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The Open Studios returns for 2018

Birmingham Open Studios run by ArtsBrum begins this weekend for a second year. Held over the two weekends of the 8th-9th and 15th-16th, the event enables artists of all abilities to display their work and engage with the public. I spent an afternoon with one of the artists, Melanie Berman who is based in The Old Print Works, discussing both her own work and the Open Studios.

Melanie, who works under the name Metallix, draws and embosses designs onto sheets of pewter and more recently copper to create unique and original art work, including wall pieces and mirror frames. She has been based at The Old Print Works for three years, initially creating figures such as fairies using plastic bottles. She first began experimenting with pewter in her home country of South Africa last year, learning her craft from a local teacher in Cape Town, who gives classes twice a week. Melanie enjoyed working with pewter because of the ability to shape a form from the raw metal as well as the smoothness of the metal itself. She returned to the UK and discovered she was one of only two artists who works with pewter in the UK, so initially had to travel periodically back to South Africa just to collect the material!  Melanie also sells at crafts fairs across the region and runs workshops from her studio in The Old Print Works. During workshops, people can learn the basic skills of working with the metal with different tools in the making a notebook and pen, with guidance from Melanie.

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Melanie will be exhibiting her work at The Old Print Works during the Open Studios weekend. Birmingham Open Studios began only last year, with 25 artists spread over 12 locations. However, it has gone from strength to strength over the past year, more than doubling the number of artists taking part! This year, 57 artists from across Birmingham will be taking part, with 10 artists based in the Upper Gallery and surrounding workshops of The Old Print Works. Open Studios allows the artists the space in which to exhibit and promote their craft to the public and within the local community. This year, Open Studios also coincides with Birmingham Heritage Week which runs from the 7th to the 17th of September which highlights local history and includes Moseley Baths across the road. A program listing the artists and their studios can be found on the ArtsBrum website. We hope that all you local art lovers will feel enthused to come along and visit artists exhibiting across South Birmingham including The Old Print Works!  

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"Home" Open Exhibition - Meet the Artists

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"Home" Open Exhibition - Meet the Artists

We are proud to announce that our first Open Submission Exhibition “Home” is open 21st July - 12pm, in the Old Print Works, Upper Gallery! This exhibition features 15 contemporary artists exhibiting their art work exploring their interpretation of the theme “Home”. It is free entry – so come along and look at the amazing work which has been created by some exceptional artists! It runs up until Friday August 3rd - opening Tuesday - Saturday 12-5pm.

Meet some of the Artists:

 

Si Peplow: Graphic Artist, Illustrator and City Dreamer

Si was born in Cornwall but raised in Birmingham. He has graduated from Bournville School of Arts in 2001 and BIAD in 2004. After this he went on to a successful career a Commercial Illustrator where he collected various accolades and featured in a plethora of publications.

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10 years later, he decided to focus more on the creative practice as a Graphic Artist. In his time being a Graphic Artist, Si has shown work in the V&A Museum, had shows at Giant Robot New York, Weiden & Kennedy Portland, Projekts Gallery Manchester Barber Co., Mankind Barbers & Medicine Gallery, Birmingham. He has also been invited to exhibit the Tour de France in Paris by Le Coq Sportif and exhibited at two exhibitions in Germany. Si has also painted one of the fibreglass bears (Sonny the Sun Bear) at the Custard Factory for the charity – ‘Wild in Art’ in collaboration with Birmingham Children Hospital. Since 2004, Si has co-curated the artists co-op Outcrowd Collective, staging various exhibitions around the UK and been in collaboration with ‘Capsule’.

Si would say his biggest accomplishment is exhibiting at the MMK Frankfurt and having a piece of work from an exhibition specifically orchestrated and curated for kids acquired and held in the Private Collection of the MIK Ludwigsburg, Germany.

Si believes that the theme “Home” for this exhibition brings forward many connotations. He believes that the physical body of ‘Home’ for himself is his mother’s magical birth canal. Therefore, he decided to discover avenues to explore this notion by taking a series of quick sketches in duration of 30 minutes. These sketches played on the concept of body being home to not just himself but the consciousness. Two artworks by Si was accepted for the exhibition. The first one shows the human (himself) housing / carrying round another human (his past self).  The second shows the foundation of human civilisation / evolution by hands and feet. It’s fundamentally a piece of mobile human architecture, that comes and goes as it pleases.

His motivation behind the work was just to play out an idea and explore what is possible within the theme and hopefully producing something unique yet universally identifiable. Si’s process for this work was starting with his usual method of using his pencil first. However, due to time and other commitments he opted to sketch digitally for the original concepts. After feedback and selection, he took the two selected sketches back to the analogue, this was to create one image in pencil for the exhibition flyer and poster, and then referencing the sketches, he scaled them up to AO format – using pencil, oil stick, acrylic and charcoal on 240 gsm fine art paper as the medium/s to complete the final art works.

 

Jessica Kirkpatrick: Visual Artist

Jessica is originally from California but currently living in Edinburgh. She currently has private collections of art work around the USA, Europe and Austria, but also enjoys sharing her love for art through teaching. Jessica has a two-year-old son and is therefore inspired by the connection between art making and motherhood. Due to this she has most recently participated in: Artist-In-Residency in Motherhood and Spilt Milk – a collective of artist-mums. In 2012, Jessica won an Abbey Award Fellowship in Painting at the British School at Rome where she spent 3 months in Italy researching the history of the female nude. She then went on to winning a year long housing a studio grant front the Roswell Artist in Residence Program, where she produced a large body of work concluding in a solo exhibit at the Roswell Museum and Art Centre.

