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Making an exhibition of Birmingham. For Birmingham. By Birmingham.

Categories: Events, Extra-curricular, Jewellery Quarter

Yesterday evening I was lucky enough to be invited along to the private view of Birmingham Photospace's Birmingham's People exhibition which is currently housed in the (stunning) Jewellery Quarter offices of architectural practice, Bryant Priest Newman.

A bit of background incase you're not familiar with Birmingham Photospace – they're a collective of folks who love photography and are working incredibly hard to establish a permanent public gallery space for photographic works here in Brum.

The photos featured in Birmingham's People were taken over just two days at last year's Artsfest and are an eclectic bunch. The images really are beautiful and it's impressive to think they were taken in a marquee, in a bustling city centre, in the middle of a festival and with a very quick turnaround time per subject. Massive kudos to photographers Jennifer Peel and Matt Murtagh – it takes real talent to get people so relaxed and natural in front of the camera even at the best of times!

Sadly my quick attempt at getting an arty shot of reflections of the building within the photos didn't work terribly well, as you can see, and really doesn't do Birmingham's People justice. The exhibition runs until 19th June though, so you can go and see the images properly over at Bryant Priest Newman – the exhibition's open during office hours but you do need to call or email in advance as it's a working office. Contact details can be found on their blog.

Chewing the fat about fonts

Categories: Events, Extra-curricular

Following on from the first event back in June, last night James, Sophie (our intern) and I went along to the second Birmingham Chitterlings supper club – again held at The Vaults in the Jewellery Quarter and organised by the lovely folks at Type.

Chitterlings is essentially a smallish (there were 16 of us) gathering of folks interested in design-related things, who get together to listen to a guest speaker, then have a chat over dinner. It’s all very civilised, don’t you know.

Our guest speaker last night was John Berry, a designer, author, President of ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale) and program manager at Microsoft Typography. John recounted how he found his way into typography (serendipitously) and told us a bit about his role at Microsoft, banging the drum for good, legible typography on-screen. (Incase you’re wondering what the secret is – it’s all about space.)

Just like the previous Chitterlings (properly pronounced “chitlins”, John informed us!) it was a fun, interesting and enlightening evening; good food, good chats and good people.

Oh, and we were each given a calligraphic artwork of our name too, expertly penned by calligrapher Paul Antonio.

Besides all that, I was chuffed that Caroline from Type asked me to design the menu/nameplace/programme leaflets for the event. Although there’s not much scarier for a designer than designing for other designers, it was great to have a play around with Baskerville and some grub-related quotations. Typography and food – two of my favourite things. (And my design even got a compliment from Mr Berry, so I was very relieved. Phew!)

In step

Categories: Events

On Saturday evening I took a trip to see Bollywood Steps, a dance spectacular which was held as part of People Dancing; a strand of the Cultural Olympiad here in the West Midlands. (It was also part of the Town Hall’s 175th Anniversary celebrations.)

Essentially the life-story of originator Simmy Gupta told in dance, the first half hour consisted of a ‘basic steps’ tutorial, so the entire crowd could dance along during the wedding scene at the end of the show. I’m not much of a mover but bopped along in time; suppressing the urge to join in with the arm movements lest I accidentally bop someone on the nose. (Dancing’s not my strength!) I was actually really impressed with the number of people who got into it and gave it a go – there were arms waving round all over the place.

The performance-proper was fantastic – the dancing was, naturally, pretty impressive but fusing it with such beautiful, dramatic lighting and the backdrop of the Town Hall made it something really special. And there were fountains and fireworks and everything!

It was most certainly an invigorating way to spend an hour or so on a chilly October evening. (Especially for the floaty-sari-clad dancers who must’ve been blooming freezing!)

I’ll be keeping an eye on West Midlands Dance (a hub of local dance-related stuff) as I’m intrigued to see – following Bollywood, water features and pyrotechnics – what else will come from People Dancing.

Community in the city

Categories: Events, Extra-curricular, Jewellery Quarter

So, I guess it's not just the sense of community round here that I find quite heartwarming – it's also the strong sense of industriousness, initiative-taking and just plain old 'getting things done'. The next 24 Carrots is on Saturday 19th September outside The Big Peg, from 9am until 3pm. (There's a Flickr group with lots of photos if you want an idea of what it was like. Join and add your photos if you went along!) The next Likemind Coffee Morning (and the event's 2nd birthday!) is on Friday 17th July, at Saint Caffe on St Pauls' Square, from 8am until 10ish. If you're on Twitter and in the Quarter: @MyJQ – a hyper-local what's on guide run by resident Brian Simpson @24_Carrots – for Farmers' Market updates @likemind – for coffee morning reminders MyJQ also has a Tumblr – check out this video from the last Likemind! There are probably loads more things I've missed – feel free to add stuff in the comments.