Category: Arts



Take one part UK doodler and one part German art anarchist, give them a keyboard and a ukulele and sit back in wonderment at the music of Anxieteam.

This was the second time we were meeting up with Nottingham-based illustrator Jon Burgerman but the first time under the pretext of discussing his new venture, a band with pARTner in crime Jim Avignon, an artist and musician that believes in free art for everyone; we knew it would be entertaining.

We had an insight into Jon’s work last year when he designed our cover artwork with what is still the most popular cover to date and it was a pleasure to find out about his musical talents and to get to know Jim, a German-born New Yorker who has form in both the art world and the music industry.

Jim’s unorthodox approach to the art market has seen him giveaway 800 pieces of his art in a lottery at a museum that was covered in his paintings. He even gatecrashed Germany’s Documenta exhibition and spent three weeks outside the building painting three metre canvasses before jumping through them, getting motorcycles to drive through them and otherwise destroying the art. It was, as Jim puts it, ‘focussing on how the art market and the art world are connected, how the price of artwork creates the importance of the work.’ His aim was to create the art, let people take photos for posterity and then take away the value of the piece by its destruction.

It was art that brought Jim and Jon together in a Brooklyn exhibition that Jon was originally scheduled to do as a solo project. However, after emailing Jim they agreed to do the exhibition together despite having never actually met previously. “It could have gone terribly badly. We decided that it wouldn’t be a joint exhibition where one wall would be Jim’s work and the other wall would be my work, that we would paint on each others paintings; a proper collaboration. It was a really fun week, we worked really hard but it was a pleasure to do so, who wouldn’t love to do that for a week? Paint and draw and talk about things and listen to music, it was a real fun time.”

While Jon admits he hasn’t gone to ‘some of the extreme lengths that Jim has done’ when it comes to art anarchy, he does like to keep his work accessible – something our cover artwork is testament to. Jim is of a like mind and explained, “In my opinion art should be made for everybody; everybody should be able to afford it.” This was no more so in evidence than in 2009 where Jim drew portraits of people at a Hamburg exhibition from his home in Brooklyn via Skype. “I could see people sitting in a booth. I did a drawing, a three minute portrait, and scanned it and sent it and they printed it out and took it home for free.”

Art collaborations developed into music collaborations when Jim pitched the idea of forming a band to Jon who, after some deliberation, recorded the vocals in Nottingham, sent them to Jim in Brooklyn who put a song together and played it at a New York gallery’s closing event. Jon tells us, “people seemed to like it and it went down quite well, so the next time I went to New York, I met up with Jim again and we just started doing stuff.”

Although Jon insisted explaining their sound was a difficult question, he immediately gave us a pretty comprehensive description. “It’s sort of low-fi electronic noises with erm, a smattering of ukulele, but we’re very crafted, simple with catchy melodies underpinning it all. We try and keep things simple but very melodic and colourful in its music. I think we listen to lots of different genres of music and rather than taking something sonically from those as inspiration. I would say we get inspired by bands that leave you in a good feeling or that have a nice sort of quality to them rather than like ooh, try and make it sound like this or that. I mean, I’m not a super proficient, technical musician at all so I don’t analyse music in a way that I try and replicate a certain technical element of it. I’d rather have a song that is memorable and you hum it to yourself or you enjoy listening to it, and it gives you a pleasant kind of experience for the short while you’re listening.”