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The work which Jessica Kirkpatrick has produced for the exhibition ‘HOME’ is out of her most recent series of work in which she depicts American suburban homes immersed in Scottish landscape, mythical drama or as a memory. As Jessica paints she attempts to integrate her identity, her houses she portrays in her Edinburgh studio reveal her nostalgic longing for her childhood in California.

Jessica states that when it comes to painting, no matter the theme, her artistic purpose is to experience the deep flow of creation and to impart that state of presence in the world. She desires to make art that creates more community and connection. She starts with a digital collage process and creates watercolour studies from the collage. From his she then makes several paintings slowly over a few months, where they may be sanded down and reworked or in other cases the piece matures fluidly.

 

Tamara Tolley: Artist, busy wife and mum of three

Tamara Tolley works as a full-time artist in their family flat in the Barbican Estate in London. Tamara is inspired by the forms and shapes of her brutalist landscape but also by what she refers to as “the colour of concrete”. She claims that the Barbican and the City is her home - It is what she eats, breathes and paints. She is interested in how an individual can find comfort and make a home in the City. She states that we each carve out a small space to live but the wider City can become part of our lives as well.  (To read more about the Barbican from Tamara’s artistic view, go to www.greyscape.com) Along with this, Tamara has also been exploring the relationship between the natural and urban environment and has noticed the way nature can take over in her Estate.

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Tamara’s says that one of her big accomplishments was her first exhibition. A year ago, she first entered her work in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition where it was accepted and was sold within the first five minutes of the show to a Swedish collector. This suddenly made her a Professional Artist. However, Tamara believes her main accomplishment is being able to start and continue an art career at home whilst also being a mother to three children.

Tamara is interested in what “Home” is meant in a large city. She came to London when she was 16 and since then London has become her home. Tamara also believes that anonymity in a city can be liberating and that you can reinvent yourself in a City and find what it is that makes you feel at home. The urban environment is like an extended family to Tamara. She feels that she has a connection with what everyone does. The motivation behind the work Tamara is exhibiting is “The City is my Home” and she chooses to show this in many ways – exploring it, critiquing it, satirising it, but always attached to the idea of how the individual carves the space and a feeling of attachment to her landscape.

As a busy wife and mother, Tamara is used to recycling and making use of what lies in the home. The work for this exhibition have been painted on recycled, reversed palette papers. They are double framed, so the back – and her process – can be observed if you turn the paintings around. Holding them up against the light, they can show varying images. By recycling and reversing fragile and heavily encrusted papers and recycling the paint, her work captures the light and colours from previous work – memories of past work becomes a part of new work which then again, become part of new work, in a continuous cycle. Tamara also uses charcoal in her work. Tamara believes these processes add to what she sees as a rustic, raw and homely feel to her work.

 

Sylvia ChanFreelance photographer, videographer and arts co-ordinator

Sylvia Chan was born and bred in Hong Kong, where she loved the vibrant and business of the city. However, she chose to come to the UK (currently living in Birmingham) where she can fulfil her education and career in Arts & Design, as she could see how creative mindsets can be destroyed in a heavily commercialised culture.

Community Arts are one of her new identified passion, as it justifies the function of what arts should be. Her first involvement in Community Arts Project was in an Oral History Project which took place in 2014 – “Chinese Lives in Birmingham” – using recording, videography and photography, capturing the migration story of the Chinese community in Birmingham. At the beginning of this year, Sylvia took on the tole of Co-ordinator for “Arts In The Yard”- the local Arts Forum for Yardley District, where she was able to experience further on how we can use arts to empower our community. Sylvia Chan would say her biggest accomplishment is raising her two beautiful children. She loves her work, but it would always come second to her personal life.

Sylvia is using street photography in her work for the exhibition, her style and approach is heavily influenced by Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work. Using 35mm film and natural daylight to capture the pivotal moment. She simply just wants to capture the way people are. Her motivation behind the work is to capture the people and the people that she loves. She believes photography is a great tool to capture moments and turn them into a unique ‘visual eternity’. Sylvia is fascinated by people and their experience, especially people from the older generation and says their hardship and endurance is amazing.

Sylvia says that she started her work for the exhibition with an open mindset, as you never know what to expect on the street. She chose to be bold, load the camera properly and just simply go for it. She also states that it can get quite technical in the film development and dark room processing – therefore shares a special thanks to Dan and Martin from Some Cities for the help and technical advice!

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Open Submission Exhibition: "Home"

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Open Submission Exhibition: "Home"

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The Old Print Works is proud to announce the first Open Submission Exhibition “Home”. Opening Saturday 21st July 2018 – Friday 3rd August 2018.

Bethany Nugent will manage the curation of the exhibition. She began working on curatorial projects whilst studying her undergraduate degree at Nottingham Trent University in Photography, where she graduated last year. Bethany then went on to complete an internship with Ort Gallery working on the exhibition “Ghost Streets of Balsall Heath” in collaboration with Flat Pack Film Festival and the University of Birmingham. After this she was then offered the opportunity to become curatorial manager of submission-based exhibitions at the Old Print Works.

For this exhibition, Bethany has said “Home” is the perfect place to start with as it it reflects what the Old Print Works is all about, community and creativity here in Birmingham.

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She expressed that where we live influences the work we create, “…it always has, from Van Gogh painting ‘Starry Night’ from a mental hospital, to Piet Mondrian who fled Paris for New York during WWII and painted ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie’, our home can strongly influence our creative output.” We invite artists to submit work which explores the meaning of home. What makes a place feel like a home? What is significant about that place? It might be the people they live with or the area they come from. 

