Key to the City Brum

Key 01 - Artfull Expression, Jewellery Quarter

Collection and the first lock

There is a “key to the city Brum” that unlocks doors around Birmingham.  What a great idea.  Such doors give the entry to special places.  Ones that only you may open if you have a special key. Intriguing. I always loved a good treasure hunt but how do I get access to one of these fabled keys?  It was not difficult to find out as the project caught the imagination of Brummies and social media was rife with the #keytothecitybrum hashtag. 

Key to the City Brum 2022
Key to the City Brum 2022 passport box.

 When the launch took place in Grand Central on a Monday morning in June, I jumped in the car and made my way to New Street station, Birmingham.  I arrived just when the launch was taking place with all the media and other important people talking about the keys.  I even caught sight of the artist Paul Ramírez Jonas who came up with the concept.  The project had previously taken place in New York city and was now being launched in Birmingham as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival taking place prior to the Commonwealth Games.

Key to the City Brum 2022
The reception desk at New Street Station
Key to the City Brum 2022
Sarah from the Birmingham 2022 festival who signed the pledge with me.
Key to the City Brum 2022
Me and my key!

I was near to the front of the queue to receive my key and got talking to people around me.  The picture shows Sophie who works for the B2022 festival committee who were instrumental in bringing ‘Keys to the City’ to Birmingham. Sophie is pictured in New Street Station holding up the pledge that we had to read and then sign before getting our ‘Keys’. To sign our pledge, there needed to be two people signing it together on a table. Sophie kindly buddied up with me so that we could correctly enact the ceremony and then collect the key. Thanks to Sophie for allowing me to take her photograph. The key came in a presentation box with a leaflet in the form of a passport.  All the doors were listed with maps and instructions on how to access them.  One of the helpers then asked me to put a sticker on the map of Birmingham postcodes. This is to show everyone where all the key holders lived around Birmingham.  The story of the places I visit will be photographed in the following weeks.   I did write up the first few places and posted my pictures on Instagram.  However, people wanted the opening of the doors to be a surprise so I will release my journey after the 7th August when it ends.  Until then this is the first place that I visited to give a flavour of what you encounter with your key. 

Key to the City Brum 2022
The board showing where all the participants live

Artfull Expression

My first lock venue that I visited was Artfull Expression which is on Warstone Lane in the Jewellery Quarter.  My key opened the contents of the cabinet which held items used in the manufacture of jewellery.

David is the owner of Artfull Expression. His premises are one of the venues of the ‘Key to the City Brum’ event organised by the Birmingham 2022 festival. When I arrived, I was warmly met by David who explained the downstairs studio was not open due to unforeseen circumstances. He directed me to a locked cabinet that they had prepared. My ‘Key to the city’ fitted the Yale lock on the cabinet. I freed a metal rod which once removed, allowed the cabinet to be opened. Inside was a description of jewellery making. David enthusiastically explained the manufacturing process to me. Also, I learnt that David is one of the Guardians of the Birmingham Assay Office. He also told me how Birmingham obtained the anchor hallmark on its jewellery. Apparently, Matthew Boulton, the 18th century industrialist, won the right on the toss of a coin in a London pub. Sheffield was the loser and was given a castle logo which they changed to a rose. David has expertise in jewellery design and Sandy, my wife, will be returning to have some jewellery redesigned by him. This was a fascinating visit and the first lock opened in my Keys to the City journey.

There is a website for the key to the city Brum and also a link to Fierce Festival who are also involved with the organisation. Finally a link to the artist Paul Ramírez Jonas.

If you want to know more then visit David at the website for Artfull Expression

My Journey with the Key
If you wish to review my journey then I have published all my visits on my blog as follows.

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