With songs about eating Soya and being a cat, combined with unusual musical arrangements, we asked if there were similarities between Jon’s art and the music. Was the music an ‘audio doodle’? “Yea, definitely, stylistically, it’s like a sonic representation of the way that I would work in a drawn manner, but it’s a little different whereas I might do a drawing and it might take a minute, songs just by their nature, composing something and having a structure, it’d be misleading to call it a doodle. It’s not like something’s just plonked out and there it is, it might have a light feel to it but it’s actually very meticulously planned and honed and polished and you know, made to work, which you don’t necessarily have to do with an illustration, you can do a drawing quite quickly and it might magically just work. We definitely want the music to have a nice effortless quality, we don’t want it to sound laboured, but actually behind the scenes they’re very much honed.”

anxieteam-2We knew the time was coming when we’d have to ask the inevitable questions of choosing between music and art. “I get asked that a lot”, Jim explained. “The art is the one thing I’m kind of guaranteed to make a living from, but the music is the one that has my soul inside so er, sometimes people ask me if I’d prefer to be blind or deaf…” Jon interrupts by suggesting being poked in one eye and blocking up an ear as some kind of compromise which helped lighten the severity of Jim’s revelation.

“Personally I would lose more if I couldn’t do the music,” he went on to clarify. “Doing the art is more like doing some kind of work, doing the big works is more like, I have to work now. So it’s like, get up early, do the work. But with music it never feels like work, I always enjoy it. It’s like you’re looking for something, you don’t know what it is and it’s that moment you find it. It could be a tune, some weird arrangement idea, I really enjoy that process of finding it.”

Jon’s response was less surprising given what we know about him, “I love listening to music but playing it live and creating new songs with someone is fairly new to me.” Given just how unfamiliar it was to be a musician and lead singer in a signed band, we asked just how scary it is to play live to people. “It is scary, I’m not a performer, I’m not a singer or a dancer or anything so to do that is very scary, but that’s exciting. It’s nice actually to do both, to have a period of time doing music and enjoy that and get excited about that and then you forget about some of the work of painting, you forget about some of that hard drudgery, and so when you go back to it it’s fun again for a bit. So it’s been good this year doing a little bit of each.

“I like the real time aspect of it, I’ve done a lot of live painting and I guess it’s a similar kind of thing where you’re creating something in front of people and that’s exciting because every time it’s a bit different and their reactions will influence how it goes, and that’s nice to have that feedback, to see people’s reaction to your work immediately, you don’t get that so much when you have a painting on the wall… unless you stay in the gallery all day watching people’s faces…”

“I think if you sing and stand on stage you learn something new about yourself,” added Jim. “I think that’s also a reason why a lot of artists started in music as well. It’s a different way of expressing what’s going on with you or what you want to say.”

Before we let the guys get ready for their gig we asked them to tell us the story behind the band’s name. “We did an exhibition together in Brooklyn, and for that Jon suggested the name Anxiety Room because Jon is a very anxious person. He sees dangers everywhere, and he thought from knowing my art I would be the same, but it turns out I am blind to any possible dangers (both laugh) so we did that exhibition about anxieties and it turned out to be not a very scary exhibition, it rather turned into a funny thing. When we came up with the idea to have a band we thought we’d stay with that theme and we played around with words and we liked the combination of anxiety and team like to present us as Jon’s the Mr Anxiety and I’m the Mr Team, or like staying together and fighting anxieties. I don’t know. It sounded good. We liked it. We took it.”

This article was first published in our partner magazine in November 2010.


Win Tickets to Festival No.6

Festival No.6 – Portmeirion’s award winning music, arts and culture festival.

A festival unlike any other, in a place like no other, Festival No.6 is an intimate, bespoke banquet of music, arts and culture, taking place over the weekend of the 1-4 September in the magical village of Portmeirion, Wales, home of the cult TV series The Prisoner.

The carefully curated and eclectic line-up includes Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Hot Chip, Bastille, C Duncan, Django Django, Echo & The Bunnymen, Frances, JP Cooper, Lucy Rose, Oh Wonder, Super Furry Animals, Temples, Broken Social Scene and DJ sets from Andrew Weatherall, Ben UFO, The 2 Bears and Maribou State as well as an arts and culture programme that includes Irvine Welsh, Shaun Ryder, John Cooper Clarke and Catrin Finch plus many more.

Acts will perform across the entire site, by the whimsical Italianate architecture of the village, the historic town hall, piazza, Bristol Colonnade, the picturesque Estuary stage, the atmospheric woods and the promenade along the River Dwyryd.

