We’ve spent the past few days moored in various places in the heart of the City of Birmingham, a place I frequented as a teenager and in my thirties and forties, for shopping and night-life. It’s a buzzing place, with some incredible architecture both ancient and modern. I hear people denigrating Birmingham, saying it’s dirty and industrial – well I do not agree – the streets are clean, the people are friendly, there’s an abundance of activities to immerse yourself in and there are more canals than there are in Venice – what more could you ask for?
Victoria Square with ‘The Floozy in the Jacuzzi’ was looking stupendous in the sunshine, and we spent an hour in the Art Gallery – we didn’t make the most of this building and its contents sadly, as our visit was too close to closing time and we didn’t find time to return.
The Repertory Theatre and Central Library are in the process of being re-built – not really sure about the design of the building, though new library alone is costing £188.8 million and will contain the world's largest collection of Shakespeare books, pamphlets and memorabilia. It's due to open in early September 2013.
'The levels are stacked up like a pile of children's building blocks, and wrapped in a lacy metal skin which in sunlight casts intricate shadows on the floors inside and is also intended – according to the architects – to recall the tradition of jewellery making and the city's industrial heritage. The golden box at the higher levels blocks light from the archive storeys and their precious collections, including manuscripts from the 12th century on, and an internationally renowned photography collection.'
Birmingham New Street Railway Station is halfway through its refurbishment and is looking amazing – so much more expansive and spacious than its predecessor was. We met my daughter Kim from Birmingham International Airport early on Sunday morning, following a week in the sunshine of Greece. It was her first visit to Areandare – just a short one as she needed to be back at work this morning. I’d found an amazing deal of First Class train travel back to her home in Brighton for just £34!
Over the weekend we’d walked past an interesting statue just outside ‘The Cube’ a number of times, and hadn’t realised until today that it is in fact one of a series of incredible pieces called ‘The Lovely People’ by Arron BIrd aka Temper – the others are situated inside The Cube building. We couldn’t understand why they are not advertised more on the walk to The Mailbox (link) so that many more ‘tourists’ can see past the materialism and busyness of modern day life. I was incredibly inspired and humbled, and loved the artist’s description of these real people.
"The lovely people are a group of seven people, all of whom have an exceptional story to tell. The bodies are those of the actual people who inspired the work. The mirrored shine of the hearts reflects our own faces as we approach them, asking us to see a little of ourselves in each of these embodiments of society.":
This one represents a man who has worked hard all his life
'Mother and child' - the child was born with a hole in her heart and was treated in Birmingham
'Survivor' is an old lady who walked across Europe in the war - her mum was sent to Auschwitz
The flying sculpture represents a firefighter who risked his life to save colleagues