I love exhibitions that think outside the box. The Sistine chapel exhibition is different. Whilst In Rome, I missed the opportunity to see the Sistine Chapel and wonder what the experience is like. Apparently it is very crowded and you spend your time looking upwards and at a distance at the great works of Michelangelo. It is still said to be a moving experience.
Meanwhile in a warehouse in deepest Digbeth, there is a Secret Space and it was here that 34 life sized reproductions of the frescos were displayed by the Fever exhibition company. The pictures were arranged around two large rooms and there was an audio accompaniment to each fresco. Some pictures were hung on the ceiling with the majority on the sides of the warehouse.
There was ample space to move around and take pictures. My friend Monsignor Danny McHugh religiously followed the audio narrative. I chose to jump back and forth taking pictures of both the exhibition and the observers. It was an enjoyable experience. A church like atmosphere was maintained throughout by the use of choral music. I found that I came away with an enhanced understanding of how Michelangelo executed his paintings and the thought processes behind them. There were some humorous parts of the narrative that accompanied the picture viewing. There were some nice attentions to detail and the staff were very friendly and helpful.
Next I will visit the real Sistine Chapel but for now I hope you enjoy the pictures. If you can catch the exhibition in your own local town then I would recommend seeing it.
The pictures were taken with both my Fujifilm x100v and my iPhone13. The mobile phone does a great job of low light situations but I like the control that the x100v gives me as well. I have the settings of the Fujifilm on Aperture priority and automatic ISO.
Craft beer breweries are increasing in number and Birmingham has around 15 of them. Of those 15, I have visited the Two Towers, DigBrew and Birmingham Brewery over the years. Time to discover some new ones and a Saturday craft beer walk was planned to start at the Burning Soul. This brewery sits on the edge of the Jewellery quarter in an industrial estate just off Constitution Hill. The colourful signs of the Burning Soul emblem greet you on their garage door.
You then enter a brightly lit room where Chris, the master brewer greets you. Chris runs the place by himself and serves up some tasty beers. Beers on offer include Ice Cream Pale and the house favourite Pineapple Chilli. Both are very nice on the palate and provide a mixture of tastes. The ice cream variety lives up to its name whilst the chilli is noticeable against the fruity flavour. The mixture of fruit and chilli works and makes for a great beer. Chris is an amenable host and showed us around.
Going behind the scenes, Chris explains the brewing process and how he comes up with the ideas for the beers. We return to the bar for drinks and notice that the place fills up very quickly. Soon we are on our way to the next port of call the Rock and Roll brewery on Hall Street, near to the centre of the Jewellery Quarter . Whilst the brewing is done downstairs, the first floor is the lounge area with the bar. The walls are adorned with Rock and Roll memorabilia and whilst there were no bands playing during our visit, there is a small stage for performances. Both Rock and Roll and Burning Soul have worked together on several beer projects. I purchased a couple of their cans to bring home with me.
After an enjoyable stay our next tasting session was at the Halton Turner Brewery in Digbeth. This is a recent addition to the Digbeth scene, and it is based under the arches on Trent Street. Whilst the Burning Soul and Rock and Roll breweries were in warm premises, the brick arches surrounding Halton Turner are a touch on the cold side. Drinking beer in this brewery does require the wearing of warm clothing. This is not to distract from the beers which like the other two are well worth tasting. In summary all the establishments have wonderful character, the beers range in taste and style. There is something on offer for everyone. An enjoyable time and a wonderful stroll down the independent side of Birmingham.
All Pictures taken on my iPhone13 and I lived to tell the story after drinking all the beer!
From my social media feeds, you would think that the whole of Birmingham was at the Hi Vis Festival. The date was released with much anticipation and then the BBC Midlands today programme ratcheted up the excitement several notches more by featuring Panda of Graffiti artist talking about the festival. Big Artist names were released and social media was overflowing with comments about the weekend activities.
The festival was held over the Saturday and Sunday in September 2021. I could only make the Saturday which meant that I would be viewing much of the artwork in its early stages. Still that means another visit later in the month to see the finished artwork. Visiting Digbeth always provides photographic opportunities and the Hi Vis festival was no exception. On arrival my first stop was at Milk street where a few artists were working. Surprisingly one of the bouncers at the local club asked why I was taking pictures. I must have looked suspicious! I moved onto Floodgate street – so many artists out painting the walls. People walking around, hen parties, loud noisy cars cruising and street artists. Many of them were intent on what they were creating and were happy to have their photos taken. The street was full of cars but they made for great reflections.
Moving onto Gibb street over the gangway that spans the river Rea. More people plus music and generally great vibes. There was so much to describe and taking pictures with the camera was on overload. Skateboarders provided a gritty backdrop to the arches. Seeing the artists close up and watching them work allowed you to get a good perspective of their approach. Watching @cryola1 paint a vibrant portrait was a highlight.
