GPS drawing from two laps around Eastside, Nikki Pugh
Today we would like to present another Digbeth related art project by Nikki Pugh, Birmingham based artist. She was repeatedly walking around the perimeter that defines Eastside for a month and a half, trying to pay attention to how these spaces are being used at different times and by different groups of people. ‘In 2006 this was mostly all unknown territory to me – she writes. - By 2009 it was still mostly unknown territory, but now with small incursions around Digbeth and Curzon Street. When I decided I wanted to return to some of the questions raised by the area’s regeneration, it was apparent that my first step should not to be to research it in an academic manner, and subject myself to all the spin, but to get out there and experience it directly’.
Artist was documenting the process of walking using a GPS technology, which logged her position once every second. She was interested to see how the cityscape affected her position as seen by the machines. As Nikki writes on her blog, GPS is not as accurate device as we would expect. ‘Looking at the results from any one walk I can see a whole host of different glitches and errors. To be honest, they’re what make GPS an interesting thing for me to work with’ – she writes. She finally invited other people to join her for an investigative walk. They were walking, exploring and documenting this fascinating area. Photographs and video from this escapade you can find here and here.
You can also buy a 'Document one: 2009', publication documenting the project . The book comprises details of an artwork by Pugh, photographs contributed by participants of a Walk and Talk event and also texts by Ben Waddington, Joe Holyoak and Tracey Fletcher.
Through our recent research we were excited to discover Digbeth had an Italian Quarter, further fuelling our interest in Digbeths diverse social heritage. From the early 19th century Italians began to immigrate to Britain due to major changes within Italy such as the Napoleonic occupation, famine and increased population growth. Many Italians began to undertaking seasonal migration to surrounding nations, a number arrived in Britain and stayed.
By the mid 19th century an Italian quarter began to develop around Fazeley Street in Digbeth and this area was nicknamed ‘Little Italy’. During the 19th and early 20th Century the Italians in this district were best know in the city for making and selling ice-cream, being successful in this trade until WW2, often selling from hand-carts and attracting customers by ringing handbells.
Following WW2 however many Italian men who had lived in Britain for less than 20 years were treated with suspicion, many were sent to camps in different parts of Britain. This, and the redevelopment of the central bomb-damaged district led to the rapid dispersal of the community.
An interview with Joseph Mattiello MBE, an ex-resident of the Italian Quarter, reveals interesting points about the integration between Digbeth's communities. He explained that St Michael's Church on Albert Street, a traditional place of worship for Italians in the area, was also known as the Polish and the Irish Church.
In almost every bigger city in the UK you can find Polish Centre. Polish people have travelled here throughout the centuries. However, many Poles arrived to Great Britain as political émigrés during and after the Second World War, and during communism time. After Poland's entry into the European Union in May 2004 new generation of Poles have arrived here and it is estimated that presently Polish diaspora has around 30,000 people in Birmingham.
In Birmingham Polish Club ( aka Polish Millenium House) is based in Digbeth, and was established in 1963 by Poles connected with local Polish Catholic church, for their own money.
Nowadays, Polish Club is much less popular throughout Polish community than it used to be.
Why? According to Guardian “This place is a real oddity. Very old fashioned and mainly inhabited by ageing Poles. Pictures of the (last) Pope abound ”, and there is much truth in it. Nevertheless, I enjoy the food in the restaurant and this specific 'travel in time' climate whenever I go there.
You can find a restaurant, an English-style pub and a shop there. From time to time they also organise some cultural events, activities for mothers and children, as well as choir classes. Polish Club have rooms for hire, so don't be surprised if you find a bridal shop there, Polish Secondary School and even a University! On Saturdays they organise Saturday's Polish School, where children of emigrants can learn Polish. Troubling for me is only that this place represent the entire Polish community in Birmingham, when in fact is shaped mainly by the older generation focused around the Catholic Church.
This German-English couple have been coming to the Polish Shop in Millennium House since 1969. 40 years ago this was the only one Polish shop in Birmingham – says Rita - nowadays there are dozens. I met them while they were waiting for fresh bread for already 2 hours! They know when bread is delivered, so usually they come just on time, but this day the driver was late, so they had to wait.
