Meet the team

Meet the artists

Cathy Wade

As an artist, this project is especially significant to Cathy (as it is very rare to work onsomething so close to home). Dreaming Tower Ballroom gives an opportunity to look at an area that we see daily in a totally different way. Over the summer the reservoir has been open to everyone, continuing the ballroom's legacy as a place for bringing people together. Reflecting on this use of space has informed Cathy's approach to making a response to the recent present onsite.
Wade brings to this work their knowledge of projects in the public realm to explore what we share in the city spaces we inhabit. For Cathy, the fast-evolving presence and identity of the tower mean it is even more important that the area and its history are recorded through practice that is open to collaboration and conversation.
After coming to Birmingham in the early 2000's, Cathy has been engaged in contemporary arts both within the city and beyond. This makes Dreaming Tower Ballroom all the more important, as it talks with a community that is both local and diverse with their lived experience. Dreaming Tower Ballroom's core element being exploring people's experiences of this area, activating a space to reflect on a site that is common to us all and has many stories to tell.

Marley Starskey Butler

Marley is both an artist and a social worker, who would describe himself as curious and empathetic. He grew up in Wolverhampton, close to Birmingham, and lived in Derby for a while where he met one of our team Gavin. In 2013, he moved to Birmingham and has stayed here ever since. Through his connection to Gavin, he also got to meet Iris. When he took a portrait of Iris, they started chatting and ended up talking about the ‘Dreaming Tower Ballroom’ project
He is currently working on a few pieces for the ‘Dreaming Tower Ballroom’ project: firstly, responding to the Tower Ballroom in any creative way he wants to; secondly, to produce a film together with the historian Carl Chinn – Marley himself is working on the soundtrack for this film; and finally, he is working on a sound-piece by collecting noises and music from videos and audios recorded from within the Tower Ballroom. He has managed to source plenty of material, mainly from 1983-2017, which will be included in his projects. This material, which he shared with the team, also served as inspiration to other artists on the team – the goal of the movie is to inspire many more people by the Tower Ballroom.
One of his favourite experiences so far as part of the team was being paired up with Rebecca Hardy, as he feels their artistic work crosses over in quite a few areas, so they get along well as artists but also as people. Through this project, he is hoping to widen his artistic horizon as well as gain experience in commissions.

Sharon Kaur Sutton

Sharon was born and raised in Birmingham and attended the school next door to the Reservoir/ Tower Ballroom, so knows the area well. Sharon now works as a graphic designer. Right now, she works for the Central Learning Partnership Trust in Wolverhampton as a graphic designer, creating leaflets and posters for schools.
As part of the ‘Dreaming Tower Ballroom’ project, she also works as a graphic designer and has made the website into what it is now. Even though she had lived in the area, she was not too familiar with its history, but got to learn more about it through Gavin. By becoming part of the project, she has learned much more about its history. She believes that preserving memories is important and that certain physical structures, such as the Tower Ballroom, are important in carrying those memories – they continue those traditions and create new ones. The psychological impact buildings and certain places have is also of interest to her.
It has been incredibly interesting to her to discover how important this place actually was to a lot of people – especially to see how many people got married there. Another thing that she appreciates as part of the project was working with other artists and seeing how other people view the same project but from different angles and manage to create something different from it.

Vik Chandla

Vik is a multidisciplinary artist, designer and activist from the Black Country with a passion for politics, social justice and environment.
He has been heavily involved in the Stop HS2 campaign, resisting the colonisation of Birmingham by London, and the inevitable gentrification of working class spaces.
For the Dreaming Tower Ballroom Project Vik was drawn to the past and present visuals of the building, and the memories that they hold. From the purple hues, to the green palm trees to the current graffiti sprayed onto the facade.
He has been forging a refreshed identity in response to the stories collected and archival imagery. This has involved a re-brand and designing a mural to celebrate the rich and divergent narratives that have shaped the story of the legendary working class venue.

Jennifer Thomas

Born on a street next to the Reservoir/ Tower Ballroom. Art has always been an important part of Jennifer’s life , especially after leaving her career in sales to pursue her love of art. This love of art is a huge part of Jennifer’s life, with her strongly believing in the importance of art for art's sake rather than it being commercialised. Jennifer has worked within the arts sector in a number of ways, having done community research for the University of Birmingham as well as having taught disabled adults arts in Hockley day centre. Much of her job centres around working around communities, mainly being focused on those in Birmingham.
As a visual artist on the project, her connection to Birmingham makes this project especially important to her, with her growing up on a road just across from the reservoir, describing the Tower Ballroom as her “playground” when she was younger. In her past work she has travelled all over the world, but remains a true Brummie at heart, and believes that it is the most international place in the world in terms of culture, language and in the connections that people can make.
Jennifer also believes that it is extremely important that everyone should be able to have access to ways to develop skills such as those that she has. She believes that art isn't what should be in the Ladywood are, and has started to question why this is the case, as she believes that everyone should be given the opportunity to make art or use it as a form of expression.

