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Tag Archives: igersbirminghamuk

Spaghetti Junction IgersbirminghamUK

With the famous spaghetti junction turning 50, the event has led to a flurry of media and photographic interest.  A rollercoaster of activity. Such a landmark event has already led to Heinz releasing a limited edition yellow-themed tin of Spaghetti pasta celebrating the anniversary  

I, also, found myself getting caught up in this rollercoaster of a celebration of the motorway junction.   Following on from my recent visit to the junction, IgersbirminghamUK organised a photographic meeting for the week of the celebrations.  Just under 40 photographers arrived on a Sunday morning to be briefed on the planned photographic walk under the M6.  The group photograph was a popular picture and was even featured by the national IgersUK Instagram page.  All the photographs taken during the walk may be found under the Instagram hashtag #igbuk_meet_spagjunction.   There are some very good pictures that show the relatively unseen world underneath the Spaghetti Junction.

Spaghetti Junction IgersbirminghamUK
IgersbirminghamUK participants
Spaghetti Junction IgersbirminghamUK
The quietness of the canal with the Junction in the distance (selected for the BBC England’s Big Picture).
Spaghetti Junction IgersbirminghamUK
A view of the columns holding up the Motorway.
Spaghetti Junction IgersbirminghamUK
Nature is reclaiming the area underneath the Spaghetti Junction.

The events of the meeting were recorded by the BBC and the report by reporter Laura Mcmullan featured interviews with me and other photographers.  Following the publication of the BBC news item, I was invited by the University of Birmingham to write an article on what lies below the Spaghetti Junction from a photographic viewpoint.

Although I was busy with the organisation of the meeting, I did have time to take a few pictures myself as featured in this blog.  I wonder what the place will be like in another 50 years.  Meanwhile, I know that I will be passing over the Junction in the future as I hurtle in and out of Birmingham.

Further links
BBC Midlands Today provides an account of the IgersbirminghamUK meeting
What’s underneath the Spaghetti Junction, Damien Walmsley, University of Birmingham.
My previous blog on Spaghetti Junction (50 years on) with more pictures.
Englands Big Picture 22nd May to the 29th May (my picture of the Spaghetti Junction)

Spaghetti Junction IgersbirminghamUK
The flyovers tower above you.

Wythall Transport Museum

The Wythall transport museum is a treasure trove of bus memorabilia and it was recommend to the IgersbirminghamUK team as a place to hold an Instameet following a feature on BBC Midlands Today.  The man behind the museum is enthusiast Denis Chick and he was there to greet us as we arrived at the Museum.  Denis is Vice Chairman and Press Officer and there is nothing he does not know about the collection. His enthusiasm for the place is unlimited and we received a warm welcome. This was a limited numbers IgersbirminghamUK meeting as Denis already had a booking with a classic car display taking place. When we arrived the cars were already getting ready for the display. The sun was shinning off the highly polished bodywork. We could not have asked for better weather for a day out at the Transport Museum.

Wythall Transport Museum
Denis Chick in front of one of the restored buses at the museum.

Many of the IgersbirminghamUK regulars were present plus one or two new faces.  We had a quick introduction to the day, a group photograph and then we set off to explore the cars and buses. The museum houses over 90 buses. Many of the famous names of the past are there including Midland Red and the WMPTE blue and cream buses.   There are other transport buses from around the West Midlands including representation from local independent operators.  All the buses are in operating condition and sport a wonderful array of colours. 

Wythall Transport Museum
A busy day of classic cars and buses at the Museum

The IgersbirminghamUK participants were able to roam around the three hangers that housed the vehicles, and many photographs were taken.  It was a dream location.  Reflections in the windows and mirrors made for many great compositions.  The small details in and around the buses and other memorabilia meant that as photographers we had a great time as we snapped away. I particularly liked all the emblems and old signs.

Wythall Transport Museum
The no 11 bus
Wythall Transport Museum
Setting off for a bus ride around the area.

In line with the current green agenda, the museum has a collection of battery electric road vehicles.  This includes 30 electric milk floats and bread vans.  These vehicles were operated by companies such as the Co-op, Midland Counties and Birmingham and Handsworth Dairies.  Once again like the buses, the milk floats were very photogenic and there was always a volunteer around to talk about their previous history and how they went about restoring them.

