A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

REVIEW: Hairspray at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

On a cold evening with snow warnings coming at the Black Country left, right and centre, it was pure delight to experience some much needed colour, fun and naughtiness in the form of Hairspray, now on stage at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. 

Hairspray has always been one of my favourite ever musicals; it is in my eyes the most feel-good production around. So as you can imagine, I had incredibly high expectations of this show. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed. 

The magic of the fun and fresh 60s in Baltimore is brought to life on stage as the big girl with an even better heart Tracy Turnblad, played by Rosie O'Hare, begins the show with one of the productions biggest hits 'Good Morning Baltimore', and the excitement really begins. 

Hairspray follows the story of Tracy, who is on a mission to dance on The Corny Collins Show, despite the fact that she looks a little different to the teens already on the show. Although she is passionate about the twist, she also has a classic school girl crush on heart throb Link Larkin, played by Edward Chitticks.
With the help of her supportive parents, Edna, played by Matt Rixon and Wilbur, played by Norman Pace, she finds fame on the show, as well as love. However, not everyone is happy about her making her mark on the show, with Amber Von Tussle and her producer mother Velma, making it their aim to have her out of the spotlight. 

Thankfully, Tracy has friends who help her through, including best friend quirky and cute Penny, and the super cool and charming Seaweed, played by Layton Williams, whose amazing dance moves captivated the whole audience.

Despite the colour, fun and frolics of the musical, as well as the incredible variety of songs that the whole audience sang along with, including Welcome to the 60s, You're Timeless To Me and the absolutely fantastic Run and Tell That, the story line has real meaning to it, with race tensions which dictate that the black and white dancers can't dance alongside each other.
It is the hugely talented Brenda Edwards, who totally made the role of Motormouth Maybelle her own, that really helps bring this huge element of the story line to life. Her performance of I Know Where I've Been left me with tears in my eyes and she sung with such power throughout the show, that it was difficult for the audience to not fall completely in love with her. 

In fact, the whole cast of Hairspray were an incredibly talented bunch, each with exceptional voices and super cool dance moves that really brought 1962 to Wolverhampton. 

However, if I could make any change to the show, it would be that I wish the sets on stage could have been slightly more exciting. I feel at times that it could have been just that little bit better with a touch of more colour and imagination on the sets themselves. 

Despite this, the show was absolutely brilliant and an incredibly enjoyable way to spend a miserable Monday night. With a good dashing of fun and charm, as well as cheekiness, deep issues and emotion, Hairspray was everything I wanted it to be, and so much more. 

Stars of the show for me were by far Brenda Edwards and of course, Layton Williams, who enjoyed, and deserved, the biggest cheer of the night. The production ended with the whole audience dancing to You Can't Stop The Beat, which was an incredibly heartwarming moment.
If you're looking for a show to put a huge smile on your face, and a spring in your step, you've found it with Hairspray. It's on stage at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday, March 3rd.

Hairspray: 9/10

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Bethan In Brum is coming to you!

A bit of a different post from me today lovely people! I just wanted to let you know some super exciting news. I am set to talk about what I have learned from working in digital at an event taking place very soon...

Apex Ecommerce have invited me to join two other panelists at their 'GirlCode' event, which takes place on March 8th 2018 betwen 6pm and 8pm - which happens to be International Women's Day! 

Taking place at 1000 Trades in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, the event is an evening of inspiring and truthful talks from three women within different sectors of the digital industry - including myself! 

GirlCode is all about creating a space for women to talk about their own experiences and struggles, as well as how these battles have helped to achieve desired goals. The theme of the night is 'Being Taken Seriously', and we will be discussing that throughout the evening. 

I am super excited to be talking at the event and hope to inspire as many women as possible. My talk will be all about finding your own voice in the blogosphere, and I will be touching on my own blogging experiences, creating a personal brand and the importance of social media.

It would be amazing to see you there, and I am happy to answer any questions and support you in any way - it's all about girl power! If you would like to come along, that would be fantastic, the tickets are free and you can find them here.

And the event is taking place at one of my favourite bars - so it's also a great opportunity to see 1000 Trades in all of its glory!

I hope to see you there and have a good old chat! 

The Handmade Fair set to return to the Midlands

Local creatives are in for a real treat in May with popular craft event The Handmade Fair returning to the Midlands for it's second year. 