Simone Smith

Simone thinks of herself as a vibrant and connected person who likes to try and view things in a different light than maybe most other people. She currently owns a business that provides different companies with greeting cards, and while she tries to find the right words, her sister is in charge of the artwork that comes with them.
Born and raised in Birmingham, she has always felt that the city does not get the appreciation it deserves. She left to go to university in Nottingham, but Birmingham has always been part of her heart her whole life and it is still the place that she truly considers home. Now, as part of the ‘Dreaming Tower Ballroom’ project as well, she creates beautiful poetry in both written as well as spoken form. Poetry can often feel intimidating and elite, so Simone prefers to write poetry that is more accessible and can be understood by many people, without taking away from the artistic and imagery aspect of it all.
She initially became part of the project through Iris and tries to give life to untold stories with her poetry now. She knew a bit about the Tower Ballroom beforehand, She herself also had memories of being a wedding guest in the Tower Ballroom, but through being part of the project, she realised that nearly everyone she knows has a connection to the Tower Ballroom.
She said she is really grateful for the perspective she has gained from being part of this project, as she feels it gave her a deeper understanding of Birmingham and her roots. Everything seems to connect to the Tower Ballroom. The ‘Dreaming Tower Ballroom’ has enabled her to get a new perspective.

Gavin Rogers

Gavin is an artist working on the project. Living so close to the Tower Ballroom, Gavin was one of the original people to become involved in the project, after chatting to Iris on a park bench by the Tower Ballroom.
Because he lives close to the Reservoir Gavin walks around it most days, and gets to hear a variety of stories from people who have lived in the area, in particular those who have their own memories about the Tower Ballroom and the reservoir as well. Being able to engage with the community is one of his favourite aspects about this project. Because of this, he is currently working on realising a project about listening and observing. He believes that artists are able to showcase other people’s potentials and voices, and that they can act as translators of feelings into something tangible. For the first time, he truly feels like he is part of a team that is not afraid to speak up for each other. He enjoys that, in this environment, he gets to feel like an individual within the team rather than just a participant.
Gavin described himself as a dreamer, and he said that while he loves to spend time thinking about how things could be, he also sees this as a bit of a challenge. One of his dreams for the future is for the Tower Ballroom to be recognised for its importance within the Birmingham community, and for it to become protected or reimagined in some way.

Rebecca Hardy

Rebecca has worked as an indie filmmaker and digital practitioner for over 20 years and specialises in producing short films, promo’s and web series. She has worked for some of the UK’s top industry organisations including BAFTA, Royal Television Society, Channel 4 and the BBC. Her most recent work includes the Behind the Scenes programme for Netflix’s hit drama Sex Education, which currently has nearly 1.4 million YouTube views. Her notable Industry recognitions includes four global accolade film competition awards, Indie Film Fest Awards and Royal Television Society Awards (central) nominee 2014, 2015.
For Dreaming Tower Ballroom Rebecca has made a Tower Memory Arcade Video shares the memories of people who attended, supported and enjoyed the Tower Ballroom in Birmingham.
The digital video features a showcase of graphics, photographs, video footage in a fun experimental arcade style format. By passing from level to level, game to game, the audience gets chance to experience a time vortex of feelings, events and emotions from the Tower Ballroom, past to present.

Our artists are currently busy making work for the Tower Ballroom project, which will appear here soon. For now check out the rest of our amazing team

Iris Bertz

Director, Bertz Associates

Iris Bertz , the director on the Dreaming Tower Ballroom project describes her job as organising and setting up different projects, as well as creating connections within cultural business relationships. But at the bottom of this, Iris is an artist, with her work on the projects she does still involving making in many ways.
On this project, Iris’ role primarily consists of co-ordinating, expanding and keeping an overall view of the project, as well as connecting the project to different areas, as well as outside of the art world, to connect it to people outside of the arts sector.Iris moved to Birmingham 10 years ago, after studying in Wolverhampton. She loves Birmingham’s diversity and the idea that Birmingham is often considered as unassuming, and often as unmapped in terms of its identity.
Iris’ initial interest in this project was piqued by her walks around the reservoir with Gavin, one of the artists on the project as well as her curiosity for the area and for local history. She really wanted to discover the uncelebrated stories of the area, and after floating the idea with people around the reservoir the interest in the project was clear.
Due to the location of this project it is especially unique, as it is in Iris’ locality, which made opening the project up to the community even more significant. Luckily, this is one of her projects that lends itself to being accessible, making it ideal for these testing times. Despite the restrictions that the virus has placed on the project, Iris sees this as only the beginning, as once restrictions ease, there is so much more that can be discovered to further develop this amazing project.