Wythall Transport Museum
A line up of electric milk floats.

The exhibits were photographed all over from the overall bus to the minute details of the inside and the wheels and other interesting components.  The spectrum of colours was a delight.

The bonus to the visit was National drive-it day.  This is when all classic vehicle owners are encouraged to get their vehicle on the road. There were several car clubs present and the range of cars was so varied. 

Wythall Transport Museum
My first car was a Hillman Imp. Great to see this model.
Wythall Transport Museum
A line up of classic cars
Wythall Transport Museum
A Ford Mustang

This was an enjoyable day and there is lots to see and do at the Transport Museum.  I took too many pictures, but I have to say I enjoyed the day out.  If you want to know more then have a look at the Museum web site and I have included the BBC Midlands today film that was put together about the museum.

Wythall Transport Museum
Even buses for the children.

A big thank you to Wythall Transport Museum for hosting us. Thank you to Nicky Butler part of the IgersbirminghamUK team for putting together the day but unable to join us. To John Convey of the Igers team for helping on the day. Thank you to all the participants who came along. These are my own personal photographs and if you wish to see some of the marvellous pictures taken then follow the link #igbuk_meet_wythall. If you are interested in our previous IgersbirminghamUK instameets then follow the links to show the variety of photographic subjects that are covered.
The Exchange meets IgersbirminghamUK
Moseley Instameet – IgersbirminghamUK

Wythall Transport Museum
Selfie with instructions on how to great the public on the buses.

Oozell's Square Blossom Birmingham

Oozells square in the westside of Birmingham is unremarkable other than the IKON gallery which is on one side of the square. The IKON is a highly acclaimed contemporary art venue and when you have finished looking over the latest exhibits, take a well earned rest in Yorks coffee shop.  However in the months of March and April the square erupts with cherry blossom and becomes one of the most photographed squares in Birmingham.  I also took many photographs.  The square was featured in a BBC news and my photograph was included.  I have also added a few more of my own in this post.

Oozell's Square Blossom Birmingham
A favourite reflection is produced around the water feature
Oozell's Square Blossom Birmingham
the blossom turns and ordinary square into the extraordinary.
Oozell's Square Blossom Birmingham
A traditional view of the blossom with the IKON in the background.
Oozell's Square Blossom Birmingham
Another traditional view of the blossom in the square.

Further links include
The IKON gallery
Yorks Cafe

If you would like to see previous entries on this square then please visit
Blosson in Oozells Square
Cherry blossom experiments

National Memorial Arboretum

Instameets are friendly photographic get togethers where you meet like-minded people for a social chat and take pictures.  The meetings are also held at fascinating venues around the West Midlands.  My usual patch is IgersbirminghamUK or the Westmidlandsphotocollective. Both hold meetings at venues which provide a multitude of photographic opportunities.  Igers_staffordshire is a group that hold Instameets around the Lichfield area.  The venue for this meeting was the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.  The Arboretum occupies a large swathe of land just North of Lichfield and is well signposted off the A38.  However, it is a place that I always pass by and think to myself that is somewhere to visit in the future.  When Igers_staffordshire advertised the event then I quickly signed up.  The meeting started in the car park which is one of the strategic places in the Arboretum.  Whilst entry to the site is free, car parking is strictly controlled and must be prebooked.  The entrance and the welcome buildings guide you through to the main body of the Arboretum.  I was greeted by the organisers and it is easy to work out who the photographers are as you will not miss the tripods, backpacks and cameras on display.  Once through the entrance we made our way to the most commanding monument which is the Armed Forces Memorial.  It is not difficult to miss as it sits as a raised structure with an attractive circle of trees.  We posed on the steps for the picture of the group and then started exploring.