There is not one specific thing which Bethany is looking for in this open exhibition, she is more interested in the motive behind the work being submitted. Therefore, everyone is invited to take part.

A selection panel will choose one winner in this exhibition who will be awarded the opportunity to hold a solo exhibition at the Old Print Works during the week of September 8th-15th.

How do I apply?

To apply you must fill out an application form which is available to download at: http://www.oldprintworks.org/exhibition, once filled out please email to bethany@oldprintworks.org

The deadline for submission is on SUNDAY 1st JULY 2018.

The submission fee is £15 for external applicants and £12.50 for internal applicants. All successful artists will be notified by Sunday 8th July 2018.

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Why co-work at The Transfer?

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Why co-work at The Transfer?

The Transfer co-working space is a wonderful place to work away from home without distractions. With a retro-style work space, you have a choice of seating from comfy chairs or sofas through to work desks of all different sizes and styles. You receive a friendly, laid-back welcome, free Wi-Fi and refreshments. It’s a great space both to socialise around the regular shared lunches but also to concentrate to get those deadlines met! Better yet – membership fees are affordable!

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What do the co-workers think?

We have a great handful of dedicated co-workers who love it here at The Transfer. So, what does The Transfer mean to them?

Shannon, Graphic Designer.

Shannon has been co-working at The Transfer for a couple of years now. She said that she loves to be here as it has a lot of character, a funky atmosphere with lots of plants and books. It really has that community feel. Shannon loves that new people constantly come in as well as having the regular faces every day. The option of a shared lunch helps take your mind off work for a bit and socialise. It has also been very convenient for her as it is only a 20-minute walk away from home. She spends a couple of days working at home as well as at The Transfer to mix it up a bit but prefers to co-work as it keeps her from being distracted but is also a bit more of a livelier environment.

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Alison, writer.

Alison gave herself the mission to write a book. To do this she needed a co-working space which was flexible for her needs, kept her from distractions but also had a great friendly atmosphere. The Transfer was the place for this. Alison has co-worked at a few other places but found that The Transfer had that balance of a nice community atmosphere but also a friendly one for people to communicate with, share ideas and have lunch with. The friendly and sociable hosts also make it a very nice and comfortable place to be. Alison has been here for 18 months on and off as for her job she may not always need a co-working space. Fortunately, The Transfer has been the perfect space to supply these needs.

Ed, Translator. 

Ed has been here since September 2017. Before joining The Transfer, he used to work at home or in a cafe or library. He felt other co-working spaces were more corporate and did not offer the laid back, friendly atmosphere which The Transfer did. He said he doesn't like the typical office environment and here, he is a lot more active and gets so much more work done! He also expressed that it is a different atmosphere to the average co-working spaces and believes it is more informal and casual which is what he has been looking for. It is also only a 30-minute bike ride away from where he lives and he typically spends about 3 days a week co-working here.

Are you still unsure whether The Transfer is for you? Try our one-day free trial to see if it is your cup of tea! Book a trial run here: http://www.oldprintworks.org/shop/co-working or simply drop us an email or pop in for a chat to find out more!

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Seed Furniture: a success story

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Seed Furniture: a success story

Seed Furniture is a bespoke design company, based at The Old Print Works, that utilises the skills of trained professionals to create unique products. They design and manufacture innovative and creative furniture and joinery for domestic and commercial uses. They rebuild and fit in shops, restaurants and bars. Jamie Begg, the owner, first started this business 7 years ago in his basement at home. All work was coming from family, friends and word of mouth and he did not find the need to market his work. In his second year, he came to The Old Print Works for a bigger, more practical space to work from. He first moved here 6 years ago, where he shared his space with his friend Rob who he studied with at Birmingham City University. Jamie is now the second longest serving tenant at The Old Print Works.

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Unfortunately, Jamie has now out-grown his space here. He will be moving to Digbeth where he will have more space for his business to grow and more space to accommodate his two apprentices. However, Jamie has expressed that leaving The Old Print Works has been a very difficult decision. He would stay if his business was not expanding but unfortunately the space is no longer big enough. The unit at The Old Print Works has been a great space for Jamie’s business to expand in, where he can just get his head down and work and be the perfect factory for his messy work. Jamie also expressed how much the community at The Old Print Works is what he loved about being there. There have been loads of small businesses who have come and gone in his time at The Old Print Works, and a great selection of skilled people. He has managed to find work from people in the building and made friends with others where he can go to chat with and take his mind off his work when needed and even make friends with neighbours on the street.

Jamie is very thankful for being given the opportunity to stay at The Old Print Works and help let his business grow here.

Website: www.seedfurniture.co.uk

Email: jamie@seedfurniture.co.uk

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If you are interested in renting a unit here at the Old Print Works, take a look at some of our vacant workshops: http://www.oldprintworks.org/work-at-opw/. They are ideal for those who are makers or artists and like to get messy in their work! Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

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#WeAreBalsallHeath Street Market Festival

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#WeAreBalsallHeath Street Market Festival

I don’t think there is a better feeling than being able to bring the community together by experiencing different cultures, talents and creativity. This Sunday (22nd April) opens the “We are Balsall Heath” Street Market! The market will run 11am-4pm and Moseley Road will be closed to motor traffic all day for this occasion, for the community and all cultures to come together. There will be market stalls, poetry, music, craft, art, heritage trails, international food hub and artistic experiences (including opera!) – to name just a few!