Yesterday was the deadline for Polish artists applying to take part in the residency scheme in Birmingham. Thank you to all those who submitted their applications, we've had an overwhelming response. We now have the exciting task of reviewing applications and will let you know the results very soon!
Unfortunately we didn't win, but we had tremendous fun taking part and left with bellies full of sugary goodness. The overall winner was TROVE with an amazingly decadent rainbow snow ball cake. Joint second prize went to More Canals Than Venice with a tasty chocolate and beetroot cake and Kino 10 who produced some yummy blueberry and cinnamon muffins.
We, as the Post-Industrial Revolution team, were recently invited to baking competition by new Birmingham based creative organisation, the Neighbourhood. They have invited all other creative organisations they could think of, to create interesting platform for getting to know each other better. Behind us the most difficult part - we had to bake a cake! We will bring it along on the aforementioned chilly November Eve, and their panel of judges will pick a winner. Me and Kate met yesterday to conjure amazing Polish cheesecake with English Custard powder in it! We will let you know if we win soon.
The presence of Irish people in Birmingham was first recorded in the 1600s. However the first major waves of migration began in the 1820’s as large numbers immigrated to England in a bid to find work and escape poverty. Even larger numbers began to arrive during the 1840’s to escape the devastation of the Great Famine.
During the 19th and early part of the 20th century every inner-city district of Birmingham had an Irish quarter or an Irish street. At the beginning of the 19th century large numbers of Irish people lived in the poorest parts of central Birmingham, gradually moving outwards as the city itself grew. In central parts of the city over 20% of the population were first generation Irish, while in parts of Digbeth the Irish population reached 55%.
High unemployment in Ireland during the 1950s lead to another wave of migration, many migrants took up jobs building Birmingham's roads and housing estates. Economic problems during the 1980s brought more Irish people and by the 1990s approximately 70,000 first generation Irish people were living in Birmingham.
Although the Irish community has dispersed across the city, many view Digbeth as their spiritual home. There are a large number of Irish pubs in the area and the headquarters for the Irish community Forum. In addition Digbeth boasts the third largest St Patricks day parade after Dublin and New York.
The influence of the Irish community in Digbeth is now visually represented through a public artwork by Irish artist Dave Sherry situated at the entrance of the newly renovated Digbeth coach station. The Irish Quarter Visual Artwork greets visitors with The sign ‘A Hundred thousand welcomes’ A translation of a traditional Irish greeting, in Gaelic ‘Cead mile failte’
I have to admit something. When I was writing the post about custard, I knew custard only from descriptions. When I finally tasted it yesterday I was astonished that actually I know custard very well, as it is know in Poland as Budyn (pronounced boodinn )! On this blog you can read about the discovery of Budyn by one Englishman. What is more, while Custard is always vanilla-flavoured, you can find Budyn in a whole range of flavours, such us: strawberry, chocolate, cherry, raspberry and many others.
Lonely survivor of the clearcutting to create the Ventureast site, photo: David Miller
In 2007 and 2008 experts from the University of Birmingham developed a project to make sure Digbeth's past is not forgotten. ‘The Eastside project’ focused on redevelopment of the Digbeth and Deritend areas of Birmingham. Experts researched sites being redeveloped for historical artefacts, record interviews and exhibit items. They gathered people's stories about this part of the city. As you can read on Rescue Geography website sometimes they've just chatted to people in cafes, but they also asked people to give them guided tours of the area, recording what they said and - using sat nav technology - where they said it. Researchers invited a photographer Dan Burwood, who took pictures of interviewees in places within Digbeth that have particular meaning to them. From artists’s statement: ‘In 2005 I started to make portraits of people in Digbeth, on the street and in pubs, pictures that evidenced a context visually, and interested me more and more in the place as I spoke to the people that allowed me to take their pictures. You could see how fast things might start to change in the area, and, as much as I was happy with some of the images, it was the stories and people I met that made a greater impression, and which seemed to be lost behind the surface of the prints, and my poor retelling of our meetings’.