National Memorial Arboretum
The inside of the Armed Forces Memorial

You find yourself pulled towards the Armed Forces Memorial, up the steps and into the inner parts.  It borrows heavily in architectural design from the Greeks and Romans.  It is impressive, and it was here that I met Kenneth who is a volunteer at the National Memorial Arboretum. We got talking about the Arboretum and Kenneth outlined some of the major features about the place. He showed me where a shaft of sunlight shines through the gaps in the southern walls onto the central bronze wreath on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month #Armistaceday. Kenneth does two days volunteering and is out in all weathers, greeting visitors. His welcoming smile and enthusiasm help visitors to get the most from their visit. Kenneth is one of many volunteers who I met during my time at the Arboretum. I explained to Kenneth about my ‘100strangers’ project and he agreed to being photographed. This picture shows him standing in the centre of the #ArmedForcesMemorial near the central wreath with the #cenotaph in the background.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CVqFBz6DwvR/
Kenneth, Volunteer

Next, I set off to visit the rest of the Arboretum.  There were several memorials that I passed along the way including those to the Iraq war and The Polish War memorial.   I did like the Irish Infantry Grove.  The paving stones are set out with a map of Ireland.  From there, I wandered into the trees and was taken with the numerous discs with messages on them.  There is so much to take in and this blog only touches the surface.  I posted several sets of pictures on Instagram.

National Memorial Arboretum
Looking through and remembering

The first is a set of lines and colours that made an impression on me. The #shotatdawn memorial by artist #AndyDeComyn was particularly moving.  Consisting of stakes in the ground representing the young men shot by firing squad.  There are several other memorials captured here.

My other reflection from my visit was the numerous Connections in the Arboretum and this is the link for this series of photographs including pictures with permission of soldiers remembering people behind the names. The sun and the rain connect with the memorials to enhance their stories.

It was a moving day out and I covered a fair amount of the Arboretum.  There is still much more to see.  These are the best of the pictures although there were many more to discover. Several of the memorials have been cleverly designed to catch the natural elements such as the sun and rain providing reflections and opportunities for carefully taken pictures that bring out the best in their design.

Finally a big thank you to @igers_staffordshire for organising this instameet. I also met such great fellow photographers.  Follow #igersstaffordshire_nma for all the pictures taken by the group on the day.

National Memorial Arboretum
A rainbow brings hope and joy
UoB Exchange IgersbirminghamUK

The University of Birmingham has a major economic impact on Birmingham and the West Midlands region.  The University educates students, is a major employer, a research leader in all sectors and a gateway bringing in global connections that benefit the city. Even though the University has a beautiful campus at Edgbaston, a physical footprint in the city centre has long been on the University’s wish list.  The old Municipal Savings Bank began to look an interesting project.  Especially with the location of the bank on the new look Centennial square.   

Produced by the University of Birmingham

The former Municipal Bank is a Grade II listed building and has historical links with the University.  Joseph Chamberlain was founder and first Chancellor of the University of Birmingham.  Neville Chamberlain, the son of Joseph Chamberlain was behind the building of the Municipal Bank on Broad Street.  It was first opened by Prince George in 1933 and has a long history of underpinning the wealth of an ambitious city.  However, the bank closed at the turn of the century and the last 20 years has seen the building empty with no tenants. It was famously portrayed as the AC-12 base in the BBC series ‘Line of Duty’.  The iconic safe deposit boxes in the vault were used in a Chanel advert amongst the various roles that the bank filled in these barren years.  In 2018, the University negotiated a long lease of the building with Birmingham City Council and the renovations began.

I was fortunate in my University of Birmingham role to see these renovations firsthand in October 2019 before the pandemic.  During my visit, I took a series of pictures on my iPhone.  I had no idea which room I was photographing, although I remember the vaults where the safe deposit boxes reside.  They are so interesting to see.  Rows and rows of metal doors with numbers on them.  One can only begin to imagine what was contained within them.  The building was being gutted and there was so much to do from floor to ceiling in each room.

UoB Exchange
Banking floor

Fast forward to October 2021.  Hasan Patel who is part of Communications Team at the University of Birmingham invited me to coffee at the Exchange after his Marathon Run. (Follow Hasan on Twitter to learn how to sponsor him on his running diary). We spent an enjoyable couple of hours putting the world to right.  Hasan introduced me to the University team at the Exchange and we visited several rooms in the building. 