The social enterprise MELA has a mission to bridge cultures through the creative design and use of public meeting places. They seek to transform Moseley Road as a meeting place for the neighbourhood.  MELA started an intercultural project last year called “Balsall Heath in Conversation”. In this project Ana de Matos and Dan Burwood from Some Cities (which is based in The Old Print Works) engaged with people on how Moseley Road can become a meeting place and capture personal stories about living together in a community. Ana de Matos is a visual ethnographer which meant she used her camera to capture these stories. One way they managed to get people talking in the area was through the use of a pop-up juice bar. This project was to help develop new relationships and networks in the area and create a meeting place on the Moseley Road. The juice bar had three types of juice which were about the past, present and future. This therefore was able to help strike conversation in the neighbourhood, create relationships and connections. Below are some of the portraits created by Dan Burwood and Ana de Matos as a result of their conversations on Moseley Road.

The “We are Balsall Heath” market is a follow up of Balsall Heath in Conversation. It will be a fun packed day with a lot happening! The street market will be supporting the Balsall Heath Cook Book launch, where local chefs will be cooking their special recipes. Gymmy’s Grill will also be participating with their healthy BBQ! The street market will include emerging artists and installations on the day, communities and organisations will open their doors selling products and consulting with local people and The Old Print Works will have our own stall.

It will definitely be something you will not want to miss out on, with an expectation of around 6,000 people! Balsall Heath coming together as one – sharing all different creative talents, independent businesses, art and culture.

It is also not too late to set your own stall up if you want to promote your business or sell your products! It’s an amazing opportunity to get your name out there and make some connections! To find out more, follow the link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/intercultural-street-market-tickets-43785398305

Balsall Heath in Conversation

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A closet permaculturist

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A closet permaculturist

From a young age, in fact for as long as I can remember, the natural world and the ‘state’ of the environment has been a major part of me and the way I lived and thought about things, ultimately shaping my direction in life to make me who I am today.  It all started with David Attenborough documentaries on BBC2 on a Sunday night, followed by a wonderful teacher at primary school who taught the class ‘Nature’.  She had red hair in a long thick plait, she wore sandals, she smiled a lot, and she loved leaves and trees, insects and sticklebacks, with as much enthusiasm as a child did.  And I knew then that that was what I wanted to do - I went home and told my mum I wanted to be a naturist. She was quick to check what I meant, wondering what on earth they were teaching me at school, and with some relief she told me that the word I was looking for was a naturalist. She still reminds me of that now. 

So, I carried on watching David Attenborough, I carried on worrying about all the alarming global warming reports that no one seemed interested in, I filled my bedroom with house plants and seedlings and fish and anything else I could get away with. I studied all sciences at school then I went to university and did a degree and PhD in environmental science. I focussed on using natural processes to clean up the contamination that we have caused in so many industrial areas across the UK, a job that I still do now and get great satisfaction from. I got an allotment. I foraged and upcycled, recycled and cycled and generally tried to minimise my environmental impact as much as possible.  But at no point did I think that I was anything more than an environmental scientist who cared about the natural world. Until I heard about permaculture.

‘Every person needs to have a piece of garden, however small, to keep them in touch with the earth and therefore something deeper in themselves...’ Carl Jung, 1875-1961.

This is a quote taken from the introduction to a super book that I was bought for my birthday recently, The Permaculture Garden, by Graham Bell. I had been wondering for a few months, ‘what’s all this permaculture malarkey about’; it’s a word that seemed to be popping up in conversations and on the news and I was intrigued. If you ‘google it’, you get the origin of the word: Permanent Agriculture. If you delve deeper, you are bombarded with a myriad of definitions, relating to the ethics, the principles and the design of permaculture, when all I really wanted was a basic definition. So I started to read my book to find out what is permaculture? It’s a framework for creating sustainable ways of living, a practical method of developing ‘ecologically harmonious, efficient and productive systems’ that anyone can use. 

I realised that I was actually a closet permaculturist, not a naturist, and was keen to learn more. I heard about the permaculture design workshop that The Old Print Works is hosting this weekend and I knew I had to go. It’s a 2-day course, designed to explain the principles of permaculture on the first day, then how we can apply it on the second day. It all sounds relatively informal, with shared lunches (sounds like a lucky dip!) all set in The Transfer coworking space. If you are anything like me (or nothing like me) and the thought of minimising your environmental footprint, being that bit more sustainable, working with nature rather than being ambivalent or even against, interests you, then maybe you should also come along?

If you would like to come on the permaculture course this weekend, you can book here.

 

Photos above are:

  • Beetroot risotto with nasturtium salad. Homegrown beetroot. Foraged nasturtium
  • Quiche made with homegrown rainbow chard
  • My friend Hannah proudly showing the 47 new Jerusalem artichoke tubers resulting from one tuber planted last February
  • Courgette and nut breakfast loaf - wholesome and delicious

 

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Come to The Old Print Works for a memorable theatre experience

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Come to The Old Print Works for a memorable theatre experience

Theatre is fast becoming a staple theme at The Old Print Works.  With our quirky and intimate Drawing Room venue, there have been some fabulous performances that take on a particularly Old Print Works flavour and we are really pleased to announce that more is afoot very soon, with Elephant by The Rep this Saturday and a theatre residency. Read below about how it all started and what's coming up.

It's been really exciting over the past couple of years to build up a relationship with the Birmingham Rep. The first time they performed in our cosy Drawing Room in 2016 as part of their Barry Jackson tour, it was Folk, by Tom Wells. The unlikely relationship between three people, one being a nun, strengthens as the play unfolds in this hilarious and not-so-holy story of empathy, generosity, hope and coming together when the world is turned upside down. 

