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.

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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

People Stand Together – Community Mural At PST August 4th – 10th

Ok so we can proudly confirm our next community graffiti mural will take pride on walls of Birmingham’s best, and a personal favourite of ours, music venue PST, Digbeth.

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Heading up the Brum Spirit community commission will be one of France’s most notable street artists RCF1, who will work in collaboration with Brum Spirit veteran and Birmingham’s own graffiti artist HOAKSER.

These two talented artists will work to immortalise the wealth of history associated with Digbeth, and culture of the local community in the mural, entitled “People Stand Together” from August 4th to 10th.

If you have ventured out to Kings Heath you will have seen the 2013 Brum Spirit commission on Kings Heath Parade ‘Welcome To Kings Heath’ mural, which was the work of HOAKSER, and visiting Brazilian artist Ficore. The brief was to paint a community inspired mural to promote local pride in the area. The mural caused a bit of a stir, and was welcomed with open arms by local residents and business owners.

Birmingham’s own HOAKSER, whose work ranges from private commissions to solo exhibitions of which are currently held in galleries in 13 countries across five continents, why not take a look at the Q&A he did for us ahead of the collaboration.

HOAKSER will head up the mural and work alongside RCF1. RCF1 who is originally from Paris and over 25 years experience has seen his work exhibited all around the world, from Tokyo to Buenos Aires, one his careers most notable points saw his distinctive primary colour patterns called upon as part of EDF ‘Art Alongside Energy’ 2013 programme, and features on the side of the EDF power station in Rio State.

These two talented artists will join forces to paint for the first time, and will take inspiration from portraits of Highgate residents taken by Some Cities photographers Dan Burwood and Andrew Jackson, to embellish the facade of roots music venue PST with a large scale mural. With the challenge of reflecting the history and culture of Digbeth in one painting, we are calling upon YOU! Brummies let us know where/what/who you think deserves to adorn the walls of PST, help us to champion the things that you think make our unique city such a great place to live, #BrumSpirit and all that!

Nowadays Highgate is categorised by the City Council as amongst the poorest of Birmingham’s Priority Neighbourhoods. Official statistics like these do little to champion the area. The team of artists behind Brum Spirit aim to celebrate Highgate as a beacon of mutual tolerance and eclecticism, as well as getting to know better the people who live there. It’s hoped the artwork, entitled People Stand Together, will honour the neighbourhood as a cosmopolitan and welcoming area, where families from across the world have made their homes, since the city was founded by the tribe of Beorma, on the banks of the Rea, back in 700 AD.

HOW TO MAKE THE WALL: It’s easy so don’t sweat it, you can either email directly to Brum Spirit by email [info@brumspirit.org] or if you wanna’ win a lovely Brum Spirit T-shirt then head here  and answer the simple question; “where is your favourite place in Birmingham?”

Next step – tell all your friends about it and get them to enter! #BrumSpirit. 

 

Q & A With HOAKSER

In 2013 we worked with the talented HOAKSER to bring you the  ‘Welcome To Kings Heath’ graffiti mural. The idea behind the mural was to develop a sense of local pride, and with suggestions from the local community  flowing in HOAKSER teamed up with visiting Brazilian artist Ficore to incorporate all the great things that gave the local community pride in Kings Heath.

We are pleased to announce our next community inspired mural will take place August 4th – 10th and will be lead by HOAKSER, in collaboration with French artist RCF1. The mural entitled People Stand Together, will emblazon the walls of PST, on Lombard street, and will depict the history, culture and local community of  Digbeth!

We caught up with HOAKSER ahead of the collaboration to talk all things #BrumSpirit!

HoakserName: HOAKSER 

Occupation: Self employed graffiti artist

From: Birmingham

Q) Tell us about your job? 

My job varies from week to week or day to day, depending what I’m working on. I’ve spent years working on walls with spray paint and have developed my own style with lettering, wild styles and characters to become established in the Birmingham graffiti scene. That was a job in itself! I’ve been practicing graffiti for around 15 years and have been self employed as an artist for 9.

My work involves so many different aspects these days, which is why my job varies so much. Most of my spray paint work comes in the form of a commissioned piece that is designed to fit the clients needs..Large scale murals, bedroom wall artwork, sign-writing on shop shutters and teaching at graffiti workshops are just some work I might be doing.

I also sell my work online which involves photographing, documenting, and marketing my creations as and when I make them.