Not long after my visit with Hasan, IgersBirminghamUK announced an Instameet at the Exchange.  Immediately I signed up and went along.  This Instameet is a friendly collection of photographers.   We were given access to all areas including the Board room and the former bank managers office which I did not get to see on my first visit.  The other interesting feature is the balcony where the bank manager opened the doors and looked out onto the banking floor to check that the bank was running smoothly.  During the Instameet, this was a favourite spot for all the photographers.

Whilst we were in the vault, we were also given access to a utility room where many of the safety deposit boxes were stored.  Now many of the boxes are placed strategically around the building and are a feature of those rooms which are used as teaching spaces and meeting areas.  This basement room had many of the old boxes and proved to be a fantastic place to take photographs.  There were still some stickers remaining and on one of the boxes the notice stated that this box could only be opened in the presence of a solicitor.  Once again one could only imagine what was kept in these boxes over the years.

We finished the tour and adjourned to the Distillery Pub next to the Roundhouse.   This is another interesting place to visit and includes a wall mural of a canal horse painted by one my favourite street artists, Annatomix.   The Roundhouse was used to care for the canal horses that pulled the boats and has been renovated as a historical place of interest. There is even one of the horse stables on view.

This was a day taking pictures of historical buildings that have been brought up to date in a city that is rediscovering its roots and moving forward.  Thank you to the team at IgersBirminghamUK for organising the tour and The University of Birmingham for opening the Exchange for this Instameet.

I have also included a blending of the old and new photographs in two of the rooms to show how the building has been modernised between my two visits.

Pictures taken with iPhone 11 and 13, camera Fujifilm x100v

If you are interested in joining an IgersBirmingham Instameet then please follow them on Instagram. An account of a previous IgersBirmingham Instameet at Moseley Market is also available on my blog.


The love of Concrete photomeet

The breakfast table conversation went like this, “Why are you going out to take picture of buildings?” “It is a photo meeting organised by the West Midlands Photo collective and Space.play“, I replied. “We will be taking pictures of concrete buildings on and around the Hagley road in Birmingham”. Stunned silence followed by “Well good Luck to that venture.”

Luckily I knew it was going to be great Sunday. The meeting point was in the centre of Five Ways roundabout. Already a large number of photographers were there and several familiar faces. The West Midlands Photocollective organisers, Jim and Sarah and Dave from Space.play got everyone together. They set about explaining the game we were taking part in. A game? LOL No one said anything about a game when I signed up. As it unfolded everyone realised, It was a well thought out idea for a photo walk. I was really looking forward to taking the pictures along the route. An added bonus was the networking with new people. Seeing people I had not seen for some time was also good as well. Time has certainly raced onwards since the year of the pandemic.

Love of Concrete
Explaining how the day will work.

The game instructions

How did the game work? We were asked to take pictures on our photographic walk. Each participant received a pack with 4 cards. One contained the details of the game and what we were expected to do. The other three cards were set out as playing cards. The name of the building and a map of how to get there from the last building was on each card. They went from Ace to 10 with the Jack, Queen and King. We had to work out with the help of other players how to find all the buildings and as a team work our way through the course. For example my cards were Ace of spades, 5 of spades and the 10 of clubs. These represented the following buildings, Tricorn House, Chamber of Commerce and the Central Travelodge. I needed to find the other 10 buildings. Immediately, a group of us came together and we had all the cards except a number 7. We surmised we would find that on the route, so off we went. Looking back I wish I had concentrated more and looked at what other people’s cards were. There was a good number of people, all in groups as we made our way to the first concrete building.

The love of Concrete photomeet
My three cards

1 – Tricorn House

This three pointed building is a very large concrete building with one side facing the Hagley Road. I had a card for this one and I used it with both the West Midlands bicycle hire rack and also with my lensball. It is a concrete delight but difficult to photograph as there is so much of it. I swapped my only good card the Ace of Spades for the 2 of Diamonds, Cobalt Square. Guess someone was going to get lucky with their Poker scoring game. I just wanted to see another card!

The love of Concrete photomeet
My first card and Tricorn House
The love of Concrete photomeet
Not sure if this worked but there is concrete about!
The love of Concrete photomeet
The front of the house
The love of Concrete photomeet
This makes it look so important

2 – Cobalt Square

I did feel sorry for this building as it was not wearing well. The steps leading up the building were breaking down and it did not really have any unique features to make it memorable. The name is interesting but it did not lead to any any thing Cobalt related in the architectural design. Looking on social media, I saw that I missed the car park and that had an amazing ceiling. Must remember to look around more.

