Archives For visual art

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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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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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.