Constructed between 1925 and 1975 by maverick architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion is a wonderfully bizarre and elaborate interpretation of a Mediterranean villa, nestled in the stunning mountains and forests of North Wales overlooking the expansive estuarial waters of the Irish Sea.

For more information and tickets, visit

Win Tickets for you and a friend

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is like or comment on our facebook page before August 14th at midday.




T&C’s: Prize includes one pair (two tickets) of adult weekend tickets. Each ticket admits one person. One person in the group must be aged over 18 (NB children under the age of 10 years do not require a ticket). Travel is not included. The prize is non-refundable and no cash alternative will be offered. The prize is non transferable and ID will be required at time of collecting the ticket wristband upon arrival. The prize includes all events and activities at Festival No.6 (subject to availability) but not food and drink from any stalls or bar. Winner chosen at random.


Brand new festival at iconic Jodrell Bank

Jean-Michel Jarre, Underworld, and Caribou are to headline ‘bluedot’ the new festival that promises to blend music, art, and science, with Prof. Brian Cox also appearing as part of Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage.

Jodrell Bank, the iconic observatory in Cheshire, sees the new 3-day event take place from 22-24 July with the backdrop of the giant Lovell radio telescope piercing the countryside.

Jean-Michel is known for incredible live performances as are Underworld, and electronica fans will also want a piece of the influential Caribou.

Other artists featuring on the first wave of the line-up are electro-rock darlings Everything Everything, art-rock archivists Public Service Broadcasting, neo-psychedelic titans Mercury Rev, folk experimentalist Steve Mason, post math-rock instrumentalists 65daysofstatic, genre-transcending indie rockers British Sea Power and Californian space-rock adventurers Moon Duo.

The late-night electronic line-up promises to be equally impressive with the initial bill including Erol Alkan and Richard Norris’ electro-house alter egos Beyond the Wizards Sleeve, Hessle Audio founder Ben UFO and turntable maestro DJ Yoda with many more still to be announced.

Recording an episode at the festival is Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage with Prof. Brian Cox and Robin Ince. Their irreverent and amusing insight into some of science’s biggest questions is guaranteed to entertain and elucidate and will undoubtedly be a highlight of the festival.

slide_5hFestival goers will experience five distinct arenas featuring space orchestras, talks, screenings, lectures, comedy and debates and a vast spectrum of hands-on activities including the Luminarium, art installations, robot workshops, a planetarium, the Galaxy Garden, pulsar hunting, and graphene making classes.

A nod to Carl Sagan’s pale blue dot, the festival aims to “blow people’s minds with some amazing music and some incredible ideas – from the Big Bang to black holes, AI to climate change, and loads more.” According to Associate Director of Jodrell Bank, Professor Tim O’Brien.

Find out more about bluedot at


Artist Preview for Wateraid’s Sh!t Show

If you haven’t already got the date in your diary then mark down 19th November for World Toilet Day: Create your own poop emoji, #BeAThinker on Twitter, and get down to 103 Norfolk Street, New York, between 20-22 November to see some iconic artists supporting Wateraid to raise awareness as part of World Toilet Day 2015.

The Sh!t Show – artist preview

Jon Burgerman

SHITJONYou will probably recognise the distinctive art and doodles of British born talent Jon Burgerman: if not then you are in for a treat.  Currently living in NYC, Jon studied Fine Art in the UK before embarking on his career as an artist.  With an impressive list of collaborations with brands such as Coca Cola, Sky and Puma (to name a few) his quirky artwork has achieved international success and can be seen in galleries and installations to computer games and interiors.

Jon will be working with WaterAid at the Sh!t Show to build a giant ‘Poop World’, transforming his doodles to create fun free standing sculptures to highlight the importance of good sanitation.

If you would like to know more about Jon please visit his website:


Geo Law

SHITGEOSheffield’s own street artist and doodler Geo Law will be working on a 20’ wall completing a live mural throughout the course of the Show.

