City of contrasts – Birmingham UK

 

 

 

Ikon Gallery

Ikon Gallery

Chinatown

Chinatown

Canal, Birmingham

Canal, Birmingham

This photo was taken in Summer Row close to where the old Birmingham College of Art Experimental Workshop would have been.

A forlorn building on Henstead Street

A forlorn building on Henstead Street

Only a stone’s throw away from the brash new city centre.

The blue glass Radisson

The blue glass Radisson

Amazing - possibly awful

Amazing - possibly awful

The Cube detail

The Cube detail

Note the contrast between old and new.  This is the owners take ” A world class building which dominates the Birmingham skyline. Exceptional apartments, state-of-the-art offices, exclusive shops, water side café bars, Birmingham’s first boutique hotel and panoramic rooftop restaurant all fuse together in one extraordinary location. Put simply, a building like no other.”

The Town Hall

The Town Hall

Canal

Canal

I lived in Birmingham for approximately 10 years coming there as a student in 1968 and living there until 1979.  Starting from the genteel but declining area of Moseley, crumbling Victorian villas converted into squalid bedsits and finishing in Vicery Close on the Bristol Road, an elegant late 30’s apartment complex set in a  large garden.   Going back the change is enormous. Broad Street, once a slightly out of centre shopping street with Everymans where I could buy artists’ materials and visit if I had the money – the Rum Runner a busy night venue.  Oh and you could look over the Gas Street Canal basin- not the prettiest of sights.  Now Broad Street is the major artery of the so called Westside area.   Change was happening when I was there with the relocation of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, then on a second sojourn, working for West Midlands Arts, there in the mid 90’s the Symphony Hall was apparent.  There was talk of something called Brindleyplace, I thought it was going be just more offices,  I know the Ikon was considering relocating to an old school in Oozells Street.

The Council House

The Council House

Going back there last year to be involved with This Could Happen to You was a shock for me.  First, the new Ikon.  I was amazed at how a Victorian neo Gothic school could be turned into an amazingly trendy contemporary art galley.  Brindleyplace wasn’t merely offices, it was an upscale commercial area with culture and retail.  The canals had been opened up and re-furbished, one walked past new sculpture, good quality street  furniture. What! They used to say Birmingham rebuilds itself every fifty years, well for Westside this certainly seems to be true. Last year I stayed in a SACO apartment,  almost a penthouse, from where I could see this astonishing building the Cube going up.  Well it is finished now and open.  Now the new Library is on its way to completion.  They only built the last one in the 70’s.

Sixties signal box

Sixties signal box

This is listed thankfully.

Canal boats

Canal boats

Difficult to take a picture of a glass lift

Difficult to take a picture of a glass lift

This the lift at the Ikon Gallery must be one of the most amazing lifts in the world.  It has voices singing rising as it ascends and lowering when it descends. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLq7dk-QtGs or Google Singing lift at the Ikon Gallery.

Glazing on the Cube

Glazing on the Cube

About Richard Stokes

Richard Stokes. Lives Lymington. Educated in Art Schools - Winchester, Birmingham and Portsmouth. Worked as art administrator: Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; Midland Group, Nottingham; West Midlands Arts, Birmingham; Gateshead Garden Festival; Arts Council; Minories Art Gallery, Colchester; West Midland Arts. Also involved with the former Limpets Restaurant. Keen sailor.
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4 Responses to City of contrasts – Birmingham UK

  1. Johnie says:

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your site! 🙂

  2. Allison says:

    Great post, I have never been to Birmingham but your post makes me want to visit now.

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