The love of Concrete photomeet
I swapped my Ace for 2 of Diamonds – probably not a good idea 🙂

3 – 54 Hagley Road

Now I am guessing the next two buildings as I was just following the people on the route. 54, Hagley Road is big and looks a monster concrete building. The security guard was very confused about what was happening. As we were taking pictures, he came out to see what we were doing. I explained about the nature of the event and what we were aiming to achieve. Even with the explanation, he was none the wiser but just said OK. I gave this one a bit of the once over in black and white. It does have a bit of character about it.

The love of Concrete photomeet
Taken just before being questioned by security
The love of Concrete photomeet
Frontal Attack Camera Attack

4 – Lyndon House

You would be excused if you missed this building which is in the shadows of 54, Hagley Road. Sharp edges, tall, glass and rectangular in shape. Moving on swiftly…

The love of Concrete photomeet
Sharp and pointy

5 – Chamber of Commerce

Now this is a place I know and visit on a regular basis. I also had the card for it so it was great to be able to photograph this building. I do know from inside that it is a dated building so my photographs probably reflect this aspect. Someone had left a window open and it made a nice contrast to the regular arrangement of the design.

The love of Concrete photomeet
5 of Spades for the Chamber
The love of Concrete photomeet
Someone left a window open
The love of Concrete photomeet
Too much glass is good for you

Following pictures of the Chamber of Commerce, the group I was with walked down Greenfield Crescent. This a street that I don’t normally walk or drive down. It looked neatly swept and could have been a film set it was so pretty in appearance. The owner of Lux Gallery which is newly opened, came out to met us and invited us into the gallery and his photographic study at No 13. Many of us went in and were impressed with what we saw. An unexpected bonus of the walk.

The love of Concrete photomeet
Walking down the Crescent

6 – 12 Calthorpe Road

This is the old HBSC banking offices. It is sadly neglected being made ready for redevelopment. I was fascinated about the Blue Plaque for Washington Irvine the American essayist who lived on the road between 1819 and 1824. It would be lovely to have a time machine and look backwards and forwards to what happens to all these areas over time. Sadly the machine is stuck on today and we just see decay of a brutalist concrete building.

The love of Concrete photomeet
The Blue Plaque remembers
The love of Concrete photomeet
Times are difficult

8 – Five Ways House

This building was out of sync and I blame myself for following everyone else! This is such a big concrete building and it is so long. This is the home of Department for Work and Pensions and I tried a panorama shot but failed attempting it. I just had to try and show the sheer enormity of the building with my regular picture. It is so faceless yet stands there, taking up a commanding position on Islington Row Middleway. The building wants to make an impression but one can debate what form this takes.

The love of Concrete photomeet
That is a long building wish I had brought my wide angled lens

7 – MAKE UK – the Manufacturers organisation

It was decision time and I split up from the group that I was with as I wanted to go back and check out this concrete building. I am glad that I did as I loved the place and would have been most upset if I had missed it. Just to the side of the entrance there is a wall of diamond holes that makes it very intriguing. So many photo opportunities as well. I got my lensball out here and had a field day. Enjoy the pictures.

The love of Concrete photomeet
Eye in the Wall
The love of Concrete photomeet
Face in the Wall
The love of Concrete photomeet
Nature and Concrete

9 – Hampton Inn

I am really struggling now as I have become isolated on route but I had an idea from seeing other people’s cards where we should be going. The next few concrete buildings are hotels on Broad Street starting with the Hampton Inn which I hope is on the list. Just a functional hotel on Broad street. It looks after all the partygoers at the weekend and business people during the week. The building reflects this no nonsense approach.

10 – Central Travelodge

Next up is the Travelodge and I know this one is correct as I have the card. The Travelodge is starting to show its age and the facade is crumbling. I remember when it was built. there was excitement on Broad street about the hotels and nightlife. The Travelodge was part of the new beginning. Over the years there has been a shift in the Birmingham scene from Broad Street to the Eastside and Digbeth. The hotel reflects this shift. Maybe the tram will bring about a new lease of life to this side of town. We wait and see.

