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Tag Archives: Commonwealth Games 2022

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023

 Carchitecture is the architectural term where buildings and cars influence each other on the design of a city.  Birmingham is a prime example of this form of architecture planning.  The city suffered extensive bombing during the war and there were opportunities to plan a new streetmap.  The car was correctly predicted to be the vehicle of the future and construction techniques such as reinforced concrete allowed for new approaches to building design.  First off, I am not an architect and secondly I only arrived in Birmingham with my family in 1985.  My first impressions were not favourable as car journeys into the city centre were stressful.  Walking around the city was a challenge as you were faced with many pedestrian underpasses designed to allow the car priority.  

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Street art now features on boarded up shop windows.
The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Everyone has a story to tell about SNOBS.
The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
The outside of Snobs entering its last days of activity.

Over the years Birmingham has improved greatly and I love many of the new buildings especially the Library of Birmingham and Selfridges.  However, there are still remnants of brutalist architecture and one of these is the Ringway Centre on Smallbrook Queensway which connects Bristol Road with the Bull Ring and New Street.  Birmingham is always undergoing change and there is a Facebook page titled. “Birmingham, so good when it is finished”. This change has now involved the Ringway Centre which has been the focus of local news.  The city council has narrowly decided to demolish the building and replace it with several residential towers not made from concrete but with glass and steel. 

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
The Ringway Centre is in the autumn of its existence.

The intense debate gave me an idea for a personal photographic project.  I would go along and photograph the building and area over a couple of hours early in the morning.  I looked back through my photographs and realised that I have few pictures of the Ringway Centre.  This was a complete surprise especially as I have travelled through there many times. 

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Stop.
The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Reflections.

My project started with a sunny morning and this helped as the low sun reflected off buildings onto the Ringway.  The buildings are covered in a purple wrapping celebrating Birmingham and the Commonwealth games in 2022.  Parts of this covering are starting to become torn and peeling away from the building.  My journey started at the top of Smallbrook Queensway near to the Bullring and I walked down towards Southside onto Holloway Circus also known as “Pagoda Island”.

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
The concrete structures were once lights for illuminating the Ringway Centre. The covering is now starting to tear.

Along the way there is some amazing street art with much of the painting completed during Lockdown. This artwork is on boarded up shop windows and I remember some fine guitar shops being housed here in the past. The western part of the Ringway Centre is populated with convenience shops, barber salons and other food outlets. The building is named Scala house and on ground level there is the Birmingham LGBT centre and finally the Eden bar. One assumes all these businesses will vacate the buildings in the near future.

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Urban contemporary artwork painted By Lucy McLauchlan
urban contemporary artwork painted By Lucy McLauchlan
Convenience store.
urban contemporary artwork painted By Lucy McLauchlan
The Eden Bar
urban contemporary artwork painted By Lucy McLauchlan
SBQ1

When we reached Pagoda Island, I took pictures back down Smallbrook Queensway.  

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
The former entrance to the Odeon Cinema and the Birmingham LBGT centre.
The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Looking down Smallbrook Queensway from Pagoda Island.

There were several places where you can photograph behind the Ringway Centre, these include local car parks which back onto Southside and the China town area of the city.   One picture that I had to take was of the circular fire escapes at the rear of the building.  They have a unique design and are a favourite subject for local photographers.

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Looking up from the car park off Thorp Street.
The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
Birmingham Southside – this view will radically change.
The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
The space via Bath Passage with artwork by Gent64
The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
The often photographed emergency exit staircase.

On reflection the Ringway Centre has not featured prominently in my photographic journey until I decided upon this series of pictures.  During my working days in the city, the dental school was based over by Aston.  When the school moved to Pebble Mill, the 61/63 and the 45/47 buses went down Smallbrook Queensway but I have few pictures of the details of the place. 

Other regrets include seeing the inside the building but I guess that will not be possible as it is set for demolition.  There was an Odeon cinema in the building and there are pictures of the abandoned area in a feature on the BirminghamLive website

Further information

Other activities that have taken place inside the Ringway Centre over the years include a large gym overlooking the cross ways at the end of Hurst Street.   The original tenants of the offices were connected with the railway industry but the spaces have long been vacated. If you are after a history of the Ringway Centre then Wikipedia is a great starting point.

The aim of this blog is to show a photographic record of the building after the Council voted to demolish the building

Finally if you wish to buy a concrete model of the building then head over to the Space.Play site that has a concrete model of the Ringway Centre plus many other brutalist icons of Birmingham.

The Ringway Centre, Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham October 2023
A selfie taken (Jan 2020) on the No 45 bus to work. Travelling along Smallbrook Queensway, I held up the camera and the reflection rather like those mirrors at a fun fair split into two views.

Camera Settings – Except for a couple of iPhone pictures, the majority of the pictures were taken with my Canon D5 mk4 and my EF24-70mm f/2 lens. I always have it on manual setting which is a throwback to my father’s tuition. I was taught manual and use priority settings sparingly. I have a polariser filter on my camera that stops it down and this sometimes catches me out hence the blur on the pink taxi picture. My big camera is fun to use but is a magnet for people staring at you when taking pictures in an urban setting. Post processing is a case of increasing contrast and upping the shadows. This is a trick I learnt from reading Scott Kelby photographic books as it brings out the colours. A few other minor adjustments are done as I try to keep the feel of how the picture was taken. As with many of my pictures, I love the stories associated with the photography and one of the reasons that I enjoy writing this blog.