As you walk into Gibb street, you enter the heart of the Custard Factory and boundless energy is pumped around the cafes and shops. Weddings are taking place at the Old Library and people out enjoying the sunshine. I walked around the arches onto Heath Mill Lane and caught a picture of Panda on his scooter! Thanks to Panda and his team bringing together such variety of street art onto the streets. On Digbeth High Street, there were many more artists painting walls and billboards. Just great to see them in action. I moved back into Floodgate street and saw other well known local artists such as n4t4 and Snub 23 painting. I know I have not credited all of the street artists but I can add names if requested. There was a focus of activity down Little Ann street and there were several artists working including I.am.sprite with her mural of Tiny Roar.
Ladders and even mechanised platforms were being used to ensure that the painting quality was enhanced. I find it amazing that the street artists are able to keep the bigger picture in mind whilst painting the smaller details. The Pop Art nature of the pictures is a colour frenzy and stand out against the old factories that are a feature of the Digbeth architecture.
Overall the walkaround was very enjoyable, I met several friends, people were friendly and the atmosphere lifted the spirits. There will be a post script on the Hi Vis Festival and all the finished pieces of street art when I get the chance to get down there again. It you are interested in street art then there are a few other blog posts on the street art that I have done including Digbeth Street Art and Digbeth, Digbeth. There is also some pictures of the Bristol scene which I visited in 2020. As you can see, it is a fascinating subject.
Postscript – Digbeth High Street and Selfridges
As I moved back to the car, I thought to myself, “let’s spend 5 to 10 minutes looking around Digbeth High Street” which will include a few pictures of Selfridges in its high visibility cladding. The high street is making way for the tram so it is being dug up. The traffic was stationary and there were pink reflections in the car windows. I was unable to capture the scene well and made do with a couple of pictures of Selfridges.
I have been documenting the Lockdowns over the last year and we are a few days away from April 12th when shops will reopen. My last blog entry was all about Digbeth. I was interested to see what the city centre looked like and therefore, after taking pictures in Digbeth, I walked into Birmingham city centre. As expected, It was quiet except for all the ‘Just Eat’ guys on the steps eating during their lunch break. Their bikes were all strewn around the concourse overlooking St Martins church. Other pictures taken on my walk included some headline photographs of the Electric Cinema looking sparkly from nearby reflections, trams and masks in Birmingham and the covering of the Selfridges store. Here are a few highlights of that stroll around the centre.
Lockdown 3 is easing and in early April, I found myself back in Digbeth to take a look at what was happening. One reason was to look for the new Street art project by @Fokawolf but more of that later. I parked the car in Coventry street car park and made my way to Digbeth. I love the Suki10cc artwork by street artist Gent 48 It features the up and coming black stars in Birmingham. The house is so colourful and is great to photograph. It was one of my pictures that was featured in my recent Amateur Photography magazine feature. This visit, I decided to do some unconventional pictures by getting close to the mural.
Walking down Bordesly Street, I experimented with some street photography. It is my first venture out with my Fujifilm x100v and I was a little self conscious trying to use it. However when I reached the Custard Factory, the camera comes into its own. A few pictures on the bridge over the River Rea, and then into Gibb street where there were a few people moving around. I took a few pictures of the colourful artwork (as you do when in Digbeth). I was pleased with the one I took by the street artist 0707 as it was very colourful especially with the bicycle on the colourful bike rack.
My next stop was to see the artwork by @fokawolf. It is a larger than life blown up picture of Pat Butcher from Eastenders and it is underneath the railway arch on Heath Mill Lane. It is such a random bizarre mural. The character is not associated with Birmingham and why it is placed here is not known. What it does do is provoke comment and debate. That makes it all worthwhile. My picture shows how tall the mural is with the couple next to it. I also took a picture of the balconies on the Custard Factory and posted it on the BBC weather pages. The architecture always looks good especially when the sun is shining on it. Fortunately for me, it was featured on the local BBC weather news.
Still in a wandering mood my next destination was Lower Trinity street taking pictures along the way of some of the more interesting street art. By the time I had reached Bordesley station, I thought it would be good idea to see the canals. It is very quiet around there and I worry about my personal safety. However it seemed ok so I carried on taking pictures. I like the colour of the graffiti and in fact one of my favourite artists, Lucy McLaughlan‘s art work is under the Deritend road bridges. My first attempt at a long exposure for 3 seconds with the Fujifilm x100v gave a pleasing result. As I moved back into Digbeth along the canals it became much quieter. I did meet a friend Mullerbiker from my Slack British Tech Network who happened (as he was) passing through the canal network. After chatting for a few minutes, he left but then my courage failed me and I retraced my steps out of the system and walked along the road back into Digbeth again.