The Rep performed at The Old Print Works twice in 2017.  First, it was Stories To Tell In the Middle of the Night, an exciting play written and performed by the critically acclaimed Francesca Millican-Slater. This amusing and gripping collection of short, quirky tales is reminiscent of Roald Dahl's stories for adults.  Dreamlike and darkly humorous, this live, late night radio show is inspired by the legendary radio shows of Ronnie Wood and Iggy Pop and includes tales of everything from love and obsession to technology and disconnection. Not to mention pork pies.  Having played to rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this unforgettable production from one of the country's most exciting performers came to The Old Print Works in the Spring. 

We welcomed back the Birmingham Rep in the autumn with I Knew You by Steven Camden (aka spoken word artist Polarbear). The highly anticipated second play from the Birmingham-born writer is a powerful look at family dynamics which asks if we can ever really escape our past. Angela is edging closer to retirement. Then it will just be her, her cat and ready meals for one. Her son Nathan is struggling with being a stay-at-home dad. It's not as if he's had a role model. The closest he's got to his dad in twenty years was a Google search. When Angela has a chance encounter with 'her Patrick', she is torn about whether or not to introduce him to the son he walked out on and the grandson he's never met. But Patrick has some news that may force her to decide.  I Knew You featured Lorna Laidlaw (BBC Doctors) and was directed by Daniel Bailey.

Hot on the heels of the Rep performing were Cucumber Writers with Old Print, New Voices, a series of short plays inspired by the history of The Old Print Works and its surroundings.  4 new plays from emerging playwrights performed as rehearsed readings in the beautiful Drawing Room.

But more about our latest news. We are really pleased to announce a residency here at The Old Print Works of Happenchance Theatre, a young theatre company dedicated to finding truth in comedy, comedy in tragedy, and improvisation in everything. During their residency they plan to host a whole load of brilliant events and opportunities, including artist and community workshops, Shakespeare gig theatre, variety scratch nights, and premieres of exciting original theatre. Happenchance love making genre-bending and audience-engaging shows in unusual rooms and atmospheric spaces, so they’ll fit right in at The Old Print Works.  You can find them through social media (t:@happenchancers) and we’ll be posting about events coming up you can get involved in.

And finally, we have the Birmingham Rep back, this coming Saturday for their fourth touring performance with us.  This time it’s Elephant by award-winning playwright Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti.  Vira hasn't seen her sister Deesh for years. Deesh's kids, Amy and Bill, want to know why but nobody's telling them anything.  When Deesh invites her sister to Amy's flashy party, Vira reckons it's time to come home and move on. Time to stop watching the telly, get out of her council flat, stick on a glitzy sari and embrace her nearest and dearest.  But is it possible to forgive and forget?  And when a family is built on lies, will it be destroyed by the truth?  Directed by the Royal Court's Associate Director, Lucy Morrison, the tour of Elephant is supported by the Sir Barry Jackson Trust.  Book here for this very affordable theatre event.

So keep watching our website and social media for further theatrical events at The Old Print Works, or get in touch if you would like to talk to us about using our Drawing Room for yours.

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Co-Working is Booming in Birmingham and The Transfer is playing its part

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Co-Working is Booming in Birmingham and The Transfer is playing its part

It is a while since I blogged on Urban Pivot about the Rise Of Collaborative Working in Birmingham and I thought, given some significant new players, I would revisit the post and update it.

It is interesting to note, as described in a recent FT article, that a co-working provider in London is the single largest taker of space recently in central London. Birmingham’s co-working scene is nowhere near as developed or as commercialised as in London but it is growing.

First on my list and at the heart of The Old Print Works is The Transfer co-working space. This started in 2016 and has formed its own niche and focuses on attracting local co-workers active in community, sustainability and social enterprise fields.  Based in the heart of the old factory, surrounded by artists and makers, it is a calm, soothing, unpretentious space with a great bunch of co-workers. It is local to me and many of my fellow workers, in one of the most interesting areas of the city, Balsall Heath, and it perhaps is the most affordable space in the city. If you tire of your work, there is a comfy area, a lunch room and a terrace.  If your legs need further stretching, then you have Moseley Yoga, Ort Gallery, Sundragon Pottery and The GAP within the building.  Across the road is the beautiful Moseley Road Baths, still open for swimming.  Why not drop by The Transfer for a free trial day? Check it out here.

  The Transfer co-working space

The Transfer co-working space

Much as I love The Transfer and everything that is happening in Balsall Heath in general, I do recognise that there are other kids on the block – and some new major players are emerging. First lets pay tribute to two of the founder members of this club:

The Moseley Exchange was the first co-working space in Birmingham and remains popular. It sprang out of the Moseley Community Development Trust.  It benefits from having a real bounty of local cafes and eateries within a stone's throw and it hosts exhibitions of art work in the space. It hosts a range of freelancers - take a look at some of their members here.

Impact Hub Birmingham is now well established as the market leader in Birmingham, having made its presence felt in the city since its launch in Digbeth in 2015. It is probably the space with the highest membership and a panoply of events and challenges. Its ethos is not just about co-working and collaboration but is seeking to use the power of people coming together to start to tackle some societal problems. It is part of a worldwide network of hubs with thousands of members which brings wider benefits for globe-trotting co-workers.

There are other spaces that we don’t hear much about including Boxxed, based in Digbeth, and the The Loft Workspace, a space with a strong community and charity focus located in the Jericho Foundation in Balsall Heath.  Birmingham Open Media, currently closed for refurbishment, is a not-for-profit facility also opened in 2015 and is focussed on collaborative working in the fields of art, technology and science.

