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!

Moseley School of Art


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!

Moseley School of Art Empty Room Tours


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!

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?


BrumSpirit - WITT-9
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?


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?


welcome to kings heath mural
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 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  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.

Hi-Lite Arts at Brum Spirit 2016

Amongst our exciting roster at this year’s Brum Spirit 2016, we’ve got Hi-Lites contemporary arts programme. Curated by Darryl Georgiou, the art-works will showcase experimental and collaborative work by some of the finest emerging artists. Intrigued? Check out our Q&A’s with Darryl to get a taste of what to expect…


How did you begin as an artist?

When I was 7, I painted a picture of a boy at Wattville Junior School, in Handsworth, Birmingham. I attempted to make the boy’s eyes blue, but I ended up making the paint too runny, which prompted the teacher to ask me why the paint was running down the page…I told her it was because the boy was crying. That work ended up in a show of childrens’ art at Tate Britain. It taught me that in the arts at least, mistakes can be a positive thing.

hi-lite logo

What is the concept behind Hi-Lite Arts?

Hi-Lite is just one, but an important part, of an ongoing project called The Salon, that I’ve been developing with a number of well known and emerging artists, designers & creatives, along with filmmakers and performers, some of whom include my postgraduate Contemporary Arts students from Coventry University.


What are the aims of the visual art-works at the event?

To re-animate and recapture the spirit of a fascinating space and place – the old Moseley Art School, which ceased to be seat of creative learning in 1975. Using contemporary arts, interventions and performances which are unconventional and non-traditional, we hope to evoke the spirit of a building, which previously bore witness to so many creative outpourings over several decades of the 20th Century.


What can the audience expect to see from these art-works at Brum Spirit?

We want the audience to be entertained and  surprised, but perhaps more importantly, it’s about having a conversation with the public.


What do the different elements of visual, phonic and performative art bring to the programme?

Darryl Georgiou Live Art

There are three primary themes or departure points for the exhibition: Redamency ((n.) the act of loving the one who loves you; a love returned in full), Confrontation and Environment, which hopefully provide a kind of social sculpture.


What was it like to collaborate with the group artists on this project?

Like all projects of ambition or worth, it was a challenge and a privilege.


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

It’s simple… It’s a collaboration that involves music, film and art to engage a wide and diverse audience. Ultimately, it presents us with the opportunity to positively share a complex space in a time of increasing challenge and change in the world.


What do you hope the audience will take from the exhibition at Brum Spirit?

For me and my creative partner (Tolley), Brum Spirit is a celebration. A glimpse into the epic and the everyday.


Where can we find more about your work? 

Darryl Georgiou is an award winning artist whose work is held in international collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Deste Foundation in New York and Athens. He is the postgraduate programme leader for Art & Design at Coventry University and a Director of arts and photography organisations, ‘Still Walking’ and ‘Some cities’. He was artist in residence at the ‘Ars Electronica’ Futurelab in Linz, Austria in 2014. He is currently a recipient of a Henry Moore foundation research award for the forthcoming ‘Liber Topia’ project. He has an interdisciplinary production company with his partner – film maker and lens based media artist, Rebekah Tolley.


In 2010, Rebekah Tolley set up Tarian Films in creative collaboration with award-winning director, Michael Grigsby (1936-2013), widely regarded as “one of the giants of British documentary filmmaking.” (BFI, Sight & Sound, 2013). Their final collaboration was the critically acclaimed feature documentary WE WENT TO WAR  (2013) which was nominated for the Sheffield Doc/Fest’s prestigious Innovation Award (“for originality in approach to form and radical manifestations in the delivery of its story”), and followed up with screenings including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, Cinequest Festival in California, and Cleveland International Film Festival; opening to critical acclaim at the ICA in London, and a UK TV premiere on Film4. Also a professional photographer whose work has been featured in The Guardian, Observer Magazine and Photography magazine amongst others, Rebekah has been a jury member for a number of national and International Film Festival juries. Prior to embarking upon her career as an independent Creative Producer, Rebekah was Executive Producer/Director for Welsh international media producer, The Tinopolis Group, where she lead interactive projects for the likes of the BBC, United Nations and Channel 4. As an independent producer, she has worked on projects for BAFTA UK, BAFTA LA (inc. the Los Angeles Heritage Archive Project), Five TV and Oxford University


Most recently, she was Creative Producer for the documentary feature, OKHWAN (2016) Rebekah is a graduate of Coventry University’s MA course in Design & Digital Media/Arts (the first digital arts postgraduate course in Europe) and of the 2011 EAVE European Producers programme. Rebekah is owner of an interdisciplinary production company with her partner, artist Darryl Georgiou.