Hoakser: the Man behind the Murals

An incredibly talented and well-respected graff artist here in Brum and across the globe, Hoakser is just one of the guys behind this year’s “We’re In This Together” River Rea mural, so we sat down and asked him a few questions to find out a little bit more about the man behind the mural…

 

How did you get into graffiti art?

 

BrumSpirit - WITT-9
I’d always wanted to be some sort of artist as a kid and would always be drawing characters of my favorite stuff or making up monsters, zombies and robots..Sometime around 98,I went with some friends to check out a place called “Selly Oak graffiti park” and had my mind blown by something I’d never seen before and didn’t understand…Everywhere was covered in paintings and writing, there were cool characters on the walls and color everywhere..The main pieces I remember where by a crew called FKS..T-Bone,Korsa,Zooki,Crem, were some of the names that stood out to me that day and I knew I wanted to try spraying some of my characters on a wall.. From that point  I started seeing it everywhere and the more I practiced and studied it, the more my respect for the art form and culture grew..

 

Why did you choose graffiti art as opposed to any other medium?

 

There’s so many branches to graffiti and there’s so much to learn about it..From tagging to mural work, all of which is classed as graffiti, there’s a whole load of learning and  years of practice involved to be able to control the paint and create your own style to build your name.. The history of graffiti is a cool story full of myths and legends and as an art form developed by youngsters, mostly in the dark, it’s come a long way.. Every country and city around the world have their own scene,style, history and way of doing things so it’s always developing and inspiring new artists and techniques. When I first started I think it was how hard I found it, which pushed me to want to get better at it..Meeting other graffiti writers and going painting with them has made me some really good friends over the years.It’s kind of a social and anti social culture, where most graffiti is painted for other people who do graffiti to love or hate and can have a life span of minutes or years depending where or what it is..  Graffiti incorporates so many skills from tagging (which is like a form of calligraphy), to painting huge letter pieces (which is a kind of typography)..painting and designing characters takes some cartoon/illustrator skills and spraying paint is such a fun way to practice them all..

 

What inspires your art?

 

Most things really.. From everything I was into as a kid to the amount of paint, space and time I’ve got to work with. I get inspired by loads of artists who make me want to try new stuff out in my own way..My graffiti letters and characters have been developed over the years and their technical difficulty increases as my skills with a can improve. I used to like painting models and sculpting when I was younger, so after seeing a few graffiti artists from overseas design toys several years ago, I wanted to see my character as an object you can hold..So I did that.. I’ll always be into spraying my name on a wall but the idea of my work being displayed in collections and looked after, rather than painted over is pretty cool.. Canvas work and sculpts are approached differently to walls, but all of them kind of inspire each other in a way..

 

Do you prefer to work on big public art murals, like the River Rea mural, or on smaller canvases and private commissions? Why?

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I think I like them both the same but for different reasons.. Public murals are usually hard work but fun to paint, and it’s interesting hearing what people think before it’s even been finished.This can sometimes spark new ideas and help with the mural…It’s nice to have their support and encouraging words shouted at you from passing cars but it can take much longer to paint as you have to keep explaining your not a famous stencil artist and you did this all free hand.. Painting on the River was great and everyone was really supportive of what we were doing..Leaving such a big piece of artwork out in public is so different to working on a piece that will hang in one persons house..The fact that someone is willing to spend their hard earned money and invite a piece of my work into their home is really cool, but on a different level..

 

What was it like to collaborate with Ashekman and Zooki on the River Rea mural?
It was interesting and nice, and the wall came out really cool I think.. Having Zooki as one of my earliest inspirations in our graffiti scene makes it a pleasure to paint with him.. Over the years we’ve painted together a few times on walls at graffiti jams, so it was cool to get him involved with this mural, as he grew up around the area.His character designs and painting skills are amazing and it’s always an honor to paint with him.. Ashekman really came through and after having no sleep on day one, due to travelling, they still got busy and left us with a really cool piece in their calligraphy style..It was cool spending some time with them and hearing about what the scene in Beirut is like. It’s a shame they couldn’t stay for longer but hopefully one day we’ll get another wall done together..It was really nice to meet those guys and paint, and I think what they put up really fits in well with the message of the mural..

 

How does the mural tie in with the central messages of Brum Spirit?