Taking place at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire between May 11-13 2018, The Handmade Fair, presented by Kirstie Allsopp, will host a wide range of expert talks and hands-on workshops as it sets to be the ultimate day out for craft lovers. 

The Handmade Fair celebrations were recently launched in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter ahead of the event in May. Two of the businesses set to be at the event, Folk It! and Leicestershire Craft Centre, talked all things creative and encouraged local bloggers to get crafty throughout the launch evening. 

Leicestershire Craft Centre taught us how to make Tassel Jewellery, which was great fun, and Folk It! taught us how to Folk Art Paint, which is a skill based art. 

The launch got us all excited about the event, which will include live craft-offs from experts, Q&As and demonstrations from some of the country's best-known makers, as well as a series of creative workshops where visitors can learn new skills. Visitors can also share tips and tricks with like-minded creatives. 

Workshops will cover needle felting, calligraphy, wirework and Indian block printing, as well as a wide range of other activities to get stuck in with. 

Visitors will also have the chance to purchase tools, materials and handmade products from a wide range of handpicked sellers who will be showcasing at the event, as well as sampling a variety of artisan food. 

TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp will top the bill, followed by British potter Keith Brymer Jones and The Great Pottery Throw Down and DJ Edith Bowman. 

There are a range of tickets to buy, which can be customised to include the sessions you are most interested in. Check them out here

Friday, 23 February 2018

REVIEW: The Winslow Boy at The REP, Birmingham

Imagine it; your son arrives home early from naval college after being expelled for allegedly stealing a five-shilling postal order. He categorically denies the claims, and promises his father he isn’t lying. Do you believe him? And how far will you go to prove you son’s innocence? 

That is exactly what The Winslow Boy, now on stage at The REP in Birmingham, sets out to discover.

Rachel Kavanaugh’s adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s popular 1946 play, which is in fact based on a real case, is set on the brink of the First World War and tells the story of 14-year-old Ronnie Winslow and follows the Winslow family from Ronnie first arriving home right through to the case finally being able to go to court. 

The show follows the family, and watches them being pulled apart as the tiring case, which drains the family from all of their money, continues. The family soon become what the nation are talking about and are eventually forced into life-changing decisions. 

The audience watches as each member of the family goes through their own battles, as they desperately try to keep brave smiles on their faces and fight for what is right.
Despite the seriousness of the storyline itself, The Winslow Boy is actually an incredibly funny production. With smart wit and sarcasm at its core, and a spoonful or two of slapstick and classic comedy, the play balances seriousness and humour extremely well, making it a fun production to see. 

The set itself never changes, which in my eyes, is the sign of a fantastic production. When there is no need for extreme scene changes, and the nature of the play can be performed fully in the living room of the Winslow family, I personally think that goes to show just how strong the story is, and how talented the actors are. 

Admittedly, I had never seen The Winslow Boy before, so I fully fell into the storyline, gripped to every moment, desperate to find out what the outcome would be. I wasn’t disappointed. The Winslow Boy had me on the edge of my seat throughout, which I hadn’t experienced in a long time. 

The play has a stellar cast, including Tessa Peake-Jones, who took on the role of devoted mother Grace Winslow, who we all recognise as Raquel in Only Fools and Horses, alongside Aden Gillett, who made the role of Arthur Winslow his own as he took on the incredible journey and campaign for justice for his young son.
Timothy Watson, best known for his role as Rob Titchener in The Archers, manages to terrify not only the cast, but the whole audience too, as he took on the role of barrister Sir Robert Morton. However, by the end of the production, many of the audience found themselves having quite a soft spot for Sir Robert after discovering the sacrifice he made to help the Winslow family. 

However, the stand out star of the show is by far suffragette daughter Catherine, whose wittiness had the audience fall totally in love with the character. We follow Catherine, who is newly engaged, make huge personal sacrifices for her family to gain justice. 

I adored the role of Catherine, played by Dorothea Myer-Bennett, as she learned so much about herself and what she wants from her future during the production, and how happiness doesn’t come from a man. In the year that celebrates 100 years since most women got the right to vote, Catherine is everything I image a suffragette to be.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Winslow Boy, it is an incredibly thrilling production which makes you constantly question “what would I do?” throughout. As well as the comedy factor, and the fantastic storyline, The Winslow Boy is a heart-warming play that reminds you just how important family is. 

