Gaia’s Harvest: Recipes + More!

On Saturday, we donned our raincoats and wellies and headed down to the Old Print Works in Balsall Heath to celebrate Gaia’s Harvest in the rain!

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Over the past six months or so, the community garden has been transformed from a neglected courtyard to a blossoming garden bursting with an abundance of fruit, veggies and useful plants, planted and nurtured by an amazing team of dedicated volunteers since it’s opening back in May.

 

Despite the *very* wet weather on Saturday (it wouldn’t be England if it didn’t chuck it down, would it?!) we had an awesome day celebrating the changing seasons and everything that the team have achieved in the garden, using the home grown produce to create an incredible community feast.

 

On the menu of tasty treats rustled up on the day were pudina pickle potatoes, pea and parsley soup, lentil and marrow bake, vegan pesto pasta bake, and cheese, chive and sweetcorn and muffins, to name just a few, and all washed down with our homemade raspberry and rhubarb squash – yum!

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If you fancy having a go at the delicious dishes we made on Saturday, check out the recipes we followed below!

 

Pudina Pickle Potatoes. – This pickle is a great way to use loads of mint, which grows like wildfire in Gaia’s Garden, and is really great for your digestion. You can use it as a curry paste and cook up meat or fish in it, although we went for some home grown potatoes. To tone down the flavour if it’s too strong for you, add a tin of coconut milk when simmering the curry down. Delicious!

Pea and Parsley Soup – A classic bit of Nigel Slater! Just remember not to let the soup boil – if you heat it more gently you’ll preserve more of the nutrients. Parlsey is high in vitamins A, C and K, and it’s really easy to grow, so get some in your diet!

Lentil and Marrow Bake – We made a veggie version of this, but you can see why bacon would really complement the mild flavour of marrow.

Cheese, Chive and sweetcorn muffins – Using Gaia’s Garden homegrown sweetcorn and chives, these are a yummy savoury breakfast treat, and really easy to make.

 

Amongst the other dishes served up, we threw together a really simple vegan pesto, with rocket and sorrel from the garden, along with olive oil, cashew nuts, salt, pepper and some lemon juice to loosen it up. We combined this with tomatoes, sweetcorn and runner beans, all from the harvest, along with some penne pasta.
And to wash it all down, we also made raspberry and rhubarb squash, simply by simmering loads of these fruits up with sugar to taste, then straining it. Just add water, ice and a cheeky slice of lemon and you are good to go! So refreshing!

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A huge thank you to everyone who came along to visit us on the day, Tessa Lowe for the tea runs, Ria Moeyens for all of the delicious breads and energy bars, and Elaine Ring for the chocolate cornflake cakes! AND, of course, thank you to all of the volunteers who have popped along over the last six months to get your fingers green in Gaia’s Garden! Whether you came by just once or twice or got involved every week – we couldn’t have transformed the garden in to the beautiful, blossoming space without you all!

Old Print Works Open Day

It’s shaping up to be an exciting weekend at the Old Print Works! Not only have we got Gaia’s Harvest to look forward to on Saturday 10th September (find out more about that here) but it just so happens to be Old Print Works Open Day, too! Amongst the programme of activity, all of this week MAK! studio have been holding a Makers Workshops to build two new bars for the Old Print Works, and members of the community have got involved to help out! On Saturday, there will be film screenings, live music, DJ’s and street art from 2pm – 10pm, and of course, a delicious homegrown feast courtesy of the green-fingered folk at Gaia’s Garden! Not familiar with the Old Print Works? We asked the team there a few questions to find out more…

-What is the Old Print Works?

The Old Print Works is an old factory on the Moseley Road in Birmingham that used to design and print transfers for branding items from steam engines to tennis rackets as well as many others in Britain’s then large manufacturing industry, instrumental in introducing colour into branding in the UK. The Old Print Works is now a thriving maker and creative community.

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-What is the Old Print Works mission?

We are a diverse and welcoming community that believes in the transformative power of making and creativity. Through mutual skill sharing we are building a resilient, sustainable and cooperative future. The Old Print Works is run by a charitable company, Make It Sustainable, with collaboration from diverse partners.

What sort of events and activities is the Old Print Works home to?

We host makers and artists in studios and workshops; we act as a platform for community-focused groups such as Sundragon Pottery and Ort Gallery. We host the amazing Ort Café and a range of events from music, theatre to art.

How does the Old Print Works benefit and work with the local community?

We host community-focused partners and events, providing opportunities and spaces for collaboration. We have shared makerspaces where local people get the chance to be creative, explore materials and processes and learn new skills.

How does this tie in with Brum Spirit’s theme of We’re In This Together? We share a value of inclusion.  We want to make a difference to our local community.  We believe everyone has something to learn and something to teach.  A sharing community is a stronger, better and more welcoming community.