Ozzy the Bull, New Street Station, August, 2023

Ozzy the bull is in his new home and his been revealed to his public. The journey has been long and eventful from the Opening Ceremony Success at the Commonwealth games to being moved to a car park while the City decided what to do with him. There was talk of Ozzy being dismantled after the games had finished. Now he sits in splendour welcoming passengers to New Street station and there will be many more years of Ozzy representing the City of Birmingham. These pictures show Ozzy in his new home. The interaction that Ozzy creates depends on whether you have time between trains to view him. Many people are in a rush to get to their train or just passing through the station to meet friends or go shopping. Whatever is happening around him, Ozzy will be a welcoming attraction for people visiting Birmingham for many years in the future.

Ozzy the Bull, New Street Station, August, 2023
People and Ozzy in New Street Station.
Ozzy the Bull, New Street Station, August, 2023
People are fascinated with Ozzy
Ozzy the Bull, New Street Station, August, 2023
Close up to Ozzy who moves his head, eyes and tails during the day.
Ozzy the Bull, New Street Station, August, 2023
Ozzy makes a wonderful addition to the station.
Ozzy the Bull, New Street Station, August, 2023
Ozzy towers above the passengers.

Ozzy was unveiled on 26th July 2023 and there is a BBC story on the official opening.

My blog and these pictures bring to an end my commentary on Ozzy and you may wish to follow the journey with the links below.

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Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row

By far the most popular venue for the #keyofthecitybrum was Birmingham’s newly built skyscraper, 103 Colmore row. On the 18th floor, there is a south facing viewing platform that provides amazing views of the City’s major buildings.  When the Key started, Instagram was inundated with pictures of the City of Birmingham from this platform.  Many of these pictures were excellent and circulated by the social media team at 103 Colmore Row.  I left my visit to the building till late July and wondered how I could do a different picture from the platform.

Arriving in the foyer of the building with Nicky Warwickshire, my photo companion for the day @nickywarwickshire, we were met by Touwa, one of the volunteers for the Key to the City Brum.  Touwa welcomed us to 103 Colmore Row, Birmingham, England. He explained that the newly built building was a 108-metre tall 26-storey commercial office skyscraper.  We were going to the 19th Floor and above this floor is the soon to be opened restaurant on the 24th floor. We were not going to the 18th floor viewing platform but to a floor that provides a 360o view.  The floor was empty, and I was able to get pictures of buildings such as the BT tower and the Rotunda.  I even did a panorama to take in the skyscrapers.  It was also possible to capture views of the people visiting who were fascinated with the views.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Admiring the view
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Panorama of the City

My different picture?  I got down low and framed the top of the BT tower in the frame of the windows.  I was pleased as I had got a different view which still conveys the sense of height above the city. The picture was featured by BBC Midlands Today that evening.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
A different view of the BT Tower
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
My picture on BBC Midlands Today

Finally a few more pictures showing the colours of the City for the Commonwealth Games taken from the 19th floor of 103 Colmore Row.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Looking over the City and beyond. What can you see?
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
Colours on the pillars.
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, 103 Colmore Row
The view with everyone’s favourite the BT Tower.

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


Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre

The Commonwealth games are coming to Birmingham and the City council has gone overboard to make sure that the streets and roads are looking their very best. There are new pieces of artwork, refurbishing of old artwork and the enhancement of buildings.  All guaranteed to make a Brummie proud.  The following pictures provide a flavour of what is taking place across the City. Birmingham is making a statement to the Commonwealth and the World that it is a vibrant and exciting place to visit.  

Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
Perry, the mascot, is following the trams
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
Our young people are the future of Birmingham.
Chamberlain Square colours
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
Colours are everywhere…..
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
and everywhere you look there are giant posters.
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
The best way to get around is by foot or by bike.
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
Taking a walk through the colours is fun.
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
You can even Cycle through the Commonwealth
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
What would our forefathers thought of all this?
Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
Bollards with the Be Bold colours.


Lots of pictures around the city and it has been so exciting to see it all. I just hope this leaves a lasting legacy on the City of Birmingham. John Bray of the BBC has put together a wonderful set of images of Birmingham and his photography is excellent.
Commonwealth Games: Bright colours transform Birmingham landmarks – BBC

Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 City Centre
The Council House, Queen Victoria, 103 Colmore Row, Iron:Man and a Seagull

IKON Art Gallery, Birmingham, July 2022

Amongst all the excitement along the colourful streets of Birmingham, there is another success story of the city taking place during the Commonwealth Games. Wandering over to Oozells square and there is a public art display that has the power to match the other artistic events that are taking place. The IKON gallery features an exhibition of the work of three artists: Yhonnie Scarce, Salote Tawale and Osman Yousefzada. The work is diverse yet integrated and visual. They come together on subjects that cover different themes. Having my camera with me was a real bonus as each art installation offers opportunities for picture taking. The exhibits are on the first floor and all three have the necessary space which allows you to appreciate them. The first room I entered contained The Need Breeder (2002) by Australian Aboriginal Artist, Yhonnie Scarce. Suspended from the ceiling were 600 glass droplets each having different shades of opacity. The installation was mesmerising with the light falling on the different shapes allowing a range of interpretations. What they represent is the crystallisation of the Australia desert following British Nuclear tests in the fifties. Together the glass droplets represent a nuclear explosion. Each droplet represents the death from nuclear tests. Powerful, moving and relevant in this present political climate.

