My Bristol: Josephine Gyasi

This month, we meet creative producer, curator, artist and maker Josephine Gyasi…

Where are you from? What’s your favourite part of Bristol?

I was born in North London and, mainly, bred in Hertfordshire; Bishop’s Stortford. My favourite part of Bristol is East Bristol; it’s ethnically diverse which I think is so important. It has a real safe community feel too, much like the rest of Bristol. There are some beautiful green spots to explore which I cannot get ENOUGH of.

What’s a typical day for you?

First thing’s first, lemon water! Then, exercise, which can be anything from African dance on YouTube to some skipping in the garden, followed by a yoga sequence and a 10-minute meditation if I have time. I’m not too hard on myself if I don’t get this all in; some days I roll out of bed, stretch and that’s it! But I do my best to get at least one of these in before facing the world.

As creative producer I’m either WFH or in the Knowle West Media Centre building. I recently finished renting a desk at Unit 8 Studios was a blessing for lockdown, and have now moved to the new CARGO space. I have options!

I usually have an after-work activity or freelance work to do, and always finish a day with a nice meal. I love cooking. One constant in my typical day is voice notes – my favourite way of communicating and working.

Tell us a little more about what you are currently working on

Abena is my middle name, the Ghanaian name for a child born on a Tuesday. ABENA is a skincare brand I developed at university, inspired by my interest in DIY natural skincare. Still in its infancy, its aim is not all about selling produce, but to skill-share within a community (online and in real life), providing the kit of parts to support DIY skin care at home being done easily and safely. I have recently started to make bespoke batches of shea body butter, as an opportunity for customers to feedback on recipes and learn along the way! Stay tuned and get in touch if you want to purchase a beautiful body cream and to be added to a mailing list.

Create As A Community
Commissioned by Play Disrupt as creative producer, I’m leading on engaging the local community on Colston Road to create a visual response to the name of the road through public art.

Club Djembe
I co-run record label and event Club Djembe, celebrating UK funky, funky house, Afrobeats, gqom, tribal, dub and everything in between. We have a monthly show on SWU FM and worked with some amazing artists to create top tier music releases and guest mixes. Come and party with us on 16 October; it’s our first stand-up party since the pandemic so it’s going to be special.

I recently started lecturing first-year product design students at UWE. It’s a dream to be able to support students, learning from my own experiences.

How can our readers help to support your work?

Buy a print of my piece, What Are Your Plans? – a poem in response to the killing of George Floyd recently exhibited and RSA featured on BBC and local Bristol media. Sponsor or fund me to continue developing ABENA.
Get in touch. I love meeting new people and finding out where we can support each other.

Who in Bristol deserves a special shout out for their work/achievements recently?

Roseanna Dias
I’ve had the absolute pleasure to work with this amazing human in the past year, leading on R&D for KWMC and every second has been magical. You know when someone just speaks the same language as you? It doesn’t even feel like you’re doing the work… but we are doing the work! A powerhouse of a woman – artist, writer, curator, creative producer and all-round superstar who is moving so powerfully in great spaces including Rising Arts Agency, advocating for real change and putting her work into practice and holding every space with grace.

Rema Mukena
Journalist come assistant producer at BBC, radio host and general bad B. I’ve watched this girl grow so much in the short time I’ve known her and I’m forever proud. Her talents are unlimited. She is authentic to herself and is one to watch! Check out her recent podcasts for BBC here:

Martha King
This arts programme manager at KWMC deserves a special shoutout. She is one passionate individual full of creative ideas and inspiring work ethic. Martha has been excellent at creating opportunities and supporting people, including myself. She always asks the right questions and is always there at the right time.

Will Taylor
The swaggiest and most charming creative producer, artist, filmmaker… the list goes on. I have been in awe of his ability to create and complete everything he does with such tenacity. He has wowed me ever since we first met. He just makes things happen, and with care. Such a big heart with the brain to match.

Whose music are you listening to at the moment? Any local artists?

Two London-based artists…

Fiyah Dred FKA BAMZ
They’re a producer/DJ/artist with the most insane talent… I’m an absolute super fan. Just listen and let the music do the talking.

Yung Singh
I properly discovered him this year. In love with how he brings his heritage and culture into his music.

Where are your favourite places to eat, drink and be entertained/inspired in Bristol?

Too many to mention… but top right now is Cafe Cuba. Unmatched vibes and authentic food.

What are your ambitions for 2021 and 2022?

Reach Ghana, continue to reconnect with my roots. Continue growing an ABENA community. Make more space for creativity and pottery.

What would be your first action if you were mayor of Bristol?

There’s so much to be done, so I would start simple and legalise weed.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us…

I’m a proud, first-generation graduate. Besides trying to change and better the world, my biggest dream is to be a potter.

Let’s connect on socials:

Main image by Tasha Hylton