The Winslow Boy is on stage at The REP until Saturday, March 3rd 2018. 

The Winslow Boy: 9/10

Friday, 16 February 2018

New Art West Midlands exhibition unveiled at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

This year's New Art West Midlands exhibition was unveiled at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery this week. 

New Art West Midland exhibition is a showcase of exciting new contemporary art by Fine Art or visual arts graduates of the five University art schools in the region; Birmingham City University, Coventry University, Staffordshire University, University of Wolverhampton, University of Worcester and Hereford College of Arts. 

Funded by Arts Council England, the exhibition is being displayed across three galleries in the West Midlands. Each one includes painting, installation, sculpture, digital art, sound and video works. 

Work by 12 artists are on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from February 16th until May 6th, 2018. With a range of mediums, including painting, photography and installations, the exhibition plays host to work from Lucy Hanrahan, Jessica Eburne, Bryony Loveridge and many more local talented artists. 

The exhibition explores the impact and persistence of social media through references to Facebook and Pinterest. It also includes a film by David Poole which highlights a society of surveillance and the presence of drones in our world, as well as a whole host of other modern and contemporary pieces.

I headed along to the exhibition on the launch evening, and was impressed with the range of talent on show by many local artists. Here are my exhibition highlights...

Lucy Hanrahan; We are the Social Media Generation, 2017

Lucy's artwork explores the powerful influence of social media. As well as her views on social media printed on a 'Facebook blue' wall, there is also a mobile phone which shows a close-up view of an eye. Reflections in the eye indicate that the person is continually scrolling through images on social media.

Jez Dolan; Magpies (Burn 1, Conquer My Fear, Corinthians 13, Entwind/Redacted, Perhaps, Flight/Leaving, Nest 1) 2017

Jez Dolan is interested in the things that remain unsaid. Through his practice, he often revisits individual or shared memories and histories to explore themes of queerness and identity.

'Magpies' comprise an unsent love letter, sound and musical score. Images and movements of magpies have been depicted on musical score sheets; one for sorrow, one for joy. 

Aileen Doherty; Dark Matter, 2017

Dark Matter is informed by Aileen's research into cosmology and particle physics, which studies the evolution and structure of the universe. The artwork's array of lights and shapes suggest the curves and structures of dark matter.

New Art West Midlands is also taking place at Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry and AirSpace Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent.

By order of the Peaky Blinders! Peaky inspired spirits arrive at Selfridges

A new brand of craft gin, Irish whiskey and rum, inspired by the notorious Peaky Blinders and created in the heart of the Black Country, is now in stock at Selfridges in Birmingham. 

Peaky Blinder is the newest range of spirits created by the renowned Sadler’s brewery in Lye, near Stourbridge. 

Building on more than a century’s experience of making spirits and beers, the award-winning brewery celebrates traditional flavours, while adding contemporary twists to suit today’s palate. 

Chris Sadler, fifth generation brewer of the Sadler family, said he was proud that its latest range of craft spirits will be exclusively available in Selfridges Birmingham. 

He said: “Our mission is to create products that are one of a kind, with their own unique story and we believe we’ve well and truly done that with the launch of our Peaky Blinder spirits range. 

“Back in those days it was about grafting and crafting, whether that was legitimate work or activities only the Peaky Blinders would be associated with. Either way, it’s that hardworking, uncompromising Black Country attitude we’ve looked to instill into this new range. 

“We’re over the moon that Selfridges Birmingham has selected our new range for its renowned spirits department and can hardly wait to introduce it to customers.” 

The Peaky Blinder Spiced Dry Gin offers a nod to the cocktail culture of the 1920s and is crafted using a selection of nine exotic botanicals, resulting in an unusual flavour with hints of pepper and notes of ginger. 

Its smooth Irish whiskey, said to be the the notorious Brummie gang’s favourite tipple, is a blend of grain and single malt Irish whiskey. Finished in a sherry cask, the sweet, smooth flavour has an aroma of malts and cracked nuts. 

The Peaky Blinder Black Spiced Rum is aged in former Pedro Ximinez sherry casks and has essences of orange, nutmeg, vanilla, and raisin. 