Canvasses, prints, custom recycled spray cans, toys and sculptures are always being added to the store on a weekly basis along with one of a kind printed t-shirts and other stuff to weird to explain.

Being self employed has made me learn lots of other work roles too… things like how to make and maintain my own website, blog and online stores meant developing graphics skills and learning how to use certain bits of software. Packaging and posting sold artwork is a skill in itself which is something I love and hate doing. The two solo exhibitions I’ve had were a whole new learning experience in terms of framing, picture hanging and organising. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m still learning everything I’ve just mentioned! My job is hard work, fun, stressful, relaxing, rewarding and I enjoy it loads but sometimes hate it too.

liberty4Hoakser

 

farmersHoakser

 

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

I’d always be drawing as a kid and only ever wanted to be an artist. I got into graffiti after seeing some friends doing it and wanted to try it for myself. I’d always drawn stuff and copied my favourite cartoon characters on paper but trying to tag with style or draw letters in spray paint was completely new to me. When I found out how hard it was, I just wanted to get better. Graffiti wasn’t something you could learn at school, no one had ever shown me this before and the more I learnt the more I realised how much there was still to learn. There are so many branches to graffiti. From tagging to doing murals on the sides of buildings, there’s a whole heap of practice and knowledge that goes behind that. And yet it’s still called “Graffiti”. With anything, the more you learn the better you get, but for me graffiti seems to be endless. I find it as interesting now as I did when I dropped my first tag.

 

Q) What is your professional highlight to date?

Not just because you’re doing this interview..but probably the Kings Heath mural from last years Brum Spirit ( formerly  Espirito Brum )

Having lived in Kings Heath forever, it was really cool to be given such a big wall on the main high street to paint in the place I grew up in. Working with Brazilian artist Ficore who I’d never met and who didn’t speak English was an extra added challenge, without the pressure of everyone in Kings Heath hating what we painted. The mural started coming together after a few days and the public really seemed to enjoy watching it. The artwork became a piece for the people of Kings Heath and after popular demand I included local hero “Sam the Monkey Man”. The wall then made local news and it wasn’t even finished, which was cool for us and Sam the Monkey Man..

Due to the size and location of the wall, it was very difficult to paint at times. Being a busy car park, there were always cars parked where I needed to be, which again made it even more challenging but rewarding once finished.

The response, support and conversations I kept having from the passing public also slowed things down but made it even more special in terms of achieving something to be proud of that everyone supported..

On a personal note, I met so many people whilst painting that wall…One in particular was a young kid called Tame…He loved graffiti and would stop and chat on his way home from work. Tame sadly died pursuing his love of graffiti soon after we met, which was a sad time for our scene, not to mention for his family and friends. I put his name up on that wall, which is something I know he would have liked. For me that wall has other attachments other than just being a piece of art.  Also having recently moved out of Kings Heath down the road to Balsall Heath, it’s nice to know I left something decent and permanent behind which will stay there for an unknown amount of time.

 

Q) What do you have bubbling away creatively this year?

There’s always something being cooked up in the studio… I’m about to try out some more sculpted wildstyle pieces at some point. I’ll be bringing out a limited edition resin figure of my masked man character later on in the year, the sculpt for him is almost finished. There’s the new Brum Spirit project we are working on too, that’s going to be cool, and it’s happening soon!

 

Q) What is the best part about working in Birmingham?

It’s not London in terms of prices and traffic! There’s a lot happening in the city and apart from all the obvious stuff like my family and friends being around, it’s where I grew up.

 

Q) The worst?

Can’t really think of a good answer for this. Birmingham’s treated me well so far.

 

Q) What is your favourite place in Birmingham?

Kings Heath. That’ll always feel like home, along with Selly Oak, Moseley and Digbeth, that’s where I’ve emptied most of my cans over the years.

 

Q) What makes you proud about living in Birmingham?

Putting words in my mouth now… haha… maybe not our accent. I don’t know… but keep making me proud Birmingham!

 

Q) What one thing would you change about the city? 

The lack of independent shops and businesses we have in the city. We have so many empty shops and too many cheap chicken and phone shops. I’d like to see Birmingham looking a bit more like Brighton.

 

Q) What one thing you would champion?

If I had time, more custom art toy shows in the UK. We are a few years behind some of the world with this scene in terms of exhibitions and shops.

 

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

Either painting, eating or drinking in no particular order, around my favourite places.

 

Q)How do you see the city 20 years from now?