What other community events has the Old Print Works been involved in?

The Old Print Works is a platform for people to make things happen; an enabler and a safe haven for makers, artists and musicians to engage with the local and wider community.  We have hosted open days, taster sessions, and celebrations and are regularly open to the community for a variety of activities.

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What does the future hold for the Old Print Works?

The Old Print Works is going from strength to strength, in partnership with a strong and growing community of creatives that share our vision.  Purchase of our building will cement our business model and our sustainability largely without grant support.

-Where can we find out more about the Old Print Works?

Take a look at our website www.oldprintworks.org.

Head to their Facebook event page here for more on the Open Day.

Gaia’s Harvest at Old Print Works

The Great British Summer Time is drawing to an end, and to celebrate the changing of season, Gaia’s Garden at the Old Print Works is holding a community harvest – and we’re all invited to join them!

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As many of you know, Gaia’s Garden is a community green space tucked away in the courtyard of the Old Print Works. Over the last six months or so, an amazing group of volunteers and local residents have worked incredibly hard each week to transform the once disused area into a thriving garden, planting, nurturing and tending to a whole host of useful plants, herbs, fruit and vegetables.

 

Gaia’s Harvest, which will take place on Saturday 10th September from 10am-3pm, will see an abundance of organic, homegrown fruit and veg gathered from the garden and prepared into a huge community feast for us all to enjoy! Sounds delicious!

 

As part of the feast, please feel free to bring your own contributions, dishes and ingredients from your backyard or allotment to share…the more the merrier (and yummier!).

 

As well as there being lots of tasty treats on offer, the harvest will be a fantastic opportunity to come together, meet our green fingered community and check out what’s been going on in the space throughout the Summer months.

 

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The team will also be collecting non-perishable goods for Sparkhill Food Bank, so please do bring along any donations that you may have on the day.

 

Everyone is welcome to join the harvest celebration, so come along and join us at Gaia’s Harvest on Saturday 10th September!

 

You can find out more here.

Balsall Heath Forum

Let us paint the picture for you – almost 25 years ago, in the heart of Balsall Heath, a few intrepid locals came together to forge the “Build A Better Balsall Heath” campaign. Passionate about making positive changes and improving the lives of people in their little corner of Birmingham, these volunteers from various subsections of the area’s diverse culture, quickly became the forefront of social change.

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Fastforward to present day, and the Balsall Heath Forum is as strong as ever. Now headed up by a team of dedicated staff and supported by many passionate volunteers, this neighbourhood lead organisation acts as voice for residents and community members. As an organisation, their key focus lies around safety issues, youth culture, and environmental issues – you know, all the important stuff! They bridge that sometimes wide gap between the local people and the authorities, act as link to service providers, improve the image of the area across wider Birmingham, build a strong sense of community. So basically, the benefits of Balsall Heath Forum is endless!

 

We think Birmingham needs more organisations like the Balsall Heath Forum – keep doing what you’re doing!

 

Keep up to date with their amazing work on Facebook here.

 

Balsall Heath WI

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What comes to mind when you think of the Women’s Institute? A group of elderly women having a natter over tea and scones? Well, you’ve clearly never come across the Balsall Heath WI, then! Never mind the tea and scones, this group of Birmingham’s finest ladies meet on the first Sunday of every month to do something awesome.

 

Born only two years ago, over 50 local women came together to celebrate the launch of the Balsall Heath WI. Bringing together the women of Balsall Heath and beyond in sisterhood, these fabulous ladies aim to make our community a better place through friendship, activities, campaigns and shared skills.

 

Amongst their packed programme of activity includes bike maintenance, urban foraging, talks and discussions (admittedly with lots of tea and cake!) and all kinds of music and community events throughout the year, plus more – you name it, they do it. They work hard to help our community become an all round nicer place to live, work and socialise, and it looks like they have a good time doing it, too!

 

Want to get involved? You don’t strictly have to be from Balsall Heath to get involved – many of the members are from surrounding Birmingham suburbs, with the constituency seeing an increasing number of younger women joining – right on, ladies! Come along and see what it’s all about – your first meeting is free, so there’s no excuse!

 

You can find Balsall Heath WI on Facebook here.

 

Some Cities Birmingham

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The arts are a powerful, and often underestimated, positive tool to steer social change – that’s why we love what Some Cities do. This not for profit Community Interest Company focuses on how the arts can unite communities, and specifically the power that photography has to bridge social gaps here in Birmingham.

