(1967 - )
Chris became the founder and chair of the People's Republic of Stokes Croft (PRSC) on 22 September 2007. Originally a china wholesaler who had settled in Stokes Croft, he formed PRSC along with some local residents to address what they felt was a lack of resources invested in the area. Their plan included regeneration of Stokes Croft by promotion of street art, galleries, independent local businesses and art studios, including outdoor gallery spaces and exhibitions. Chris has also worked with the council to develop an apprenticeship through the Future Jobs Fund with graffiti artist, FLX, Felix Braun.
Chris considers this community-driven experiment as a template. “It started as an idea. It has the possibility of being a rallying point of social change within the area. We should have a place for taggers [people who make graffiti], for local people who want to make murals and for political discussion”. PRSC has had some success in getting local people involved in how their area is developed and improving the appearance of formerly derelict buildings.
However not all residents of Stokes Croft agree with Chris’ approach. They believe that some of PRSC’s supporters do not stay long in the area and may be detached from the wider community. In 2010, Chris was accused of criminal damage for painting a sign on the front of the 5102 building. The sign read, “Welcome to Stokes Croft, Cultural Quarter, Conservation area, Outdoor Gallery”. The court ordered him to pay £200 in damages and £750 in other costs.
Although Chris is considered to be a controversial figure, he has developed a sense of local pride and community in an area that has faced neglect and civil unrest. In 2011, a poster commemorating the Stokes Croft riots around the imminent arrival of a Tesco Metro was created by renowned artist Banksy, with some of the proceeds of its sale going towards the PRSC. Chris is optimistic about the future of Stokes Croft and its aim to preserve and enhance the historic character of the area. He is succeeding in his aim of taking the art “out of the galleries and displaying it in the streets for all to enjoy.” As Chris states, Stokes Croft is an “epicentre for eccentricity, social change [and] local skills.”