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?

 

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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?

 

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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.

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? 

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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.

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.

Big News From Cordão de Ouro Birmingham

Cordão de Ouro Birmingham have opened a new studio! Big congrats to those guys!

It is with great pleasure that we write about Brazilian martial arts movement Cordão de Ouro Birmingham‘s new studio – Arch 32 Water street, under Snow Hill’s archway, check out the precise co-ordinates here.

With the new studio CDOB can now provide Capoeira classes, workshops and events that suit your every need, AND now is the perfect time for your first class or perhaps make a overdue return to your training, as they just so happen to be running a special introductory new studio offer – find out more here 

 

So to mark this great news we are joining forces with the talented folks at CDOB to bring you  Tamojunto –  ‘We’re in this together! 

Not only is the new studio a  perfect place to learn, create and socialise, we also think it would make an ideal venue to throw a big ‘moving in’ party.

We’ll be mixing it up in classic Brum Spirit style, so expect an eclectic soundtrack from hip hop and funk to traditional Brazilian rhythms, and throw in Brazilian food and drink, forró, capoeira and breakdance taster sessions, all for just £5 on the door. Bargain!

Come and have an awesome evening with us, and catch performances from the likes of:


Capoeira Cordão de Ouro Birmingham 
Professor Mascote 
Irineu Nogueira 
DJ Silence (Open Circles Hip Hop Entertainment)
DJ Feva 
Sticky Joe 
Forró in Brum

Find out more and grab your tickets here!

Drum Together Brum are having A Street Party!

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Our favourite drumming group are putting on a “family friendly, free street party with proper vibes” July 13th!

We are so excited for Drum Together Brum who are hosting a free afternoon street party where the local community can get involved. These talented folk have bags of fun lined up including instrument making workshops for the little ones, which they can use through out the day in the musical jamming sessions and then can take home to practice later!

There will also be workshops for members of the local community to have a go with traditional African drums and instruments, led by Damon Wilding,  fresh breakdance workshops from Open Circles Hip-Hop Entertainment, Caribbean food and all this will be tied up with a lively performance from Drum Together Brum.

Drum Together Brum are a group of people who came together to learn a new skill whilst meeting new people, having only been together for six months they have turned a hobby into a true skill, and have performed at several venue’s in Birmingham including The Emerald Village, Brum Together, Rebel Spirit and more! This Street Party will show what can be achieved with a little bit of time and a lot of enthusiasm. Got #BrumSpirit  down this lot!

In partnership with Our Big Gig, Drum Together Brum are bringing a free musical street party on Sunday 13th July that will have something for everyone, head on down to PST on Lombard Street, Digbeth, Birmingham to learn different rhythms and try something new. Find out more here,

Muzikstan Midsummer Festival: Full of Brum Spirit

We marked the rebrand to ‘Brum Spirit’ on Saturday at Muzikstan Midsummer Festival, which took place at The Old Print Works, Balsall Heath.

As you know Professional Incredibles, the team behind many of our city’s well loved cultural events announced that Espirito Brum has rebranded to Brum Spirit, if you have read The Story of Brum Spirit you will know the announcement follows a period of growth and development for our collective.

To mark the arrival of Brum Spirit, in true Brummie style we had a big party, having teamed up with Birmingham Promoters, Some Cities, St. Paul’s Trust and Celebrating Sanctuary for the Midsummer Festival edition of Muzikstan, which took place last Saturday, at the Old Print Works.

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The event brought our usual mantra of ‘trying something new with someone new’ to the Muzikstan Midsummer Festival, and offered attendees an event made up of two halves. Throughout the day Old Print Works resident artists provided attendees free makers workshops for children of all ages, alongside Some Cities  who exhibited interactive photography of portraits taken through out the day.

Providing the soundtrack to the day was Blue Murda, who offered a safe haven way from the rain for musicians and audience members to jam and showcase new material together. Our highlight included a special cover of ABBA Dancing Queen, which when you think about it is the perfect jam/sing-along song, who doesn’t know the words!

We were taken into the evening of Muzikstan with performances from an eclectic lineup, featuring the very talented Senegalese kora virtuoso Kadialy Kouyate, who shared his West African griot repertoire with Birmingham for the first time. Also taking to the stage was Dirty Old Folkers, who brought their folk flavours full of fun and quirks, alongside The Mistakings, Tom Peel, and inspirational community choir Voices Together led by Daz Dolczech and Ann Jones.

We were lucky enough to have the very talented Ilvars Veinbergs down on the day capturing the all the fun and frolics, we hear the short video is almost finished so watch out for us sharing the link, you never know you might got yourself on film 🙂

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We would like to thank all you lovely lot you  who came down and took part in our first official Brum Spirit event, keep your eyes peeled for the photography from the day and night which we will be adding to our Facebook over the next couple of days, and make sure you have signed up to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss our next Brum Spirit event!

Next time you see something that gives you Brum Spirit, why not take a snap and share it with us via Twitter, by simply using the hashtags #BrumSpirit and #somecities 🙂

CALL OUT FOR MUSIC VIDEOS!

Calling Out: Music Video Submissions!

So as you know Espirito Brum is about to embark the second instalment of fun this weekend in Kings Heath, the temperature and entertainment is set to reach an all time high, with many great activities taking place through out the day and night this July 13th!

We are teaming up again with the fabulous foodies Brum Yum Yum for BYY take over on the Village Square in Kings Heath.

This looks yummy right?

Alongside Brum Yum Yum and Hare and Hounds we will be providing music, performances, and dance tutorials all day long – have a look at our event here with Flauntins Matua, Forro In Brum and many more making the day a treat for all the senses 🙂 Did we mention its also free admission?

