Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024

A big, revolving, mirrored heart has appeared in Snow Hill square accompanied by lights and seventies disco music.  Quite a combination when you think about it.  Such retro art installations catch my imagination.  “Our beating Heart” is a pop-up show sponsored by Colmore Business District and is free to view.  

I hurried along after a meeting at the MAC to see the latest art installation that Birmingham has on show.  Snow Hill was quiet, sparsely populated with commuters heading home.  In the middle of the square was the heart slowly revolving and lit up by lights.  The 11,000 mirrors reflected the light around the darkened buildings of the square.  The effect was pleasing and mesmerising as shards of coloured light gave a snowfall effect on the buildings.  The music was very much retro.  Whilst I was there taking pictures, songs from my youth were blasted out into the night.   Heart of Glass by Blondie and Saturday Night Fever by the Bee Gees are two examples of the disco style music.  This an open-air disco and luckily there was no rain.   

Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024
View from the Station end of the square.
Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024
No bikes allowed!
Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024
Colour popping

Just to emphasise the fun of the evening two people were dressed up in multicoloured swap-shop jackets and were ready to engage in conversation with passers-by.  The installation was Instagram friendly and I was not alone in taking photographs.  Some serious picture taking was happening and a look at the socials shows how everyone wanted to have a piece of the action.  The heart was not the easiest object to photograph, very bright lights against the dark is tricky at the best of times.  My humble offering of photographs may not be the best but they give a flavour of the atmosphere.  There is much more information on the Colmore Business District web site and the pity is that the heart is only around for a few nights.  There was a board, where you could post supplied stickers saying how the heart made you feel.   I enjoyed seeing the heart but left bemused that a disco light shaped as a heart with retro hits has captured everyone’s imagination.  But that is what good art does by making you give an opinion.  My advice go and visit as the heart is worth seeing just for the picture taking.

Our beating heart, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, March 2024
Multi-coloured swapshop jacket.

More information on the Beating heart designed by Studio Vertigo and the Colmore Business District.

Over the last week of January the Bull Ring area of Birmingham held a Festival of Light. There were several themed light shows and shoppers flocked to the display. There was a Chinese New Year display but I was unable to get to see that particular event. I did see the display over three nights on my way back from work. Taking photographs was not easy due to the number of people around the event and I was by myself. It did mean I could not do any particularly good selfie photographs. I took different cameras to the event and needed to rely on a high ISO as no tripods were allowed near the interactive exhibits. The light show also was either very bright such as the Neon Angel Wings or unpredictable in when the lights came on. It required a lot of anticipation on the part of the photographer.

There were five installations

Talk to the sky – This was in St Martin’s Square and similar to all the others was interactive in nature. When you talk to the lights your voice is converted into light and sound pulses that were sent up into space.

With Love – This was a bright red inflatable heart that senses the light, the temperature and the atmospheric pressure around it, and turns into a red heartbeat with sounds.

Neon Angel Wings – This installation was designed by the neon light artist, Carla O’Brien. It consisted of a pair of neon wings where you could get a selfie taken. It was a very bright installation and tricky to photograph.

Pulse – St Martin’s Walk up to Rotunda square had a series of circular structures that you were able to walk through. As you did there was an electronic sound track with a pulsing light

Birds Fly Around With You – This final light show in Rotunda Square was an interactive flock of birds. When you entered the circle then the birds starting to light up and fly around you in a circle.