 

As one passer by said while we were working on the piece “We’re in this together For peace on Earth is so fitting for the state of the world right now”.. That probably says it all.. It was cool to see some of the local kids who can read Arabic working out what Ashekman’s piece said and as a collaborative cultural exchange it came out really well.. It can be difficult coming up with a wall concept and designing it into something we can all work on while keeping the public,council and everyone else happy..Especially when you’ve never met the people you’ll be painting with. But as always, Tessa’s hard work and theme choice made it all click together and we managed to paint something that’s had nothing but positive comments…

 

What other community projects and public art murals have you worked on?

 

welcome to kings heath mural
There’s the Welcome To Kings Heath wall that we worked on 3 years ago for BrumSpirit with Ficore from Brazil.Then the year after I was lucky enough to be able to paint the front of PST nightclub in Digbeth with RCF1 from France for Brum Spirit.. In Acocks Green at Millennium Green there’s a long wall I was asked to paint around a nature reserve/dog walking area..It’s a quite a long wall and fun to paint because it has all four seasons, goes from day to night and includes almost every animal you might see there. Another favourite from last year is a school I painted in Selly Oak.. It’s not really public as it’s a school, but the 40ish walls I painted around the outside of every Porta-cabin classroom around the grounds,definitely brightened the place up..They were a depressing grey before, and now they have lots of color and helpful learning phrases with positive words etc suited to each lesson and classroom..I can imagine that would have a huge impact on any child, especially one with learning disabilities and it’s cool to think how lots of kids over the years might remember something, because they saw it on a painting every day..

 

What do you hope people will take from your work, particularly your public art murals?

 

It’s nice to be able to change peoples perceptions about what they might have thought graffiti was or can be, before seeing something they can relate to and understand..I hope it inspires some people to try and become artists and it’s a weird feeling when you’re on a bus going past something you did and you hear a kid say “coool” and start pointing at it..They all kind of serve a different purpose and it’d be nice if they appeal to people if different ways..
What does this year’s Brum Spirit’s theme, “We’re In This Together”, mean to you as an artist?

 

As a theme for a wall it had so much scope to where we could have taken it. As I said in another answer, a passer by commented on how fitting it was for the state of the world, I think we started painting this a few days after all that Brexit madness..As someone who lives in the area we painted the wall, which has lots of nationalities and religions living side by side, it’s nice to leave a positive piece up for everyone to take something from which will always mean something, depending on how you decide to read it..

 

Where can we find out more about your work?

 

My website hoakser.com which I build myself has all the important links and info on… I use Instagram @hoakser  and occasionally twitter @hoaksergraffiti .. and i have a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/hoaksercom-214180528665043/?ref=bookmarks  which you should like to catch up with me on there 🙂

 

You can check out more pictures of the “We’re In This Together” River Rea by Hoakser, Ashekman and Zooki here.

Hi-Lite Arts at Brum Spirit 2016

Amongst our exciting roster at this year’s Brum Spirit 2016, we’ve got Hi-Lites contemporary arts programme. Curated by Darryl Georgiou, the art-works will showcase experimental and collaborative work by some of the finest emerging artists. Intrigued? Check out our Q&A’s with Darryl to get a taste of what to expect…

 

How did you begin as an artist?

When I was 7, I painted a picture of a boy at Wattville Junior School, in Handsworth, Birmingham. I attempted to make the boy’s eyes blue, but I ended up making the paint too runny, which prompted the teacher to ask me why the paint was running down the page…I told her it was because the boy was crying. That work ended up in a show of childrens’ art at Tate Britain. It taught me that in the arts at least, mistakes can be a positive thing.

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What is the concept behind Hi-Lite Arts?

Hi-Lite is just one, but an important part, of an ongoing project called The Salon, that I’ve been developing with a number of well known and emerging artists, designers & creatives, along with filmmakers and performers, some of whom include my postgraduate Contemporary Arts students from Coventry University.

 

What are the aims of the visual art-works at the event?

To re-animate and recapture the spirit of a fascinating space and place – the old Moseley Art School, which ceased to be seat of creative learning in 1975. Using contemporary arts, interventions and performances which are unconventional and non-traditional, we hope to evoke the spirit of a building, which previously bore witness to so many creative outpourings over several decades of the 20th Century.

 

What can the audience expect to see from these art-works at Brum Spirit?

