Archives For birmingham

'Old books' photo (c) 2011, Moyan Brenn - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/It was recently reported that the Bible will be made available in almost all language groups by the year 2022 (Ted Bergman from the Summer Institute of Linguistics). Upon reading this, the mention of the year 2022 immediately piqued my interest on account of the fact that I am participating in this project about the year 2022. Given that this project centres around the libraryof Birmingham and libraries are about books, I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment to consider the Bible, the book that is widely regarded as ‘the book of all books,’ honing in on some of its literary styles and techniques that have shaped English language and culture today.

The Bible is mysterious in the sense that it has stood the test of time, it continues to be the best selling least read book year after year despite numerous historical attempts to destroy it. Religious controversy aside, the variety of literary means and methods make the bible interesting from an artistic standpoint as you can find various styles of poetry, drama not to mention stories of every genre under the sun.

The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic and Hebrew in particular is known to be a very powerful, dramatic and emotive language. When the King James Version of the bible was translated into English it did some interesting things for the development of the English language. It is no secret that the bible bore influence on many of William Shakespeare plays and of course Shakespeare is widely regarded to have shaped English Language and Literature.

Just to illustrate my point with a few examples, in English when describing a conversation, we would say simply say something like “And he said…” but the same thing expression in the Hebrew language would say something like “And he opened his mouth and spake, saying…” To give you another example, in English we would say something like “He got up to put on his coat and left.” In the Hebrew it would say something like “He arose, girded his loins and went forth.” Get my point? It all sounds much more dramatic and reading it keeps you on tenterhooks.

As we consider arts and culture in Birmingham and its progression in 10 years time, I think it’s important that we reflect on the foundations on which our creative expression is often built. In 2022, The Library of Birmingham will be that place where we can take the where it will be standard practice for visitors to draw on our heritage to help us make better decisions about our lives and our futures. When we consider where are coming from we will always gain insight into where we are going.

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Looking for a unique live music venue in Birmingham? Then Suki10c is the place for you! Although Digbeth is jam packed with party sites this street art adorned establishment is one of a kind. Transformed from an aged boozer to a lively nightspot with an innovative name (pronounced ‘suck it and see’ Ha!) this location is unmissable in more ways than one. It was thanks to the sudden surge of nightlife that Digbeth was transformed from an industrial wilderness to the arts centre it is today, so who better to predict where the future of the district should lie than a bar owner? I spoke to Laur Beech, proprietor of Suki10c to find out what she predicts Digbeth will be like in a decade’s time…

How long have you lived and worked in Digbeth?

Lived in city centre for 7 years and opened the pub on 31st May 2012

Why did you choose to open Suki10c in Digbeth, rather than in another area of Birmingham?

The vibrant, artistic and originality of suki10c is fitting with the other venues and business in Digbeth. It’s also cheap!!

Digbeth is considered an emerging art scene, how has Digbeth developed during your time there?

There are more and more things happening in Digbeth. Shops, studios, galleries and venues.

How do you predict Digbeth will alter during the next decade? (Between now and 2022)

Digbeth is the next big thing in Birmingham, once the new station is built at Curzon Street people will arrive in Birmingham through Digbeth, the new ‘gateway’ to Birmingham city centre. People are also intrigued by Digbeth, its industrial architecture is a great influence to art scene in the area.

Digbeth is known for its abandoned factories, some of which have been transformed into galleries. What do you predict for the remaining empty industrial spaces? Could they be used creatively?

I hope so! Birmingham’s issue is the council; no one has any money and the council offer little help for expansion. I hope that soon they will be used as creative spaces of varying forms and not just turned into apartments or car parks!

Although Digbeth is emerging, it is known for its ‘retro’ atmosphere and its obvious links to the district’s industrial history (The Custard factory for example). Do you feel that during the regeneration it is important to keep these ties apparent for Digbeth’s identity?

Totally, that is what makes Digbeth what it is; most people in the area seem to respect that.

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I was inspired by the library of Birmingham to create a character that resembled the likeness of the new structure. I tried to capture the high tech style and merge it with my style of drawing and came up with this imaginary tech-droid that has the shapes and bold colours that build up the libraries form.

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mr gambles

Today Siobhan and I were lucky enough to secure an interview with Brian Gambles (Project Manager and chief executive at The Library of Birmingham Trust.) Being the man in charge, Mr Gambles was understandably very busy as the preparations leading up to the big opening in September continue!

The interview was held in the new Library on the seventh floor. Walking through the building I couldn’t help but notice an enormous sense of anticipation contained between its glass walls.  This feeling was confirmed by Brian Gambles himself who was obviously eager for the Library to open its doors.  He talked about the new concept behind the Library and what sets it apart from all the others as well as discussing the building’s fascinating artefacts and how they will be brought to life through the discovery season and trail. We also learned Mr Gambles’ thoughts about the future of the Library and how it will affect arts and culture in Birmingham.

Listening to the answers and opinions of somebody behind such a new concept really triggered my excitement for what the future of Birmingham may hold.

The full interview will be uploaded as a pod cast very soon!

Wednesday afternoon proved to be packed full of valuable tips as we tapped into the knowledge and experience of those already working in the Creative Industry!   As the writers spent time with a freelance journalist, the creative team received a productive crash course in professional photography.

Our shot expert was Steve Gerrard (no not the footballer!)  Steve’s passion for all things photography was clear and this translated into his very unique and experimental photo collection, of which we had the chance to browse as Steve explained the idea and workings behind each image.