IKON Art Gallery, Birmingham, July 2022
The overall powerful view of the art work.

The next room had three video projections which spanned the room. The film that ran for around 9 minutes was put together by Osman Yousefyaza. Having met Osman at a Moseley Coffee house, I immediately felt a connection. Spaces of Transcendence (2022) is a film that was made in Pakistan and contains powerful moving images of rituals set against a captivating backdrop of the country. There were gestures and facial close ups that pulled me into the story without words. I found the throw of the cloth into the saucers containing colour water fascinating. The main characters in the film absorbed my intention. I can not work out if the film is on a loop as there was no introduction or end just a complete immersion in the imagery. I loved it.

IKON Art Gallery, Birmingham, July 2022
Mixture of architecture and human shape.
IKON Art Gallery, Birmingham, July 2022
Hand gestures and colours.

It was nearly closing time at the IKON when I came into the room with the instillation by Salote Tamale called YOU, ME, ME, YOU. There were three TV screens as distinct to Osman’s work which was projected on much larger screens. A continuous video was playing that darted from one theme to another. There were underwater pictures and then scenes in a tropical jungle. It was a different but refreshing approach to the presentation by Osman in the previous room. Slowly my eyes took notice of the decoration of the room and the recurring pattern. After a while it was this that started to demand my attention. The repeating colourful pattern needed to be photographed as you will see.

IKON Art Gallery, Birmingham, July 2022
The TV monitors contrast with the vibrant background.
IKON Art Gallery, Birmingham, July 2022
Love those patterns!

The exhibition was excellent and I felt a sense of calm coming away from the IKON Gallery. The exhibition coincides the Birmingham 2022 games and there will be many people arriving into Birmingham from different places and cultures. The work of these three artists starts to unravel and re-ravel the different interactions of people around the world. Birmingham is privileged to be able to host this unique display of art at the IKON gallery.

My pictures of these artists work provide a simple snapshot of this moving visit and there is more information about each artist on the web.

Yhonnie Scarce
Osman Yousefzada
Salote Tawale

This links you to more information about the exhibition at the IKON.


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.


Osman Selfridges Story

Selfridges is always on my list as a building to photograph. It has featured in many of my picture books over the years. I have even written a blog about the building which includes several of my pictures. The building is striking with the discs spread over an amorphous design. I love the building and it has come to be one of the iconic images of the City. I also like shopping in the store as the interior design is appealing but that is another story. If you want to know more, there are several good sources of information about the design and history of the architectural design.

Osman Selfridges Story
Sunset fire over Selfridges and look closely some discs are missing
Osman Selfridges Story
Missing disc highlighted by the sunrise

In 2020, problems with the attachment of the discs to the building began to surface and this is evident in my pictures. A decision was made by Selfridges to undertake the refurbishment and replacement of all the discs on the building. There are 15,000 discs and it will take some time to replace them. The original makers of the discs no longer exist and new constructors were required. The story may be followed up in the news media when in November 2020, the official reports of the replacement began.

It was during Lockdown #2 that scaffolding began to go up around the store. So as to protect the construction workers and the scaffolding, an eye-catching temporary skin has been put in place. The striking art structure is called “Infinity pattern 1” and is designed by Birmingham born artist and interdisciplinary designer, Osman Yousefzada. It is intended to be a “message of hope” to the people of Birmingham. The design was drawn up in conjunction with the IKON Gallery. The colours are striking and are best viewed in the sunlight which picks up the shades of red. The installation is temporary as the replacement of all the discs will be completed in time for the Commonwealth games in 2022. Therefore whilst it is on view, I encourage you to wander down to Birmingham and see Osman’s creation. The visit will be worthwhile.

These photographs show how Osman’s artwork interacts with the City and the people. The pictures tell the story of the loss of the discs, the placement of the scaffolding and the final structure. There is merchandise in the store that feature the Infinity Pattern 1 on them. The colours and the design pattern lend themselves to pictures and I like the picture with my daughter looking out over Birmingham with the Infinity Pattern 1 behind her.

Osman Selfridges Story
My daughter looks out over the street below.
Osman Selfridges Story
A favourite Birmingham viewpoint. This time with Osman’s Infinity Pattern 1.

I have included some web links for further reading
Birmingham Selfridges covered in huge artistic wrap
Osman Yousefzada at Selfridges Birmingham

Osman Selfridges Story
Examples of the various merchandise that can be brought designed with the Infinity Pattern 1