Sam Narr

Creative/ PR

Sam is a young British Asian business owner, who was raised in and by Birmingham. He lived in other cities, such as London and Nottingham, for a few years, but due to his heritage, Birmingham has always had a hold on him. There are many places in Birmingham which seem to tie in with his family or heritage, and he is interested in finding out what those ties and the history behind the city is. His university career in philosophy and media studies gave him insight into a variety of different areas, and also after that, he worked in various different fields, such as retail, food shelters and fashion agencies. Eventually, he decided he wanted his work to be purpose-driven and more flexible, so he now owns his own agency.
At the time the project was just starting, he was interested in the history of council housing and he found many similarities between that and the history of the Tower Ballroom; both of them were originally intended as community spaces, with a purpose of serving the community. Looking into the history of the Tower Ballroom, it felt to him like its downfall started when people were trying to make money from it and no longer saw it as a community hotspot. The Tower Ballroom is not just a building, but it contains a lot of memories that would be knocked down along with the building if it were to be destroyed. Like so many other locals, he was aware of the Tower Ballroom but not of its history. This particular building serves as a good example that it becomes interesting once you study it and read about its history, but due to the influence of our fast-paced society and social media, our attention span has become significantly lower. Sam would like to figure out how to possibly slow each other down a bit more so that we can take the time to understand where we’re coming from.
Through his role as PR agent on the ‘Dreaming Tower Ballroom’ project, he is aiming to bring individual stories to newspapers and hopefully to more people, who will realise how important the Tower Ballroom is not only to themselves but also the community and city of Birmingham. He wants to find a way to make people listen to stories, even in our current climate.
Born and raised in Ladywood, Mac Joseph is now retired but has contributed greatly to preserving the history of the area surrounding the Edgbaston Reservoir. When he was younger, he spent a lot of time near the Tower Ballroom, and also inside of it as he got older. The area is important to him and he has been heavily involved in Ladywood and its history for decades now. He remembers getting very interested particularly in the 1990s, but even before then, he found the area fascinating, and in 2001, he started the Old Ladywood website ( When he launched his website, he received a message from a lady living in Los Angeles who had been born in Ladywood, and it showed how much the area meant to people, even after moving away.
He was introduced to the ‘Dreaming Tower Ballroom’ project through Iris Bertz and Carl Chinn. Carl approached him, knowing that Mac owned a lot of memorabilia to do with the Tower Ballroom and the general area. After fostering affections for the area for so many years, it seemed like a natural next step to get involved in this project. As someone who believes that it is important to preserve all sorts of memories in the Ladywood and Birmingham area, he hopes to obtain even more memories and quotes from people who have been to the Tower Ballroom and the Edgbaston Reservoir before it is possibly demolished and/or replaced. When asked about his favourite experience as part of the project team, Mac said it is probably that he gets to meet many like minded people who share his enthusiasm about the Tower Ballroom.

Paige Jackson

Producer, Bertz Associates

YiAnn Kok

Arts Education

Carl Chinn


Sam Lockyer


Sarah Wilks

Curator in Resident

(UoB Placement)

Sarah Wilks is a student at the University of Birmingham, currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in History. If she could use three words to describe herself, she would use inquisitive, positive and curious. She is involved in the Dreaming Tower Ballroom project as a curator in residence. Never having been to Birmingham before coming here to study, Sarah wanted to get involved in this project because she believes it is important to know about the history and culture of the area you live in.
This project combined this interest with her desire to understand her future career goals by having an internship related to her current degree. Sarah has been working with the team on the social media campaign – finding a good time for specific posts to be uploaded and coming up with fresh and innovative ways to connect with people online.

Marlene Anzengruber

Writer in Resident

(UoB Placement)

Marlene Anzengruber is a student at the University of Birmingham, studying English and Creative Writing (BA). After taking a gap year in the UK, working as an au pair, she took the decision to continue her studying here, with Birmingham’s links to Shakespeare making it an even more apt location for an English student.
After discovering this project through the University of Birmingham , Marlene wanted to learn more about working in this field, as well as wanting to learn more about Birmingham and its people. This project has also given Marlene the opportunity to experiment with her writing. As well as writing some beautiful short stories for the project, she has also written some poetry, ( all of which will be released soon!) something which she doesn't often do, allowing her to explore her writing process further.