Brummagem: Lost City Found

Work placement student Isabella Shannon from Swanshurst School takes a look at Brummagem and Birmingham’s modernist heritage.

Brummagen edit size

Birmingham is known to be an industrial, well-built city. With the fast decline of modernist architecture, Birmingham’s landscape is always changing. Brummagem: Lost City Found provides a personal reflection of Birmingham’s architecture over 20 years. The show, exploring the significance of Birmingham’s distinct and abundant architectural landscape, will take place at Birmingham City University’s Parkside Gallery between September 18 and October 27.

A reflection on modern day styles and architectural trends

Professor Andrew Kulman and Sara Kulman provide an insightful look into the way that Birmingham briskly reinvents and adapts itself to modern day styles and architectural trends. Professor Kulman’s work shows key parts of the inner ring road, such as Masshouse Circus, Holloway Circus and Paradise Circus through illustration.

Well-known structures in Birmingham, such as the New Street Signal Box, the Gravelly Hill Interchange and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, will be presented through Sara Kulman’s engineering of paper outcomes. The exhibition encourages the city’s visitors and West Midlands citizens to question how Birmingham has evolved with the abatement of modernism.

Matching current trends through reinvention or demolition

Throughout the 1960s and 70s the architecture in Birmingham changed with the arrival of modernism and the pioneering architect John Madin. He introduced, what many considered as the “ugly” style of buildings to the city. Madin designed the old central library, which was described by Prince Charles as “looking more like a place for burning books, than keeping them“. In more recent years, there have been campaigns by champions of modernism to get the building recognised as an important component that defines the city, however this was to no avail and the library has since been demolished. This is representative of a pattern whereby modernist buildings are being reinvented or demolished to match the current architectural trends of big cities around the nation and the world.

Should we be protecting our modernist heritage? We look at Birmingham’s modernist buildings past and present:

Birmingham Conservatoire/ Adrian Bolt Hall

AdriAN Bolt Hall edit

Birmingham Conservatoire was part of the complex in Paradise Circus. It contains the Adrian Bolt Hall, which has an auditorium seating 525 people.

New Street signal box (existing)

News Street Signal Box edit

This building housed all rail operations for the station. The corrugated concrete is not everyone’s favourite design, but was home of one of the city’s most vital infrastructure systems, operating the busiest rail interchange in the UK.

Pebble Mill Studios

Pebble Mill Studios edit

Pebble Mill opened in 1971, and was eventually closed when the BBC moved to the city centre.

Post and Mail building

Post and Mail Building edit

The building was designed by John Madin in 1960, and had newspaper production and printing facilities.

The Central Library

The Central Library edit

The library was originally going to be finished off with marble, but the funds fell through and it had to be finish it with concrete. The architect John Madin was commissioned to design it.

The Chamber of Commerce (existing)

The Chamber of Commerce Building edit

The Chamber of Commerce was the first tall office built in Birmingham. John Madin was comissioned to design it.

The Old Natwest Building (Existing)

The Old Natwest Building edit

103 Colmore Row was designed by John Madin. The building has been vacant since 2003 and will be demolished soon.

The original Bullring

The original Bullring edit

The Bullring was completed in 1964, it was a striking modernist building, with a concrete façade and complex pedestrian access routes. The Bullring, along with other buildings, gave Birmingham the image of a “grey concrete jungle”.

The Rotunda (existing)

The Rotunda edit

The Rotunda was supposed to have a cinema and restaurant but the plans didn’t go through. It was opened in 1965. It is now occupied with a series of apartments.


Cold Type: The Years of Paste-up Graphics


In today’s age, many graphic designs are made via computer software, like Photoshop, but before we had all of our fast and forward thinking programs, designs were made by hand and machine. Cold Type: the Years of Paste-Up Graphics is an exhibition that highlights the ways that graphic designs were created before our modern-day technologies. Theodora Pangos hopes to bring the knowledge of the craftsmanship to the public by presenting original objects that are now only seen represented virtually on a digital desktop.

The exhibition will explore printing techniques from the 1960s through to the 1980s. It will showcase a collection of cold type tools that were used to make a comprehensive design (initial page layout) and mechanicals. There is also a selection of artefacts to represent the designs made, including pre-computer graphic communication books and manuals, posters and original paste-ups. These examples show the artistry and expertise that is needed to develop prints, as well as the craftsmanship that went into creating them.

This exhibition aims to share academic and practical knowledge of production processes with the public to show the advancement of the graphic field. By delving into the tools of the trade from the mid-twentieth century, the show highlights the evolution from traditional to contemporary tools.

Get an insight into the development of the show directly from curator Theodora Pangos:


  • Can you tell me a little about your background?

I am originally from Cyprus, I moved to England 6 years ago and did a BA in VisCom. After my BA I worked as a project manager at the agency with university. Now I am doing my MA in Arts and Design disciplinary practices at Margaret Street. The exhibition is part of my final project.

  • What interests you about the old style of printing?