The love of Concrete photomeet
Travelodge – 10 of Spades
The love of Concrete photomeet
Moody Concrete

Jack – Jury’s Inn

Behind the Travelodge is the Jury’s Inn which must have asked for a double helping of Concrete when it was built as it has spilled over to the car park. There is such a repetitive feel to the outside structure which I hope my black and white picture captures. I have not stayed in any of these hotels but I have been into the foyer of Jury’s and even been to a Christmas party here. My memories were that it was comfortable and inviting. In contrast, the outside is not that inviting.

The love of Concrete photomeet
Concrete repetition
The love of Concrete photomeet
Please be quiet for the concrete

Queen – Quayside Tower

Rosies nightclub and those pretend concrete designs. Not sure what they are tying to say but they are Ugly – hold on the pub/restaurant is called Cayote Ugly do they know something already. The concrete designs seem to be telling a story or are designed about something deep and meaningful. It would be interesting to know their history. Meanwhile here are a few pictures of them.

The love of Concrete photomeet
Concrete designs
The love of Concrete photomeet
Ugly – surely not

King – The Rep

I got this totally wrong and wished I had stayed with someone in the group to check what I was doing. After the Queen stop, I looked up and thought that the concrete King was the International Convention Centre – Wrong – very wrong it was the Rep. So I missed this photo opportunity but i did get a lot of good pictures of the ICC! I could look in my back catalogue and find a picture of the Rep! I am annoyed as I realise that this means I miss out on the Spaceplay prize.

The love of Concrete photomeet
No the King was not the ICC it was the Birmingham Rep. Its behind you!

BUT I just want to say to all those reading this that I had a fantastic time in spite of getting one totally wrong (there may even be others in the blog but not to worry). These photo-meetings are a great opportunity to improve your photography, meet new people and get involved in projects that you would never have thought about doing. So thank you to WestMidlandsPhotoCollective and Space.Play for your organisation. Everyone who goes on these walkabouts are friendly and helpful as well. Sorry I could not meet you all in the pub after the event but I was needed back home. I am so looking forward to the next meeting that gets organised.

Finally reflections on the day. Concrete is King ! (and so is Queen, Jack, 10 to Ace).

I am sure there are some word puns on Diamonds, Clubs, Spades and Hearts. Here goes! There is always money in concrete (Diamonds) and then a building gets built from the ground upwards (Spades). What was once loved (Hearts) falls out of favour with time and there are fights amongst developers (Clubs) to build bigger better concrete buildings to replace what has gone before.

Concrete is King!

*****
All pictures taken either with my FijiFilm x100v or the iPhone13

Epilogue
Here is a picture of the final Love of Concrete building taken after the event. This is now a complete set of playing cards for the Blog.

The King – The Birmingham Rep Theatre.

The Photography Show 2021

The Photography show turned out to be a great event.  I was worried prior to the event as what it may be like especially as it had been put back after a few false starts due to Covid19.  The show was held in Halls 1 and 2 at the NEC and when you walked in you noticed that the stalls were set more apart than normal providing a feeling of space.  There were wide walkways and amble space to pass people.

Sunday was my first day and it appeared relatively quiet.  This gave me the opportunity to linger at several stands and return to take several looks at the cameras on display.  I had not booked into any talks, and those that I did attend for did not live up to their titles.  The quality of the PowerPoints was surprisingly poor. One talk that I did enjoy on the Sunday was by Claire Luxton.  Her artwork was spectacular with wonderful attention to detail.  The way she produced the photographs involved a great deal of planning.  She was also a very enthusiastic speaker, and I enjoyed her presentation style. 

The Photography Show 2021
Models at the Fujifilm stand

On the stands, I handled several cameras, fell in love the Canon R5 but it is out of my price range and unlikely to be a camera that I would use that much to justify the price.  I liked the new Z fc series from Nikon with its retro design but it would have to do well to be a better buy than my Fujifilm X100V.  The Nikon is an attractive camera and as the person who was demonstrating the camera moved it around, the dials caught the light and it did look very attractive.  There were also some very nice Fujifilm cameras that I was able to pick up and try out.  The Cewe book stand display was lovely to browse through and I will use them for my 365 printed project. 