Born in Huddersfield in the UK, Geo specialises in graphic illustration and bespoke murals. Influenced by pop culture and his love of computer games his graphic style and playful characters pay homage to comic book heroes, Japanese anime and cartoons.

The mural will illustrate the dangers and difficulties of inadequate water and sanitation and highlight the positive change that occurs within those communities where Wateraid has worked.

If you would like to know more about Geo please visit his website.


Susanne Walström

SHITSUSANNEWith 25 years experience in editorial and advertising, Swedish born Susan Walström has become internationally renown for her beautiful photography. Her genuine interest in people and how they relate to their environment is apparent in her signature style, combining wit and humour with the subtleties and uniqueness of her subjects.

With a keen interest in environmental issues, Susanne will be exhibiting a collection of photographs taken in southern India, addressing the issues faced by women in particular due to a distinct lack of toilets and sanitation.

“More than 600 million people in India lack access to toilets. It is especially difficult for women. Instead of toilets they use the fields before sunrise or after sunset. The fields are riddled with snakes, sharp thorn bushes and wild dogs, and there is the very real risk of assault and rape by men preying on the women in their most vulnerable state. My pictures are taken in Tamil Nadu in southern India.”  Susanne Walström

If you would like to know more about Susanne please visit her website:


For a full list of artists and for more information on the show visit our article here.

The Shit Show

The Shit Show

An exhibition not to be missed – if you give a shit about World Toilet Day that is.

November 19th is World Toilet Day – when charities like Wateraid and organisations such as UNICEF raise awareness of the 2.3 billion people (that’s one in every three people on the planet) who don’t have access to a proper toilet.

It seems remarkable that a third of the world’s population don’t have sanitation facilities given the standard of living we’re used to in the ‘West’.

Wateraid are hoping to pique interest with The Shit Show, a free, poop-themed interactive gallery featuring art from some of America’s most acclaimed artists and something of a fun approach to a serious issue.

Currently confirmed artists include: Yoni Alter, Jon Burgerman, Nick Chaffe, Jhowee Chiang, Madeleine diGangi, Alan Foreman, Jacob Fradkin, Andy Gilmore, Dave Krugman, Anna Laytham, Mick Marston, Roger Mason, Caroline Melisa, Al Murphy, Alvin Ong & Cheri Ong, Diana Park, Robert Petrie, Matthew Reid, Ashkahn Shahparnia, Chairman Ting, Jessica May Underwood, Libby Vanderploeg and Susanne Walström.

The event is free to the public and will be held between 20-22nd November from 11am to 6pm at 103 Norfolk Street at Delancy Street – so if you’re in New York then get yourself down there to experience the shit!

You’ll have the chance to take a deep dive into the issue by interacting with various installations and viewing Wateraid’s award winning film Across the Tracks. Artwork from The Shit Show will be available for sale to benefit WaterAid’s water and sanitation programs in 37 countries across the globe.

Find out more about Wateraid in your country by visiting

Music Box by Kathy Hinde

Manchester Enlightened this December

International artists meet local talent at the Enlighten Manchester Festival of Light and Sound Art nestled in the heart of the German Christmas Market at the Central Library and Bridgewater Hall this December 10th – 12th.

With over 15 installations plus performances and talks, the festival celebrates light, sound, and literature, as part of UNESCO’s International Year of Light.

Boasting a world premiere of The Bremen Town Musicians, a music and live animation work inspired by the bestselling author Philip Pullman’s new translation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, the festival features a number of internationally acclaimed and award-winning artists.

Light artist Paul Friedlander, audio visual artist Kathy Hinde, and light and sound artist Ulf Pedersen will all exhibit world premieres as they headline the event.

