Osman Selfridges Story

Selfridges is always on my list as a building to photograph. It has featured in many of my picture books over the years. I have even written a blog about the building which includes several of my pictures. The building is striking with the discs spread over an amorphous design. I love the building and it has come to be one of the iconic images of the City. I also like shopping in the store as the interior design is appealing but that is another story. If you want to know more, there are several good sources of information about the design and history of the architectural design.

Osman Selfridges Story
Sunset fire over Selfridges and look closely some discs are missing
Osman Selfridges Story
Missing disc highlighted by the sunrise

In 2020, problems with the attachment of the discs to the building began to surface and this is evident in my pictures. A decision was made by Selfridges to undertake the refurbishment and replacement of all the discs on the building. There are 15,000 discs and it will take some time to replace them. The original makers of the discs no longer exist and new constructors were required. The story may be followed up in the news media when in November 2020, the official reports of the replacement began.

It was during Lockdown #2 that scaffolding began to go up around the store. So as to protect the construction workers and the scaffolding, an eye-catching temporary skin has been put in place. The striking art structure is called “Infinity pattern 1” and is designed by Birmingham born artist and interdisciplinary designer, Osman Yousefzada. It is intended to be a “message of hope” to the people of Birmingham. The design was drawn up in conjunction with the IKON Gallery. The colours are striking and are best viewed in the sunlight which picks up the shades of red. The installation is temporary as the replacement of all the discs will be completed in time for the Commonwealth games in 2022. Therefore whilst it is on view, I encourage you to wander down to Birmingham and see Osman’s creation. The visit will be worthwhile.

These photographs show how Osman’s artwork interacts with the City and the people. The pictures tell the story of the loss of the discs, the placement of the scaffolding and the final structure. There is merchandise in the store that feature the Infinity Pattern 1 on them. The colours and the design pattern lend themselves to pictures and I like the picture with my daughter looking out over Birmingham with the Infinity Pattern 1 behind her.

Osman Selfridges Story
My daughter looks out over the street below.
Osman Selfridges Story
A favourite Birmingham viewpoint. This time with Osman’s Infinity Pattern 1.

I have included some web links for further reading
Birmingham Selfridges covered in huge artistic wrap
Osman Yousefzada at Selfridges Birmingham

Osman Selfridges Story
Examples of the various merchandise that can be brought designed with the Infinity Pattern 1

Stay Safe from a canal boat window

This is the first post of the first day of Lockdown £3. For Lockdown #1, it was new and we all stayed at home. We came out of that Lockdown and summer drove the virus underground but it was still around. Lockdown #3 was called when the devastating extent of the virus re-emergence became known. During Lockdown #2, I was working so I stopped off in the city to do some daily exercise before moving onto Pebble Mill. This time I am not at work for the main part of the week and only do one day. Almost all of my work can be done from home. So in a similar way to Lockdown #1, it is a stay at home except for the one exercise a day.

Black Boy Marina
Black Boy Marina
A picturesque but empty Kings Arms Pub
A picturesque but empty Kings Arms Pub

With this Lockdown #3, I am looking for more imaginative walks from home. This time I walked along the canal down past Knowle locks with several of the boats displaying “stay safe” signs onto two of the canal side pubs, the Kings Arms and the Black Boy. (The latter pub name comes from the appearance of King Charles II who had a dark complexion). Both the pubs were closed and had a very empty look about them. Even in January the car parks would be full and people would be visiting. Nothing was happening.

Empty Black Boy pub
Empty Black Boy pub
Empty seats
Empty seats

There is a canal Marina between both pubs which was also very quiet. I did have a heron as company which is another story in itself. A strange day with a heavy presence around the canal. A solemn quietness hung in the air as the place seemed to know that this was the start of another Lockdown.

A colourful scene at Knowle Locks
A dramatic scene at Knowle Locks

The tow path was very muddy and difficult to negotiate but the canal boats had their log fires burning. The smell of the wood burning was pleasant to breath in as I returned the way I came and made my way home. When I got to the top lock at Knowle, there was a bright end to the day which lifted the spirits. There are going to be a lot more walks to do before this current Lockdown is over.

Changeable weather
Changeable weather with clouds, sunshine and reflections
The smell of wood burners as you pass the long boats
The smell of wood burners as you pass the long boats

Photo tip – Story telling always helps with your photography. This is about the lockdown and it has pictures of the rainbow and stay safe symbol in the window of one of the boats. We move onto the pubs which should have full carparks and people moving around but there is little happening. Therefore the story concentrates on the weather and the muddy journey with lovely skies.

This was the first day of Lockdown #3, here are my other first days of the previous lockdowns.
Lockdown #1 – Lockdown begins
Lockdown #2 – Birmingham Lockdown #2 – a photographic journey of the first morning

Follow my encounter with a Heron during this Lockdown #3 walk

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.  

Not a car to be seen in Floodgate Street
The odd person is around
We are looking out for you!
These notices are all around

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.

NHS heroes
Empty Coffee Bars
A few early walkers
No entry
Empty and quiet except for a few reflections
We are watching you – Street Art by Justin Sola

Knowle is opening up and the notices on the shops are changing to ones of positivity.  “We are opening up” is the general message.  Three of the restaurants had resorted to boarding up their windows so it is nice to see them taken down and messages of how they are resuming their services.  Several of the shops look very empty and places such as the opticians and the hairdressers are missing the human interaction.  They will be difficult to manage for social distancing purposes but I know they will find a way around it. I have taken several photographs which provide hope and are looking to the future. Very different from my earlier posts at the start of the lockdown.

The Corona Virus has rapidly engulfed us. Pubs, bars, restaurants and Gyms were closed on Friday (20th March) with full lockdown announced by the Prime Minister on Sunday (22nd March). We can go out for one form of exercise, food shopping and essential medication. I have got into a routine of going for a walk just before the sun rises and I have put down a selection of pictures from Knowle village and the places I walk around in the morning. These are very strange days as you will see.


The main High Street in Knowle Village is deserted on a Saturday Morning


Restaurants, Bars and Shops are closed except for the convenience store

Loch Fyne is boarded up


If you go shopping then you must keep your distance and this is done by yellow crosses on the floor.

It is so reassuring to see the supermarket deliveries being made.
Eric Lyons the butchers are doing home deliveries which is a much safer option.


By far the most sensible and safest activity that you should practice is Stay at home. Here Sandy shows how it is done.