outside the city, we hope to encourage more customers to buy directly from primary producers, supporting local food
networks and ensuring recirculation of currency between businesses and their customers.

With a sea of new customers at these and many other local companies since the horse meat scandal arose, it seems that convenience and price are not always paramount and where people are losing faith in the supermarkets, our independents are reaping the benefits, finally getting the recognition they deserve.

Living without the Queen’s head (my Bristol Pound TXT2Pay Challenge)

Written by Carolyn Hair – of Culture Darling fame.

How long could you live without access to credit cards, or that printed cash with the Queen’s head on? Well, recently I took up the challenge of swapping my purse for my mobile phone with Bristol Pound’s TXT2Pay system. As I made my way around Bristol on my mission, people usually asked worriedly whether I had to pay for everything this way – food, drink and entertainment. So how long would I last…?

Day 1 – feed me TXT2Pay

First off, confession time. I hadn’t used the TXT2Pay system before. So fearful of a rumbling stomach in the afternoon, I was a bit nervous about my first cash-less purchase, but headed off to Corn Street to see what I could find. As a TXT2Pay newbie too, Café Revival, seemed appropriate for a yummy sarnie and coffee to go. And it was as easy as it sounds! I simply texted:

“Pay **** (my pin) caferevival1 5.30”

Et voilà, without plastic or paper money, I’d just bought lunch! There is certainly noshortage of TXT2Pay-friendly eating establishments. The week’s groceries were purchased from the Better Food Company topped up with bread, cheese and provisions from The Source Food Hall and Café in St Nicks market. My sleep was sweet – this was going to be easy…

Day 2 – start the day with TXT2Pay

Coffee is an essential start to this caffeine addict’s day, so my confidence started to wane on Day 2. But I just needed to take a slight detour to Baristas, leaving with TXT2Pay coffee and chat (I was told I had a cool name). So TXT2Pay put a smile on my face on a Tuesday morning (and that’s not easy to do).

Popping to the movies is one of my favourite ways to pass the time so there was some celluloid concern in my TXT2Pay week. But the trusty DVD store, 20th Century Flicks came to the rescue. It’s been ages since I’ve enjoyed the ‘video store’ ritual of my teenage years, and with the largest collection in the UK, it was a film-goer’s delight. Eventually I opted for a film I hadn’t heard about, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman. Whilst chatting about the Bristol Pound, it was suggested that TXT2Pay was handy if you forgot your wallet. So I ended Day 2 thinking that actually my mobile was more important than my purse!

Day 3 – ideas washed down with TXT2Pay

With the dominance of online retailers and high street stores, would I be able to buy novels for my book club in Bristol with TXT2Pay? Luckily, in the heart of St Nicks market lies Beware of the Leopard, two rooms jam-packed with books. I dare you to leave without buying something!

Books bought, and my thoughts passed to food again. This time soup from the Sourdough Café – delicious and all the better for being served with a TXT2Pay chat. Sourdough’s Jessica said that the TXT2Pay was helping the uptake of the Bristol Pound:

“More and more people are using TXT2Pay and it’s inspiring even more people to use theBristol Pound. It is good for businesses too as many of those we trade with use it too. It is interactive between traders and consumers.”

In the evening, I had already bought tickets for a Festival of Ideas event with Ben Goldacre, but I let myself off as it was at At-Bristol which takes TXT2Pay anyway. After all those ideas, a drink or two was in order, so we headed to the Arnolfini bar where TXT2Pay was warmly welcomed.

Day 4 – TXT2Pay curry close to home

One of the fun things about the challenge was that I moved around the city, seeking new places, but I also wanted to test out if it easy to incorporate TXT2Pay into my daily life. Shopping online is such a habit now that it was good to know that I could still keep it local with TXT2Pay via The Bristol Shop. It was also a relief to discover there is somewhere very local for me to eat out – the Thali Café Totterdown. So I treated myself and my boyfriend to a meal in the name of TXT2Pay. Would I ever go back to sterling…?

Day 5 – fashion fix à la TXT2Pay

I have weakness for vintage fashion so not being able to buy second-hand clobber, and the whole thing could have been off before it started. However Shop on the Christmas Steps came to the rescue. I had a fashion fix over lunch and, while resisting a rail of dresses, I bought a pair of earrings for Mother’s Day. My Mum didn’t miss out because of the TXT2Pay challenge – she also received her favourite chocs from A Bar Full of Chocolate and a card from Jenny Life.

I could have easily kept going over the weekend, filled with drinks, eating (and more eating) and perhaps venturing to check out live music, but I had to leave Bristol for a weekend away. So at around 6pm I took up my purse again as I had to buy rail tickets to London town… However, I bought supplies for my journey from the Park Street Local Shop.

The challenge certainly reinforced how easy it is to shop locally, and altered my daily path through the city. It also revealed how the Bristol Pound as a conversation starter can brighten your day – it really is happy money.

Bristol, the challenge is on – how long can you last without Sterling?

How long can you survive and thrive on TXT2Pay? Can you beat my 4 ¾ days? We challenge you Bristol! Tweet us @bristolpound or visit us on Facebook, and we’ll feature your TXT2Pay adventures on our blog.