We’ll probably have even more cctv, hardly any shops. Hopefully everyone will have hover boards by then, I hope I can look back on this in twenty years and high five myself for being right…

 

If you want to know more about HOAKSER then check out his website, blog, or give him a little follow here! If you would like to make a suggestion of something that gives you pride in Digbeth  you can either email directly [info@brumspirit.org] or simply head over to our competition and tell us your favourite place in Birmingham – which could also see you winning a lovely Brum Spirit T-shirt!

The Story Of Brum Spirit

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#BRUMSPIRIT 

So what is Brum Spirit? How can you describe it? What does it mean?

We feel Brum Spirit is all about when you feel full of pride about being a Brummie, and living in this unique and vibrant city of culture.

It all started with an Espirito…

Over the last 4 years we have been fortunate enough to facilitate and host, in our humble opinion some of the best international collaborations. With the help and support from all you lovely lot we have made ourselves quite at home in cities across Brazil, and districts across Birmingham – especially Digbeth, Kings Heath and Balsall Heath. We have been lucky enough to put on events showing the spirit of Brum and embracing the spirit of Brazil!

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 10.45.21In 2011 there was Rebel Spirit 

When the chance to open our doors to an international exchange presented itself, of course we were very excited, and a little nervous. The other editions of the Espirito Mundo circuit were well established elsewhere in Europe, and we knew that, in agreeing to host the UK edition of the festival circuit, as a tiny emerging comany, we were taking on a big responsibility.

We decided the best way to work was to start small and build from there, creating connections between visiting Brazilian artists and their counterparts along the way, and collaborating with existing organisations in Birmingham to enrich their programmes with something from further afield.

Things began in March 2011, with Gilberto Mauro and Ricardo Garcia performed A Good and Giving Heart at The Edge in Digbeth, as part of that year’s Flatpack Film Festival. This audio visual homage to Gilberto’s great uncle Humberto Mauro, and his home state of Minas Gerais, was our first little step in surfacing here in Birmingham.

In June 2011, reggae artist Jota III visited from his home in Espirito Santo for the first time, for our inaugural edition of underground music celebration Rebel Spirit. This took place at PST, just around the corner from The Edge in Digbeth, as part of Bass Festival 2011.  We’ve been working with both Jota and PST ever since, along with a growing bunch of talented producers, DJs, MCs and other musicians who travel the world to play out, and call Birmingham their home.

Come September 2011, it was time for the big push – we welcomed 28 visiting musicians and visual artists from across Brazil, to stay with us in Birmingham for a week, and participate in Espirito Brum 2011.

We worked alongside Friction Arts at the Edge, and PST in Digbeth, to run performances, workshops and interventions that allowed the artists involved to explore new relationships, and new ways of connecting with each other, and the visiting public. The artists also took part in Jazz at the Spotted Dog, performances at The Yardbird, a music industry debate and workshops at South Birmingham College, and other interventions besides. It was great to invite back old friends like Gilberto Mauro:

We also welcomed new acquaintances into the mix – we still get emails asking when Babilak Bah will come back – for many who visited Espirito Brum in the first year, his exploratory performance at PST was a real highlight.

For us it was really important to unite Brummie and Brazilian artists on the programme, encouraging creative dialogue and developing audiences for everyone at once. We found that when the visiting artists first arrived from Brazil, and saw the warehouse spaces in which we worked, and the lack of separation between audience and artist, they began to worry that things would not be professionally run, because they were used to much more formal performance settings back home.

As the days went on, however, they began to settle in, and as they shared in performances by Birmingham’s finest – like Paul Murphy – they began to relax, and understand a little more about us.

For our part, we learned loads! It was quite an unexpected process, exhilarating as well as stressful, and we knew that the concept would take a while to sink in with people here, at the same time it would always be growing and changing. We were really lucky to count on the support of Arts Council England in this first year, as well as the backing of all those who gave up their time and space to make our visitors feel at home and put on a good show.

We opted to step up a notch. Firstly, we called on the services of our incredible graphic design partners Wild Ilk Design Studio, to start building our brand image and reflecting the Espirito Brum ethos. Secondly, we built a relationship with Tiger Bam Communications, without whose support we wouldn’t be getting the word out and stepping things up as the years have progressed. Time to take on a serious adventure or two…

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In 2012 Birmingham welcomed Brazil!