Whilst researching for my BA dissertation I came across an article that was about the old style of printing and their tools. I was fascinated by the idea of making the prints by hand, because I didn’t really think about how there weren’t computers in the past.

  • What inspired you to make this exhibition?

I was intrigued about how graphic designers were working before computers and the article I found interested me about the different techniques. Graphic designers were actually doing one layout, rather than like 3 or 4 to show their clients. It’s easier now.

  • What can visitors of the gallery expect from your exhibition?

They can expect to gain information, to learn what graphic designers were working with before modern technologies. It is also for the older generations to feel nostalgic about the old ways of printing.

  • How has your time at BCU been? Is it a good place to work as a graphic designer?

I have met loads of people here, through the agency and the MA, I have also collaborated with loads of people. The facilities here are great and it is a good working environment. I have printed most things for the exhibition in the university. I really like being here, because of all the people and facilities.

  • What are your plans after the exhibition has finished? Are you thinking of moving it to another city?

I would like to combine graphic design and exhibition design. I’m planning on applying for Museum jobs, ones that involve setting up visuals for exhibitions.

  • Is there a certain collectors market for the artefacts and machines you have collected?

There are some blogs around these types of tools, so I spoke to some people that are part of the community of graphic designers, I have befriended some of the sellers as well, they helped me get the content for the exhibition. They have also given me more of a background for the exhibition. The tutors that work at BCU have helped as well. The artefacts are usually cheap because no one wants them and they’re vintage.

  • How has the old style of printing affected your own work?

Before, I was doing things by hand still, but I have realised the potential of the work I can do as I can use the objects I have bought. In the future I want to try and be craftier and design less on the computers.

  • How would you describe your exhibition in three words?

Nostalgic, creative and educational.

Written by Isabella Shannon, student at Swanshurst School.

A look back: ADM One Year On

ADM One Year On edit

‘ADM One Year On’ formed part of Birmingham City University’s annual Inspired Festival celebrations. The exhibition complemented this by highlighting the achievements of graduates from Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Arts Design and Media class of 2016.

Diversity and innovation within the arts

Set against a backdrop of current cohort Graduate Shows spanning across a number of University sites between Monday 12 and Saturday 24 June, the Parkside Gallery exhibition celebrated diversity and innovation within the arts.

Showcasing professional outcomes

The artefacts reflected a small selection of alumni work showcasing professional outcomes throughout the past year in areas such as media, architecture, fashion, textiles, acting and more.

Upcoming costume exhibition to place Birmingham ‘on an international stage’

Cabinets of Costume

Cabinets of Costume

‘Cabinets of Costume’ has been curated by Louise Chapman, Pathway Leader and Lecturer in BA (Hons) Design for Performance, who has been supported by co-curator and BA (Hons) Jewellery and Objects Course Director Zoe Robertson.

The exhibition, running from May 9 until June 2, will showcase the BIAD Archive focusing on costumes within the institution since the 1880s, featuring work form alumni over the last 90 years.

Combining fashion and theatre

Fashion and theatre design will be combined to introduce the historical and contemporary context of costume to audiences including students, staff across the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, the wider University research community and the general public.

The exhibition also includes the ‘Culture of Costume Conference’, which is scheduled to take place between May 10 and 14.

Exhibition themes

The overarching theme of the conference is costume as it relates, responds to and influences culture. This will include themes exploring areas such as costume and material culture, costume adornment and costume archiving, as well as many more. Louise Chapman said:

“With costume as an emerging area of research, the exhibition offers the opportunity to place Birmingham as a significant contributor on an international stage. In contrast to the preconceived ways of exhibition costume, we propose to offer a fun, interactive approach to encourage greater engagement from a broader audience.”

Keep up to date with Parkside Gallery’s social media accounts and official blog for more information.

A look back at ‘All Because of You: Northern Soul Portraits’

chloe allbecausens

Parkside Gallery hosted ‘All Because of You: Northern Soul Portraits’ between 27 January and 24 February.

The exhibition explored and documented young ‘Northern Soulies’ in Birmingham and the Midlands through the work of Birmingham-based independent photographer Bethany Kane and Sarah Raine, Researcher for the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research.

MAC Birmingham

Having enjoyed a successful stay at Parkside Gallery, documenting Birmingham and the West Midlands’s underground Northern Soul scene through what Raine describes as a “curated collection of photographs, audio, memorabilia and scene insider accounts.”, the show is now scheduled to be exhibited at MAC Birmingham. This comes as a result of the Geoff Sims inaugural bursary being awarded to Bethany Kane.