Luminous Birds by Kathy Hinde

Luminous Birds by Kathy Hinde

Local artists include Scotsman Poet of the Year Adelle Stripe, graphic designer Trevor Johnson, light artist Elisa Artesero and photographer Andrew Brooks. Neon artist Richard William Wheater is working with Manchester-based youth leadership project RECLAIM sharing young people’s vision of what the city could look like in the future.

Following a successful pilot last year the festival will launch a new relationship with the extraordinary Manchester Central Library as the main venue to bring together exciting local and international talent, skills and energy with an ambitious programme after dark. Light works will also be on show at The Bridgewater Hall from leading audio visual artist Kathy Hinde and Liverpool contemporary composer Matthew Fairclough.

Andy Brydon, Curated Place and festival director said: “Being able to deliver the first full outing of a light festival in Manchester as part of the UNESCO International Year of Light with Central Library and The Bridgewater Hall is the best way we could launch a relationship with these brilliant venues.

“We’re all looking towards developing the light festival as an annual event to inject some high quality public arts into Manchester’s Christmas Celebrations. This year we have some of the UK’s leading sound and light artists collaborating at the boundaries of their disciplines helping us develop the festival from a pilot to a major family event. Next year we’re hoping for more.”


1000 Birds by Kathy Hinde

1000 Birds by Kathy Hinde

Enlighten Manchester will take place on the following dates:

  • Thursday 10th December: 4.30-8.00 pm (with launch performance from Psappha and Enrica Sciandrone from 6pm)
  • Friday 10th December: 5.30-8.00 pm
  • Saturday 10th December: 5.30-8.00 pm

Locations: Manchester Central Library, Bridgewater Hall

Price: Free-£5, booking required for Manchester Central Library

For more information visit

Beth Carter bronze sculpture

Beth Carter

On our recent trip to the big apple we stumbled upon the enchanting work of Beth Carter, which was being exhibited at the Bertrand Delacroix in the gallery-packed district of Chelsea.

Born in the UK and currently living in Bristol, Beth graduated from Sunderland University in 1995 and went on to be awarded 1st prize in the Northern Graduate Show ‘95 at The Royal College of Art.

Bertrand Delacroix Gallery New York

Bertrand Delacroix Gallery New York

Cast in bronze and other materials, her beautifully detailed sculptures combine mythological legends with the human form and range from life size to hand held.  The sculptures are set in unexpected poses and intimate human vulnerability, creating a delicate balance of intrigue and the strange that draws you in and captivates.

‘My work creates an allegorical world, often by integrating the human figure with animal form. I work within the realm of a sculptural tradition where the symbolic use of animal imagery has been a continuously potent source, I seek a new level of inquiry into these timeless themes, and in this sense my work is flavoured by a mythological and classical aesthetic.” -Beth Carter

Beth Carter Dog Mask Figure

Beth Carter Dog Mask Figure

If you wish to view Beth’s work (and I strongly suggest that you do) you can find her work on show at the following venues.

Axelle Fine Arts Galerie
472 West Broadway (soho)
New York, NY 10012

Axelle Fine Arts Galerie
173 Newbury St
Boston, MA 02116

Beaux Arts gallery
12-13 York St
Bath, BA11NG
Will be showing new bronzes between now and November ( and beyond!)

Bo Lee Gallery
The Chapel of St. Barnabas, 1 Greek Street, Soho Square
Private View 9 October 6-8pm RSVP
Exhibition continues until 24 October!exhibitions/c1jn0

And if you can’t get to any of those locations you can view her portfolio on her site.

DUMBO’s Art Galleries Celebrate New Locations with Grand Reopening

The art season kicks off in DUMBO this weekend with the opening of new spaces for four of the neighbourhood’s galleries: KLOMPCHING GALLERY, Masters Projects, MINUS SPACE, and United Photos Industries. The galleries recently moved to the renovated Stable Building at the corner of Main and Water streets in DUMBO and will open new exhibitions on Saturday, September 12th, 6-9 p.m.