Back in 2012 we welcomed a roster of highly talented and respected Brazilian artists into our multicultural and vibrant fold, rather than marking out the differences between us, we were inspired through music and visual art and discovered common ground – both within our own city, and far beyond its borders.

It all began in May 2012, when we traveled with 25 artists to the first edition of Espirito Mundo Brazil, in São Paulo and Vitória. This marked the start of many international collaborations between UK and Brazilian artists, which we were able to premier at our Espirito Brum events in September 2012 at various locations around Brum.

Highlights from 2012 included: Our adventure to Brazil and the relationships we were able to grow and develop along the way. Dragões de Komodo also caught a plane for the first time and left Brazil to embark on their love affair with Munchbreak, DJ Switch and DJ Feva. We also had wonderful performances from Dea Trancoso, Paula Pi, Joelle Barker (JOLT), Rubiane Maia, Ska’d for Life and Rioghnach Connolley (Honeyfeet) and made so many great memories. We were recognised in the cultural round up of the FIFA Brazil World Cup 2014! Not bad ey?

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In 2013 Espirito Brum met Kings Heath

Based in Kings Heath, we felt very much like a part of the community, to prove it Brazilian artist Ficore and Kings Heath original Hoakser collaborated on the graffiti masterpiece that is the ‘Welcome to Kings Heath’ community inspired mural, taking prime place on the side the high street.

We kicked off celebrations on Kings Heath Village Square, and teamed up with local foodies Brum Yum Yum to offer live music, dance and workshops to the vibrant Kings Heath community. With Brummie samba veterans Oya Batucada, North London new-comers Defkon1, and Birmingham’s Mendi Singh on the bill, we were also privilege to be shown how to Forrό in Brum with quick stepped demonstrations, and live jamming from Flautins Matuá bringing everyone to their feet. We hosted drumming workshops for all the family, in conjunction with Our Big Gig – the free nationwide event to encourage interaction with music.
AND we premiered “Don’t Cut off Your Dreadlocks: video with Brazilian reggae singer and rapper Jota III featuring Pablo rider who performed live at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath for the launch of the video, which was filmed around Birmingham by 144 Media, and features many of our glorious landmarks.

We were starting to see the benefits of ‘Trying Something New.’ 

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“Trying Something New With Some One New” 

A mantra we quickly adopted and developed. We set out to create multidisciplinary events for people to get involved in, with the aim to bring together communities from varying backgrounds, to enable people to meet their neighbours – whilst perhaps learning something. This idea became very important to us, and in 2014 we brought you:

Group Image- Drum Together Brum Collective (with Damon Wilding on the far right) Workshop

Drum Together Brum… Brum together

The inspirational community percussion group, Drum Together Brum, led by percussionist Damon Wilding, formed to learn something new with someone new, with the aid of Our Big Gig Extra and Birmingham City Council. Early in the year Drum together Brum premiered the efforts of the group at our event Brum Together, at All Saints church in Kings Heath.

The idea behind Brum Together was to create a free multi faith event to unite local residents from all walks of life, to come together and find common ground in learning a new skill. You can read all about it here :).

Drum Together Brum have now launched their own campaign to bring you a community street party on Sunday July 13th in Highgate – the event campaign reached its goal of £830 through crowd funding platform Space Hive. You know what that means – more free family friendly fun right on your doorstep!

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Rebel Spirit:

In association with IDFB we brought an evening of Brazilian reggae and hip hop flavours, celebrated through dance and music.  The dance floor was heaving with Forró in BrumCapoeira Cordão de Ouro and Irineu Nogueira and the soundtrack came from the likes of DJ Feva, Jota III, and DJ Silence to name a few. Some Cities also captured portraits from the night can be seen above, and marked the start of a new project which seeks to showcase the culture and people behind live music venues like PST, why not check out the teaser from the event here. We are please to announce we were able to raise over £400 from ticket sales on the night, which will go towards creating social dance projects in Birmingham over the summer. Read all about the Rebel Spirit event here and whilst your doing that why not have this brilliant mix on in the back ground, Brasil by the very talented DJ Feva!

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Studio Open Day

Set in the Old Print Works in Balsall Heath the Open Day allowed 200 people to have a go at something new with someone new, in one of Brum’s upcoming and vibrant arts venues. The idea behind the event was to encourage the local community to get involved in free arts workshops on the day whilst exploring and utilising this great space on their doorstep. We had various resident artist offering up their knowledge in; open ceramics studios with Becky Belcher, Multimedia pieces and workshops with Anita Roye,Design technology with Richard at CDTX, Crafty Business workshops with Sophie Handy, and the launch of our Looms Room with Mary, Becky, Niki, Sarah and Abi.

