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.

The custard fatoiry, Digbeth

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”

The Great Rest
The Great Rest

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.

Digbeth Fazeley Street
Looking up Fazeley Street near to the start of Floodgate street.
The custard fatoiry, Digbeth
The Glory of Custard
Map of Digbeth
There are maps available part of the street art
Golden Boy on Hack St
Golden Boy on Hack St
Palm Oil equals...
Palm Oil equals…
Birmingham Coach Station Empty
Birmingham Coach Station Empty

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.

The positive and the negative of Black Sabbath
Spider Man Street Art
Spider Man Street Art, Trinity Street Car Park
Heath Mill Lane
Heath Mill Lane
Gent48 on Floodgate Street
Gent48 on Floodgate Street
Thinking about Rankin Roger
Thinking about Rankin Roger
Birmingham Screwdriver Factory
Down the River to the Screwdriver Factory
Street Art and Birmingham Icons
Street Art and Birmingham Icons

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

Reflections in Digbeth

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!

My way back to Temple Meads train station was long and tortuous.  I took pictures of the Clifton Rock Railway which is no longer operational but I saw the upper and lower part.  There must have been some interesting stories about the making and running of the cable cars whilst it was in operation. All that can be seen is the outside structures which are intriguing but lost in time. The upper and lower parts of the Clifton Rock railway are connected by the Zig Zag footpath. It is a steep tortuous path that offers great views of the bridge but is very steep.

Street level entrance
Closed but still has a history

I headed up the Avon River, pausing to take pictures every so often.  The north bank is very picturesque with its colourful houses on the hills. My first destination was to see the Banksy picture of the Girl with the Pearl Earring. It is hidden down an industrial alleyway and there are several scribbles on the wall where several people have commented on the painting.  The work has character and charm and you are drawn into the painting.  The paint drops caught my eye and the sweeping way that the brushstrokes link together. I was pleased to have seen it.

Underfall Yard
Looking northwards from Spike Island
View of the water

Then onto North St in the district of Bedminster where every street corner has street art associated with it.  I did not use my large Canon Camera as the area was a touch edgy and so my iPhone 11 served me well for taking the pictures of the street art.  The street artists are very clever with the expressions and detail of their creations. Personally I am a great fan of street art but I am not happy when I see some of the beautiful creations simply tagged with vandalistic paint. I hope the photographs that people take preserve the spirit of the pictures for others to enjoy.

Greta Thunberg
The Power of Women
Here’s looking at you
Suitcases on a Beetle
Fruity streetart
Unsightly tagging

Then it was back to the train station to leave Bristol and head home. A short stay but many photographic memories.

Bristol Temple Meads
On the platform

I was invited to Bristol to give a talk to a National Dental Society.  I was looking forward to the visit as I had not spent much time in Bristol in the past and I knew that I would have some opportunity to look around the City after my talk.  I arrived in Bristol Temple Meads station and it is the imposing station roof that immediately catches the eye.  I spent some time taking pictures at the start and end of my visit.  The station has lots of character together with obliging passengers who set off the backdrop to the station.

Bristol Temple Meads

The talk was in the Watershed a cinema theatre and it is in the heart of the Bristol docklands.  The interaction of people with bridges, water and architecture caught my eye and as it had been raining there was some puddle reflections opportunities.  

Puddle Reflections
Bikes on the Docks

I liked the “we are curious” sphere that was near to the docklands and on my walk back to the hotel.  The hotel was in Clifton and to reach it there was an uphill walk.  It did not prove too strenuous but again there were many camera opportunities.  On the river I passed by the SS Great Britain.  I started to get a glimpse of the graffiti street art that adorns some of the Bristol streets. I enjoy street art but realise it is not to everyone’s taste.  Some of the artwork is intricate, colourful and often has a great message to put across.  The streets on the way to Clifton have interesting buildings.   It is the setting of the houses in the Georgian to the Regency style.  The hills surrounding the town provide the backdrop with the buildings following the curves and undulations of the geography.

Bristol Docks
We are Curious – Science Exhibition
SS Great Britain
Interesting Street Art on the way to Clifton
Bristol Architecture
A church on the hill
A single chair, many house
My destination for the night in Clifton