Share what you love about Birmingham for the UK City of Culture Bid

9 12 2009

Whatever your thoughts – and there are a lot of opinions out there – Birmingham’s official bid to become the UK’s first City of Culture has been announced today.

Birmingham’s bid will be managed through the Birmingham Cultural Partnership (BCP) and the finalists will have until May 28 2010 to make their last attempts at the title.

With an expected £200m boost to the local economy if successful, it’s no surprise that there are 22 other cities going for the title too.

As part of the bid, Birmingham City Council and the BCP is asking people that live and work here to share their thoughts on what the City of Culture can and should mean. The new interactive website – Big Blank Canvas – asks people to share what they do in their ‘cultural life’, what they’d like to see happen as part of the city of culture in 2013, and also say what their favourite place is in the city.

So, make sure you take part and have a say in what you love about Birmingham, and equally what you want to see come out of the City of Culture Title.

FYI – The winner of the UK City of Culture is being announced by the Culture Secretary, Ben Bradshaw, next summer.


I love a bit of ‘touchy feely’…

8 12 2009

Don’t engage your dirty minds for this title… I’m talking about art. I realised that I hadn’t blogged about this yet so thought I’d do a quick post about the amazing exhibition ‘Pop: Jann Haworth’ that I’m working on.


The exhibition, which is open at Wolverhampton Art Gallery until 10 April 2010, is by the American artist Jann Haworth. It features a range of her work from the 60’s to the present day, including her infamous sewn-cloth sculptures and doughnuts. Jann is best-known for designing the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper LP (yes, that infamous cover) with her then-husband Peter Blake, but in actual fact Jann’s legacy is much more than that. Her ‘Old Lady’ sculpture, which features on the cover, is part of the exhibition though!

‘Donuts, Coffee Cups and Comics’

I went to see ‘Pop: Jann Haworth’ just before it opened to the public and I was amazed. I had already seen pictures of her work but nothing compared to seeing the oversized charm bracelets (and by over-sized, I mean huge) and old man ‘Frank’ in real life. Jann’s work is a direct representation of the influences in her life, especially the set of doughnut works, which represent her struggle to adapt to British lifestyle after moving here from America.


I’ve included some pictures, which were taken by the fantastic Lee Allen, but if you get a chance to go over to Wolverhampton do… it’s such a great exhibition. But if you’re like me and love to touch things, I’d take a friend to restrain you because all you want to do is pick things up and play with them.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: I’ve written a nice piece on the exhibition for the next issue of Art of England.

An ‘Electric’ Institution

4 12 2009

It has been another busy week in the life of Tara with lots of events going on… seemingly the start of the Christmas Party season! On Wednesday night I went to the Electric Cinema’s Centenary Celebrations and it was an absolutely amazing night.

For those of you that don’t know Tom Lawes, the owner, he’s a real character; so passionate about the cinema and what he does. He put on a fantastic night, with an amazing This-Is-Your-Life-come-Parky presentation, complete with video footage and live interviews. He even had an organist to accompany the old footage and movies.

It was so interesting to see and hear – from people who were there – how the cinema has survived the past 100 years, despite all the name changes and structural alterations. The most interesting was how the decline of the British Film Industry meant the cinema started showing XXX movies to survive.

Listening to its history and seeing how Tom has transformed it made me realise what an institution the Electric Cinema is and how Birmingham should be proud of it. We should all be celebrating the cinema and helping it survive the next 100 years…

And if you’re interested in seeing the presentation, keep your eyes peeled for the new Electric website, which is coming early next year, as I think Tom is creating a documentary about the cinema.

Anyway, I’m off to book some film screenings… sorry Orange Wednesdays, I choose the boutique cinema with waiter service any day!

Bonjour… kiss me quick

7 02 2009

I was watching QI last night, getting my daily Stephen Fry fix, and they raised the subject of continental kissing and how many times you should kiss in France. The answer to this is, in fact, between 1 and 5 times! Confused? Me too! So I decided to share this kissing map with you all, so you’ll never be caught short when taking a trip across the channel!

French Kissing