We want the audience to be entertained and  surprised, but perhaps more importantly, it’s about having a conversation with the public.

 

What do the different elements of visual, phonic and performative art bring to the programme?

Darryl Georgiou Live Art

There are three primary themes or departure points for the exhibition: Redamency ((n.) the act of loving the one who loves you; a love returned in full), Confrontation and Environment, which hopefully provide a kind of social sculpture.

 

What was it like to collaborate with the group artists on this project?

Like all projects of ambition or worth, it was a challenge and a privilege.

 

How does this exhibition tie in with Brum Spirit’s theme of We’re In This Together?

It’s simple… It’s a collaboration that involves music, film and art to engage a wide and diverse audience. Ultimately, it presents us with the opportunity to positively share a complex space in a time of increasing challenge and change in the world.

 

What do you hope the audience will take from the exhibition at Brum Spirit?

For me and my creative partner (Tolley), Brum Spirit is a celebration. A glimpse into the epic and the everyday.

 

Where can we find more about your work? 

Darryl Georgiou is an award winning artist whose work is held in international collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Deste Foundation in New York and Athens. He is the postgraduate programme leader for Art & Design at Coventry University and a Director of arts and photography organisations, ‘Still Walking’ and ‘Some cities’. He was artist in residence at the ‘Ars Electronica’ Futurelab in Linz, Austria in 2014. He is currently a recipient of a Henry Moore foundation research award for the forthcoming ‘Liber Topia’ project. He has an interdisciplinary production company with his partner – film maker and lens based media artist, Rebekah Tolley.  

https://darrylgeorgiou.wordpress.com/

 

In 2010, Rebekah Tolley set up Tarian Films in creative collaboration with award-winning director, Michael Grigsby (1936-2013), widely regarded as “one of the giants of British documentary filmmaking.” (BFI, Sight & Sound, 2013). Their final collaboration was the critically acclaimed feature documentary WE WENT TO WAR  (2013) which was nominated for the Sheffield Doc/Fest’s prestigious Innovation Award (“for originality in approach to form and radical manifestations in the delivery of its story”), and followed up with screenings including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, Cinequest Festival in California, and Cleveland International Film Festival; opening to critical acclaim at the ICA in London, and a UK TV premiere on Film4. Also a professional photographer whose work has been featured in The Guardian, Observer Magazine and Photography magazine amongst others, Rebekah has been a jury member for a number of national and International Film Festival juries. Prior to embarking upon her career as an independent Creative Producer, Rebekah was Executive Producer/Director for Welsh international media producer, The Tinopolis Group, where she lead interactive projects for the likes of the BBC, United Nations and Channel 4. As an independent producer, she has worked on projects for BAFTA UK, BAFTA LA (inc. the Los Angeles Heritage Archive Project), Five TV and Oxford University

 

Most recently, she was Creative Producer for the documentary feature, OKHWAN (2016) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2iM30Rk6fY. Rebekah is a graduate of Coventry University’s MA course in Design & Digital Media/Arts (the first digital arts postgraduate course in Europe) and of the 2011 EAVE European Producers programme. Rebekah is owner of an interdisciplinary production company with her partner, artist Darryl Georgiou.

 

www.wewenttowarthemovie.tumblr.com

Empty Rooms: the Guided Tour

After our brief hiatus, Brum Spirit is back with a bang this weekend! Amongst the talented artists lined up, we’ve got Empty Rooms: the Guided Tour to look forward to. To find out more, we had a chat with the man behind Empty Rooms, Ben Waddington…

How did you begin as an artist?
Fine Art BA at Wolverhampton University 1990 – 1993

 

What is Empty Rooms: the Guided Tour?
A 60 minutes guided tour for up to 12 people exploring the three levels of Moseley School of Arts.

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What can attendees expect from the tour?
Empty Rooms demonstrates that abandoned spaces are anything but: architectural aspects, forensic details, subtle clues and our own presence there reveal elements of a greater story still being played out. Empty Rooms takes the form of a guided walk but drops the notion of a tour being a ‘sight seeing’ experience and encourages the audience to uncover the purpose, history and meaning of a place by active observation.

