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.
|showing the 15 most popular pedestrian destinations in Birmingham City Centre|
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.