To light a fire

is to invite the others in

In Arabic, the word ‘mish’aal’ means ‘bonfire’. It comes from the verb ‘to burn’ or ‘to light’ and is also used as a figure of speech – ‘they burn with a passion.’

Traditionally when nomadic tribes, travelling through the desert, set up base for an overnight rest, they would often start a fire, whose light and smoke could be seen from vast distances in the sky. Such a bonfire sent a message to other travellers that they would be welcome to stop and join the tribe in sharing food and water. In this way, Al-Mish’aal is a symbol of welcome, hospitality. It is an open invitation for communication and discourse with others.

Al Mish’aal at Wyndham Street is a new building-based project which sees us taking up residence at a community space in the heart of Riverside. In partnership with South Riverside Community Development Centre (SRCDC) the space has been developed and refurbished with a view to accommodating a raft of new activities, to include a part-time co-working space, a Riverside library, and a variety of cultural and community projects aimed at communities right on the doorstep. Through the Al Mish’aal space and the activities built around it, we want to ask these and other questions:

How do we build spaces in which culture is accessible not just as a one off, but continually into the future.

How can a location that isn’t home become a place everyone feels they belong to.

How can our desires speak through the projects we design together.

How do we explore how power functions in our society, and create alternatives in our neighbourhoods.

How do we share our desires for the future with others.