An exhibition of the work in Digbeth and Eastside took place 24-31 October 2008. You can see details of the interviews here
Every Anglophile knows what the custard is, but not everyone knows - that this traditional English sauce, eaten with so many traditional puddings, was created in Birmingham! It was first made in 1840s by pharmacist Alfred Bird, for his wife who was allergic to eggs. This egg-free alternative very quilckly swept away the original egg-based custard sauce and went into mass production! It was produced in the Custard Factory in Digbeth. The factory was built 100 years ago by the inventor of custard, and as you can read on the Custard Factory website, at one time he had even a thousand people working there. After many years original Bird's Custard is still there, available on the supermarket shelf. Also the building, where it was produced, remained till today and is home to a vibrant community of 500 artists and small creative enterprises. Artistic comunity has been there since 1990.
The Rea Garden is a triangular piece of land located in Digbeth. Once there was a factory there, now only some ruins and a few burned beams remained. After twenty years of lying fallow, it was restored to life by three artists hiding under the name Behind Closed Doors . They invite other artists to produce work relating to the space and also organise exhibitions. That idea absolutely amazed us, especially because is very similar to what was happening in Gdansk in the 80s on the Granary Island thanks to artists like Grzegorz Klaman, Kazimierz Kowalczyk, Jacek Staniszewski, Eugeniusz Szczudło, Jarosław Filiciński, Robert Rumas and many others. Here, too, artists have grubbed up bushes overgrowing the space between the ruined walls and created a gallery - studio under the open sky, where nature mixes with culture.
Below there is a photo of the show of Claudia Borgna, who uses plastic bags in her art and creates installations that are not only aesthetically beautiful but also raise a very important problem of production and collection of waste. Traveling around the world made her realise how great the production of waste is, and how much it is settled in the natural landscape. Claudia does large scale installations, massively invading the space, thus referring to mass production. She tries to build awareness of overproduction of waste. Her works emphasize the conflict between culture and nature, and their interactions.
The Event 2009 was a contemporary arts festival which took place in Eastside (Digbeth) intending to highlight artist-led activity within the city of Birmingham bringing together a multitude of artists, curators and artist lead projects. It was developed by Birmingham Contemporary Art Forum (established in 2006).
The Event was delivered by some of the city’s key artist-led groups in an attempt to explore a variety of contemporary arts activity demonstrating the diversity of the thriving arts community in the city.
Another project directly referencing Digbeth’s regeneration is Florilegium, installed at Ikon Eastside by artist Jacques Nimki during the summer of 2007. ForFlorilegium (traditionally a Victorian pastime, meaning to collect and catalogue plants) Nimki collected weed specimens from in and around Digbeth, an area of Birmingham going through a surge of regeneration. These specimens were then cultivated and eventually planted within Ikon Eastside creating a visually stunning indoor meadow within a former factory space. Nimki highlights these seemingly overlooked weeds encouraging the viewer to reconsider them ‘bringing to light their medicinal, magical and aesthetic qualities, thus challenging traditional notions of value and beauty’ encouraging the viewer to reassess their surroundings.
‘Here, the outsiders of the plant world can be found, determinedly pushing through cracks in the concrete or
wrapping themselves around street signs and lampposts. Undervalued and overlooked they nevertheless thrive in this most urban of environments. ‘
Public Notice by Karin Kihlberg & Reuben Henry. Originally commissioned as part of 'the distance between us' curated by Capital Art Projects, 2004. Re-presented for Architecture Week 2005. Photo by Chris Webb
the distance between us (developed by Capital Arts Projects in 2005) focused on two districts of Birmingham with strong links to the city’s indusial heritage, Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter. the distance between us sort to commission three new artworks responding to the changing nature of these areas as the result of regeneration, the demise of industry/manufacturing and the development of new enterprise. A major objective was the commissioning of works that existed in the public realm but not necessarily dependant on a physical/ permanent realisation.