New entrants

Innovation Birmingham has opened up Serendip, a co-working space and incubator based in the brand new iCentrum building in Aston Science Park. This state-of-the-art facility does not want for facilities and bandwidth and is open 24/7. The Engine based in Digbeth is the other new entrant open 24 hours, based in an old factory refurbished to a very high spec.  Whereas Serendip appears slick and hi-tech, The Engine is more modern chic and Shoreditch.

The University of Birmingham also have BizzInn based in their Research Park; this facility includes hot-desking and a range of other facilities to encourage business start-ups.

Forthcoming spaces

Two big players are getting on board.

Birmingham City University’s new facility called STEAMhouse is due to open very soon. A co-working space will be part of the first phase of this major facility in Digbeth. STEAMhouse believes in putting the A (Art) in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).  Like The Old Print Works, STEAMhouse will combine digital with making, and knows that one without the other makes little sense.

Breaking news is that the Custard Factory (perhaps the most logical place for a co-working space over the last decade) are aiming to get on trend by opening a co-working space later in 2018.

So Birmingham is buoyant with this new type of workspace.  This can only be good news for the city.  Please let me know if there are others I have missed.

STOP PRESS:

And another new one. AlphaWorks has recently opened at the top of Alpha Tower just off Broad Street. A high-end facility with great views of the city from the 21st and 22nd floors of this landmark building.

 

 

Patrick Willcocks

patrick@oldprintworks.org

  Co-workers often share lunches at The Transfer

Co-workers often share lunches at The Transfer

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Welcome 2018

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Welcome 2018

It is that time of year when in the aftermath of Christmas it is appropriate to take a moment to reflect on the year just past and the year ahead.  2017 has been a very positive year for The Old Print Works.  We have seen many of the organisations based in The Old Print Works thrive.

The GAP Arts Project moved in early in the year and, together with a really active Ort Gallery, they have excelled in arts provision and community engagement. Moseley Yoga, again new to OPW in 2017 has gone from strength to strength with a wide range of yoga courses on regularly throughout the week, with some fabulous deals to make yoga affordable for all. Hidden away at the back of the building, and standing firm in the face of waning provision in Birmingham, is Sundragon Pottery.  A membership-based makerspace since 2014, they started putting on regular pottery courses in 2017 which have proved a real success.

There are many individual businesses and artists who have used OPW as a base and who continue to grow and others who have recently relocated to us. To name a few, Jamie makes fabulous bespoke pieces at Seed Furniture, Hermon from Erokaworld is a maker of unusual clocks and tables, Jon is a restorer of heritage buildings, which you can see here, and Jonnie is using OPW as a base for his PhD work.

Many of you will have seen the new sign that was a long time in coming as we toyed with different designs that tied in with our old logo.  In the end, we decided to go for a full rebrand, and were much happier with an all new design based around a new logo. Manufacturing and implementation constraints delayed us further, but we partnered with one of OPW's skilled makers to finish it just before Christmas and we love it! Let us know what you think.  We are sad to see that Clifton Steel, who cut the aluminium for us, are closing down.

We have invested, with the support of a grant from Birmingham City Council, in super cycle parking facilities in front of Ort Cafe and The GAP and also in the courtyard, which includes lighting and a repair station. A grant from the Positive Futures Fund will help us to expand The GAP's arts space.

We had two performances from The Rep, as part of their Barry Jackson tours, and also Cucumber Writers put on an evening of short plays about The Old Print Works. We hope to develop more of this activity in 2018, already having The Rep booked in again.

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Birmingham Rep's production of 

 

'I Knew You.'

We have had many people use our spaces as backdrops for filming. This great film by Koala TV promoting dance was filmed largely at OPW.

We have had growth in attendances at Daily Thread, our community textiles sessions, and have opened up some new times with the help of a couple of great volunteers. We also have seen The Transfer co-working space become a favourite location for many local freelancers and people who previously worked from home. 

So in 2018 we hope this growth continues. 18 months ago we were close to closure but we took a collective risk, which has slowly paid off. In revenue terms, Make It Sustainable, the charity that runs OPW, is now stable and getting better. We have made significant progress in trying to purchase the building. We were offered a loan from the Arts Impact Fund (AIF - a fund supported by NESTA and the Arts Council). This has lapsed as we ran out of time piecing together the other funds we needed but we are still very hopeful of financing the purchase in 2018 as we are still in contact with AIF, and also with the Local Enterprise Partnership and a number of other potential funders. So the prospects are good.

We are undertaking the development of a 5-year strategy as we know we still have a long way to travel. Our ambitious vision is outlined below, and we will be looking in the early months of 2018 in more detail with the board, our unit partners and associates at how we can work together to make it happen. If you have views that you want to put across do email them to us on info@oldprintworks.org. 

What should be the characteristics of The Old Print Works in 5 years' time?

  • A versatile building that works & welcomes
  • An inspiring & confident image
  • Part of a thriving local cultural offer (adding economically to the area)
  • A happy & successful internal community (both community facing and business oriented partners)
  • A centre for making, having an social impact in the local area
  • A proud heritage building demonstrating a sustainable footprint

Wishing you a very happy New Year.

 

 

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A couple of great photographers

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A couple of great photographers

We had two photographers, Peter Bradbury and Reuben Penny focus on OPW over the summer. They have produced some lovely images of the people in OPW as well as the building and its various spaces and artefacts.  Take a look at some of their work below and contact them if you need talent.