 

What is the process when approaching a room?
I will begin by narrating and steering observation through an environment: details, atmosphere, materials &c. I will encourage observations from the group and incrementally become more ambitious in scope. In larger rooms I will allow a group to explore briefly at will and then thread together their independent discoveries as the group warms to the experience.

 

How does it tie in with Brum Spirit’s central message of We’re In This Together?
The tour guide’s usual role is to deliver information and to direct movement, attention and subject. Empty Rooms encourages audiences to contribute to the shared experience with their own observations, memories, outlooks and discoveries. A recognition that the group’s pooled knowledge as as valuable as the guide’s research and knowledge.

 

What do you hope the audience of your guided tour will get from the experience?
A sense of how close observation of an environment, considered and playful responses to clues (especially in a group setting) can create a greater attachment to our environment: room, building, street, town and city.

 

 Still Walking
Does leading such a niche tour help you develop as an artist?
I’ve gained confidence in taking this approach on recent guided tours, recognising the value it has with audiences and would benefit from the opportunity to expand the scope of environments.

 

What is the favourite or most interesting Empty Rooms tour you’ve led so far?
Round House ‘Un Tours’ for National Trust this summer: 150 years of history demonstrated by evidence remaining in-and-outside the former Sheepcote Street Wharf (I was a consultant and director for this project rather than a guide)

 

What attracted you to Moseley School of Arts as a building?
Designed around light and space as currency.

 

Where can we find out more about your work?

(Moseley School of Arts image credit: Daryl Georgiou)

The Real Junk Food Project Brum

Amongst our packed programme of global talent, including live music, visual arts, dance, photography, film and more, we’re also lucky enough to have the awesome team at the Real Junk Food Project Brum with us at this year’s Brum Spirit! They’ll be serving up a whole lot of pay-as-you-feel treats, so to whet our appetite, we sat down and asked them a few big Q’s to get to know more about what they do…

 

When was the Real Junk Food Project born?

TRJFP was founded in Leeds, in December 2013. TRJFP Brum was founded in October 2014.

 

What does the Real Junk Food Project aim to do?

We aim to abolish all avoidable food waste. Along the way we’d like to REALLY Feed the World!

 

How do you go about achieving those aims? TRJFP

Everyday in Birmingham over 650 tonnes of food is thrown away, most of this is perfectly edible. We take a small faction of this food and feed it to people, on a Pay-As-You-Feel basis. Since our inception TRJFP Brum has intercepted over over 30 tonnes of food and fed over 8,000 people!

 

What is the idea behind the “Pay As You Feel” scheme?

PAYF is a revolutionary concept – we don’t pay for the food waste we intercept (although we do have overheads) so we don’t charge people to eat it. It is criminal that, in the 21st century, in the UK there are people who cannot afford to eat a healthy, balanced diet. We feed everyone, regardless of whether they have money in their pocket. However, we do not give the food away for free – we ask everyone who eats with us to contribute in whatever way they can: tell a story, sing a song, help with the washing up or (more recently) help us grow the food we will serve in one of our grow sites.

 

How does the Real Junk Food Project tie in with Brum Spirit’s message?

TRJFP Brum is aiming to rebuild our communities around food – we welcome all to our cafes and hope that we can engage the audience to participate with our project for their own and their communities health and wellbeing.

 

Has the Real Junk Food Project Birmingham ever collaborated with other similar projects in the city?

We have supported numerous community events and festivals including: Birmingham Community Food Festival, Springfield Park’s “Big Gig”, CoCoMAD. We run a regular event for Digbeth First Friday in partnership with Naked Lungs and Digbeth Community Garden

 

Where does the inspiration for the meals you create from intercepted waste come from? 

the real junk food project takeover

From our volunteers – we run an open kitchen where everyone is encouraged to voice their ideas and opinions. Oh, and sometimes Google!

 

Where can we find the Real Junk Food Project regularly in Birmingham?

We’re at Ladywood Health and Community Centre, St Vincent Street West (B16 8RP) every Wednesday (12-2 & 6-8pm) and Friday (12-2 & 3:30-5pm). We’re also at The Haven Centre, 54 Rilstone Road (B32 2NR) every Monday 12-4pm. We have regular (monthly) pop-up’s at ORT Cafe, Balsall Heath, on the 3rd Saturday of the month and Digbeth Community Garden (as part of Digbeth First Friday) We also pop-up all over the place so check out our website or Facebook for more details.