The first of these commissions, Public Notice was developed by Karin Kihlberg and Reuben Henry and comprised of a tour of public houses within the Jewellery quarter and Digbeth. Public Notice aimed to address the ‘social, architectural and cultural traditions associated with “the public house” a quintessentially English tradition.
Kihlberg and Henry suggested that the regeneration programmes in Birmingham are partly to blame for the disappearance of the traditional public house, now being replaced by themed bars, gastro pubs and national chains. Traditional pubs have historically played a huge part in the social structure of industrial areas such as Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter, but with the demise of industry and its workforce many have become redundant.
The tour offered an opportunity to voice the artists concerns over their decline but also act as a celebration or homage to the remaining pubs within these districts. ‘The tour was commemorated in a limited edition artwork – a box containing illustrations, historical trivia, anecdotes and colour swatches.’
The second commission was a series of site orientated photographs by Sans Façon. Sans Façon ‘began in 2000 as a collaboration between artist and architect, their work attempted to reveal the idiosyncrasies of a city through its imperceptible and often disregarded detail’.
Albion Street by Sans Facon, 2005. Commissioned as part of 'the distance between us' curated by Capital Art Projects. Photo by Ming de Nasty.
Albion Street by Sans Facon, 2005. Commissioned as part of 'the distance between us' curated by Capital Art Projects. Photo by Ming de Nasty.
For the distance between us they attempted to capture aspects of Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter by photographing elements and then installing the photos at the precise locations of which they were taken; the works are then frozen in time and remains constant while surroundings constantly change.
This series of interventions is a direct response to the regeneration of Birmingham but is something which echoes redevelopment both nationally and internationally. It acts as an archive of activity preserving a specific moment in time.
The third commission by Simon Pope, took the form of a series of short texts related to his research into ‘the act of walking as contemporary art practice, suggesting ways we might sense and make sense of the city’.
‘The Text offered the reader simple instructions through which they could ‘investigate a particular aspect of an urban environment through everyday activity for example what it is to remember, meet, follow or know’
For the distance between us Pope developed texts written in response to Birmingham’s Digbeth and Jewellery Quarter, however similarly to the work of sans façon, these text pieces could reference regeneration on a larger, national scale.
Between where we are and where we want to be, 2005. Commissioned as part of 'the distance between us' curated by Capital Art Projects.. Photo by Capital Art Projects
These text works originally intended to be presented through local newspapers were placed within the publication for the distance between us as a removable insert. One final text piece ‘Between where we are and where we want to be’ was placed on a placard and walked around the city.
Post Industrial Revolution is an artistic residency exchange between the UK and Poland focusing on the cities of Birmingham and Gdansk, in particular the areas of Digbeth and the Gdansk Shipyard. The comparisons between Digbeth and the Gdansk Shipyard as post industrial sites are of significance, each city has at some stage been deeply affected by the demise of industry, its movement abroad, and more recently the development of cultural and leisure industries in these former industrial areas. What interests us is how visual art can be seen to carry out and reflect this shift in usage, the change in social and industrial history of such spaces and its implications.
Post-Industrial Revolution is developed in collaboration with the Lombard Method (UK) and Wyspa Institute of Art (Poland). TheProject is conceived by curators Roma Piotrowska and Kate Pennington – Wilson in partnership with Polish Expats Association. Post – Industrial Revolution is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and Birmingham City Council.
Three artists from each country will be selected to take part in the exchange and invited to respond to the industrial heritage of these districts. We are currently seeking submissions from Polish artists (resident in Poland) to take part in the first strand of this project. The three applicants from Poland will be offered a 1 month residency (15 of January 2011 – 15 of February 2011) in Birmingham. This Residency willculminate in a two week exhibition within the studio/ project space of the Lombard Method. A series of events including a workshop, artist talk and screening will be developed to accompany the exhibition. The Gdansk element of this exchange will take place in May 2011.
We particularly welcome applications from early career artists with an interest in develop site specific works.