 We Found Our …

BRUM SPIRIT

We are please to announce that we have undergone a small rebrand. Whilst our ethos is still the same, over the years of working with many great creatives and artists we have feel we have developed in direction, and we would love you to take a look our around our new Website, Facebook and Twitter page to see what we have been up to behind the scenes!

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So whats new…?

Take a look at the Q&A here to see in the organisers own words what Brum Spirit is all about here.

And maybe we will see you at our next  BRUM SPIRIT event?

MUZKISTAN _ SATURDAY

 

 

 

Q & A with Tessa Burwood: Brum Spirit

So you may have noticed we have under gone a little rebrand of late? Incase you were wondering what it is all about we got together with Brum Spirit project organiser Tessa Burwood to explain in her own words whats been going on behind the scenes.

Name: Tessa BurwoodTESSA IMAGE

Occupation: Co Director of Professional Incredibles and Brum Spirit

From: Wales and Cornwall (big up the Celtic massive 🙂 )

Live: Balsall Heath, Birmingham

Q) Tell us about your job?

A) At heart it’s about encouraging positive connections between artists, audiences, businesses and communities in Birmingham, supporting them to create together and share their world views. It’s also about producing parties out of magic hats in unexpected places, getting covered in glitter, dancing like there’s nobody watching and appreciating the small things that make our city and its people a fabulous place to live and work.

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

A) That’s a huge question. I was working at the time as a journalist for BBC WM back in 2008, and had taken the week off to help interpret at WOMEX, as part of what was then West Midlands World Music Consortium.

This huge confluence of music industry professionals from all over the globe was so inspiring to me – I found a place for myself in the mix, helping people network and build relationships in Portuguese, French, Spanish and English.

I lost my voice over those five days, and came back buzzing with all the potential and possibility of such an inspiring sector. Shortly after that, I decided to quit my job and start out on my own in cultural production. It was quite an impulsive decision – I was very young and naïve at the time – and the Credit Crunch hit just as I was starting my first project (the launch of Jo Hamilton’s album Gown (2009), with Poseidon Music and Arts DeVille).

What a huge learning curve that was!

Shortly after that, I met creative practitioner Soesen Edan, and we set up Professional Incredibles. Our goal was to bring together touring and locally based artists on the Brummie circuit in unique live settings.

Five years later, we are still growing and learning, PI is still in business, and I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by such inspiring people, who truly add value to the lives of others through their creative endeavours.

Q) How did Espirito Brum begin and what were your creative ambitions for the events?

A) This cultural exchange evolved from a chance conversation in a taxi in Seville, just as WOMEX was winding down back in 2008. We were offered the opportunity to run the UK edition of Espirito Mundo, in partnership with Instituto Quorum – a production company based in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil.

Having lived and worked for some years in Brazil, the country’s culture, music and language were already an important part of my world view. We knew the project could be really positive for Birmingham, and we like a challenge, so in 2011 we held the first edition of Espirito Brum at The Edge and PST in Digbeth, in partnership with community arts stalwarts Friction Arts.

Espirito Mundo gave us the opportunity to host visiting artists from across Brazil right here in Birmingham, and to open creative collaborations with UK based artists and communities. It was something we just had to make happen, and we worked as part of Espirito Mundo for three years, as part of a Europe wide circuit, before striking out independently.

So far we’ve hosted over 100 artists from Brazil and other nations, in collaboration with over 300 artists from Birmingham and the wider UK.

The connections we forged through Espirito Brum also led to two tours of Brazil in 2012 and 2013, where we helped 25 British artists work across five cities.

We held music workshops in charities and universities in Sao Paulo, concerts in a 5000 capacity amphitheatre surrounded by monkeys in a jungle park in Belo Horizonte, large format photography exhibitions in Vitoria, and a few more unexpected adventures besides.

Q) What are your own personal highlights from Espirito Brum?

A) Our Welcome to Kings Heath Mural, that’s the most satisfying thing yet. Also, catching Rioghnach Connolly and Dea Trancoso teaching each other their favourite tunes, back stage at The Edge in 2012. This year’s edition of Rebel Spirit – just check out the video 🙂 Learning that Brazilians find tea with milk a bit weird. Too many blessed memories to recall here!

