Words and Walks
Iris Bertz is interested in the hidden beauty of the mundane and that what is left behind or considered ugly. Originally trained in working with willow she has developed her work into a practice that uses the artist's approach for social change and telling the untold histories of a place. She discovered leading walking tours through working with Still Walking, with her own practice very much focussing how we look and what we see, when we use a different lens. She sees her walks as an invitation to look at the world through an artist's eyes and invites the participants to look for themselves. She has lead walks on the idea of "Lost & Found", investigating the concept of what is art and if the accidental becomes art once it is as such defined by the artist. She has lead a walk about the aesthetics of "Guttering & Cabling" (Gutterfunk) in the Jewellery Quarter, a walk-in Wolverhampton on: how to see as an artist, reflecting on her time on the Masters Programme there. Developed walking practice for volunteers at Roundhouse Birmingham based on Warhorse with Still Walking. And created a walk-in Munich, Germany on "Accidental art" in connection with the German Artist Collective "Connect 48/11" and their exhibition "Mapping Birmingham."
Simone has always had a keen interest in creative writing. Her fascination for words has stemmed from a young age, exploring stories and poetry. She continued exploring her love for words in university and graduated with a BA Hons in English with Creative Writing. Despite her struggles with dyslexia, nothing could knock her love for writing. Simone is now a performance & page poet, who goes under the name “Simone Word Smith”. She plays to her distinct style of storytelling through poetry and explores both new and historical themes. Simone has won many poetry awards including under Birmingham University, Nottingham University and the Pendle War Poetry Competition. The National Memorial Arboretum and Birmingham Museum’s ‘Soho House’ have also commissioned her work. Not only has she performed at London Paralympics, she has also performed alongside some renowned poets including, Lemn Sissay, Akala and Deborah Stevenson. In 2015, she helped birth "Hidden Notes", a trio where they couple poetry with live music. Together they use their creative talents of strings, drums, song and poetry to give a voice to untold stories. They perform in many different venues impacting people with their powerful performances, including at Poetry Punch Up where they won best performance. Simone was commissioned to create a poem for the Dreaming Tower Ballroom Project in 2020. Birmingham's Child is linked above.
Jen Wilbur is an MA History of Art Student at the University of Birmingham, and a Gallery Assistant at the RBSA Gallery. They are currently writing a dissertation which focuses on the private photography of Marie Høeg and Bolette Berg, and explores gender and identity in early photography and considers the studio as a world-building site. Jen has presented at several conferences, including ‘Finding Our Way Together’ with a talk entitled ‘Breaking the Hegemony: Claude Cahun and the Queering of Surrealism’, and at ‘Another Eye’ with the talk ‘Lisel Haas: The Construction of Identity Through Commercial Portrait Photography’. Jen has also been a research scholar with Midlands Art Papers, where they produced an arts trail in partnership with 13 institutions which explored themes of gender, disability, and race.
For Words and Walks: Women Between the Lines, Birmingham, Jen is leading the research. They have conducted interviews and archive studies in order to help bring the stories of Birmingham’s women to life. This project provides a great way for history to be discovered and told. With both the walk and the event, history will be brought to life and the contributions of women to Birmingham’s cultural landscape will be honoured.