Issue 302
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Your city will never look quite the same as it looks right now. Cranes will come and libraries will go. Sunlight will become moonlight. And as certain as the changing seasons, the faces and places that define Birmingham will evolve. To mark the here and the now, West Midlands Photography Collective has launched an exhibition of 25 images, all captured by local photographers in 2019, picked out from 866 submissions. We spoke to the snappers behind four of our favourites and asked them for their reflections on the city.
Pete Davies: If cities were rock stars, Birmingham would doubtless be David Bowie — reinventing itself time after time.

I’m proud to be an adopted Brummie, having moved here for work back in 1989.
The claret and blue Nechells gasometers have a historic place in the city, but having been decommissioned for ten years, may well be dismantled very soon. I love their colours and when there’s a standout sunset, they are an irresistible photographic subject.
Dean Holland: The city has a huge sense of identity and has retained that despite all the changes brought by the modern age. There is a collective pride in living in Birmingham that, for me, really shines through as I walk the streets.

I chose this particular image, captured on Corporation Street, as it has a frenetic feeling energy and that spirit which defines our city.
Kris Askey: I've been photographing Birmingham for about six years and even though that doesn’t seem like a massive amount of time, I’ve noticed so much in my older photos that present a time in the city which is no more. Places change within months rather than years here and I think people will look back on this period with hazy memories, struggling to remember what new developments even replaced.

I used to love how rich with footfall areas like Paradise Forum and Centenary Square were. It’s taken a long time but it’s really great to see the square start to get some attention again, with kids playing and people living in and around it. I've photographed the area a number of times but what I particularly like about this shot is that even though the space is complete and fully in use, the other side of the road remains a building site in progress — a familiar story in Brum.
Tom Brook: Birmingham is the best it's ever been right now. I'm away at uni for much of the year but every time I come home there's a new business or building for me to see and to photograph.

Like Kris, I was checking out Centenary Square because of the works that had recently been completed. I initially went up to the balcony of the city library to see if I could get a decent angle of the new water feature, but instead found myself looking for shots showing the shadows cast by the large white poles spread throughout that feature [you can see the poles in Kris' shot above]. Once I had found the composition it was just a matter of waiting for the right person to come along. I couldn't believe my luck when I saw someone wheelie-ing through the frame. That's Birmingham for you.
Birmingham Now, Before Then is free and findable at The Lansdowne until Nov 3.


Doing exactly what it says on the tin, The Future of Society Festival gets to grips with how our lives are impacted by the changing political landscape, developments in communication and the nature of the jobs we do. We’re using our adult voices here, if you can’t tell. Birmingham Strikes Back answers the big questions about everyone's favourite sci-fi franchise: what does Star Wars tell us about the nature of political resistance, the usurping of an empire and the practicalities of a planet orbiting two suns? Woah. You also have an opportunity to Build Your Own Bond Film with a panel of experts who'll evaluate the political implications of the super-spy series, while supping down a martini, presumably. From Nov 2 to 9, the free festival is taking place across the city. Preview vid


There are two kinds of people in this world: dog people, and dog people who don’t mind having their faces licked. Whilst we’re firmly in the camp of the former, perhaps it’s because we simply haven’t met the right pup yet. Fingers crossed tight, that’ll be changing soon as the Pup Up Café pops up in Solihull. Rather than having to graft for a smidge of attention from snooty felines, here you get the chance to chew the fat with up to fifty hounds in each session, with unlimited puppocinos for the bafflingly elongated champs themselves. Just don’t think about turning up with your handbag shih tzu: this event is exclusively for the mighty dachshund, doing how dachshunds do. On November 3, B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Dog) tickets are £8, while it's £10 for solo humans.


What do Judy Garland, The Beatles and Frank Sinatra all have in common, other than a rather decent record in records? All three performed at Birmingham Hippodrome, which, it turns out started life 120 years ago as the Tower of Varieties and Circus. To celebrate their big birthday, the Hippodrome is winding all the way back to its beginnings with performances of Circus 1903 from October 25 through to November 2. Touted as The Greatest Showman meets War Horse, it'll fill the stage with high-wire acrobats, people literally bent over backwards and trapeze artists. You'll also spot the kind of action you rightly don’t see at a modern-day circus anymore: life-sized elephants, which have not jumped the fences of Twycross but been designed by that clever lot of puppet makers behind War Horse. And while you're getting eyes on the show, check out a new sculpture commissioned as part of the birthday big-up. Tickets to Circus 1903 (from £15.50)
Venue: Stickie Fingers, Unit 20, Custard Factory, Gibb Street, B9 4DT; website
Choice: The Deli Crepe (£5) Chooser: Naomi O’Connor, owner

If you like big portions, retro flavours and oodles of toppings, add pancake palace, Stickie Fingers, to the list. Dealing in waffles, doughnuts, shakes and crepes as well as their signature stacks, the Custard Factory newbie has got pudding pedigree, with the owner previously running an ice-cream parlour in The People's Republic of Harborne. Doing dinner in reverse, we started with dessert and were rewarded with a pile of
pancakes stuffed with Oreos (£6.45), covered in chocolate sauce and ice-cream. You can choose a black forest combo or even something akin to a Jaffa Cake but for us, it was an all American beginning, and a grin-making one at that. From immense pleasure to a crushing fear of the inevitable sugar crash, we moved swiftly to savoury for our next stop, and The Deli. A crepe loaded up with pastrami, pickles and cheese, the salty, melty goodness had us starting to wonder if the French and their stylish thin pancake parcels, had maybe got it right after all. In an E-number haze, we veered between the siren calls of the Snickers milkshake (£4.50) and the tempting goodness of the Very Berry juice (from £3). Ultimately opting for the latter, we snagged one of the team’s childhood-covered, baked doughnuts (£1.85) to ensure a regretless evening. Open in the day Tuesday to Sunday and serving until 8pm Fridays and Saturdays. Sample menu
Lunchy sort of spot, Salad Box opened yesterday. The franchise — which is the biggest of deals in Romania, where it began — is giving away 50 salads from 12.30pm today. 
Artists, scientists and microbots are three things you'll find at Thinktank's latest late opener. From 7pm on October 24, the event is free but you'll need to book a ticket.
We're breaching the city's walls in search of The Cyclone and The Torrent: two of the rides at Coventry's brand-spanking-new indoor waterpark, The Wave. Opening Monday.
See the world’s top emerging contemporary dancers in a mixed bill of moves at The Patrick Studio on October 30 or 31. Tickets for Rambert 2 are £14.
The latest addition to Damascena's happy Brum empire officially opens in the JQ on Friday. Number 15, Warstone Lane is where you're heading.
The Book of Mormon is Brum-bound. Tickets go on sale on Tuesday at 10am for the March 2020 Spooky Mormon Hell Dreams.

"It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs. I’ve outrun Imperial starships. Not the local bulk cruisers, mind you. I’m talking about the big Corellian ships, now. She’s fast enough for you, old man."

Han Solo

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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Robb Sheppard. Jo Murch
PICTURES: Aaron Ackling (West Mids Photos, top)

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