OK, ladies and gents, you might have been asking yourselves what happened to us over the last two years. Not that we think you sit there thinking about us all day, you’ve definitely got better things to do! There has been a hiatus, however, and it’s time to explain.
Let’s break this down: Brum Spirit – Professional Incredibles‘ fabulous cultural exchange between Birmingham and Brazil – was founded in 2011. Back then, it was known as Espirito Brum, due to our partnership with a Europe wide network of festivals called Espirito Mundo, run by a production company from Brazil.
We ran three editions of Espirito Brum, in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Every year, a whole new bunch of visiting artists came to visit Birmingham, from all over Brazil. They created, performed and shared alongside artists from Brum, and from the wider UK, in neighbourhoods all across our beloved home city. We had a wicked time, we learned a lot, we made loads of mistakes, and we made magic happen.
In 2013, we partnered with Kings Heath Business Improvement District to bring a carnival inspired focus to South Brum’s favourite High Street. Campinas raised Flautins Matua led the parade as part of their European tour.
We also curated the Welcome to Kings Heath mural – painted by Brazilian artist Ficore, alongside Kings Heath’s very own Hoakser. Three years on, the mural is still there, untouched and brightening a little corner of B14. Its gets seen by around 4500 road users per hour, and as you can see from this article, it’s become synonymous with the neighbourhood.
Ficore also collaborated with Mr. Christian – in house designer at indie boutique The People Shop – on a one of a kind graffiti dress. Why the heck not?
Our 2013 edition was lush. It was also quite stressful, and due to ethical differences between ourselves and the makers of Espirito Mundo, briefly centring around our belief that artists should be paid for their work, so that they don’t die of exposure, in 2014 we rebranded to Brum Spirit.
This also meant that we could extend the cultural exchange up to involve visiting artists from other nations, as well as those from Brazil. The name Brum Spirit encapsulates the sense of welcome, tolerance, self determination and eclecticism that Birmingham embodies as a city, and we wanted to open our homes and our hearts to artists from all over the damn globe.
For Brum Spirit 2014, we did just that. As well as welcoming back visiting Brazilian musician Jota III for the 4th time, we called on Kadialy Kouyate from Senegal, and CASCA from Cameroon, through our partnership with Celebrating Sanctuary and Muzikstan.
In line with our commitment to brighten up neglected corners of Birmingham with crowd curated public artworks, we hosted French graffiti artist RCF1, while he completed a collaborative mural in homage to Brum’s underground music scene, alongside Hoakser.
So, nicely settled into our new name, and continuing to build on our small but carefully formed exchange model, Brum Spirit was going swimmingly. Then, one day, our Director Tessa Burwood decided it was about time she set herself a new challenge – one which would take up a heck of a lot of time. So she buckled down to studying for a Graduate Diploma in Law, at BPP Birmingham, and she blooming well passed.
What with that, and creating our sister project Levitate, there was no time to run a full edition of Brum Spirit in 2015, so we took a year off from public events. We did make this wicked film though, all about Birmingham’s music scene, with a little help from Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whisky.
So, that explains the hiatus. But fear not – Brum Spirit is back in 2016! Yey! We have loads of cool things to share with you this year, and we cannot wait to get started 🙂 Thank you big time for bearing with us 🙂 Tamojunto familia!
So folks, we told you this year’s community mural would take pride of place on our favourite underground venue, PST. Well it’s done, it’s happened, it’s in the bag, and it looks wicked. Brum based graffiti artist Hoakser collaborated with Parisian veteran RCF1, for a meeting of styles in true homage to this venue’s rich musical heritage. Watch this video by Brumterritory to see what went down.
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.
Occupation: Self employed graffiti artist
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Can’t really think of a good answer for this. Birmingham’s treated me well so far.
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.
Putting words in my mouth now… haha… maybe not our accent. I don’t know… but keep making me proud Birmingham!
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.
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.
Either painting, eating or drinking in no particular order, around my favourite places.
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…
For those of you who haven’t been to or even heard of Espirito Brum until right now, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? This summer, we like to think has been our best yet with even more dates, even more venues, and much more Braziliance than ever before!
With the help and support from all you lovely lot we have gone from being a weekend long festival to a three month long extravaganza ensuring you all got the most from our home grown British artists and our visiting Brazilian friends. We have made ourselves quite at home in Kings Heath so a big thanks to all the residents who welcomed us into their community, showing the spirit of Brum and embracing the spirit of Brazil!
So without further ado let’s take a look back at Espirito Brum 2013:
We kicked off with a celebration of all things Espirito Brum and teamed up with local foodies “Brum Yum Yum” and June 8th brought live music from our veterans Oye Batacuda, North London new-comers Defkon1, and EB favourite and Birmingham’s own Mendi Singh. We were also lucky enough to host 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 came together with a Sitar and Bass Guitar fusion and last but certainly not least was Danni’s People, a Birmingham funk band, because it’s always nice to finish on some funk right?
We felt like a part of the community in Kings Heath and 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. Of course, it could not possibly have been complete without the inclusion of the Kings Heath Monkey Man who visited the proceedings the day before his 60th Birthday. We hope those of you who made suggestions to what should be on the wall had your creative visions realised as it has recently been finished – what do you think?
Ficore also kindly started another creative collaboration with our favourite independent clothing boutique People Shop. Ficore painted fabric which was made into a bespoke dress by in-house designer Mr.Christian! Wait till you see the picture of this beautiful dress – luckily it’s for sale so one of you lucky girls can get your hands on it!
This year we have had some of the best international collaborations, we saw the return of Mendhi Sing and Wanderson Lopez, after their successful tour of Brazil with their guitar and tabla concert. The pair graced us yet again at Jazz at The Spotted Dog (which was free entry so no excuses), and they continued to impress us at the Kings Heath Community Cinema Project, where they showcased their fantastic music, joined by Joelle Baker and cinema visuals from Expurgação.
We think everyone enjoyed the first event at Kings Heath Village square so much that we just had to have another one, only this time it happened to coincide with the hottest day of the year! With temperatures scorching we were really feeling the espirito of Brasil! This time we had the privilege to be shown how to Forrό in Brum with the quick stepped demonstrations to get all you Brummies dancing. The live jamming session with Flautins Matuá meant everyone was up on their feet and get involved with the fantastic interactive folk performance.
There were also drumming workshops for all the family, in conjunction with Our Big Gig – the nationwide event to encourage interaction with music. We were also joined by Brummie lads New Killer Shoes who gave us a taste of their ska and reggae inspired acoustic set, while we were of course fed by the food heroes Brum Yum Yum.
All summer we gave you teasers of the fabulously rebellious 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. The video, which has been played on MTV Brazil and broadcast over FM radio in Sao Paulo, was filmed around Birmingham by 144 Media, and features many of our glorious landmarks, mostly in Digbeth showcasing some of the area’s finest examples of graffiti and street art. If you haven’t seen it go check it out here! You can also download the single here.
After the energy and vivacity of Espirito Brum 2013, we were drawn to a more contemplative end. At All Saints Church, Kings Heath Community Cinema screened ‘Waste Land’ directed by Lucy Walker and co-directed by João Jardim and Karen Harley. The film, that documents the journey of artist Vik Muniz as he travels to his native Brazil to visit the largest rubbish dump in the world, captures the lives of the people who live there and how the power of the human spirit
So, take a deep breath and wipe away those tears as you can always keep in touch with us via Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget it all kicks off again when we head to Brazil in Spring 2014! See you next year!
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!
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!
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!