Issue 245
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If you search "Birmingham" on Instagram, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Selfridges and the BT Tower sum up the city, and that the sky is consistently bluer than Papa Smurf's pool parties. For a different, and quite possibly more beautiful perspective, may we point you in the direction of Andy Smart, a Digbethite photographer who actively looks in the opposite direction.
Andy's attachment to photography started with an A-Level in art and big interest in the city's graffiti. Feeling like "everyman and his dog" bought a camera at the same time he did, Andy quickly gravitated towards searching out the pictures that no one else had got. "When you first get into it, everybody just goes and takes pictures of the Bullring. But I can't think of anything less appealing to photograph these days: how many photos of the same thing can you take?" In contrast to the usual canal shots, Andy headed under the M6, the dodgy end, for his waterway hit. "It was such a still day, the reflections were just incredible and I'm really into that post-industrial, concrete jungle feel which you find in so much of Birmingham."
Spending all available Sundays and holidays wandering solo with his camera, one weekend Andy spotted that the gates to Bordesley station were open and immediately headed in. Though there's a really interesting view of the city skyline from the site, Andy shot the other way. "I've always loved that tower block." While everyone focusses on the so-called pretty things in the city, for Andy, it's the tower that's the truly pretty thing — "people live there, this is what the city's made of — real people. Plus there was some nice, dirty graffiti of course."
From the surreal to the even more surreal, when Andy spotted this ethereal-looking ad on the side of a sex shop, he had to shoot it — "I walk through Digbeth every day, and yet it feels ignored by photographers". On the subject of the now demolished Monaco House (pictured top), Andy's love of the crumbling down, industrial really comes through: "It's one of those buildings that made your draw drop — huge and imposing and totally ugly, but at the same time so beautiful". Andy walked past one Sunday and realised the whole thing was torn in half, revealing walls that no one would have seen apart from the people that painted them. "I only get shots like that by going solo. I made some great friends shooting with other photographers but it felt like people ended up taking the same pictures." On the same day Andy captured the "Battenberg-like" Monaco House, vandals smashed all the windows, the police boarded up the property, and it was never seen quite like this again.
Andy's eye extends to making roads look entirely incredible, and by golly he likes the A38. "It's such a wonderful piece of construction — this great big hulking slab of concrete that snakes its way through the city." Talking urban lines and textures, this is an image Andy is rightly proud of. "I like how segmented the shot is, with the flash of green at the bottom." And next up? Andy can't wait to get out to Sparkbrook, Sparkhill and Smethwick, "that's what I'm going to do with my holiday — there are some incredible buildings that no one seems to be shooting." Space, watched.


Getting to the Michelin heights of Maaemo (3 star), Le Manoir (2 star) and Dabbous (1 star) would have been a serious challenge (even before Dabbous closed to become Hide). Significantly less of a challenge is getting to a supper club with James Goodyear, who has worked at all three of the whizz-bang restaurants. Taking place over two weekends in September, the twelve-seat-only-suppers are also your excuse to get into Manor Cottage, the beaut new property in Hampton Manor's arsenal that you usually need to hire to get inside. The four-course menu will be inspired by the ever-growing walled garden you'll be eating within. Your spot also includes snacks and a drink on arrival from Loic Cretel, Hampton's bar manager, who will be staying for the evening to make sure you're looked after on liquids. It's £65 to get your seat, with a choice of nine September dates. Talk providence and technique with chef between courses, or take advantage of the cottage's good looking lounge and gardens if that's more your thing. Either way, book here. And if you can't currently get the table-size you're after, do join the waiting list.
Venue: Louisa Ellis at Harvey Nichols, Mailbox, B1 1RE; website
Choice: Crab, algae, radish (£75 for 5-courses) Chooser: Waiter

Louisa Ellis — you recognise the name because of Masterchef: The Professionals. And while you can't find her at former
Wilderness home anymore, she's now a private chef who will come to you. We tried Louisa's food while she was ever so politely bossing the kitchen — and an army of staff — at Harvey Nichols, for five-courses of Japanesey flavours mixed with proper British ingredients. From the tuna tartare snack to the banana, yuzu and peanut finish, this was a fresh menu, all about balancing contrasts and textures. The very best example of this came through a white crab meat dish using a lemon mayo and grapefruit for zing, pickled daikon and radish for bite, plus salty algae powder and crispy chicken skin for the all-important, ever so technical, BLOODY HELL THAT TASTES GOOD factor. The relatively simple looking dish got a little bit more exquisite with each bite, and you should totally cajole Louisa into putting it on the menu should you secure her big, adventuring talent for a night of private cheffing at your gaff. You old smoothy. The deets


How many sequels has Denzel Washington appeared in across his entire career? The correct answer is one. And you can see it for £10, the day before it comes out, in the stretch-those-legs-out Everyman Cinema, popcorn included. The Equalizer 2 is an unapologetic vigilante barnstormer and the fourth outing for D-dubya and director Antoine Fuqua — the actually magnificent Magnificent 7 being their most recent collabo. Watch it for the ever so reasonable price at 7.30pm on Thursday, August 16. Tickets & trailer


The Soho Loop is where you'll find Ming de Nasty's latest photographic exhibition — a series of portraits of female refugees. In terms of how you find it, a converted narrowboat with Ikon as captain is our recommended mode of transport. After you've done your arting, get feasting, in a super-secret waterside spot. Expect the wild flavours of Brum’s canals, and local ingredients, to create a veggie menu in four-parts, including dishes like charred cauliflower with rose petal dressing and foraged herbs, plus a tipple or two. On Aug 26, tickets are £35.
Harborne's first night market is this Friday and starts at a rather early-to-bed-sounding 3pm. Catch Koba-Ko Ramen, Patty Freaks and stalls that sell stuff at The New Inn.
Comedy Tartuffe was first performed in 1664. See the 2018 version by BAFTA and Emmy-Award winning writers, Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto (The Office, Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars at No. 42) at the RSC.
There's a Peaky Blinders Festival coming to Edgbaston. Naaah, not really, it's in Digbeth. September 29 and 30 is the when. Live boxing, shoe shining and vintage fairground rides are some of the what.

Talk about dinosaurs, under a dinosaur. Join palaeontologist Dean Lomax, and Dippy at BMAG on August 23. Tickets are £7.

This Saturday is DDC's big street food battle with That London. Some final release tickets are available, and there's a map so you can plot your day. Until 10pm.

In huge news, we won't see you next week, because you know, holidays. But we'll be right back in your inbox on August 23. Stay hydrated, Birmingham.

"Speak softly, but carry a big can of paint."

Banksy, Wall and Piece

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WORDS: Katy Drohan
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