Between the 16th of May and the 17th of September, 2015 I took a few photos. A bit of video too.
During this time Birmingham City Centre was undergoing something of a transformation, what with the redevelopment of New Street Station and Grand Central, the laying of tramlines between Snow Hill and New Street stations, the destruction of Paradise Circus and the Central Library, the Arena Central development on Broad Street, and general heating and electrical maintenance works thrown in for good measure. I became obsessed with documenting this tumultuous landscape using my pocket camera and later a microphone. This film is an attempt to convey through image, video and sound what it feels like to navigate the city centre at this time. A snapshot of an always restless city taken at a particularly noisy point in its endless cycle of destruction and renewal.
"Business As Usual" refers to the practice of businesses putting up temporary signs and banners to assure their customers that they can carry on shopping despite the chaos. Perhaps this could be adopted as the new city motto?
Digbeth is the oldest part of Birmingham and almost certainly the most bizarre. This video stroll is an attempt to commune with the district’s hidden heritage.
Made by Andy Howlett and introducing James Conway in a very important role.
A collaboration between Andy Howlett (film), Steve Tromans (piano), and Sid Peacock (guitar and mic). Steve and Sid improvise music and poetry to a piece of film that I assembled from bits of video and images I've taken over the years.
Film includes: Footage of Birmingham shot around the Queensway and Paradise Circus in winter 2014/15, including a wake held for the Central Library; A "classical reading" of the Central Library taken from a film I made with architectural historian Andy Foster; hundreds of photos I've taken in Birmingham and elsewhere; timelapse of images taken automatically every 5 seconds by Pete Ashton on a chest-mounted GoPro on a Cross City Walk we did from Kings Heath to Handsworth Wood on 18/02/15; excerpts from an overly long, self-indulgent film I made several years ago called "This is Why Everyone Hates You"; Excerpts from ZEUS by Paul Sayers.
Poem "To Birmingham" by Bessie Rayner Parkes:
Dear smoky Birmingham, since long ago
I left your native streets, my heart and hope
Have been with those dense crowds which daily flow
Over their pavements, finding ample scope
For meditation and for thought-born plan
Of active life within the destinies
Of these my fellow-townsmen. Every man
Inherits a great memory, how was won,
Hardly, the first of many victories
Over Feudality; and a command
Insep'rably goes with it hand in hand,
That, as the father strove, should strive the son.
Therefore, brave Town, say to thy best ones, "Rise,
Leav'ning the masses with your energies."
May every effort as the spring-dew fall
On a prepared soil, and, like the ore
On which you spend your labour, may there spring
From out your social depths a noble power
To cope with and work out each worthy thing.
Also excerpts of Charles Bukowski, Allen Ginsberg, and some book that Sid found on the shelf next to his seat on the night.
Performed and recorded at The Magic Cinema, Ort Cafe, Birmingham, 24/11/15. Thanks to Lizzy Piffany for camerawork.
A short visitation to an abandoned Jewish cemetery opposite Five Ways train station in Birmingham. I was using a new camera and didn't know how to use the video mode properly yet so took photos instead.
Made by Andy Howlett and starring Dominic Martin.
Thanks to Still Walking for making me aware of this place: http://bit.ly/1ppeh7x