The Photography Show 2021
Walls of Pictures

during the show I met up with Photography friends Martin Kelly and Ian Lewis.  We found a quiet spot and did a recording of the Photo show.  It was different undertaking a live recording and not having to do a zoom.  After it was finished, I went and looked at the action area where there were displays of Bike jumping, juggling and breakdancing.  Once again my FujiFilm camera did a great job.  The evening finished with a few drinks in a local pub and then a get together meal at a local hotel.

On Monday I was back at the show, this time to take part in a Digital Camera magazine walkabout.  I had been long listed in a Garden flower competition on the Digital Camera Facebook page.  Although I was not a winner, Niall Hampton the editor of the magazine inquired who was going to the Photography show.  I mentioned that I would be there so he dropped me an email and I was selected for a walkabout around the NEC taking pictures for a feature in the magazine.  I will cover this more in a future blog. 

Walking around the National Exhibition Centre
Walking around the National Exhibition Centre

Whilst I was waiting, I took the opportunity to walk around the lake and was taken in by the attractiveness of the place.  It did surprise me that such natural beauty existed within the concrete jungle of the NEC.  I also did a walkabout in the NEC itself covering the skywalk to the far reaches of the Exhibition Centre.  I have some examples of the pictures that I took. 

All Monday’s pictures were done with my Canon D5 with the 24-105 lens except one picture that was taken with my iPhone.  This one picture made the picture of the day on BBC Midlands today. In summary the Photography show was worthwhile, I enjoyed the two days as each was different in what I saw and participated in.  There were a few big names missing but the ones that were there such as Canon and Nikon more than made up for it.

Walking around the National Exhibition Centre
BBC Midlands – Picture of the Day

Hi-Vis-Festival, Digbeth 2021

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.

Hi-Vis-Festival, Digbeth 2021
n_4_t_4 and his astral traveller. Loving the blue colours and the reflections

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.

Hi-Vis-Festival, Digbeth 2021
I.am.sprite with 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.

Hi Vis Digbeth 2021
Hi Vis festival by plague

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.


Gratitude public art

This amazing exhibition of sculptures pays tribute to the sterling efforts of the NHS and key workers during the pandemic.  The 51 sculptures, each with their own unique take on the days of the pandemic, is on tour around the country.  The first stop was Chamberlain Square Birmingham.  Several artists came together to illustrate each sculpture with a particular theme.  The overall creative ambassador was Dame Zandra Rhodes and there were many different art organisations collaborating on this public art project.  Much of the information is on the Gratitude web site.

The sculptures from the Gratitude public art.
The sculptures from the Gratitude public art.

We had tickets for the August Bank Holiday.  Arriving in the square, the sculptures are placed towards the back.  They are arranged in rows and have a mirrored backdrop.  The challenge was to take photographs that no one else had taken.  I had previously looked on social media and seen all the different variations.  I enjoyed the story telling aspect on each Sculpture.  I want to say statues but that would not do justice to the explosion of art that is on view.  They are fun to wander around and see people’s reaction. 

Gratitude Public Art
Faces of Lockdown or “The Boris Johnson Sculpture”

The Faces of Lockdown referred to as the Boris Johnson statue is an immediate favourite although there are many others included Hans inspired by the Clap for the NHS and my personal favourite Creative Resilience which features a dancer, and her stare is penetrating, grabbing your attention.So here is my photographic record of Gratitude and I have put a caption with each picture to provide a background to the experience of seeing the sculptures. All pictures were taken with my Fujifilm x100v

If you found this post interesting then please visit my account of In Memoriam by Luke Jerram which was exhibited near to Aston Hall

For more information about Gratitude please visit the following pages. There are several websites includint the official Web site, Wild in Art and NHS charities together.

Gratitude public art
There is genuine excitement and interest in the stories behind each sculpture.

