BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘street art’

#365daysofbiking A ghost of a chance

Thursday April 1st 2021 – Riding home late afternoon, I spotted this amusing tribute to science by local street artist Ghost on a canalside wall in Pleck, Walsall. It’s beautifully executed, and marks a trend of the pandemic often inspiring street art. I think if covid has done anything positive, it seems to have engaged street art and counterculture in a way that current affairs have generally failed to do for two decades.

But that’s a bit of a side issue. This post was suck in draft from April until Christmas because I was so undecided what to do with this journal. As I noted in my last post, I was tired, and ill. And not able to raise the energy to continue it at the time with the passion it needed. So I entered three quarters of a year of writers and creative block.

The reason for April 1st being significant is that on this day in 2011, I started this journal as part of the worldwide #30daysofbiking project, prodded into taking part by fellow utility cyclist and top Dutchperson Rene Van Baar on Twitter. 30Days was a commitment to ride every day of April. It still happens, and one thing that’s always amused me is that the organisers over in the US, upon hearing that I just carried the project on for years, showed nothing but indifference. I never quite worked that out.

I didn’t quite do a decade continuously though, over new year the following Christmas I missed two days due to a really nasty bout of food poisoning – but other than that, I rode every single day for a decade, and documented every day with a photo post (or occasionally, a bit of video). I’m proud of that. There are a lot of words in the archive. A lot of images; a lot of my life, and this area as well as others I visited along the way.

My first post was matter of fact, and terse. It took me a month to develop my style. You can read it here.

Since then there have been 6,955 entries, and somewhere around 11,000 media items – mostly images, but around 70 videos and even the odd bit of audio.

So with all that behind me, where am I going now?

…Nowhere, that’s where.

I’m just going to post when I have something to share. So it’s be less frequent, but I will be aided by a riding companion whom many of you will already be familiar with, who deserves a voice and to be heard too.

This means hopefully there will be less filler, and more passion. I think you’ll prefer it in the long run, And it’ll be easier for me to keep up.

One thing that has changed in recent years is street photography has got really hard. Nobody used to bat an eye if they saw you with a camera. These days, you get noticed. Curtains twitch. People ask what you’re doing. You half expect to be on the local neighbourhood watch group as a suspicious individual. So the new format will be probably more picturesque stuff I think.

I find that a bit sad but it’s the way the world is at the moment.

So, are you coming with me? Let’s ride into the blue together… Hopefully it’ll stop raining soon.

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#365daysofbiking Pieces of the night

April 18th – I took a ride down the McLean Way – the cycleway that runs down the old South Staffordshire railway line through Brownhills, being converted by Brian Stringer and pals from Back the track.

From what was a rubbish filled cutting, I must say the volunteers have done very well. It’s a credit to them and their hard graft.

What I’m liking also is the work of the graffiti writers who ply their trade at night under the A5 bridge. There is some seriously impressive artwork down there.

It’s great to see such affection for the NHS too.

Clearly a very talented artist.

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#365daysofbiking Off the wall

February 19th – I don’t find myself in Digbeth much these days, but on my return from Sparkhill I had a quick spin around the Custard Factory and creative quarter to admire the street art and giggle at the hipsters.

When the Custard Factory opened as an arts Centre in the 90s it had a very slow start, but over the subsequent three decades it’s developed an inertia and community of it’s own, with businesses here selling vintage and fashion clothes, art, art materials and all kinds of stuff like that – punctuated by fashionable cafes and business places for startups.

The art here is indeed stunning and the atmosphere fascinating and engaging. It’s like a world within, encased as it is in industrial, backstreet Birmingham. The surrounding grit seems to reinforce the impression of a down at heel but humming artist’s quarter.

Another place I must return to when I have time.

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#365daysofbiking Where it Itchers

June 21st – Returning in the half light interregnum between day and night, I passed through Brownhills to get a takeaway.

Passing the cut through between High Street and Short Street, I noticed the street art stencil artwork by Birmingham artist Itchers – and it occurred that in the six months or so that it had been here, I hadn’t featured it.

Painted on the side of Archers Florist, it’s much loved and the work of a clever, talented and witty artist.

Can’t think why I haven’t featured it before.

This journal is moving home. Find out more by clicking here.

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#365daysofbiking Baby, that’s neat

June 5th – I’ve been passing by this graffiti – if one can call it that – for weeks and only recently realised what it is.

I have no idea of the purpose or intent, but it’s very neat.

A baby, in the womb, on an otherwise unremarkable wall between Victoria Terrace and the shops on Lichfield Road, Walsall, just by the Mellish Road island in the Butts.

I really, really like it and would love to know more…

This journal is moving home. Find out more by clicking here.

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June 10th – On the previous Friday, I got the taste for Birmingham and it’s canals again, so I headed up to Wolverhampton on the cut and back down the old line through Tipton into the city centre. 

As ever, the sheer vibrancy of this environment – that many would condemn as ugly – was stunning. From the wildlife to the flowers, the discarded dreams in the scrapyard, the geese and herons and all in-between were a joy. I love the seamless continuity of the upper side of the Engine Arm Aqueduct, although you’d be hard pressed to realise the glamorous structure below.

Much of the main line I rode had been resurfaced – and although it needs sweeping badly due to loose gravel – the riding is very good indeed.

Had to smile at the gull that looked like it was concealing a weapon.

A fantastic urban ride. The weather really is spoiling me at the moment.

June 8th – A lovely evening after a grey, dull day so I fell out of work and hit the canals into Birmingham, then over Sandwell Valley Park to Smethwick, then back through the City Centre, a curry in Aston and home.

The summer really is excellent this year, I must say, and in the unexpectedly golden evening, the canals, city and park glowed beautifully and were beautiful and vibrant. 

I don’t think I’d rather live anywhere else as long as all this is just a short ride away.

October 21st – A free afternoon in Birmingham was fun, rooting around the markets for fruit, veg, shellfish and other treats. On the fruit market itself, one stallholder only selling melons stored his rather lovely Orbea road bike in an innovative way I had to admire.

Also admiring was the young musician, guitar case in hand, photographing the wonderful Bowie artwork by Anna Tomix near the Smallbrook Queensway bridge. I think David Jones would approve of that imagery.

An afternoon in Brum is never wasted. And the shellfish was superb.

September 17th – Unusually, I had to visit a supplier in Wolverhampton late in the afternoon. With a strong wind blowing from the west, it was a fun, easy ride home along the canal, which I picked up near Horseley Fields on the Ring Road. 

I notice 540 Degrees, the cat-loving street artist whose work I’ve spotted before has been to Wolverhampton. I know I shouldn’t, but I do like his work.

January 13th – I was grumbling uphill in Bradford Street, Walsall, and a piece of fresh graffiti art caught my eye. In light of the recent grumbles I’ve been having about the weather, it seemed like a message from fate.

In the last couple of days I had a message from a good friend and reader of this journal ‘Stop moaning about the rain!’

I shall try, promise. There’s always hope, after all.