Marley Starskey Butler
A moving image piece by artist Marley Starskey Butler. Found sounds of crowds from within the Birmingham Tower Ballroom in the last three decades, juxtaposed with fragments of the Tower and surrounding areas current textures and detritus. This piece connects the diverse voices that have expressed themselves within the tower's walls. Walls that housed the culture, community, and spirit that humans brought to it.
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. A Tower Ballroom branding pack will be available here soon. Keep checking for updates.
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.
A digital publication which documents observations from a park bench nearby the Tower. The work hopes to raise awareness of the unnoticed uses of the Ballroom at present, in its closed down state. This work is about resilience, escape and listening. Three areas that has become increasingly important in the great lockdown of 2020.
In a time of large scale international capital investment in "placemaking" across Birmingham, sometimes it is important to look, listen and observe the places that are already there. Places are not made by structures, they are made by people. Value already exists in the people within our neighbourhoods and should be at the centre of any placemaking exercises. Invest in people, invest in public services, look, listen and co-create.
See publication here.
Simone Word Smith
Simone Word Smith presents a poem and spoken word piece `Tower Ballroom, Birmingham's Child'. This piece unravels the past, present and unknown future of the building. The voices and bodies of people echo all around the Tower Ballroom site.
"I was born not to look pretty but to break rules. I am Birmingham’s child, who learnt how to walk through thick waters, and how to grip my toes in the dirt, through the powerful blows of wind. Your wind will not take me down. I am Birmingham’s child."
The poem and audio have been accompanied by a moving image work. With thanks to Marley Starskey Butler (audio recording) and Gavin Rogers (visuals).
For the full poem in written form click here
Sharon Kaur Sutton
Sharon has created a past, present and future "craftivism" style quilt which brings to life the many stories and dreams that have been shared as part of the Dreaming Tower Ballroom project. This quilt is available to view in full here.
Sharon 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.
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.
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 has made a number of collages and prints which will be available here soon.
Cathy Wade, 33 & 1/3 Revolutions, digital video, 4m20, 2020.
I circled the Tower Ballroom over the summer. Cycling around the reservoir, thinking of the songs that have echoed out from the dancefloor and across the water late at night. Tunes carried in the heads of the last stragglers as they made their route home from events. I made a series of posters for these songs that were filmed in August by the stage door of the Tower, I’d give anything to be dancing there right now.