As for the evening, well we have that covered too, because we are good like that, and Kings Heath Community Project special edition bringing Wanderson Lopez, Mendi Singh, and Joelle Barker playing live accompaniment with their “Intuitive EP Launch” and cinematic visuals from Expurgação – take a gander here.

Which brings us on nicely to the “CALL OUT!” We have some free screen time up for grabs, and we thought what better way than to call out for video submissions, so all the musical talent in the house hold your hands up, because we wanna’ see you, and we would quite like a lot of other people to see you too!

If you want your band, or your favourite bands video to appear at the cinema screening this Saturday then drop us a line to hello@espritobrum.org with links and a 150 blurb about yourself, or the band you want to recommend.

What are you waiting for get in touch and lets share some musical love about 🙂

 

SUMMER SATURDAYS IN KINGS HEATH WITH ESPIRITO BRUM!

The sun has officially arrived, the shades are finally out- and what better way to get into the summer spirit than to plan your Saturdays with Espirito Brum! Here at the city’s most captivating cultural celebration we have lots still in store for you!
We’ll start off by filling you in about what we’ve got going on on Saturday 13th July. From 12-3pm, make sure you head down to Kings Heath Village Square to catch an interactive musical performance from the one and only Flautins Matua. The creative Brazilian folk group have been performing live and presenting workshops for ten years, and have jumped on board to provide you with the best of Brazilian percussion, dance and joy.

Be sure to take inspiration from these guys (who have been known to make instruments out of anything they can get their hands on!) as we’ll be asking you to get creative too. The Espirito Brum team would like you to get involved in the festivities by bringing along your very own home-made instrument! You can be as experimental as you like. Whether you want to keep it simple with a make shift maraca (rice in an empty plastic bottle) or if you decide to go all Art Attack on us with a fully-fledged cardboard guitar, the choice is yours. But one thing’s for sure, we want you to make lots of noise! Also on this day, we will be joined by Wanderson Lopez, Mendi Singh and Joelle Barker for an intuitive EP launch- click here to find out more.

With your rice maracas and tin can drums at the ready, you may be wondering what on Earth is going on at Espirito Brum! Well, as you asked, this year we are looking to find treasure in our trash. This comes in anticipation of our final event on Saturday 10th August at 6:30pm, when you are invited to Kings Heath Community Cinema to experience a screening of the moving and thought-provoking film Wasteland.
Wasteland follows celebrated Brooklyn artist Vik Muniz as he visits the world’s largest garbage dump in his homeland of Brazil, making portraits of the garbage pickers in a true story that is astonishing and inspiring.
So empty your trash cans, put your music ears on and get creating as we gear up for yet another fun-packed, scorching Saturday!

THIS WEEKEND SAW THE FIRST EVENT OF THE SUMMER…..AND WE LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!

As promised this is our round up from the weekend 🙂

 

Firstly a big thank you to everyone who came and took part in Kings Heath Village Square take over, where we teamed up with street food pioneers Brum Yum Yum and Kings Heath local heroes the Hare and Hounds, who kept the drinks flowing all day.
If you missed our first event then you missed out on a real treat, but never fear we have loads more for you to get involved in!

 

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The day began with the sun high in the sky and the wonderful aroma from the street food market drifting through the air, who by the way we would like to give a massive shout out to those lovely folks for bringing their tasty treats to Kings Heath:

 

There was a great array of delicious food on offer, the Churros were exquisite, the waffles were wonderful, the burgers, ribs, chicken skewers, and deli delight boxes were all mouth-wateringly-good – so many to mention but all we will say is the Espirito Brum team had happy full tummies at the end of the day!
In the Muzikstan tent is where you could find us, busily changing the staging and tinkering with sound levels for most the day. All our performers delivered high energy entertainment all day to the raptures of support from everyone in attendance.

 

There is always such a great vibe in Kings Heath, and this weekend it felt like we had the seal of approval from local residence, and for that we would like to thank everyone that came, danced, clapped, and sang along with our artists, what a lovely bunch you are 🙂

 

So performance-wise, here goes, we had Birmingham renowned Oya Batucuda, who as always whipped up a samba storm, with children of all ages (including the big ones) dancing along to traditional Brazilian sounds.

 

Up next, it was the turn of North London new-comers Defkon1, who took to the stage just after 1pm. Defkon 1 is an upcoming artist, who blends together elements from grime, soul, dubstep, and UK hip hop. He was accompanied by his musicians who hail from Toulouse, Pretoria and London. They create eclectic and contagious performances, if you missed them on Saturday then be sure to check out their Soundcloud as Defkon1 are definitely ones to watch.

 

Next up we had Espirito Brum favourite and Birmingham’s own Mendi Singh. This is Mendi’s third appearance at Espirito Brum and he never fails to capture the attention of any crowd with his classical tabla music. You can catch Mendi performing next at the Kings Heath Community Cinema screening on July 13th, with visuals from Expurgação, and  live accompaniment alongside Wanderson Lopez, and Joelle Barker.
Then came quite the treat for the crowds when Moshka Medicine Men took to the stage, offering their fresh and unique sounds, Rohit Ballal and Ste Scott come together with a Sitar and Bass Guitar fusion. If your a fan of Indian ragas with jazz and funk inspired bass lines, then be sure to check out Soundcloud and support these guys!
Last but not least comes Danni’s People, a Birmingham funk band, because its always nice to finish on some funk right? We think so anyway! With female vocals from Danni Mayer, combined with funky bass and drums brought a soulful sound to the day, check out more from this band on Soundcloud or follow them on twitter.

That’s all for the music side of things, we hope we have covered all the bases and see you at the next event!!