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We’re really excited to hear that Birmingham Architecture Festival is making a return this spring, after its successful first festival which was scattered across Birmingham last May. Excerpts from their PR email to us:

The festival ethos stems from the notion that no matter how long we have been inhabitants of a certain place, there is always something new to discover. We are putting on a programme of events which are designed to ‘inspire the public, creative communities, construction professionals and architects alike to engage with the city in fun, inventive and thought-provoking ways.’

We’re working together with Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Barber Institute of Fine Art to put on some architecturally inspired family workshops. In addition to our range of tours, workshops and exhibitions, we will also be installing some public art around the city, some with the support of Colmore Business District. We will be announcing details nearer the time!

The festival is collaborating with a number of entities within Birmingham including Staying Cool, Barber Institute of Fine Art, Sara Preisler Gallery, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham Conservation Trust and many more. Not only are we enjoying collaborating with these great creative people, we also hope that making these links add strength to the festival.

The festival will take place between Friday 23rd and Monday 26th May 2014.

For more information keep your eyes on:

The Bench 504


Thebench504 rob2 weblarge

At The Bench 504, owner Rob’s pursuit of quality graffiti, and the experience of travelling to paint, has led him to create a thriving business providing an exhibition space for a varied range of illustrators. It’s also enabled him to be involved in a range of projects, as well as protecting local graffiti spaces and introducing youngsters to the skill.

Now based in a Custard Factory Unit, Rob saw a gap in the market and put his savings into opening his own shop selling paints. Progressing from a few years based at a shared shop in Quinton, The Bench 504 now sits overlooking the pond at the Custard Factory, and has a colourful floor to ceiling selection of thousands of paints, which sell Europe-wide from the Birmingham location.

Graffiti artists take time to plan, practicing and sketching, often taking a sketch to the wall. Colour counts as part of the preparation. Getting good takes a lot of practice.

Thebench504 exhibition weblarge

There are a steady stream of customers, as well as those coming to look at the latest exhibition. A customer arrives asking Rob for an order simply by naming the colour  – “I have learnt all the fruits in German and Spanish” Rob laughs, going on to explain that the main brands come from around Europe, and the range he stocks now includes seven brands as the demand grows. The paints stocked at The Bench 504 are highly specialised, some are even artisan – including Spanish brand MTM (Montana) being run by artists who couldn’t get the quality they wanted, so started mixing their own.

The exhibition space in the shop features a different illustrator every four weeks. Until Wednesday 23rd April the exhibition is ‘Off the Rails’ by mixed media artist Lucy Danielle, a Birmingham-based freelance illustrator who studied at Birmingham City University.

Rob was also involved in the future of quality graffiti, ensuring it could continue in the local area. There was a park, Bournbrook Rec, in Selly Oak from the 1980s which councillors were happy to have as a legal space for artists, until mid 2000s when that changed. The local graffiti community gathered a focussed campaign and turned around the council’s opinion of the art, and of the artists, to overturn the decision and re-open the park.

The park is now back in full and frequent use with a high quality of work. The artists know what they can or can’t paint over, as the unwritten rules and etiquette of sharing the graffiti space are self regulated, ensuring they have somewhere to develop the skills and talent to create impressive work.

Rob’s enthusiasm for the art continues, and when the sun is shining the paints fly off the shelves.

To find out more about The Bench 504 visit their website. They are also active on social media: Twitter / Facebook.

Photographs by the author, Kate Wilkins.


Get down to Digbeth this weekend for the sale and exhibition of 1000s of vintage sneaks and fresh apparel brands all under one roof for the first time.

The Sneaks and Peaks event runs from 12pm – 7pm at Boxxed – an amazing venue at the heart of Birmingham’s creative quarter.

There will be street food from the best of Brum’s providers, an exclusive street art exhibit, and a roster of local DJs to set the tone.

As a special treat, Boxxed are hosting the final of the Birmingham series of Secret Walls. Check it out to see the best of Birmingham’s street artists go head to head for the crown.


Moseley based Wild Ilk Design Studio have just launched a new self directed project in the form of a limited edition run of screen prints.

From Birmingham design duo, Wild Ilk, comes a limited edition art print based on the idea of a labyrinth. Labyrinths are amazing and ancient structures with many uses. The obvious one being the labyrinth that housed the minotaur on ancient Crete. More modern uses of labyrinths are recreational, for contemplation and reflection.

