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Birmingham

    Birmingham, Music and Movies

    Flatpack Festival is back!

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    There’s not a lot I can do at the moment, as I’ve been struck down with the lurgy, but the good folk at Flatpack Festival have released their line-up and I’ve been having a look through it.

    Returning for a ten-day festival of cinematic invention and audio-visual delights, #flatpack12 has yet another a great line-up this spring.  Running from 13-22 April 2018, Swedish witchcraft, animated sushi, teenage mermaids, silent trapeze and Shakespearean puppets are just a few of the delights.  And if that’s just a few of the selected highlights, then you know there’s going to be so much more creativity in store.

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    Birmingham, Cycling

    Cyclist at a red light #2

    For every time a motorist tries to tell me all cyclists go through red lights…

    Although I just took this photo on my way to work to show the cyclist waiting, I’ve realised it’s quite a nice photo of some nice sustainable methods of transport – walking, cycling and public transport.

    Birmingham, Music and Movies

    Stumbling across live music

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    I love living in a city for so many reasons, but one of which is the richness of live street art and music that you can stumble across – sometimes it’s part of a festival and sometimes it’s just because.  Last night whilst I was ambling around the city centre, trying to decide what I should do for dinner, I spotted three people setting up equipment for a gig.  It’s not uncommon to see people playing around this area in Birmingham, but usually it’s a soloist with maybe a single amp, mic and possibly a guitar; a drum kit and enough kit for a full gig is quite unusual.  That, and the make up of some of the band, made me want to stick around to find out more.  Plus, I still hadn’t decided what to have for tea.

    Unsurprisingly it turned out they were a rock band, and the man in front of me was right in his assertion they looked like they were going to be worth sticking around for. Once they’d told the group of bemused onlookers who they were, I did a quick online search and turns out StOp,sToP! have quite the following. I stuck around for a few songs, ignoring my rumbling tummy, and thoroughly enjoyed their rendition of Proud Mary in particular.

    Stop Stop Birmingham 2

    In a week when terrible things have happened in our fellow second city, armed police patrol the streets and trains, we’re told trauma centres are on high alert, and the country’s threat level is raised to critical, a rock band plays a free gig in Birmingham city centre. It feels ridiculous and defiant, and as the crowd sung and danced along, it felt like the right.

    Birmingham, Theatre

    The Red Shoes at Birmingham Hippodrome

    A couple of weeks ago, I went to the press screening of Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes ballet, on behalf of Polaroids & Polar Bears, a local arts and culture magazine.

    I naively assumed it was about the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale about the girl who wears the cursed red shoes and didn’t bother to look anymore into it because I was supposed to go with my mum and I figured she’d know.  Only she cancelled on me as she had a meeting, so I ended up going with my friend Ian.  Turns out it’s based on a film, which I’ve never seen – but my friend Louise has righted that by getting me a copy for my birthday.

    Anyway, if you want to read my thoughts on the ballet, head over to Polaroids and Polar Bears!

     

     

    Birmingham

    Magic Lantern Festival at Botanical Gardens

    There’s something about the crisp winter darkness and the sparkle of lights that feel magic, hopeful.  And the Magic Lantern Festival being held at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens didn’t disappoint.  I loved the creativity, weaving round the path seeing the different stories and the simplistic fun of a Saturday night that involved soya lattes and toasted marshmallows, rather than crowded bars and badly poured drinks.

    I hope it returns next year…

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    Birmingham

    Pecha Kucha Birmingham vol 12

    IMG_5425 I like any excuse to learn something new, and Pecha Kucha Night is a great way to hear about a whole range of topics in a short, fast-paced evening.  Developed around a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each, the talks are deliberately concise and yet still fascinating.

    IMG_5427Teaming up with Birmingham City University’s ReThink Media conference, PKN Birmingham volume twelve’s location was the newly opened Curzon Building which has fantastic views over the city.  The seven speakers presented on a range of topics, from bread stamping to podcasting and operatic soprano Lily Pons.

    To my mind, the great thing about PKN is that the short, sharp presentations have enough time to spark the interest of the audience, but if a topic doesn’t grab you, then they’re also quickly over.  Thankfully all seven topics were fascinating with everything from storytelling in colonial Mexico via artwork stamped onto bread, through to popular podcasts and the future of cameras.

    Rocio Carvajal’s talk on “The language of food: Bread stamping in colonial Mexico” was a speedy run through Mexican bread stamping from a historical perspective, but also her efforts to recreate this artistry and examples of her work, which we then got to eat after!  I also enjoyed the camaraderie of the organisers who seem genuinely passionate about spreading interesting ideas in the city – evidenced by them allowing a presentation by Mark Stedman, founder of Ignite Brum, which runs a similar-format event of “five-minute presentations with slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds”…although Mark was at PKN to talk about his passion for podcasting.

    The presentations on the night were recorded and are available to view on PKN Birmingham’s website and they have a number of other events lined up for the rest of the year.  There’s more info at; http://pkbham.uk/