 

How can people get more involved and volunteer with the Real Junk Food Project?

Come dine with us! Fill in our volunteer registration form here.

Brum Spirit: We’re In This Together Programme

There’s not long to go now ‘til Brum Spirit 2016: We’re In This Together gets going, and we’re so excited! Over the weekend of 23rd-24th July, we’ve got a whole lot of film, music, arts, and feasting lined up for you all to enjoy.

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Our programme of family friendly, free and affordable events will bring us all together to explore the thrills and challenges of sharing spaces in this ever-changing world of ours!

Amongst the global roster of talent we’re showcasing across the weekend, we’ve got live music from Kate Goes and String Fantasty, with a headline performance from Brazil’s Panorama Do Choro, visual art from the Hi-Lite programme curated by Darryl Georgiou, 5 fantastic films brought to us by Stickelback Cinema, Empty Room Tours led by Ben Waddington, Jungo Arts’ Forum Theatre, craft workshops and exhibitions by refugee programme Made Welcome, and lots of delicious pay-as-you-feel treats courtesy of the Real Junk Food Project. Phew – just a few things to look forward to then…

Like we said, most of these events are totally free, and the rest very affordable, but please RSVP to let us know you’re coming here. It all kicks off from 10am on Saturday, and 2pm on Sunday, but you can check out exactly what’s happening when below.

In the meantime, remember to check in with us online to keep up-to-date with all of the latest news on Facebook here.

The countdown is on! We hope you can join us for another Brum Spirit celebration!

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We’re In This Together: River Rea Mural

Have you been passed the River Rea recently in Basall Heath? If so you will have seen our latest public art mural, We’re In This Together!

The mural called on the expertise of the team behind the well known ‘Welcome To Kings Heath’ mural, created back in 2013 by local talent Hoakser, who at the time teamed up with visiting Brazilian artist Ficore.

river rea mural

This year our commission has transformed an over-looked wall on the banks of the river Rea when Hoakser team up with Lebanese duo AshekMan.

Hoakser’s work ranges from public artworks to private commissions, which are currently held in collections in 13 countries across five continents. Most recently he was called on by Ebay to feature in a short film about his work.

Birmingham graffiti legend Zooki grew up in Balsall Heath, the site of this years Brum Spirit mural. He has been painting for well over 20 years, and his style is very distinctive.

For those who know their graff culture, Zooki is in FKS, NHS and INS crews to name a few.

His sharp style contrasts smooth graphic lines with old school references to graffitis roots, with characters straight out of a Bronx block party transposed into brightly contrasting everyday settings. Collectors can currently get a hold of his prints, T shirts and canvases at Graffiti Artist, in the heart of Digbeths Custard Factory.

ashkeman

Ashekman traveled to Birmingham from Lebanon for a flying visit to bring their well know Arabic Calligraffiti style of work to the mural.

AshekMan are identical twins and are most known for commissions for the likes of Nike, Coca Cola, MTV, and even celebrities such as Snoop Dogg have purchased pieces!

Ashekman have their featured character the Grendizer at the centre of the mural with the words ‘Peace on Earth’ in arabic, which is the 2nd most spoken language of the area. 

The theme of the mural is to honour people across the world who have made Balsall Heath their home, and to celebrate what the local community have achieved together.

We were able to pull Ashekman away from the wall for a couple of minutes to get a couple of words from them:

 

Have you ever worked in Birmingham before?

No but weve visited lots of places in the UK before. Weve been to London, Liverpool, Manchester all over really apart from Birmingham!

 

Whats it like being in Birmingham? What do you think of the city so far?

People are very welcoming here, the people are very cool. We come from a city between Beirut and Dubai, and its a concrete jungle, but Birmingham is the opposite. Its actually very relaxed and quiet here. We love how Birmingham culture is one big melting pot, theres so many different religion and races all living in harmony, and thats what its like in Beirut.

 

Whats it like working with Birmingham artists?

Very cool! Our styles are quite different our style of art is caligrafitti, is inspired by Arabic, which weve been doing for 10-15 years, but Hoakser and Zookis art is more like old school, traditional, pure graffiti, so our work is completely different to theirs and its a nice contrast.

 

Whats the inspiration behind the mural?