Previously located on 111 Front Street’s second floor, the four galleries moved to new ground-floor locations in the Stable Building in April of this year. Built in 1906 by Turner Construction Company as a stable for Robert Gair’s cardboard box manufacturing complex, the building is the one of the first examples of reinforced concrete construction in New York City. Now, over a century later, Two Trees Management Co. renovated the building to house four white cube gallery spaces with 16-foot ceilings and new storefronts with individual entrances. The renovation took place after Galapagos Art Space left the building to move to Detroit.

“We are so excited to open the new gallery spaces at the Stable Building. These galleries have called DUMBO home for years, and now they have prime locations on the ground-floor, where even more residents and visitors will be able to discover them and the incredible works on view,” said Lisa Kim, Director of Cultural Affairs at Two Trees.

Along the waterfront, A.I.R. Gallery, Porter Contemporary, and Usagi NY also occupy newly renovated gallery spaces along Plymouth Street. All DUMBO galleries will participate in a neighbourhood-wide gallery late night event next month on October 1st for the First Thursday Gallery Walk.

All exhibitions at the galleries are free and open to the public.

Exhibitions on View:
Max De Esteban: Heads Will Roll
On view through October 30, 2015
Heads Will Roll is the fourth and final instalment of de Esteban’s challenging and provocative Propositions series—a long term and rigorous investigation of society’s embracement of technologies, in particular, the dawn of the bio-cybernetic era.

Masters Projects, 91 Water Street
This Ain’t Main Street
On view through October 31, 2015
Masters Projects opens their new location at 91 Water Street with an exhibition of works by Shepard Fairey, Kaws, Banksy, Massimo Vitali, Skewville, Kris Chatterson, Nick Flatt, The Yok + Sheryo, and Amze Emmons.

MINUS SPACE, 16 Main Street, Suite A
Gabriele Evertz: The Gray Question
On view through October 31, 2015
MINUS SPACE is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new paintings by Brooklyn-based artist Gabriele Evertz featuring a suite of new large-format paintings investigating the colour grey.

United Photo Industries, 16 Main Street, Suite B
Anderson Zaca – Block Party: NYC Soul of Summer
On view through September 26, 2015
Block parties are the heart and soul of New York City summers. Travelling to all five boroughs, Zaca has been documenting this great NYC tradition since 2005, capturing over 200 block parties in all of their revelry.

Copyright Felix Colgrave

Felix Colgrave Animated

You may have seen his work lately, it has after all gone viral and spread around the blogosphere through the magic of the internet. Magic seems to be the appropriate word when describing Felix Colgrave’s work, his animated videos are crafted like a wizard, filling them with a cauldrons worth of amazing and incredibly vivid art, riled through an intense imagination that transcends his own mind and brings little worlds & characters into life, playfully.

To show you a glimpse of this world, we’ve put some stills of his work within this article, and there’s some links to his videos too.

Copyright Felix Colgrave

Copyright Felix Colgrave

Not for everyone… I’d imagine there are a few parents that would not like their kids to see his videos, shielding them in bubble-wrap, yet still there’s something about Felix’s work that is just brilliance. The young Australian’s third year university project, The Elephant’s Garden, won best Australian film at the Melbourne International Animation Festival 2014.

Quite the achievement we think. Not stopping there however, he has a range of shorts that you can check out on his Youtube page, the majority of which are mockingly humorous, albeit a tiny bit of dark humour thrown into the animation for good clout… aimed at the world’s most contemporary issues though of course.

I mean when you make a video like The Pigpen, when you’re 16 years of age, it’s then hardly surprising that he’s now getting further acclaim as a prerequisite to his animations.

He’s an active little fella on Tumblr if you want to keep up-to date with his shenanigans and jesting .


TEDxBrum 2014 A Personal Experience

From June to November, I was a member of the TEDxBrum 2014 team. For those unfamiliar with the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) concept, it is a set of global conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan: “Ideas Worth Spreading”. TED originated as a one-off event in 1984, before growing into a global entity, with TED events taking place across the globe from Sydney to Birmingham.

