Sunday, 18 December 2011

there is beauty in the city - the conversation - #16

Igor replies...

Nobody discuss the need for urban renewal of cities (much more arguable and controversial, I agree, is how to do it), but even greater is the need of its inhabitants to keep the memory of their tracks through those urban microcosms; even though, as this is the case, an attempt of showing evidence of our passage through life or just where we were once.

Festive Greetings from Beauty in the City

there is beauty in the city season's greet ings 2011 from glen stoker on Vimeo.

Festive Greetings from There is Beauty in the City - we are celebrating by being box number 18 in the AirSpace Gallery AirVent Calendar window project. Have a look at all of the entries here, and choose your favourite in the vote. Each day a different artist has created their take on the Festive Season, and Beauty in the City has selected the most 'christmassy' of the entries we have had so far. So Festive Greetings to all of our followers and collaborators, and here's to a Beautiful 2012!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

there is beauty went to plymouth and saw...

the sea

some cows

and surprise surprise

some art.

well it was the british art show

amongst plenty on offer we saw keith wilson's zone 1

and the amazing, highly acclaimed The Clock , Christian Marclay's 24 hour montage of clips from several thousand films showing scenes featuring clocks and watches, or situations indicating a particular time of day.

There's still a week of the British Art Show left, and it's well worth making the effort to get to England's western-most city.

Plymouth is one of those cities - a bit like a land that time forgot - a real sense of a bygone importance replaced with a note of ennui. It definitely has a charm though, a melancholy charm, in the way that seaside towns and cities do. oh and a great 1950's utopian outdoor shopping centre.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

there is beauty in the city : the conversation - #14

Urban Still Life III
Igor writes...

In increasingly populated cities, to the point that by 2050 “the cities will absorb all the world population growth”*, is interesting to find out how we can still find isolated and “uninhabited” urban spaces in which the human presence can only be sensed and not seen; sometimes in a poetic way, much more prosaic in others, one just have to follow the trace…

In any case, will the cities of the future be able to put up with the waste generated by their increasingly population?

*Mike Davis, “Planet of slums”, 2006

Saturday, 22 October 2011

there is beauty in the city : the conversation - #13

glen stoker:

I walk past this window a few times a week and always feel compelled to peer inside. The dishevelled room,  is a workmen's rest room and is inhabited by a fridge, a microwave oven, a heater and a couple of chairs.

And a table.

I've never seen anybody in the room. But I know there's a human presence because the table always has something on it. Usually it's a folded tabloid newspaper. Today it was a carrier bag, full of tomatoes.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

there is beauty in the city : the conversation - #12

igor calvo:

During our conversation, we have “talked” more than once about the "protected" spaces that cities devote to the vehicles that drive along them everyday, either when they fulfill their primary function (as car “nurseries”), or even on such occasions when they are used for another purpose (as in the case of car boot sales); however, little mention have we made of its main protagonists: the cars which, at least in Bilbao, nearly match the number of its inhabitants, with the problems that it brings to the circulation in the city.
There are times even, as in this street in the center of Bilbao, in which, depending on how we place ourselves, we can hardly see a human presence among so many cars if not reflected in the car glasses.

bahar mhamad - hawraman, kurdistan

Thanks to Bahar for these evocotive images taken in Hawraman

mud art
mud art which made with earth and water , the earth should be pure and clean of anything , by putting water on the earth you should make it wet first .
when its get wet start to mix it properly till the earth getting soft , massage it for 10 minute till change all earth to mud .
leave it for 30 minute then give it massage again for 5 minute after that its ready to use you can make any tips of work as you want especially in art design .
its also used for mud oven till now in iraqi kurdistan .

flour machine
this machine is used for grinding of grain in iraqi kurdistan as a classic life till seventieth , how ever its not in use any more because modern machine in use instead
its created with two circler special stone which is hare to break and two pieces of wood ,the bottom one called male because it has a wood which is located on the focus of it .
the second one called female because it has a harrow , the harrow is in the middle .
the male wood is smaller than the harrow female stone the reason of that is :the male wood should get in the female harrow before use .
the male is motionless, but the female is rotter its also has a piece of wood its used as a peddle .
how it makes flour ?
full the machine of grains
by putting the grains in to the harrow machine on the top , then start the machine by peddle wood to orbiting the male stone .
when you orbiting the male stone the grains going down among them and finally the flour comes out in the middle of machine .

