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.