The Birmingham event has been running since 2011, founded by Anneka Deva, a guest this year, who then stepped down in 2012, passing the baton of inspiration to Imandeep Kaur, a woman with Birmingham at heart. She was leading the preparations for the 2014 event at The Library of Birmingham.

Any TED event is centred on a theme with this year’s theme as ‘DIY’. It was a choice that appealed to me due to my love of music, especially the late 1970s’ punk movement, which is rooted in a ‘do it yourself’ culture.


After joining the team halfway through the organisation process, I attended meetings on a regular basis, absorbing in and being impressed by the sheer volume of ideas flowing from a bunch of creative, industrious and passionate individuals who were all here because of their love for TED and showcasing what Birmingham had to offer. In addition, I found attending meetings all the more pleasurable due to the harmonious nature within the team, devoid of sniping, pomposity and ego.

As the event neared, the intensity of the preparation inevitably increased, but with the energetic, hardworking and passionate maverick Imandeep leading the troops, there was no danger of standards slipping. A huge collective effort in the last few weeks left us ready to put on an event that would hopefully set a high benchmark for future TEDxBrum events to be judged by.

The team all arrived prior to 7am, a little tired but buzzing with anticipation at being part of a little history, as for many it was a maiden TED event. Carys Evans, who was working on her second TED event, had organised a large team of volunteers known as ‘Champions’ to ensure that all guests, speakers and sponsors had an enjoyable experience.

When watching people gathering outside before doors opened at 9am, I was then struck by the magnitude of the occasion. The Champions were then at our busiest registering in all the guests and presenting them with their iconic TED name badges, not forgetting goodie bags.

After the registration process it was a case of doing tasks, if required, or speaking to people about how their day had been, especially in the breaks, obtaining feedback – all positive – on how their day had been.

There was a little manual labour, including impressing a library staff member with my lifting of some large tables, while I also manned the coffee/tea tables.

Ian Harrison, was the Co-curator with Imandeep, had responsibility of arranging the speakers. He had struck a balance between speakers offering a Birmingham-centric vibe and those who didn’t.

The talks and musical/spoken word performances, organised by the chilled combination of Simarjeet Kaur and David Austin Grey, who was playing as part of Hansu-Tori, were split into four sub-themed sessions.

For the first three sessions I managed to view selected performances in the livestream zone, which was working in conjunction with the Bite the Ballot. I kept an eye on the action being relayed by the big screen, but was also engaged in a fascinating conversation with Sawsan Bastawy, the Community Engagement Officer, for the Birmingham arm of Bite the Ballot, an organisation with the primary aim of persuading people aged 16-24, to register to vote for forthcoming elections.

A talk that grabbed me was by ‘Mr Gangology’, or Raymond Douglas to his mom, in the way he used popular culture reference points to support his stance on gang culture. He slightly overran, and bits of his viewpoint were a little generalised, but he was amusing and engaging throughout.

I had the pleasure of being in the Studio Theatre for the last session, bringing home the cosy intimacy of the venue and the reverential hush of the audience, interspersed by moments of genuine laughter and applause.

My personal highlight of this session was Ann-Marie Naylor’s talk on the future of libraries, although it was more the way she recounted the transformation in her life from feelings of low self-confidence at 25 that resonated most strongly.

As for the ultimate climax, Lobster proved a shrewd choice, with their energetic, funky, cuts of ska-punk rock ushering the event to a chaotic, joyous and heartfelt denouement, which included many team members shaking their meat to the beat. The event was such a resounding success that I even indulged in a little dancing, an event that has occurred about three times in my adult life!

The day was tiring but the adrenaline and the friendly team and audience kept spirits high. It was a rewarding journey, highlighted by discovering that Birmingham, a city that I had become tired of, has a thriving creative and cultural identity that can hopefully be nurtured for many years to come.

To find out more about the event visit or follow on twitter @TEDxBrum