wall stone
the wall stone is one of must beautiful and hard Kurdish design which was made by them , its belong to hundred of years ago
its made with stone and mud , the stones are corrected and decorated by hummer before the use also the mud was made hard and strongly by mixing with a little of grass , the reason of that because the grass defending of mud , its make the mud to stay between the stones even if the mud gets wet by rain especially in winter.
Because that part of Kurdistan which is located on the mountains which is called Hawraman is the coldest part in Kurdistan people still using this tips of wall by using cement instead the mud .

Friday, 9 September 2011

there is beauty in the city : the conversation - #11

Number 11...

For six days a week, this space comprises one of the city centre's 20+ car parks. Empty spaces designed to make money for the council at the expense of those wishing to use the city centre. The over-provision of car parks in relation to the amount of people who wish to use them means that many of these spaces remain largely empty. Empty spaces consisting of a series of marked, car-size empty spaces.

Every sunday, the council allows this car park to be used as the location for the Stoke-on-Trent City Centre Car Boot Sale. For £8.00 you can hire a space to park your car and sell possessions from the boot. The space is transformed into a bustling hubbub, as throngs of the city residents descend to grab a bargain, or to recycle the unwanted parts of others' lives.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

august's beauty in the city visit - birmingham

Following recent postings on the idea of a country's second city, what criteria it comprises and why certain cities have struggled to fulfil the role, i headed to Birmingham to spend the day, not only spreading the word about the project, but focussing on its potential as the U.K.'s second city.

previous polls have deemed Manchester to hold this status despite Birmingham having more than double the amount of people. It is often suggested that a city's cultural state is the most important factor in acquiring the second city tag, something that Manchester, with its music and art scenes as well as its two top football teams has claimed for years.

I identified several art spaces in Birmingham ( the Museum and Art Gallery, the Ikon, the R.S.B.A, Eastside Projects, Grand Union, Vivid and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts )and set out to visit them all certain that Birmingham couldn't be the cultural wasteland it is often portrayed.

in the event, I struggled. I had no directions, nor smartphone and so I had to rely on a combination of the city's signage and the olden days method of asking people!

the centre of Birmingham is full of blue civic signs for pedestrians. at any one time there are 3 or 4 in your eyeline. i tried to find some of my art space destinations via these signs but there was no mention of any of them. it struck me, however, that the contents of these signs gave a real insight into what the civic authority deem to be the most important components of the city. So I set myself an hour, of noting down the contents of each sign i came across.

 In the event, I noted the contents of 35 pedestrian signs and found that the most signed destination was for shopping with 51references- mainly under the description of "central shopping area" but also the bullring shopping centre and central market areas. The second most popular was the city's transport hubs, particularly its three stations, referred to 43 times. I did find my way to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery thanks to the 7 signs directing to it.

showing the 15 most popular pedestrian destinations in Birmingham City Centre
The poll i had carried out before my trip, asking which factor was most important in the determination of a second city had failed to offer shopping as an option, yet it was quickly clear to me that not only did the city's signage deem it to be most important, but so did its people.

In the process of asking directions to the six art spaces i'd yet to discover, i also took the opportunity to find out where the city's beautiful spots were. The result was that i failed to get to the Ikon, the RBSA as nobody I asked had heard of them. The Barber Institute was too far out to walk.

However, I was given directions to Digbeth, just a 10 minute walk from the centre and told that the area was becoming the city's de facto "cultural quarter". I found Eastside, Vivid and Grand Union within 2 minutes walk of each other, though the latter two were obviously between exhibitions and were closed.