 

Images by Peter Bradbury.      hello@peterbradburyphotography.co.uk

 

Images by Reuben Penny.        trapezefilm@gmail.com

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Local entrepreneur?  Get FREE co-working with mentoring thrown in

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Local entrepreneur? Get FREE co-working with mentoring thrown in

Local makers and successful business Bennett & Dunn are partnering with us to sponsor a free membership in The Transfer co-working space at The Old Print Works.  If you are interested in working in a productive, inspiring and collaborative environment, please read on!

Rupert from Bennett & Dunn met us as we occupied neighbouring stalls at the Moseley Farmers' Market.  He was interested in supporting other creative and 'making' businesses to grow and thrive.  His company grows and presses rapeseed to make delicious and nutritious oils and dressings.  His business has grown from £0 to £80,000 turnover in three years.

Bennett & Dunn now make a donation to The Old Print Works of 1p per litre of oil sold.  This will be used to help sponsor a desk in The Transfer co-working space for a local start-up or emerging business.  Working at The Transfer is already a low-cost way for start-ups, small businesses, social enterprises and self-employed people to have a productive, inspiring and collaborative working environment. Bennett & Dunn’s support will help us provide free membership to one lucky person, and Rupert has also offered business mentoring to accompany this sponsorship.

If you would like to access Rupert’s mentoring, and full-time co-working at The Transfer for free for 6 months, please contact us (info@oldprintworks.org) telling us:

  • what your emerging business or start-up idea is
  • how do you fit with The Old Print Works' aims of supporting making, creativity, eco-sustainability, education, heritage and collaboration
  • why you and your business would benefit from a sponsored membership and from The Transfer’s co-working environment
  • how your presence could benefit fellow co-workers in The Transfer
  • what areas of your business could benefit from Rupert's business mentoring
  • your postcode and how you plan to travel to The Transfer (it is a bonus the more local and the more sustainable you are)

We will be keen for you to be showcased on our website and social media channels during your 6 months, detailing different aspects of how the sponsorship has helped your business.

We do not expect applications to be longer than about one side of A4.  The deadline for applications is midday on Friday 24th November, with a view to membership starting 1st December.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Read more about Bennett & Dunn's sponsorship here.  

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Come on a Cycle Ride with us on Saturday July 8th

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Come on a Cycle Ride with us on Saturday July 8th

LAUNCH OF THE OLD PRINT WORKS CYCLING FACILITIES SATURDAY JULY 8TH

The Old Print Works is delighted to be hosting the formal launch of our wonderful new cycling facilities on Saturday July 8th from 2.00pm. All are welcome to attend. These great new facilities include cycle parking in front of our building, outside Ort Café and GAP Arts, with additional parking in the courtyard of The Old Print Works. In addition, we have a repair station, which includes a a cycle pump and bike work stand with a range of tools, so useful if you would benefit from the bike being off the floor for the repair, or if you dont have all the tools yourself.   We have also had new super-bright lighting installed in the courtyard for your safety and your bike’s security.

A huge thank you to Birmingham City Council (Birmingham Cycle Revolution) for their grant that supported these works. The Old Print Works is run by a charity and these facilities are helping us and those who come to The Old Print Works to be much more sustainable.

THE PROGRAMME

1.00pm -  45 minutes of free yoga in the courtyard (weather permitting - inside if not) from Moseley Yoga. Book  here.

2.00pm – The facilities will be opened by Councillor Tony Kennedy at 2pm with a short speech.

2.30pm – ‘Stand and Deliver’.  John Newson from Balsall Heath is our Planet (BHIOP) will then lead a guided cycle ride around Balsall Heath. This will take a maximum of an hour and will look at your ideas for how cycle facilities could be improved in Balsall Heath. This will be on-road and is suitable for confident cyclist supervision. Bring your own bikes! Views will be fed back to the Council.

3.30pm – We will return to The Old Print Works where you will be able to

  • Visit Ort Gallery/The Gap. This will be the last chance to see the great members exhibition in Ort Gallery and why not pop in to The Gap and see a photographic exhibition entitled 'My Place..?' by a young refugee documenting his experiences of living in Birmingham.
  • Take a look at the Moseley Yoga studio and their range of classes.
  • Come and celebrate historic Myrtle Cottage’s new gardens, wonderfully created by Jeremy, including the Bee Garden at the front with the support of BHIOP. Refreshments and poetry are planned.
  Myrtle Cottage's Bee Garden

Myrtle Cottage's Bee Garden

 

Hope to see you then! Any queries - email info@oldprintworks.org.

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Local Photographers: Can you give us the right image?

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Local Photographers: Can you give us the right image?

We are in the midst of a re-branding process but really feel the need for some new images of our lovely gem of a building. We want someone who can really pick up on the character of The Old Print Works and its unique essence.

We are looking for a local photographer who will come and take photos of The Old Print Works some time in the next couple of weeks - a mixture of spaces, hidden gems, outdoor gardens, galleries, studios, workshops etc. It would also be great to get photos of some of the people who are based here, and whatever other hidden treasures someone has the eye to find.

It’s probably a day or a couple of afternoons' (depending on lighting / weather) worth of shooting and editing as you like, but we would ideally like the photos by mid to late May.

We are offering the person who we work with 3 months of membership over the summer in our laid back co-working space - The Transfer, from mid May to Mid August. You can find out more details of The Transfer here: http://www.thetransfer.org. We’ll also of course credit the photographer on our social media platforms, link through from our website, and wherever else is appropriate on other marketing material.

If you’re familiar with The Old Print Works, or want to take a look through some photos of our space online  or on social media, then please fire us a couple of shots of yours that you think will be the right vibe for us, and a few words to go with them on why you are right for us and we should have an answer for you in the next week or so.

