This Saturday I will be performing a showcase spoken word slot at The Anchor Gallery at Buddies 232 Cafe, on Moseley Street in Digbeth. The Anchor Gallery has been created by artist Rachel Mayfield, and the event is part of her first installation ‘Show Me Your Birmingham’, a collaborative venture that features artists who she has met and made friends with since returning to her native Birmingham last year.
After returning from living in London on the 22nd of December 2014, Rachel started to reconnect with was left of the Birmingham music scene that she had been heavily involved with in the 1990s with her acclaimed band Delicious Monster.
Slowly settling back in, she began to go to events recommended to her by her old friends Black Bombers and also to seek her own path in the hidden corners of Birmingham. I first met Rachel when she came to my Sunday Xpress event in February 2014. The following week, we bumped into each other at the Levitate Summit which was part of the Birmingham Music Week symposium. We stayed in contact, promising to keep each other up to date on our projects.
Rachel started performing at more events, and was shown the city by new and old friends alike. She joined the Cannon Hill Art School, created by Trevor Pitt in association with mac Birmingham which ran from the 18th of July until the 6th of September. On most days she presented her art as a live exhibit, singing songs from her last album Venture of Belief in front of her photography, which would serve to increase the meanings and intentions behind the work. As the summer show drew to a close, she invited artists who had supported her over the year to perform to a small audience of gallery visitors.
This idea of shared working and collaboration was the ethos behind her next exhibition, Winter of Desire, which she installed at the wonderful P Cafe in Stirchley from October to November. Guest artists would present a series of ‘talkies’ in a space made to look like Rachel’s living room, decorated with her own art, photography and found objects.
I collaborated with her on this for a performance entitled “I Know What It’s Like To Be Dead”, presenting an hours talk on hauntology and psychogeography, combining elements of my forthcoming ‘Suburban Psychedelia’ project.
For this year, Rachel has designed and fitted a gallery in Digbeth at the back of Buddies 232 cafe on Moseley Street, and christened it The Anchor Gallery. The first exhibition, which runs until August 27th, is called “Show Me Your Birmingham” where artists have been invited to create their own interpretations of their city, using any sort of media they like. Indeed, one of the walls serves as a projector screen by Birmingham psychogeographer and filmmaker Andy Howlett and rolling footage of Rachel’s. It also features artwork by Brian Travers, one of the founding members of UB40. Some artworks will be added as the exhibition continues, such as the one pictured below on by Birmingham City University student Tay, which examines the issues surrounding ‘safe spaces’ within the city. Portraits, collage, sculpture – it’s all there.
Days at the gallery will soon feature live events by the exhibiting artists, which will be a wonderful way to start or avoid the Shoppers Saturday in Amazing Digbeth. After this, Rachel is planning an exhibition entitled “Show You My Birmingham”, which will take the form of a thankyou to the artists that have helped her re-discover the city. The gallery will then be given over to installations for up to two weeks, and what next? Publishing house? Writers talks? Newsletters? Fanzines? There is no limit to what this venture may achieve, go and see it for yourself.
In fact this weekend on Saturday 23rd from 12 – 2 I will be delivering a spoken word performance featuring extracts from my Dust Particles collection and elements of The Wind. I am glad to be performing properly again after a long period off, and I am considering filming this performance to on YouTube and this blog here.
Show Me Your Birmingham lasts until the 27th of August at Buddies 232 cafe on Moseley Street, Digbeth. Open 10am – 2pm every day apart from Sundays.