Q) How has Espirito Brum developed?

A) In 2014, we decided for several reasons to part company with Instituto Quorum and Espirito Mundo, and evolve into Brum Spirit. We wanted to open out the exchange to reflect Birmingham’s cosmopolitan nature, and we were determined to continue empowering artists to work in an atmosphere of respect and professional development.

Also, the name just fits – Brum Spirit – it rolls off the tongue right? Things have evolved over the years, but we’ve managed to keep going, and aim to remain true to our original aims – to build a project as welcoming and eclectic as Birmingham itself, and to celebrate the simple pleasures that keep us humans sane in this crazy world 🙂

Q) Why is it important to try something new with someone new?

A) Variety is the spice of life! We all know that, and it doesn’t have to cost much to try new things. We put on free, family friendly events for this reason – just like the daytime activities at Muzikstan Midsummer Festival.

We want to open the doors wide and attract as many people as possible, from all walks of life, out of their houses and into each other’s company, so they can make and do stuff and share thoughts and play games. That’s what makes a neighbourhood more resilient.

What is happening in Brazil right now?

A) Well, I’m not an expert, but right about now in Brazil I know there are just over 200 million people getting on with their lives, across a huge and divisive socio economic spectrum.

There’s also a sports tournament going on, apparently 😉

As we bathe in the green and gold glow of all the ruckus surrounding FIFA Rio 2014 and all it entails, it’s easy to forget that, until just 30 or so years ago, the nation was atrophied by violent military dictatorship, and some would say little has changed on the streets.

There’s an astounding level of income inequality, a woeful lack of true rule of law, exacerbated by a “pro rich tax system”. Check this out – I squealed when I read this: Brazilian citizens earning more than 30 times the minimum wage are taxed at about 26%. Meanwhile, those earning less than twice the minimum wage are taxed at 48%. How does that work?

While more private helicopters are chartered in São Paulo each day than anywhere else in the world, the nation’s richest 1% earn the same income as Brazil’s poorest 50%.

A study by the US Embassy in Brasilia in 2010 revealed over 23,000 street children working in highly dangerous sectors from construction to animal slaughter, over 75 Brazilian cities, and according to the Latin Business Chronicle, corruption costs the national economy over $41 billion per year.

This is not comfortable reading, and it’s just a broad overview. In the context of the World Cup, however, it’s important to look at such statistics.

The other night I watched the opening match between Brazil and Croatia at PST Digbeth, alongside Brum Spirit veteran and Brazilian reggae singer Jota III.

Jota summed things up like this: “You know what, all across Brazil right now, despite all the challenges my people are having to face, you can bet your bottom dollar they’re putting it all to one side just for these 90 minutes, to celebrate life together. The positive changes we need to make will come in time, if we really keep our eye on the ball.”

Q) Why are international collaborations important?

A) When people agree to take an adventure together across what appear to be the barriers of difference, they are more often delighted by all the things they have in common, than troubled by the things they don’t share.

At the same time, such a confluence of differing world views and perspectives allows us to gently interrogate the social issues and paradigms that shape our lives today.

Beauty and inequality exist around us all, in our every day lives, and sometimes we are too wrapped up in our own particular outlook to really see this in detail, or be able to make objective and positive changes.

By opening up our homes to visitors from other lands, and agreeing to share our space with someone unknown, the every day routine becomes special, and the delightful process of sharing and learning together comes into its own.

Q) Why Brazil and Birmingham?

A) Why the heck not ey? The Brazilians who have visited us over the years are ambassadors for their country on their way in, buoyed up by all that confidence that is part and parcel of being from a nation with so many riches of so many kinds.

After their time here, in a city most have not heard of before their arrival, they become ambassadors for Birmingham. That is a really special result of this exchange.

Our city can be so deferential and unassuming, despite its powerful history and growing influence. That’s part of its charm and its strength, as well as something that can hold the city back.

It’s a huge boost to hear from those who visit us from Brazil just how welcome they feel. I remember when Dragões de Komodo came with their wonderful manager Adriana Franco, back in 2012. It was the first trip out of Brazil for this São Paulo based hip hop collective, who are at the forefront of a thriving conscious underground movement across their home nation.

They are also family men, poets, teachers, students, sports fans, foodies, counterculture lovers and proper gentlemen. They had no idea what to expect, some of them spoke no English, and when they arrived they were tired, a little nervous, and freezing cold.

