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.
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?
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.
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:/
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…
(Moseley School of Arts image credit: Daryl Georgiou)
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!
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 year’s 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 graffiti’s 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 Digbeth’s Custard Factory.
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 we’ve visited lots of places in the UK before. We’ve been to London, Liverpool, Manchester – all over really apart from Birmingham!
What’s 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 it’s a concrete jungle, but Birmingham is the opposite. It’s actually very relaxed and quiet here. We love how Birmingham culture is one big melting pot, there’s so many different religion and races all living in harmony, and that’s what it’s like in Beirut.
What’s it like working with Birmingham artists?
Very cool! Our styles are quite different – our style of art is caligrafitti, is inspired by Arabic, which we’ve been doing for 10-15 years, but Hoakser and Zooki’s art is more like old school, traditional, pure graffiti, so our work is completely different to theirs and it’s a nice contrast.
What’s 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 – that’s our main mission to spread a positive message – so Hoakser wrote in latin “we’re in this together” and 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.” It’s important to mention that lots of people might think it’s vandalism, but it’s not, it’s about spreading peace and positivity.
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.
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 email@example.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!
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.
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?
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
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.
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?
How do you see the city 20 years from now?
Through old age…but still exciting!