Interested? Well thanks! You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Just drop us an email on info@oldprintworks.org.

We will be making a decision on Wednesday 17th May - so get your submissions in before then.

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Would you like to curate our Upper Gallery?

We are keen to get more arts events happening in the Old Print Works so as part of this we are inviting expressions of interest to run the Old Print Works Upper Gallery. This wonderful first floor space is ideal for arts exhibitions given its natural lighting via north lights and offers a real opportunity for an imaginative individual or organisation to think how best to use such an inspiring and flexible space and work in partnership with The Old Print Works for mutual benefit.

The space is approximately 1000 sq ft.

We would be looking for a partnership where we achieve a range of outcomes including more artistic outputs and some increased revenue from your use of the space and in return we would allow the successful person/organisation to programme in events as they saw fit within broad guidelines to be jointly agreed.

Scope

  • Initially we would suggest a pilot of 6 months
  • Access would need to be maintained through the gallery and to the units off the gallery at all times
  • Music events will be possible but shouldn’t be the main use.  The organisers would need to be clear when Temporary Events Notices are needed and organise appropriately. Advice will be given.
  • References will be needed together with evidence of appropriate skills and/or experience.
  • This call for expressions of interest will be open until Monday May 15th at midnight. Please contact us if you want to arrange to visit the gallery and/ or want to discuss its potential and possible financial approaches.

Email us on info@oldprintworks.org with your proposal for use, curation and marketing of the space, along with proposed approach and projections re payment for the space.

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Change is happening at OPW

From the dark days of last June when we thought we might have to close we have made significant progress. Slowly but surely we are improving The Old Print Works.

We .recently won a grant from Birmingham City Council and Sustrans of over £9000 to improve our cycling facilities. So we now have lots of bike parking - both in front outside Ort Cafe and in the court yard to the rear. We also have a bike repair station, a pump and lighting to encourage evening use. We want you to cycle when you visit us!

We hope as well with the monies to produce a local cycling map working with GAP Arts, one of our new tenants and the Bike Foundry in Stirchley.  

If any organisations want to use our bike repair facilities for training purposes please contact us as we have two portable repair stands as well with some tools.

 Our brand new bike repair stand in the court yard.

Our brand new bike repair stand in the court yard.

 Hal, one of our co-workers pumping his tyres up.

Hal, one of our co-workers pumping his tyres up.

If any organisations want to use our bike repair facilities for training purposes please contact us as we have two portable repair stands as well with some tools.

Already it is noticeable that more people are cycling in and thinking about it especially as the weather is getting warmer.  

We have a little jewel of a co-working space called The Transfer and many of the co-workers now come in more regularly by bike as they now have somewhere to park. 

We will be launching the facilities with a celebratory cycle ride around Balsall Heath. Details to be finalised soon. Big thanks to Birmingham City Council and Sustrans for their support in this project

 

 The bike racks have been an instant success.

The bike racks have been an instant success.

 The new lighting is already having an impact as this crowded scene attests to on a recent Muzikstan and Daily Thread evening. 

The new lighting is already having an impact as this crowded scene attests to on a recent Muzikstan and Daily Thread evening. 

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Art, film & design with MAK! (CZ) at the Old Print Works

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Art, film & design with MAK! (CZ) at the Old Print Works

If you haven’t yet explored the Old Print Works, we are an eclectic and growing bunch of makers, doers, designers, artists, musicians, teachers, dreamers, builders and thinkers, sharing our skills and art and creations with the community in an even more eclectic and exciting space. The Old Print Works is full of studios, galleries, spaces and surprises - both indoors and out - and last weekend was testament to just how eclectic and exciting things can be around here! 

A few weeks ago we were approached by MAK!, architects from the Czech Republic, who had a UK design & build tour planned, and were looking for a Birmingham location to park up, pop-up and make some magic. The timing was tight,  but we had a weekend available, and a healthy dose of enthusiasm, so we said we’d give it a go! We weren’t able to spread the word quite as far and wide as we would have liked (sorry to anyone who didn't hear about it in time to make it!), but on Saturday MAK! and their crew partnered up with the Czech Centre London and brought a whole new cultural experience to our buzzing little industrial community space last week.

MAK! built pop-up cinemas and two new bars with reclaimed wood (one upstairs, one down) and transformed the OPW space into a one-day mini film and arts festival. Not bad for a couple of weeks' work! Saturday was colourful, creative, insightful and delicious, with traditional Czech pastries being cooked fresh in one of the cinemas, and our very own #OPWPopUpCafé serving local snacks and cakes from one of the new bars. There were films about street-art, Czech culture, sci-fi and girl-power, plus some classic Pat & Mat stop-motion animations, and even a bit of Charlie Chaplin.

A live pianist accompanied silent films, full traditional Czech costume was on parade and kids (and grown-ups) were able to try their hand at making and doing in the Upper Gallery. Throw in a bee-keeper DJ and you have yourself an Open Day at the Old Print Works. 

Thanks to the wonderful MAK! team, Tereza Buskova, the Czech Centre London, Czech Club Birmingham, Birmingham Wire, all the artists and film-makers involved, and the wider OPW crew for pulling together to make things happen! 

The weird and wonderful things that take place here surprise and delight us every day - if you'd like to get involved and maybe rent a studio, hire a space, exhibit your art, celebrate your culture, start a conversation or share your skills - or maybe even join us at The Transfer, our warm and welcoming co-working space - please find us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram, drop us a line, or pop in and say hello!

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