Another of my regular visits to Digbeth found me taking pictures of a few of my favourite street art murals. I also got to see several new paintings as well. Recent visits have been anything but normal and this visit was taken during Lockdown#2 and there were few people around. Parts of the Custard Factory were cordoned off only allowing access to Gibb Street. Parking my car in Floodgate Street I made my way through the alleyway over the river Rea to Gibb street. The area is always changing and I wanted to see The great reset by Gent48. A van was parked partially blocking the mural but I was able to get a close up of it. The artist does capture the mood of the times with the phrase “the sky is falling down”
Following this I made my way under the arches and on the way captured several murals. The car park is empty at this time of the day so I was able to get a picture of the Spiderman mural followed by an old favourite Golden Boy. My list of photographs was almost complete but I had one more to do and that was the Black Sabbath mural in the car park by Digbeth Coach station. As I passed the station I saw how deserted it looked with no buses inside, I like the picture of the empty coach station as it sums up the Lockdown#2 atmosphere prevailing around Birmingham. All pictures taken with the Canon 5D markIV and my 24-70mm lens. I try to take different views of Digbeth, as it is so often photographed.
I love the new features of Word Press and being able to play around with before and after images of the street art is great fun. My first go is with the Black Sabbath picture that is amazing street art by the Artist N4T4.
Further Browsing Do you want to know more about Digbeth? Visit InDigbeth for the latest news and views Try my past blog on Digbeth Art as it too has some nice pictures and links
Back on a cold Wednesday morning in late January 2020, I decided to visit Floodgate Street before starting work in the City centre. I took the early train into Birmingham Moor Street and then hopped onto a bus to take me down to Digbeth. I was particularly keen to photograph Floodgate Street and the lights that criss cross above the street. They always look so pretty from the train as you make your way into the station. The lights stay on during the night and are turned off when the sun rises. Wasting little time, I made my way down the street. I had some form of photograph in my mind and I knew I wanted it to show the splendour of the lights which give Floodgate St a magical look. It had been raining the night before and there were puddles yes lots of puddles around. It could only mean one thing there may be the opportunity of a reflection photograph! As I got towards the end of Floodgate street, I saw the puddle I needed but I would have to bend down low. Ewen a friend and a professional photographer had drilled into me that getting down low provides impact to a picture. Even though I had my ‘grown up’ camera I reached for my iPhone and dipped it into the puddle. I could see a couple in the distance and they must have thought I was mad bending down for the picture. When I looked at the picture I was pleasantly surprised and posted it on Instagram. It was well received with over 100 views which for me is a lot but it was also the start of an Instagram recognition and since that photograph I have received a lot more attention.
So the reason for posting this blog? I went into the “Love Birmingham Charity” competition. It is a great charity and does so much good work. I made my donations and entered several photos including this one. I was pleased to learn that it has been selected as a winner and will be featured in a charity calendar by the charity. So that is the story and on reflection, there has been so much that has happened in the world since the picture was taken. It is my memory of what the world was like pre-Covid19.
Should I be worried? Should I ditch my big camera? My most popular photographs are all taken by an iPhone. My most recent one of Gibb Street in Digbeth has been published by several outlets including BBCMidlands, Independent Birmingham, IgersbirminghamUK, Bhamupdates and Source investments. All very pleasing but I would like to talk about my aperture and shutter settings. The camera ISO and how I held it to take in the picture. No all I did was dip the iPhone into a puddle and the resulting picture then gets a life of its own. Getting down low certainly led to more impact to the picture. However, I am pleased that I can brag about my composition and that it caught the spirit of Birmingham!
Venturing into Digbeth proved to be very interesting. I had a project to do on street art and therefore I wanted to get pictures around Digbeth. Sunday morning seemed to be a good time to venture forth now that government rules had enabled you to venture further afield for your exercise. I was apprehensive when I got to Digbeth as it was very quiet and Floodgate street which is normally full of cars was disserted.
After taking pictures I then drove around to Lower Trinity Street and strolled into the centre of the custard factory. Again, it was very quiet with a few people taking exercise. There were two people taking pictures of their high-performance car in the street. There was no one around to stop them. I took my pictures and then went back to the safety of my home. Every day for the last few months has been a surreal and different experience. I do not think I will see Digbeth so quiet again.
Digbeth is the new Shoreditch is a saying on the Internet. I have not been to Shoreditch for a long time and I know that Digbeth is modelled on itself not on any other town or city. It has been a while since I had been to Digbeth. Furthermore, I wanted to get there early so that I could see the pretty street lighting that I often see from the train in the morning. The cultural centre of Digbeth is the former Bird’s Custard Factory which was always awash with light. Now the surrounding roads such as Floodgate Street and Lower Trinity Street have street lighting that criss-crosses the road. It gives a nice effect and entices the visitor into the area to discover more about the charms of Digbeth.
I took my Canon camera with wide lens with me and also had my iPhone and Sony compact. The streets were relatively quiet with a few early workers out and about. I took a selection of pictures including the graffiti and the lights. I even walked into the centre of the Custard Factory to look at the sculptures and art work. It is always a rewarding experience moving around Digbeth during the early hours.