 

Their vision is to see Birmingham become the UK centre of photography, working with organisations and individuals, regardless of photography skill or personal background, on a variety of exciting projects across the city. With a whole programme of high quality training, seminars, exhibitions and inclusive participatory photographic opportunities on offer, as well as an affordable and easily accessible Dark Room, Some Cities is changing the way the people of Birmingham interact with the arts, each other, and our amazing city.

 

Not only does it allow amateur photographers greater exposure, but it offers a unique insight into our diverse, vibrant city, creating an extensive digital archive of life and culture in the region, and encouraging it’s people to share their untold stories and personal lives. From our urban city streets to stunning panoramic landscapes, the images shared via SomeCities really will change the way you see Birmingham and unleash a whole new level of appreciation and love for our town!

 

SomeCities proves that everyone can get involved with and enjoy the arts opportunities on offer in Birmingham, and that gets a huge thumbs up from us!

 

Check out their incredible work and get involved here.

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Brum Spirit at Moseley School of Art

Last weekend, we flung open the doors of Moseley School of Art and invited you all in for two days of Brum Spirit fun…and what a seriously amazing weekend it was!

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We were (once again) privileged to be able to gather some of the finest artists from around the globe right here in Brum, to join us in exploring and celebrating this year’s theme; “We’re In This Together”.

 

Across the two days, we were wowed by all kinds of arts, including the “We Come In Peace photography exhibition, breakdancing workshops by Break Mission, fab participatory forum theatre by Jungo Arts, and some fascinating screenings by Stickelback Cinema, to name a few.

 

Live music came from homegrown talent Kate Goes, the stunning Polish string quartet String Fantasy, and toe-tapping headliners Panorama Do Choro, all the way from Sao Paolo, whilst the Hi-Lite Arts collective, from Coventry Uni, delivered a series of inspiring and thought-provoking performances throughout the day.

 

Ben Waddington’s Empty Room Tours really was a unique treat, leading us on a fascinating tour of the beautiful Moseley School of Art and giving us a rare glimpse into the history of the incredible, distinguished building!

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On top of all of that, the amazing team at Made Welcome connected communities and highlighted their invaluable work with our city’s refugees, and we devoured the most delicious treats from the Real Junk Food Project Brum!

 

Big shout out to all of the talented artists who performed and exhibited their incredible work across the weekend, and, of course, thank you to all of you beautiful people who came along and celebrated with us – it was awesome to see so many of you come together!

 

Finally, a huge thanks to 144 Media who joined us over the weeekend to capture the whole adventure on film – stay tuned for the video coming soon, and check out our Facebook page here for some wicked photos from the weekend!

 

Remember to stay tuned for more Brum Spirit events coming very soon to our city this summer! We’re in this together!

Cafe Forro at Ort Cafe

After this Saturday’s Brum Spirit celebrations, the party continues next door at Ort Cafe, with live music and Brazilian fun from 9pm at Cafe Forro! We asked the Cafe Forro team a few questions to find out more about to expect…

 

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What is Café Forro?

 

Café Forró is music and dance project based at Ort, the Old Print Works, which celebrates and shares forró, the music and dance style from the North East of Brazil.

Forró has taken Europe by storm in recent years; it’s a very happy style of folk music and forrozeiros (the term for forro fans) dance ‘coladinho’ (very close) meaning that people become quite quickly addicted.

We give weekly dance classes for beginners to intermediates; organise monthly forró parties, usually with our resident band, Forrobamba and sell Brazilian homemade food. This Saturday, the accordionist Junior Dias will be playing with two members of Forrobamba, Guilhermino Ramos (Triangle and Vocals) and Cassio Matheus (Zambumba).

 

What does Café Forro aim to do?

 

Café Forró aims to spread forró culture, music and dance in the West Midlands by bringing people from all backgrounds and walks of life together to have a great time.

 

Why is Café Forro helping to save the Old Print Works?

 

We are attracting new people to the Old Print Works who previously had never been. Many of our forrozeiros come from elsewhere in Birmingham, so this really helps to spread the word about Ort, the Old Print Works and the cause.

 

What does the Old Print Works mean to you?

 

When we think of the Old Print Works, we think of Ort Cafe. It’s a great community hub and we feel privileged to be able to bring forro to such a vibrant, varied and open minded Cafe/Venue. It’s an asset to and reflects its diverse community.

Cafe Forro band

 

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

 

One of the great things about forró culture is that it is very inclusive. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what your level of dance or social background is – everyone is welcome.

 

Who can get involved with Café Forro?

 

Anyone! (See above)

 

Where can we find out more about Café Forro?

 

Check out the Facebook page here or come along to one of our weekly classes on Tuesdays at Ort, 7:30pm.

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.

Empty Rooms: the Guided Tour

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Where can we find out more about your work?

(Moseley School of Arts image credit: Daryl Georgiou)