Some interesting things have come to my attention that are beyond the Digbeth borders (yes, I do occasionally look beyond them). Here are a few:
Above is Pete Ashton’s lovely ‘Through the Viewfinder’ picture of the sad, neglected Curzon Street Station, which as Pete rightly says, ‘seems such a waste, sitting there in the middle of nowhere like an old man abandoned by the next generation, or something.’ Pete’s post touches on the whys and wherefores of the council seeing fit to watch their pennies and board the place up rather than allowing interesting things to happen there and concludes that ‘something needs to be done’.
Too right, and if the current owners don’t have the means to do anything with it or allow others do so….how’s about just moving in and taking things over in the style of Dan Simon’s London Oubliette? This isn’t squatting, mind. Oh no: ‘They are using the enormous empty space to run what they refer to as an “artshouse”, an independent cultural organisation called the Oubliette (“the dungeon” in French), which aims to support the arts without the need for public or private sector funding.’ Right then, where did I leave my crowbar…?
No, not the big-eared baby elephant. Helga Henry has flagged up the rather brilliant dumbonyc.com, a site for the New York neighbourhood where ‘these old factories have been converted into luxury lofts and old warehouses into art galleries and theaters….Dumbo is not quite Brooklyn brownstone and not quite Manhattan glass condo. With its exposed Belgian block streets anchored by massive bridge structures, Dumbo has a unique character all its own.’
Sound familiar? Yep, Helga thought so too and already has ‘a whole Birmingham/Brooklyn and Digbeth/Dumbo comparison thing going on in my head.’ By far the best thing about Dumbo is, of course, its name, which ‘was conceived by resident artists as a way to make the area sound silly and unattractive to people looking to buy real estate here.’ Is that all we need to do to guard against the over-gentrification of Digbeth? Give it a slightly silly name? Suggestions in the comments box, please…
Chris Unitt discovered Grand Opening, I’m guessing whilst doing some research for the now-open Created in Birmingham shop in The Bullring. Grand Opening, another one from New York, ‘create interactive stores and events that get public attention and engage the community’. They take over stores for about 6 weeks and theme them up beyond recognition, turning them into environments that range from a wedding chapel to a drive-in cinema. Let’s face it, the empty shell of the now-closed Cocoon store on the High Street will need something pretty spectacular to fill the latex shoes they left behind. Perhaps we take a leaf out of Grand Opening’s book and turn it into something extra special.