Social media snapshot

Take a look at some of the key moments throughout ‘All Because of You: Northern Soul Portraits’ at Parkside Gallery:

Brum Notes Magazine (@BrumNotesMag)

“We’re at the launch for All Because of You ‪@ParksideGallery, a superb new exhibition documenting young Northern Soulies ‪#allbecauseofns

Night Owl (@nightowlbham)

“Fantastic turn out at ‪#allbecauseofns exhibition big congrats to Sarah & Beth & thanks for ‪#nightowl shoutouts ‪#northernsoul ‪#subcultures

MAC Birmingham (@mac_birmingham)

“Great exh at Parkside Gallery & great soul soundtrack ‪#allbecauseofNS –  well done Bethany! MSp”

Jenny Wilkes (@BillyQuiet)

Mingling with the in crowd ‪@AllBecauseOfNS launch. ‪@SarahRaineBCU #allbecauseofns

All Because of NS (@AllBecauseOfNS)

“We are loving ‪@ParksideGallery countdown for ‪#allbecauseofns ‪#northernsoul ‪#Soul ‪#soulmusic

Jacqueline Taylor (@JaxterT)

Exciting to see ‪#allbecauseofns by ‪@SarahRaineBCU and ‪@bethany_kane coming together ‪@ParksideGallery. Opens on 27th Jan!

Visit Bethany Kane’s official website to find out more about ‘All Because of You: Northern Soul Portraits’.

Annual paper project launched at ‘The Shell’

The Paper Project at The Shell.

The Paper Project at The Shell.

Parkside Gallery’s sister exhibition space ‘The Shell’ has launched ‘The Paper Project’. The annual exhibition, which opened on Monday 6 February, presents a culmination of student work within ‘The Figure in Space’ module 12 weeks into the BA (Hons) Design for Theatre, Performance and Events degree course.

The Figure in Space

The module, tailored for first year students, has been developed over the past 16 years, with this year’s celebrating 2016 as Roald Dahl’s centenary in collaboration with The Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre.

Supplied with one kilometer of corrugated card and two kilometers of brown paper, students were set the task of creating a Roald Dahl-themed environment within 18 days using only their ingenuity and basic materials. Rosie Anderson, first year BA (Hons) Design for Theatre, Performance and Events student said:

“It has been really challenging to make it work, but I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been the best project to work on and we’ve all been able to put our own stamp on it.”

The environment

This year’s outcome features a variety of characters from Dahl’s children’s stories putting on a 100th birthday party in the woodlands of Great Missenden.

Elements such as Roald Dahl’s writing chair, George mixing his marvellous medicine watched by his shrinking grandmother, Augustus Gloop hovering around the food-table with Aunt Sponge, a drunk rat and Fantastic Mr Fox add to the details captured within the environment. Hollie Wright, BA (Hons) Design for Theatre, Performance and Events Lecturer said:

“It’s an enchanting experience. You can get lost in this world. This is an environment transformed using paper to depict various elements, showing how paper sculpture techniques can be used to create this setting of fun in the forest.”

Collaborative practice

In addition to celebrating the wonders of Roald Dahl, the exhibition also provides an opportunity for students to collaborate and develop industry skills. Elanor Field, Visiting Tutor said:

“You notice new details everywhere you look, like mice with party hats. This is the first taster of collaboration for the students, mirroring the landscape of the industry, ensuring that everyone has the chance to put their own stamp on the project through collaborative practice.”

To find out more, search ‘The Paper Project BCU’.

Parkside Gallery to host major contemporary craft exhibition

By Sally Collin.

By Sally Collin.

Contemporary craft exhibition Made in the Middle is set to be displayed at Parkside Gallery between March 6 and April 29.

The partnership between Craftspace and The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in collaboration with The National Centre for Craft & Design, is a recurring touring exhibition of high quality contemporary craft and applied art from the Midlands. The eighth exhibition in the series, coordinated by Craftspace, is part of the organisation’s 30th anniversary programme, featuring both recent graduates and makers with established reputations.

The display

Through providing an opportunity to purchase and commission work from some of the best makers in the region, a wealth of creativity is on display, including ceramics, jewellery, metalwork and textiles. Selected by an expert panel through open entry, it promotes the best of contemporary craft from makers living and working in the Midlands or with a strong recent regional connection. Emma Daker, Exhibitions and Projects Development Manager for Craftspace said:

“Craft is a vital source of revenue and innovation to the UK. With recent changes to country’s economy we are keen to highlight and explore the value of craft both in economic terms and social contribution. Through the work and careers of the selected makers, the exhibition will explore enterprise through the life of the sole trader. We will also build on the development of digital practices since the last exhibition.”


A panel of curators and craft sector specialists has selected 28 makers to have works on show. The group of exhibitors features individuals such as jeweller Dauvit Alexander, who creates striking jewellery for men combining found materials and precious gemstones, Aimee Boll who also takes inspiration from found items which she combines with minimal ceramic vessels, and John Grayson who uses traditional metal forming and enamel decorating processes to create whimsical, humorous and decorative metal objects.

The exhibition will continue its tour to major galleries across the Midlands into 2018 raising the profile of regional makers and giving them the opportunity to sell their work to regional and national collectors. Visitors are encouraged to consider commissioning new work from local makers and a range of more affordable work will be available to buy, whether your budget is a few pounds or a thousand pounds.

#madeitm30 #madeitm @tweetcraftspace