The structure of this labyrinth breaks with traditional and historic geometric labyrinth designs with the goal being less about finding a way through the maze and more about appreciating what the maze itself can convey.

The pseudo-geometric artwork has been developed by repeating processes of hand drawing and digital editing before being screen printed in two variations on GF Smith ColorPlan by Mission Print, Birmingham.

We asked them a few questions about the project:

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On 19th April the Secret Walls Live Illustration Final Battle takes place, after first rounds and semi-finals mid month. Birmingham has gained itself a reputation over recent years, winning and hosting some impressive artist battles.

The event takes place at Boxxed in Digbeth, and you can turn up and pay on the door, or buy tickets in advance through Eventbrite.

Madin: Some remains



Madin: Some Remains, photographs by Dave.
10/04/14 – 31/05/14

PROVIDE is pleased to present an exhibition of photographs documenting the remains of John Madin’s work in Birmingham.

‘Do the very best you can at the time.’

Madin was a significant figure of post-war Birmingham architecture. His work has been much neglected and is not highly regarded by the current political leadership within Birmingham.

Since Madin’s period of dominance in Birmingham there have been very few architectural practices able to match his commercial success at home and abroad.

PROVIDE can be found in Digbeth at the Custard Factory, and its walls regularly adorn the work of local talent. All framed 12 x 8 traditional prints will be available, and are limited to 3/3.




A little more about PROVIDE:

PROVIDE is an experiment. We’re following our passions, interests, beliefs and ideals wherever they take us and collecting curious, inspiring and talented people along the way.

We produce a graphic-led line of clothing and accessories which we sell alongside books, magazines and other things we love in our retail shop in Digbeth, Birmingham.

Once a year we produce a printed magazine celebrating the creative talents of our friends, and give it away for free. When we come across an inspiring or challenging film, we share it at one of our Cinema nights, and we host a monthly gig night in Selly Oak to showcase exciting new bands.

Everything we do is motivated by three simple choices; Choose Adventure. Embrace Failure. Defy Impossible.

The opening reception of Madin: Some Remains at PROVIDE is 6-8pm this Thursday (10th April), all welcome.

Refugee Boy



What do you get when you mix a polemic topic, a misunderstood community, two of Britain’s best poetic voices and the artistic directors at Birmingham REP? The answer is Refugee Boy – a heartbreaking and hilarious production brimming with hope, humanity and love.

This is an adaption of Benjamin Zepheniah’s novel of the same title. It runs from Tuesday 8th – Saturday 12th April so order your ticket here before they get snapped up. It tells the story of Alem, a fourteen year old boy fleeing civil war with his family. After being smuggled into the UK, his Ethiopian father and Eritrean mother make the heartbreaking to decision to leave him in London whilst they return to their country.

Alem’s new life in London brings a host of challenges – he is shoved from pillar to post – between court hearings, children’s homes, and foster families. He decides to take control and become the master of his own destiny. He transcends his label and comes of age in circumstances too difficult for most of us to contemplate.

In this production, Gail McIntrye, Playhouse Associate Director, brings together the work of Lemn Sissay and Brum’s favourite dub-poet, Benjamin Zephaniah.

The play has received rave reviews. Many of them focus on the production’s seamless transitions between stages of Alem’s life and the poignant presentation of such a tough young life. The creative team behind it were supported by a local charity working with refugees, City of Sanctuary.

There will be a free curtain-raiser performance before the evening performance of Refugee Boy on 10th April

“A Place Called Home” by Bethan Marlow and directed by Erin Gilley tells the powerful, moving, and inspirational stories collected from a diverse group of refugees and asylum seekers who are all in the process of making Birmingham their home.

This is one not to be missed. The best of Brum’s creative talent coming together and raising awareness of a serious issue.

To mark the centenary year of the Rest House on Bournville Green, Bournville Village Trust are looking for local residents to enter their craft competition to help celebrate the building’s history.

The iconic building in Bournville was originally a gift to George and Elizabeth Cadbury by employees from Cadbury factories around the world to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary.

BVT would like creative interpretations of the Rest House. It can be anything from a painting, a cake or a photograph. Watch their Craft Competition video for ideas on which craft to use!


The deadline for entries is 7th April 2014 and the winners will be announced at a centenary celebration on 12th April.

To submit your ideas visit the BVT Website to find out more.

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