Steve’s photography career began in music where he conjured up ways of shooting moody members of metal hammer bands.  This alternative approach to capturing a moment or person soon made Steve the man you need to photograph creative weddings.  For which he produces a huge variety of inspired shots that wouldn’t perhaps please the mother of the bride, but certainly reflects every individual couple in a true, unique and exciting way.

Firstly and most importantly Steve told us not to follow the rules and get caught up in the swamp of posed and samey photographs.  You need to find your own vision!  Much of Steve’s work is chiefly people based and for this the most integral element is finding good light.  Natural is always best, but there are lots of clever ways of creating your own, like light painting with things that flash and quick exposure.  We learnt about everything from light boxes to flash guns.  Steve’s work proved that the right light can give skin a vigorous glow, create curious shapes with reflection or highlight the most integral part of an image.

Steve explained about his love for symmetry, unusual textures and detail.  This got us thinking about the endless backdrops and props we have around us every day and certainly made me look at my daily surroundings in a different light.

With people it’s all about capturing the eyes, they’ve got to be sharp and looking straight through the lens.  Steve told us that he often sneaks a shot when people aren’t looking and that he likes to distract his targets with conversation in order to get that natural smile.  Steve has a gold fish in his camera when working with small kids and endless photographs of little engaged and puzzled faces prove this technique works!

Armed with useful tips we headed out into the rather cloudy afternoon and had a go at taking some photographs ourselves.  Here are a few of the less embarrassing ones, not bad for an impromptu shoot!

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Beautiful Illustration by the fabulous Reiss Hesson

 

 

Date: 9th July 2013 – Second day of the summer school.

All of a sudden the unveiling of the library is looming closely over us, what felt like months and months away has whittled its way down to only 55 days. And this calls for our team to get under away with articles and designing for our Brochure. In our eyes this is the first day of ‘proper work’ for us all. We have gone through and completed our preparation of talks and culture sector meet ups, which gave us our foundation, but this is now the real thing!

So today went a bit like this:

10.00 AM – Arrive for a soft start

(Which then entailed us sitting in the sun for 20 minutes gossiping about the secret insight to the library tour)

10.30 AM – Morning meeting and Briefing

(Back to reality of our project and studio time, we had a detailed overview of the day before kindly given to us by Dan, this involved the articles corresponding to the writers and then the plan for the day. Then we received a beautiful typed up table of the team members corresponding to their articles and word counts that they will be writing. Furthermore, we met our very own professional graphic designer who will be assisting us for the course of the summer school and the brochure. Keith has been extremely helpful in assisting us with our query’s involving word counts but the most important thing that he has brought to the table was his prospective layout designs, as these are only drafts it is still unsure as to what the final will look like, but I can assure you that they are admirable. He also gave his opinions and ideas on the style of the brochure and the type sizing and fonts itself.)

11.00 AM – Work time!

(The team split of into two groups; creative/journalists to work on the tasks for today. The Journalist got stuck down with their articles as tomorrow they have a deadline to hand in a first draft. This involved the research behind the piece and additional confrontation with Kerry and Amy and then heads went down in Word to create their glorious read.

The creative’s had a chat with Keith as to what will be needed for him as of next time we meet and ideas that we could work on. His feedback was that we could incorporate our own illustrations to go with the journalist’s articles as well as drafting out ideas for the front cover. After they got that knowledge it was a group discussion about what illustrations will be needed for each article and pinpointing individuals to correspond to that. Next the agenda was the front cover, this is a big deal as it will dictate who is going to essentially pick up the brochure. This called for one thing – a mood board! Some of the ideas generated as to how we approach the design was; bold colours, hand rendered designs, reference to the library, the library pattern, discovery theme and appealing to senses. Then Ta-Da we all got to work.

1.00 PM  – Lunch time!

An enhancing 45 minutes of siting in the sunshine and having a few odd footballs landing in our circle.

1.45 PM -  Back to work!

Arriving back from our refreshing break, we immediately got our thinking heads on and got back to work. From the Journalists perspective this involved more drafting of a chosen article and editing, and from the creative perspective it involved drafting illustrations and front cover ideas. The afternoon went well and we completed the tasks given.

3.30 PM – Debriefing!

Collectively we gathered around the table and evaluated our working day, it was apparent that we all managed to get through a lot of work. Then Dan gave a quick speech on what was needed for tomorrow!

4.00 PM – Home time!

project uneekI have an inclination that over the next 10 years we could be seeing a surge in interest and appreciation of the visual arts propelled by passionate visual artists showcasing their work in the most unlikely of places.  This observation is based on recent trends I am seeing at a grassroots level, game changing projects led by people in the local community.

One such example is Project U-Neek founded by Alexandria a young freelance artist. I have recently had the pleasure of attending some of her exhibition events where she exhibits and sells the artwork of upcoming visual artists in local businesses and public spaces. Last week she held an exhibition showcasing the work of a young Artist called Adam Bolton in Harris Moore canvases down in the Digbeth and this was attended by local creatives including Hunt Emerson, a local cartoonist and illustrator known for his work on The Beano magazine.

Another example is the Espirito Brum Festival which not only brings to us some of the finest in Brazilian culture but this year they have teamed with Project U-Neek to create an arts trail in Kings Heath where work of emerging artists is exhibited in various small businesses along the Kings Heath High street.

The concept of placing artwork in unusual places is not a new one but I think its on trend and underpinned by today’s social media culture I can see how Visual Art can now begin to follow the people.