Post – Industrial Revolution offers:
Accommodation for 1 month in Birmingham
Expenses @ £400 per person for 1 month
£350 towards Material costs for each artist to develop new art works (please note this amount will need to include the hire costs of any equipment required)
Use of the project spaces at the Lombard Method
An organized Group critique developed through the Lombard Method offering artists feedback and critical discourse during the residency
The opportunity to take part in an exhibition internationally
The opportunity to develop relationships with members of the Lombard Method, other art organizations and artists based in Birmingham
The chosen artist will be expected to:
Develop research focusing on the history and social context of Birmingham including visiting museums, galleries, archives etc.
Produce site responsive work, reflecting the changing nature of Digbeth and its historical context which will be displayed during the final exhibition. Work must be new and consist of any media (installation, performance, video, photography, painting, sculpture, etc.).
Take part in an artist talk during the residency period, (offering insight into each artists individual practice). This will take the form of an open discussion between artists and curators.
Engage in artistic and curatorial dialog with the curators and the Lombard Method team in the development of their ideas and activities
Engage with local communities during their stay and take advantage of opportunities for critical and artistic discourse and exchange of ideas
To apply for this residency you must be:
at the early stage of your career
A Polish citizen or resident in Poland for 3 years or more
To apply please send
Your reasons for applying (no more than one side of A4)
Project proposal with an example budget of up to £350 for developing new work – doesn't have to be realized during the residency (no more then one side of A4)
Examples of previous work (A selection of photographs, or other documentation of your work. A CD of images is also acceptable. Please do not send original artwork).
A completed equal opportunities monitoring form (you can find it here).
Please send applications via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
or via post to Roma Piotrowska, Flat 3, 14 York Rd, B16 9JB, Birmingham, UK.
Deadline for receipt of applications: Wednesday, the 1st of December 2010. We will notify successful applicants between 15 and 20 of December 2010. It is anticipated that successful applicants will arrive in Birmingham during the 3rd week of January 2011.
Post Industrial Revolution jest wymianą artystyczną pomiędzy Polską i Wielką Brytanią, skupiającą się na dwóch miastach: Gdańsku i Birmingham, a w szczególności na dwóch obszarach tych miast– Stoczni Gdańskiej oraz dzielnicy Digbeth. Podobieństwa miedzy Birmingham i Gdańskiem są znaczące. Oba miasta, w którymś momencie historii, musiały zmierzyć się z upadkiem wielkich zakładów przemysłowych. W wyniku tego i Birmingham i Gdansk dysponują obecnie imponującymi przestrzeniami poprzemysłowymi, które mają być wkrótce przekształcone w nowoczesne centra obu miast. Post – Industrial Revolution jest pretekstem do wyprodukowania prac w stosunku do historii i uwarunkowań społeczno – politycznych owych miejsc, oraz podejmujących problemy związane ze zmianą ich przeznaczenia.
Projekt jest organizowany we współpracy z the Lombard Method (Birmingham) i z Instytutem Sztuki Wyspa (Gdansk). Producentami projektu są kuratorki Roma Piotrowska i Kate Pennington – Wilson oraz Polish Expats Association. Post – Industrial Revolution jest dofinansowany przez National Lottery poprzez Arts Council England oraz Birmingham City Council.
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Trzech artystów z każdego kraju zostanie wybranych aby wziąć udział w wymianie artystycznej i zostanie zaproszonych do wyprodukowania pracy odnoszącej się do przemysłowej spuścizny dzielnicy Digbeth oraz Stoczni Gdanskiej. Obecnie czekamy na zgłoszenia artystów z Polski ( lub rezydentów w Polsce) którzy chcieliby przyjechać na rezydencję do Birmingham. Trzem zwycięzcom zostanie zaproponowany miesięczny pobyt twórczy (od 15 stycznia 2011 do 15 lutego 2011) w Birmingham. Rezydencja zostanie zakończona, trwającą dwa tygodnie, wystawą w studio/przestrzeni projektowej the Lombard Method. Wystawie będą towarzyszyć warsztaty, spotkanie z artystami i pokaz filmów. Artyści z Wielkiej Brytanii przyjadą do Gdańska w maju 2011.