I was also told about a wall made out of cars and was told by one respondant that this would be his choice for his favourite sight in birmingham. The wall fronts a car park, on the same road as Eastside Projects and claimed the day's title of there is beauty in the city.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

lynn friedman - san francisco, usa

here is my brand new Public Bike.  It's sitting in my living room next to the window so I can
admire it whenever I want. It's so beautiful.  And it's helping me be more beautiful and appreciate more beauty. I'm riding through golden gate park, getting exercise, meeting people, photographing  things you wouldn't see driving by. I feel free and youthful.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

there is beauty in the city : city visit to birmingham

During the post made to announce last month's Manchester visit, i made reference to the idea of the England's second city and posited that in many peoples eyes, and particularly in cultural terms, Manchester is the holder of that title over its more populous rival Birmingham.

In population terms, the figures speak for themselves - 2006 estimates put the population of;
Birmingham at 1,006,500 within the broader West Midlands conurbation totalling 2,284,093 and
Manchester at 452,000 within Greater Manchester which totalled 2,240,230.

But for the debate as to which claims the second city status to have raged for so long means that factors other than population obviously come into play - including geography, economic contribution, educational establishments,  "knowledge and transport infrastructure" and, most contentiously, cultural. It is this "cultural" area which often leads to Manchester's elevation to the second city status, but with no real hard facts underlying it. It has almost become an accepted truth that Birmingham is a cultural wasteland and Manchester is a Western Bohemia. Whilst it maybe fair to say that behind every generalisation lies a modicum of fact the truth is rarely so polarised.

And so it with this in mind that we here at There is Beauty in the City will head to Birmingham and take a walk around its cultural beacons, in search of England's undoubted second most populous city's beauty. In the meantime...some Birmingham facts -

It's council motto is Global City Local Heart
There are over 8,000 acres (3,237 ha) of parkland open spaces in Birmingham. In fact Birmingham has more trees than Paris, more miles of canals than Venice and more parks than any other European City.
Birmingham is the UK’s largest manufacturing and engineering centre and accounts for 25% of the country’s exports.
Birmingham is the home of the Balti curry.
Britains first ever 4 wheel petrol driven car was made in Birmingham by Frederick Lanchester in 1895
Major John Hall Edwards took the first x-ray photo in Birmingham in 1896
Birmingham has six twin cities
  • United States Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Germany Frankfurt am Main, Germany[187]
  • South Africa Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Germany Leipzig, Germany[188]
  • France Lyon, France[189]
  • Italy Milan, Italy
and finally, the following, all creatives, all hail from Birmingham
  • Albert Austin – (Silent film star)
  • Pato Banton – (Reggae artist)
  • Blaze Bayley – (Musician - former vocalist of Wolfsbane and Iron Maiden)
  • Sir Michael Balcon – (Film director)
  • Alfred Bird – (Inventor of custard powder)
  • Justin Broadrick – (Musician - Godflesh)
  • Geezer Butler – bassist of (Black Sabbath)
  • Pogus Caesar – (TV Director and Photographer)
  • John Cadbury – (Founder of the Cadbury chocolate company)
  • Ali Campbell and Robin Campbell – (Musician, UB40)
  • Barbara Cartland – (Novelist)
  • Jasper Carrott – (Comedian)
  • Lisa Clayton – (Solo yachtswoman)
  • David Cox – (Artist)
  • Cat Deeley – (Television presenter)
  • Oscar Deutsch – (Founder of the Odeon Cinemas chain)
  • Hunt Emerson – (Cartoonist)
  • Mick St Clair – (Pinjabi DJ/Producer)
  • Ian Emes – (animator)
  • Frederick Roland Emett – (Cartoonist, artist and kinetic sculptor)
  • Niki Evans – (Singer)
  • Trevor Eve – (Actor)
  • Sid Field – (Comedian)
  • Sir Francis Galton – (Scientist, founder of eugenics)
  • Roland Gift – (Actor and musician - Fine Young Cannibals)
  • Mark "Barney" Greenway –(Musician - Napalm Death)
  • Rob Halford – (Musician - Judas Priest)
  • Charlie Hall – (Actor - most famous for his work with Laurel and Hardy)
  • John Hampson – (novelist)
  • Tony Hancock – (Comedian and actor)
  • Mr Hudson – (singer)
  • Raymond Huntley – (Actor)
  • Tony Iommi – guitarist of (Black Sabbath)
  • Jamelia – (R&B singer))
  • Edward Burne-Jones – (Pre-Raphaelite painter)
  • Albert William Ketèlbey – (Composer)
  • Denny Laine – (Paul McCartney and Wings)
  • Jeff Lynne – (Musician; co-founder of the Electric Light Orchestra)
  • Eric Maschwitz – (lyricist)
  • Nick Mason – (Musician - Pink Floyd; did not reside in Birmingham)
  • Zena McNally – (Singer - Mis-Teeq)
  • Shazia Mirza – (Comedian)
  • Henry Vollam Morton – (Journalist and travel writer)
  • Constance Naden – (Poet & Philosopher)
  • Ozzy Osbourne – singer of (Black Sabbath)
  • Carl Palmer – (Musician - Emerson, Lake & Palmer)
  • John Poole – (Sculptor)
  • Enoch Powell – (Politician, poet and classical scholar)
  • Michael Pinder – (Musician - The Moody Blues)
  • Nick Rhodes – (Musician - Duran Duran)
  • Pat Roach – (Actor and wrestler)
  • Sax Rohmer – (Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward) – (novelist)
  • Martin Shaw – (actor)
  • Sukshinder Shinda – (English born Punjabi music producer and artist)
  • John Taylor – (Musician - Duran Duran)
  • Roger Taylor – (Musician - Duran Duran)
  • Bill Ward – drummer of (Black Sabbath)
  • Willard Wigan – (Sculptor)
  • Toyah Willcox – (Singer, actress and television presenter)
  • Steve Winwood – (Musician—solo artist and co-founder, Traffic)
  • Chris Wood – (Musician; co-founder, Traffic)
  • Roy Wood – (Musician - co-founder of the Electric Light Orchestra)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

