West Bromwich At War

Vic Taylor, project participant. Photography by Kate Jackson
Vic Taylor, project participant. Photography by Kate Jackson

West Bromwich At War

We were proud to coordinate this fantastic heritage project focused on the impact of the Second World War on West Bromwich.  The work was commissioned by the West Bromwich Local History Society with funding from a bequest by Stan Wilkins and a grant from Heritage Lottery Fund. West Bromwich Civic Pride Association also lent their support.

Volunteers from the Society gathered the base-line historic data. They also collected personal reminiscences and photographic materials which told the story from a unique local perspective.

"I must congratulate the West Bromwich Local History Society on its splendid production.  Over the years I have encountered a number of similar productions but West Bromwich at War is outstanding in terms of its presentation, design and quality."
J.N.T. Vince, reader

"I feel I should congratulate you  and your members for producing such an excellent piece of work.  I feel many people will regard it as a really good piece of historical interest / reference." 
Graham Fellows, reader

There were numerous opportunities throughout the project to get involved through open events, presentations and workshops. These provided a forum for the wider community to share individual experiences, perspectives and interpretations, resulting in several invaluable contributions being made to the research.

We used all the materials generated by these activities to produce a fascinating bespoke book for the Society. We also worked with professional web designer, Paul Lacey, to produce an online presence for them. This featured both the results of the project as well as broader historical materials about the town, so providing a long-term legacy for the work of the Society.

An exhibition of original material was held at the Arts Café at Central Sixth in the centre of the town throughout October and December 2016, with the book being launched formally on November 23rd.

Environments

Illustration by Blue and White Creative and Benjamin Lam
Illustration by Blue and White Creative and Benjamin Lam

Environments

We’ve been commissioned by numerous organisations to create original large-scale artwork within their buildings. These include school receptions and corridors, prison libraries, recreation areas and hospital environments such as X-ray rooms and waiting areas.

Our objective is to make sure these signature pieces are absolutely right for the environment in which they’re located. We therefore place great store on consulting key individuals and groups who use the building on a regular basis to ensure their needs are met effectively.

"Award winning project - A Walk in the Park is an intelligent, playful and sensitive transformation of a clinical environment. "
West Midlands Arts and Wellbeing Awards

Speaking to managers and staff within the organisation enables us to produce a tailor-made solution that helps them in their day to day work. One great example of this is 'A Walk in the Park’, a project we undertook in a clinical environment for an NHS organisation. After speaking to the health specialists we created custom-made artwork that used distraction techniques and games to calm anxiety in patients, particularly children, who were undergoing an X-ray. These included counting exercises with butterflies and a game which involved discovering a number of frogs hidden in the artwork.

It’s not just staff we speak to - we’ll also consult service users. Running creative workshops enables groups to develop ideas and artwork with us, giving them a stake in the project.  Have a look at the 'Starfish Suite' artwork below. It contains hundreds of thousands drawings by young people on the theme of 'under the sea’.

Client: Walsall NHS, Birmingham Children's Hospital and Hillcrest School · Photography: Keith Bloomfield, Blue and White Creative · Design: Blue & White Creative, Liam Smyth, Agata Kopff and Benjamin Lam · Creative Workshops: Keith Bloomfield and Blue and White Creative

Seat & Barrow

Project participant, photography by Lee Allen
Project participant, photography by Lee Allen

Seat & Barrow

Urban Living and Beyond Bricks commissioned us to help plot-holders on the Livingstone Road Allotment in Birchills, Birmingham address long-standing challenges at the site. These included fly tipping, anti-social behaviour, site access and plot boundary disputes.

We helped the allotment committee find practical solutions to these problems. More importantly, we helped plot-holders celebrate the fantastic community they had created - a collective of dedicated people growing amazing produce and with so many wonderful stories to share.

“We aren’t going to stop until the body tells us we can’t do it no more... whenever that is. This is why we are down here six days a week having lots a fun.” 
William Channer Allotment holder

We brought plot holders together with council representatives to discuss the challenges and how best to solve them. We created an up-to date-map of the plots. We worked with young people to give them a taste of allotment life, helping them create signage for the site and encouraging them to own a plot themselves in the future.

To complement this, we interviewed plot holders about their lives and why they owned an allotment. We took hundreds of photographs which culminated in a commemorative DVD and newspaper you can watch and download.

M5 Mile

Artist Bryan Hancox, photography by Ian Stenson
Artist Bryan Hancox, photography by Ian Stenson

The M5 Mile

We worked with MADE and Infamous Arts to help transform a neglected strip of land under the M5 motorway into a buzzing hive of creativity.  The objective was to give a flavour of what a place could look like when it was ‘taken-over’ by creative communities.

The project, which was funded by Creative Black Country, saw six diverse local artists undertake a day long commission with a simple brief to respond to the site. They were hand-picked to provide a rich and varied programme of activities and arts forms alongside the canal and in the shadow of the iconic seven storey Chance Brothers Glassworks building.

"Being part of the M5 mile was an amazing opportunity and something very different to what we normally do,  as dancers it made us explore movements in different ways and become more creative when adapting to our Surroundings." 
Chelsea Cartwright, Fusion Dance Academy

"I really enjoyed spending the day with Team Fusion and all the other artists at the M5 Mile event! It was great to create dance material based on the canal environment and see what the other artists created too, as it was a really different experience, and one that I won't forget!"
Hayley Aldridge, Fusion Dance Academy

Before the event the site sat empty, save for the odd cyclist and dog walker. On the day of the event it was brought spectacularly to life by Danny Griffin-Hayes, Nita Newman, Bryan Hancox, Jayne Murray, Samuel Rodgers and Fusion Dance Academy who between them provided a vibrant transformative mix of urban art, animation, sound and dance.