Poszukujemy artystów będących na początku kariery artystycznej, którzy interesują/zajmują się sztuką odnoszącą się do specyfiki miejsca.
Post – Industrial Revolution w ramach rezydencji artystycznej oferuje:
Zakwaterowanie przez 1 miesiąc w Birmingham
Pokrycie kosztów przelotu
Pokrycie kosztów pobytu w Birmingham przez 1 miesiąc w wysokości £400 na osobę
Pokrycie kosztu materiałów do wyprodukowania nowej pracy artystycznej w wysokości do £350 na osobę (w tę sumę należy wliczyć potencjalny wynajem sprzętu, taki jak rzutniki, głośniki etc.)
Możliwość korzystania ze studia the Lombard Method
Konsultacje z artystami the Lombard Method i kuratorkami mające na celu analizę krytyczną realizowanego projektu
Możliwość wzięcia udziału w międzynarodowej wystawie
Możliwość nawiązania zawodowych kontaktów z członkami the Lombard Method oraz innymi organizacjami artystycznymi w Birmingham
Wybrani artyści będą zobowiązani do:
Przeprowadzenia researchu dotyczącego historycznego i społecznego kontekstu Digbeth oraz Birmingham, włączając w to odwiedzenie muzeów, galerii, archiwów etc.
Wyprodukowania pracy artystycznej odnoszącej się do specyfiki miejsca, odzwierciedlającej zmieniający się charakter dzielnicy Digbeth i jej historyczny kontekst. Praca musi być nowa i może być wykonana w dowolnym medium (instalacja, performance, video, fotografia, malarstwo, rzeźba, etc.). Zostanie ona pokazana na finalizującej rezydencję wystawie.
Wzięcia udziału w “spotkaniu z artystami”, które zostanie zorganizowane podczas trwania rezydencji i będzie miało formę luźnej dyskusji pomiędzy kuratorkami i artystami (spotkanie ma na celu przedstawienie praktyk artystycznych każdego z artystów).
Zaangażowania się w dialog pomiędzy kuratorami oraz członkami the Lombard Method w celu rozwinięcia idei powstającej pracy artystycznej
Zainteresowania lokalnymi społecznościami i wykorzystywania możliwości do krytyczno – artystycznej analizy projektu oraz wymiany idei i myśli
Aby aplikować na tę rezydencję musisz:
Być na początku kariery artystycznej
Być obywatelem Polski lub rezydentem w Polsce przez co najmniej 3 lata
Aby aplikować należy wysłać:
List motywacyjny wyjaśniający dlaczego aplikujesz właśnie na tę rezydencję (nie więcej niż jedna strona A4)
Propozycję projektu z przykładowym budżetem (do £350) na wyprodukowanie pracy – projekt nie musi być zrealizowany podczas rezydencji ( nie więcej niż jedna strona A4)
Przykłady poprzednich prac (Wybór zdjęć, bądź inna dokumentacja Twoich prac. Może być także CD ze zdjęciami. Prosimy o nie przysyłanie oryginałów prac).
Wypełniony formularz “równych możliwości” (który możesz znaleźć tutaj)
Prosimy przysyłać aplikację e-mailem na adres email@example.com
lub pocztą na adres Roma Piotrowska, Flat 3, 14 York Rd, B16 9JB, Birmingham, UK.
Termin nadsyłania zgłoszeń upływa w Środę, 1 grudnia 2010. Osoby zaproszone na rezydencję będą powiadomione o zakwalifikowaniu się pomiędzy 15 a 20 grudnia 2010. Oczekuje się, że artyści przyjadą do Birmingham w trzecim tygodniu stycznia 2011.
Jeśli potrzebujesz więcej informacji dotyczących projektu lub na temat nadsyałania zgłoszeń skontaktuj się z Romą Piotrowską lub Kate Pennington-Wilson mejlowo na adres firstname.lastname@example.org
Uwaga: Aplikacja powinna być napisana po angielsku, ale akceptujemy także te napisane po polsku.