there is beauty in the city : the conversation - #10

this is the tenth installment in the ongoing cross-city conversation between there is beauty's glen stoker and bilbao photographer igor calvo of ph'a'ke

#10 - a reply from igor...

In conversation # 9, Glen reflected on the failure of many urban policies and the stubbornness of local governments and authorities to tell people where it may or may not walk, move, go…and he was absolutely right.

Not so long ago, the council inaugurated a new plaza/square “in the middle of a roundabout" in the center of Bilbao. Being the chosen site for the plaza/square already controversial (a place of relaxation surrounded by traffic), its design, with the benches looking at the road and the citizens who would seat in them breathing the bad fumes from the vehicles surround, seems like nonsense.

On the day of its “opening”, many were the citizens of Bilbao who came to show their disagreement with the design of the new plaza/square and, above all, to request the change of the benches location; so that, at least, they would look towards the centre of the plaza/square instead of facing the road. The city council shook its head with signs of disapproval, emphasizing how whimsical were their fellow citizens and, making a great exercise of kindness, moved "some" of the benches as citizens demanded.

Thus, Bilbao has gained a place that makes traffic to flow easier through the center of the city, but the council has wasted another chance to make the city more friendly for its citizens and pedestrians. All that, thanks to public money of course, on account of the same taxpayers who requested its modification.

Monday, 1 August 2011

there is beauty in the city - july visit to manchester

Saturday's visit to the Burlington Fine Arts Club in Manchester, saw us looking to create a small map of Manchester beauty. We all have our own idea of what constitutes beauty and similarly the things we find attractive or noteworthy about cities is a very subjective idea too. 

We chose the Burlington as our venue as they were holding their closing event, after a month of providing  local creatives with a space to exhibit, establish networks, discuss ideas and an opportunity to engage in Manchester’s grass routes contemporary art scene, and this promised a good range of interested parties to engage with us.

We produced a basic questionnaire which asked 4 questions;
  1. What is your favourite thing about cities?
  2. What is your favourite thing about Manchester?
  3. Where is the beauty in Manchester?
  4. Please direct us, in words or with a map, to this beautiful place.

 Once completed, the participant was then invited to place an umbrella ( a slightly cheeky nod to Manchester's famed inclement weather) in our specially produced city map. In return, they were offered a magnet pack. We're really looking forward to seeing the photographic responses.

A big thanks to everyone who took part on the day and engaged with us. we now have a much clearer idea of where to find beauty in Manchester. here's a selection of responses and some examples of creative direction giving...

Mr. Smith's dream

Thomas's Chop House

the old brewery building