The mural is inspired by the city and the people who live in it. Where we come from, we write messages on the walls thats our main mission to spread a positive message –  so Hoakser wrote in latin were in this togetherand we wrote in Arabic For peace on earth.At home, we use the image of Grendizer, the Japanese manga superhero, who has become a good guy icon.Its important to mention that lots of people might think its vandalism, but its not, its about spreading peace and positivity.

RIVER REA MURA

Gaia’s Garden is Open!

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On Saturday, we unveiled Gaia’s Garden at the Old Print Works at the official Launch Day, and it was a huge success!

It was awesome to see so many smiley faces come down to check out the new space, meet new people, enjoy the food and music, and of course, do a bit of gardening!! The site is already really starting to take shape, and we can’t wait to see it develop and transform into a thriving garden for the whole community to enjoy over the coming weeks and months.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to all of the Gaia’s Garden volunteers for their hard work and much-needed donations which will help the garden grow, and give an especially big shout out to Ciaran from the Old Crowne and Jamie Begg at Seed Furniture for the pallets, Luca Pau for building the beds, Jenna from Ort Cafe for the delicious food, Hoakser for the sign and for digging a tonne of soil, Balsall Heath Forum and Martineau Gardens for the plant supply, Dan Burwood and Darryl Georgiu, DJ Silence and Onira for the soundtrack, and finally, a massive thank you to Grow Wild and the Old Print Works!

Gaia’s Garden will now be open every Saturday for local residents to use and enjoy, so come along and get involved. It’s a great way to get some fresh air, meet new people, and make a positive difference in our community, and you don’t even need to be an expert gardener! The space will be open from 10am-3pm, so please invite your friends, family and neighbours, or come alone and make new friends, whilst getting your fingers green!

You can check out some photos from the Launch Day below, and remember to give us a like on Facebook here for all the latest Gaia’s Garden info.

Gaia’s Garden Launch: 14th May

Gaia's Garden header

 

Join us on Saturday 14th May at the launch of Gaia’s Garden! Come down to the Old Print Works between 10am-3pm to check out the new space, green your fingers and meet new people!

For those of you who don’t know, Gaia’s Garden is a community garden that will be used to build raised beds out of up-cycled pallets, and grow fruits, vegetables and useful plants, for everyone to enjoy. We will also be planting native wild flowers throughout the area to brighten up our back yards, balconies and public spaces, with the help of Kew Gardens’ Grow Wild scheme.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been busy planning and designing, clearing out the space, recycling waste, and salvaging existing plants to transform the factory courtyard into a soon-to-be thriving garden in the heart of Balsall Heath. So far, we’ve worked with all kinds of amazing local people and groups to make the project happen, including sustainability activists and community artists, and we want you to get involved, too! We need volunteers who aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty (literally!) to help out, so if this sounds like you, roll up your sleeves, dust off your wellies, and dig out your garden tools from the shed! You don’t have to be a pro to get involved, as we’ll be sharing top gardening tips and leading all kinds of workshops as the project develops.

We’re also after donations of plants, broken tiles, pallets, kitchen scraps, old tools, seeds, potting soil, mulching material, wood chip, plastic & clay pots, wood, child sized hand tools, labels and manure, to help Gaia’s Garden grow. If you can spare any of these materials, please drop them off at the Launch Day or Ort Café in the Old Print Works. All donations are hugely appreciated!

Gaia’s Garden will be open to the public every Saturday from 10am-3pm right through to October, so if you can’t make it to the Launch Day on the 14th, be sure to come along to enjoy the space and get involved at a later date!

For more information and to volunteer at Gaia’s Garden, please contact Tessa on tessa@professionalincredibles.com or 07815 490 796, or message our Facebook page here. And don’t forget to like our Facebook event page here for all of the latest information!

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Birmingham to São Paulo

CaosArte this is for you! In homage to our 2016 partner city São Paulo and the Brum Spirit family out there, who are in our hearts every damn day, our main graffer Hoakser produced this classic wildstyle, to be exhibited at Memorial da América Latina next month. The piece is part of a selection of digital works by Birmingham based arts activists, to be incorporated into the programme of CaosArte’s 3rd annual crowd curated extravaganza.

