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

Imagine That

Illustration by Jody Lundy
Illustration by Jody Lundy

Imagine That!

Creative Black Country commissioned us to create a commemorative publication to give out free at the ‘Imagine That!’ festival in Sandwell. Rather than take a traditional ‘What’s On’ type approach we worked closely with the local community to develop a custom-made publication that would speak vividly to a young audience.

We worked with respected Wolverhampton children’s author Ian Billings, ‘The Lyng Media Club’ (a young people’s project on the Lyng estate), illustrator Jody Lundy and Creative Black Country. The result was an enthralling story of two local youngsters who go on an adventure across a magical Sandwell. Along the way they encounter talking bees, take a trip in a flying three-wheel van and embark on a wondrous canal trip they will never forget.

"For Imagine That! We wanted to celebrate the outdoor spaces in Sandwell as well as create intimate experiences that offer considered and meaningful opportunities for families to engage with. We definitely feel that this was the case and our research has already found that. 15% of families we attracted had not been to an arts or cultural event in the last 12 months.

It was essential to have a programme that appealed to people who weren’t already disposed to attending arts events. Blue and White worked with us to develop a plan for a children’s story that narrated our summer activity in a fun and inventive way. Families were able to re-enact the stories in the book as they travelled across Sandwell taking part in outdoor pyjama parties, creating ceramic gardens and life-size puppet shows.

We found the process of making the book to be really enjoyable from consultation to print. The enthusiasm of all those involved in developing the publication fed through to a final product that still has pride of place on local people’s bookshelves. The Imagine That! publication received an enthusiastic response from councillors, schools, museums and, most importantly, local children!"
Liam Smyth, Creative Producer, Creative Black Country

We’re very proud of our record in giving opportunities to up and coming creatives. For this project we engaged Jody Lundy, a young West Bromwich based illustrator, who at the time was in her final year at Wolverhampton University. Jody produced some superb illustrations which she included subsequently as part of her year-end degree show artwork. They impressed all who saw them and helped Jody gain a very good degree.

Grow Up Great

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Grow Up Great

Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles commissioned us to help with a new initiative in the Cannock area called ‘Grow up Great’. This was aimed at families with children under five. The initiative had two principal objectives - first, to develop a dedicated website informing parents about what was on in their area and secondly to help families find fun ways to enhance their health and wellbeing.

"Blue and White Creative goes above and beyond to ensure that you receive the highest standard of design and branding. From the initial concept, their knowledge, understanding and dedication ensures that the end result is one you can be proud of. His work on our projects have been instrumental in their success and recognition’’
Louise Rose, Project Manager, Inspiring Healthy Lifestyle

We spoke to local families about the websites and wider social media they used to find out about events in their area. We asked them what information they wanted, what format worked best for them and what design they liked most.

Working in collaboration with Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles and web developer Andy Goodwin we created the Grow Up Great website and a supporting range of promotional items. The brand itself was designed to be family-friendly - fun, bright, welcoming and playful.

Toolkit

Toolkit, photography by Simon Ramshaw
Toolkit, photography by Simon Ramshaw

Toolkit

Staffordshire University commissioned us to create a unique publication for people who use arts and creativity as a means of engaging with their community.

This project was supported by the EU Leonardo Da Vinci fund and involved artists from Poland, Spain and the UK who undertook residencies in countries and contexts different from their own. The residencies focused on civic engagement activities such as residents in care homes engaging more in their community, urban communities and local businesses campaigning for communal green spaces and people working together on housing estates.

"We worked with Blue and White Creative and Gemma Ince to produce a residency toolkit for a EU funded arts project. They professionally engaged all partners and created an innovative and highly acclaimed toolkit. Their attention to detail as well as their willingness to experiment and engage partners and users is exemplary. We work in the field of community development and not only were Blue and White sympathetic to our needs, they were also able to liaise and engage with the communities which we work with."

Janet Hetherington, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire University

We produced a hard-copy 'Toolkit’ to help creative practitioners gain insight, tips and general information on civic engagement and the arts. The Toolkit was made with hard-wearing municipal materials such as cardboard, elastic bands and metal clips enabling it to be taken apart and reassembled quickly.  It contained a series of bound worksheets set into three themed books, all of which were designed to photo-copy easily.

As a measure of its success, the ’Toolkit’ has already been translated into Spanish, Polish and English.

Client: Staffordshire University · Photography: Simon Ramshaw · Design: Blue & White Creative & Gemma Ince · Funder: European Union

Join Us

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

Join Us

This poster campaign promoted health and wellbeing in the Black Country by encouraging people to volunteer their time, experience, skills and knowledge to a local museum or gallery. Keeping busy and working as part of a team is a great way to enhance physical and mental health and improve wellbeing.

Rather than develop a generic poster with stock imagery we visited volunteers who were already working at local museums to find out more about what they did.

"I just wanted to say what a good job you have done on the posters for the Join Us posters. They really grab your attention and give the message."
Dave Reeves, renowned poet and project collaborator

We were commissioned by Creative Health and collaborated with them, Museum Development, Black Country poet Dave Reeves and photographer Lee Allen to develop a series of posters for each Black Country borough. These featured photographic portraiture of genuine volunteers complemented by short poems inspired by the people we met.

Client: Creative Health · Photography: Lee Allen · Design: Blue & White Creative · Text: Dave Reeves · Funders: Museum Network Partnership & Arts Council

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.

No Fit State

Project participants, photography by Kerry Whitehouse
Project participants, photography by Kerry Whitehouse

No Fit State Circus

Creative Black Country commissioned us to help coordinate groups in Sandwell for their No Fit State Circus project, a two-day event bringing together young people and professional circus performers.

We found and looked after these groups - Fusion Dance Academy, Cre8 Performing Arts, Sandwell Flyers and Rick Dubidats Black Belt Academy.

“Many thanks for your work on Open House, you did a great job at recruiting, mobilising and coordinating collaborators from Sandwell; we found them individually and collectively inspiring and we were excited by what was achieved in such a short time”. 
Orit Azaz, No Fit State Director

"It was a big bunch of fabulousness! I have wanted to try out circus skills for a long time and this gave the opportunity to.  No Fit State were extremely encouraging, talented and made me feel confident to step out of my comfort zone.  I would love to do it all again! "
Project Performer Chelsea Cartwright

"I had so much fun! I loved every minute of it and smiled for the whole time.  I would love to join the circus"
Performer Natalie Homer

Our work involved time-tabling events, transport and most importantly liaison with Creative Black Country, No Fit State and the managers, leaders and instructors of the groups involved.

The event was a great success with hundreds of people watching four performances over a two-day period.

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.