We took them home in Soesen’s van and made them supper, then went on to Jazz at the Spotted Dog in Digbeth, where the landlord John Tighe introduced them to Guinness and a true Brummie Irish welcome. At the end of their first evening, the boys realised they were sleeping in my bedroom, which I’d made up for them for the week.

I told them, “Vocês estão em casa / This is your home.” They slept for about fifteen hours on that first night, and woke up fully ready to work their genuine charm on Birmingham’s hip hop scene.

By the time they had to leave, they’d taken about a million photographs of the varied cityscape and its people, performed 5 shows across Brum, filmed a music video and recorded vocals for an EP, fallen in love with fish and chips, and forged a whole bunch of creative partnerships that are still in force today, through their co productions with Munchbreak and DJs Feva and Switch.

Experiences like that make this whole project worth all the effort it takes to organise. I’m sure Brum Spirit will evolve to include exchanges with other places – that’s the plan anyway – but this Brazil / Birmingham vibe is really special, and I wouldn’t change it for all the samba in Salvador ;).

Q) What is the best part about working in Birmingham?

A) The people, and the Brummie sense of humour. Surprising every time.

Q) The worst?

A) Local politics – it’s a challenge to see beyond ourselves and look at what can be achieved when we work together.

Q) What is your favourite place in Birmingham?

A) The Rea River Valley.

Q) What makes you proud about living in Birmingham?

A) If someone tries to be racist in public, they are invariably laughed out of the room or off the bus.

Q) What one thing would you change about the city? 

A) We need a night bus service. Oh my gosh, just found out it’s happening next month for the 50 route! OK, we need better cycle routes.

Q) What one thing you would champion?

A) Our independent music industry, in all its glorious variety.

Q) What is Brum Spirit and what does it mean to you?

A) It’s about tolerance, open mindedness and really appreciating a good masala fish and naan.

Q) What has happened recently that gave you Brum Spirit?

A) Yesterday I saw a young Sikh dude and his Jewish mate skating together through New Street, sharing a packet of Hob Nobs. Classic.

Brum Together! Just in case you missed it…

On Saturday January 25th 2014, Professional Incredibles, Our Big Gig Extra, Birmingham City Council, Near Neighbours and All Saints Centre invited people from all walks of life, from across Birmingham, to try something new with someone new.

We know that trying new things and socializing with others is beneficial, both on individual and community level. Research by the Young Foundation has found that wellbeing is higher amongst people who have regular contact with their neighbours and that knowing people in our local area, even if is just to say hello, can have a big impact on how secure and happy we feel about where we live.

With this in mind, Brum Together wanted to celebrate and showcase ways in which you can get involved with those around you, try out new experiences and improve your wellbeing in the process.

Over 30 different organisations and practitioners got involved with Brum Together, and over 90 people came the event. It was awesome, even if we do say so ourselves 😉

The whole day gave the opportunity to learn about a new hobby or skill, with the likes of Circus Mash,  on hand teaching a variety of circus skills. There was also support from theatre practitioner Hermione Sethi, who led a playful drama workshop, and the very talented Hasret Brown Art, pattern maker Hasret Brown offered up her unusual geometric arts and craft sessions.

We also enjoyed performances from a really talented bunch of artists such as  Culture Shock, and Mendi Singh. Culture Shock shared with us a very special session from their highlight performance from the previous year’s project, whilst Mendi Singh treated the crowd to a lesson in singing and tabla rhythms.

Also the talented Capoeira Cordão De Ouro Birmingham treated us to an indoor performance, due to the rain, however the heavy downpour did not dampen the group’s spirits, throwing a performance with elements of fight, play and dance; Capoeira Cordão De Ouro were awesome!

Not forgetting the premiere performance from Drum Together Brum, the inspirational community music project led by percussionist Damon Wilding.

A big thank you to the Soulful Lebanese Bakery for the catering and also thank you to everyone who brought along a homemade creation to share with the rest of the community. Biggups to whoever made that rhubarb strudel – it was yummy!

And a massive THANK YOU to all our workshop practitioners and special guests from Mary Street Gurdwara, All Saints Centre, Gillian and Jake Lever, All Saints Community Arts, Avtar Singh, Revd. David Warbrick,Our Big Gig Extra, Near Neighbours, Professional Incredibles, Culture Shock, Hasret Brown Art, CircusMASH, Soulful Lebanese Bakery, Hermione Sethi, Mendi Singh, Drum Together Brum led by Damon Wilding and Capoeira Cordão de Ouro Birmingham.