Hoakser Sao Paulo Wildstyle for CaosArte - photo by Dan Burwood, Some Cities

The theme for this year is A Cidade Dança/ The City Dances – an invitation for contributors to explore how urban inhabitants transform their city, and how the city transforms them in turn. Also ready for inclusion are works by Jungo Arts, Some Cities and Break Mission.

This whole Brum Spirit selection is going to be introduced by Karina Poli – researcher from Universidade de São Paulo, and manager of our visiting Brazilian artists for this year’s edition of our exchange. More on that very soon!

Hoakser had a bit of a mission getting this piece done. He chose a specific position in one of Digbeth’s legal graff spots, so that the final piece could incorporate a little of Brum’s central skyline, and the word ‘BIRMINGHAM’, from the sign on Digbeth Coach Station.

Arriving bright and early so he’d have a full day painting, he’d just finished emulsioning the background when a parking attendant told him that graff was no longer allowed in the spot, since Seven Capital and Colmore Tang put up their new hoardings, to mark the territory out for luxury apartment development Connaught Square.

It seemed a little ridiculous, considering the lack of signage, and the fact that the entire car park is covered in graff. In any case, Hoakser was told if he waited until after the attendant clocked off, he could come back and get it done in the twilight. So that’s what he did. In two hours, with no sketches (obviously), and no stopping, he completed this classic wildstyle, highlighting the cryptic lettering oneupmanship that forms the very heart of graffiti.

The work has been captured in this sweet little video, and our photography partners at Some Cities have taken a couple of great shots to really showcase the piece in context. How’s about that for transforming a city in transformation?

Q & A With Jez Collins

Jez

As part of our Brum Spirit Q & A series we were fortunate to catch up with Jez Collins to talk Birmingham, Brum Spirit and all that’s in between.

Jez is a social and cultural entrepreneur who works as a researcher in the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research at Birmingham City University, he is also the founder of the Birmingham Music Archive, which was was created to recognise and celebrate the rich musical heritage of the city, built by users who share their tastes and stories through music, and is also the Co-Director of Un-Convention, the UK based global music network and development agency.

 

Name: Jez Collins

Occupation: Researcher / Founder

From: Birmingham

Live: Smethwick

 

Tell us about your job? 

I’m an academic researcher at BCU where I research the music industries and popular music history, heritage and archives.

I’m also the founder of the Birmingham Music Archive, an online resource that seeks to capture, preserve and celebrate Birmingham’s rich music heritage.

I’m co-director of Un-Convention a global grassroots music network.

 

How and why did you get into doing what you do? 

My academic work was by pure chance as I started doing some temp work at BCU whilst I had my own bar – Atticus. My contract kept getting extended to the point of getting full time employment.

I’ve worked in and around the creative industries in Birmingham for over 25 years, mainly in music. This gave rise to starting the BMA as a way of celebrating and remembering my own music activities as well as my friends. From there it has grown and grown.

The role at Un-Convention has also grown from my early involvement in the organisation to the point where I am now one of the co-directors

 

What is your professional highlight to date?

Sorry but to many, I’m old. Very proud of owning and running my bar/cultural space. My film Made in Birmingham: Reggae Punk Bhangra, having my work published, setting up music archives in Venezuela and Uganda, co-organising the first hip hop concert in downtown Medellin….

 

What do you have bubbling away creatively this year?

I’ve got a number of projects connected to my BMA that I’m in a number of discussions about, particularly a major project about the history of black music in the city. Also starting my PhD and a number of events with Un-Convention very excited about a potential 2 year project in Ethiopia.

 

What is the best part about working in Birmingham?

The huge opportunities that exist in the city and the ‘new’ people coming through doing great things.

 

The worst?

Some of the people who are stuck in the past and don’t want to share. The lack of innovation and foresight of some of our funding administrators and our large strategic agencies.

 

What is your favourite place in Birmingham?

Warley Woods (strictly Smethwick…) or St Paul’s Square or The Great Hall, University of Birmingham or the architecure on John Bright St, School of Art and the inner core of the city centre!

 

What makes you proud about living in Birmingham?

It’s openness, diversity of cultures and its friendliness.

 

What one thing would you change about the city?

A more coherent approach to popular music in the city and a proper integrated public transport system.

 

What one thing you would champion?

It’s musical heritage and history

 

Where do you take your friends when they visit you in Birmingham?

All over!

 

How do you see the city 20 years from now?

Through old age…but still exciting!