Sign in Black and White for Moseley markets

Instameets are a great way of meeting fellow Igers photographers. In the virtual world it is difficult to discover the person behind the handle. There is nothing better than an Instameet to bring people together and share photographic stories. There have been few opportunities to venture out on photography meetings during the lockdown period. Now the restrictions are eased, it is possible to hold such popular get togethers again. Igersbirmingham has been running for many years and the latest team put together the successful IgersbirminghamUK group. The UK tag is so that we are not confused with our sister city in the USA 🙂

The meeting was held when the Moseley Farmer’s market opened up for the first time since the easing of Lockdown. The meeting also gave everyone the chance to visit the park and pool which opens up at the time of the market. The start and finish were at the Cuban Embassy pub on Wake Green Road. Two of the IgersbirminghamUK team, @nickywarwickshire and @james_never_Jim greeted us on the pavement outside the Embassy. James set out the plans for the morning and the team had prepared a pamphlet for the Moseley Instameet. There was a brief history of the market, Moseley Park and Pool together with a map. The all-important hashtags were printed out for sharing our pictures. After all the introductions and a catch up with old and new friends, it was time to explore the market.

#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
Three yellow jackets
#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
Coffee is served

Moseley village is said to be one of the most popular places to live in the country and it has lots of energy. The market was bustling, with people queuing up for bread, cakes and other many foodie goodies. In the triangle next to the junction of the crossing most of the stalls were food orientated. Taking place at the same time is the Moseley Arts Market which is on the opposite side lining up along the Alcester Road. There were several craft stalls, which included jewellery, paintings, photography, books etc. The coffee shops were doing well as people chatted and watched the world go by.

#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
Browsing the Artwork in the Market
#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
The Arts market is on the other side of the road with the entry to the park.

Then we walked into Moseley Park. Last week, I remarked that I had not been up the Malvern Hills and this week I find myself visiting a new area of Birmingham. Having driven along Salisbury Road to work, I have passed this place countless times before, so I was very surprised to find this hidden oasis. There are several outbuildings including tennis courts, artwork from Lucy McLauchlin and a 200-year-old Icehouse. It did rain but luckily there was some tree cover, and the passing shower did not spoil the walk around the pool. A very quiet and peaceful place to visit.

#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
Moseley Park and Pool
#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
Sheltering from the rain
#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
Moseley Pool

It was a good contrast for the photography meeting. On one hand there was the hustle and bustle of the Farmers market with the Art market providing an alternative experience on the High Street. Then there was the quiet period of reflection around the pool and the park. I did not have my telephoto lens with me as there was a heron who was looking for fish. There were several other good opportunities for wildlife photography.

#igbuk_meet_moseley with #igersBirminghamUK
Enjoying the peace and quiet

Two hours sped by, and it was time to say goodbye and head home. However the lure of the market pulled me back in and I came away with some nice writing books for the grandchildren, a range of Pip’s sauces for the Sandy to use at the next BBQ and two gingerbread men. My present was an evening editing and putting together the Instameet story. I have missed the IgersbirminghamUK meetings taking place in and around the City. Now the COVID19 restrictions are removed, I look forward to many more. A big thank you to the IgersbirminghamUK team for organising the meeting and good to see so many people taking part. Please follow the @IgersbirminghamUK team on Instagram and keep a look out not only for their Instameets but also the next Moseley Farmer’s and Art’s markets that take place.

Hashtags for the Instameet were #igbuk_meet_moseley and #igersBirminghamUK
Please look them up on Instagram for some more amazing pictures.

Photography approach

I took my Fujifilm x100v to the meeting and this allowed me to me ready for chatting with fellow photographers but also able to catch candid shots. Being with other photographers allows you to relax more as you take the photographs. Even then I was still a bit apprehensive with my shots! I also like to see what other people see and then photograph. Even on the reviewing of the pictures under #igbuk_meet_moseley meeting tag, I see some “knockout” photos and think if only I had taken that one! That is the fun of the Instameet, seeing how others take a picture. My editing was to go Black and White for the Farmer’s market and then colour for the Park and the Pool. I noticed that the logo for the Art’s market had blues and reds in the logo. It opened up the opportunity for some selective colouring included a bit of yellow. Did I have the right camera with me? Yes I did! Should I have brought other cameras with me? Yes I could have done but the truth is I am happy with the pictures that are published here.