“EARTH WITHOUT ART IS JUST EH”

Earth without art really is just ‘eh’, and we truly believe this at Espirito Brum. That’s why this year, the city’s favourite cross cultural celebration has embraced all things art and has teamed up with a few of Brazil’s finest creators to deliver you some amazing artistic events this summer!

I Love KH

If you haven’t spotted it already, keep your eye out for the spectacular graffiti mural on the side of Mariano’s Cornish Café. The poignant piece is a creation by the wonderful visiting Brazilian artist Ficore and Kings Heath home body Hoakser, who have joined forces to mark the arrival of the cultural exchange in the bohemian suburb. If you want to get a look at this creation head to the Facebook page 🙂

The community inspired work of art explores the merging cultures of Birmingham and Brazil, and we think it’s fab!  The artists have even placed a focus on suggestions from local residents about their favourite things in Kings Heath, including the famous Kings Heath monkey man, who visited the mural the day before his 60th Birthday!

"Monkey Man"

Here at Espirito Brum we’re also really excited to tell you about another creative collaboration in Kings Heath. Graffiti painter Ficore is going to be working together with our favourite independent clothing boutique People Shop, painting fabric to be made into a bespoke dress by in-house designer Mr.Christian!

We were so excited to speak to Allison Saddler from the People Shop about this one of a kind opportunity, who told us: “We are really looking forward to working with Ficore and being a part of Espirito Brum. Shops like ours need to work together and to collaborate with other organisations on interesting projects more often. This keeps the excitement alive.”

Following this, Espirito Brum will be keeping its creativity flowing right through to the very end of the programme, and our final event is set to close the festivities in true artistic style! We have got together with Project U-Neek to organise an art trail around Kings Heath BID. We’re going to be putting prints of the exhibited works online for sale and at a special charity auction held in Loco Lounge August 8th, with all profits will be divided between the exhibiting artists and two amazing charities, find out more here.

Hand in hand, Espirito Brum 2013’s arts events work to inspire a community and showcase emerging artistic talents in a way that it has never been done before. As you can see, Kings Heath is Birmingham’s place to be this summer, and this is not one to be missed!

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!!

ESPIRITO BRUM IS ALMOST HERE!!

This weekend will see Birmingham meet Brazil once again, as we welcome the return of our favourite (we may be a little biased here) annual get together: Espirito Brum!

Our cross cultural celebration, previously based in Digbeth, is back for the third year with our best set list yet, AND if that wasn’t enough excitement we have moved to a whole new location- Brum’s cultural gem, Kings Heath.

We think the bohemian vibe and beautiful scenery will be the perfect home for our cultural exchange project, which works to inspire communities, whilst promoting culture and heritage, bringing you collaborations from some of the best artists from Brazil, Birmingham and the wider UK.

This year the Espirito Brum programme includes even more dates, spread out over the summer, and promises some spectacular acts and events in the months to come.

All the fun begins this Saturday in Kings Heath village square, where you can dig into some tasty street-eats from the lovely Brumyumyum, with traditional Brazilian music and entertainment from Oyabatucada to kick off one hot summer, even if we do say so ourselves.

To mellow it down in the evening why not head over to Kings Heath community cinema. The cinema will be screening one of its most highly requested films ever – Charlie Chaplin classic ‘The Kid’. If you haven’t seen this before, you really must., and what’s more, the experience will include a live baby grand piano accompaniment from one of Brum’s finest musicians, Mike Hurley, guaranteeing a film experience like nothing before.

Also, be sure to save a space in your diary for Project U-Neek, an art trail which hosts local artists work will take place through out a variety of unusual locations in Kings Heath BID, the map will be coming soon!! Prints from the art trail will be available to buy online and at the charity art auction taking place on Thursday 8th August,  with all profits being donated to two brilliant charities, both working to improve children’s lives, one based in Kings Heath Triple P and the other based in Brazil called Meninadanca.

We hope you enjoy this years Espirito Brum, as long as you enjoy eating good food, meeting great people, discovering new music and the celebration of  art, you really shouldn’t find anything not to like about it!

Keep checking in with us and make sure you follow  us @EspiritoBrum , like us on Facebook where you may even stumble across the chance to win lots of great prizes.

See you this weekend!!!!