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Making space for art

Categories: Events, Jewellery Quarter

On Friday I went along to the launch-party-type-thing for the latest art exhibition at BPN Architects here in the Jewellery Quarter.

It's Dean Melbourne's first solo show. And it is good.

I must admit that sometimes art stumps me a bit and can make me feel daft if I don't 'get' it. Not this. That's not to say Dean's work is easy or bland or anything though; far from it. This is work you can stand and look at for ages and it gives something back, somehow. Uh-oh, I'm starting to sound way too flowery for my liking …

As I'm not having much luck explaining myself, I'd heartily recommend having a read of Lorna Parsons' blog post about the show, which is much more readable than my witterings. Lorna (who worked with Dean to organise the exhibition) gives a very clear and rational explanation for an architectural practice hosting art exhibitions – a concept which may at first seem a bit odd but actually makes perfect sense.

Dean Melbourne's paintings of dreamy fables and tea-sipping ladies will be on show at BPN Architects' really rather ace exhibition space until December. Contact BPN in advance to arrange a look around.

Oh, and when you go, be sure to notice the framing for an extra hit of colour and detailing. Lovely stuff.

Cuppas and cupcakes

Categories: Jewellery Quarter

Last week, Birmingham's Likemind coffee morning celebrated its third birthday. Wow, that's a lot of early starts!

To help mark the occasion, we made some cakes (as did Lindsey and Claire – thanks both!) to help raise donations and awareness for Marie Curie Cancer Care and as part of their Blooming Great Tea Party.

The cake donations raised were enough to pay for an hour of at-home nursing care, plus bereavement booklets to support more than 20 children. Brilliant stuff – thanks so much to everyone who came along and donated.

Thanks also to Saint Caffe for continuing to look after us so well every month.

(The next Likemind will be on Friday 20th August; same time and place as usual. Hope to see you there!)

Cash for cake (for cancer care)

Categories: Extra-curricular, Jewellery Quarter

I'm writing this post on a caffeine-high, having recently returned to the office from our monthly Likemind coffee morning; a gentle networking event which takes place not only here in Brum but in 52 other cities across the world on the same date and at the same (local) time each month.

We've been hosting the event since July 2007 which means that next month – Friday 16th July to be precise – it'll be Likemind Birmingham's third birthday. Crikey.

To mark the occasion we're having a 'cash for cake' fundraiser in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care, as part of their Blooming Great Tea Party. We'll bring along some cake and, if you'd like to make a donation to the charity in return for some spongey goodness, that'd be most appreciated.

Coffee, conversation, celebration, charity and cake? Surely that's a winning combo?  

The need-to-know stuff: Come along to Saint Caffe, St Paul's Square, Birmingham on Friday 16th July. We'll be there from 8am until about 10am and, as I may've mentioned, there will be cake.

Pressing local matters

Categories: Jewellery Quarter

The fact that a former incarnation of Supercool HQ was a pen works and that it's located only about a 2-minute walk away, it seemed like madness to have never visited the Jewellery Quarter's pen museum. So, in an effort to explore nearby places, I went to have a quick look around.

Cosy it may be but the Pen Room is packed to the rafters with pen paraphernalia, there's typographic eye-candy a-plenty thanks to loads of glorious examples of old packaging and signage, and the enthusiastic volunteer staff are brimming with pen-related facts.

"Birmingham was the centre of the world pen trade for more than a century, employing thousands of people, pioneering craftsmanship, manufacturing processes and employment opportunities – especially for women."

Probably the best thing about the Pen Room is the interactivity – there's no touch-screen technology here but you can make your very own pen nib. You go through the whole process – from cutting the blank, to embossing the maker's mark and then pressing into shape – using the chunky, clunky, antique machinery; all under the careful supervision of one of the staff, of course. Then, you get to take it home with you! (The nib, not the staff member.)

The Pen Room is free (though donations are welcomed) and it's perfect to visit during a lunch-hour; you'll get a bit of history and a smattering of heritage, see some fantastic packaging design and make a tiny keepsake. I reckon it's well worth writing home about. (Sorry, I can never resist a bad pun.) Next on my to-go list: the award-winning Museum of the Jewellery Quarter.