Sam Watts, general manager of Selfridges Birmingham, said: “It’s great news to welcome yet another local producer to the department store.
"We love sourcing the very best food and drink products and showcasing them to our discerning customers and know that this amazing Peaky Blinder range will really go down well.”

Britain's biggest stand-up stars assemble for 'Big Comedy Gala' at Birmingham Hippodrome

Fresh from her hugely successful debut show ‘What Would Beyoncé Do?!’, star of Comic Relief and Live at The Apollo, Luisa Omelan will bring the cream of UK stand-up talent to Birmingham later this month.

One-off comedy bonanza, Dead Funny, with donate 100% of all proceeds to Helena’s Hospice Foundation. 

Featuring a phenomenal line up of some of the best comics in the country, the event will see ten of the brightest stars in UK stand-up unite for a 2-hour comedy extravaganza featuring guest appearances by Sara Pascoe, Mo Gilligan, Tom Allen, Ellie Taylor, Iain Stirling, Dan Nightingale, Tez Ilyas, Jen Brister, Suzi Ruffell and Aaron Twitchen. 

In October 2017, Luisa had a full UK tour booked in the diary, which was expected to be her signature ‘party with jokes in’ style of comedy. 

However, in July of 2017, Luisa sadly lost her mother to a short but extremely brutal battle with cancer. Luisa still wanted to take the stage and honour the tour dates, so instead, she opted to talk about her mother’s journey with raw, unrelenting emotion; culminating in a huge emotional performance of ‘Luisa: Live’ at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, receiving praise from the likes of BBC commissioner Shane Allen, and Dawn French. 

During this tour, Luisa received donations from audience members to kick start a charity in her dearly beloved mum’s name. And so, Helena’s Hospice Foundation was born. 

The foundation helps hospices around the UK by buying things that are not a priority on their budget but make a world of difference to those people experiencing end-of-life care; such as baths, family and guest beds, Sky TV, vending machines and beauty treatments.

So far, to this date, Luisa has raised £25,000 for the foundation and this figure continues to rise.

Dead Funny takes to the stage at Birmingham Hippodrome on Wednesday, February 28th 2018.

The Lovely Bones to be brought to life on stage at The REP

The world première of The Lovely Bones, one of the bestselling novels of the 21st century and now adapted for the stage by Bryony Lavery and directed by Melly Still, will open at Birmingham Repertory Theatre later this year. 

Taking to the stage from October 30th and run until November 10th, Alice Sebold’s unique coming-of-age tale captured the hearts of readers throughout the world when it was first published in 2002. 

An uplifting story about life after loss, The Lovely Bones, achieved critical acclaim and became an instant bestseller across the world. It won the Indies Choice Book Award for Adult Fiction 2003 and was on Oprah’s Book Club list for 2010. 

The Lovely Bones tells the story of young girl Susie Salmon, who is just like any other girl. She wants to be beautiful, adores her charm bracelet and has a crush on a boy from school. There’s one big difference though – Susie is dead. 

Susie can only observe while her family cope with their grief in their different ways. Her father, Jack is obsessed with identifying the killer. Her mother, Abigail is desperate to create a brighter future. And her sister, Lindsay is discovering the opposite sex with experiences that Susie will never know. Susie is desperate to help them and there might be a way of reaching them. 

Alice Sebold this week expressed her excitement to “see The Lovely Bones as a play and to see its characters come to life on stage”. 

Playwright Bryony Lavery said: "I am thrilled that Birmingham Repertory Theatre asked me to adapt Alice Sebold's rich, funny, tough, healing book The Lovely Bones. 

"I've found that the huge story is very, very happy to change its medium and reveal its treasures on The REP’s main stage. I am a most fortunate playwright!" 

Bryony Lavery’s acclaimed work includes the Tony Award-winning Frozen, due to be revived in the West End this spring, Stockholm, Kursk and Beautiful Burnout. 

Bringing The Lovely Bones to life on stage is director Melly Still, whose credits include the acclaimed Olivier and Tony Award-nominated production of Coram Boy, My Beautiful Friend and several recent productions for Glyndebourne, the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. 

The Lovely Bones will also play at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, Everyman Liverpool, Northern Stage, Newcastle and The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich. 

Tickets go on sales to REP members are on sale now and general booking opens Thursday February 22nd, 2018.

Rola Wala to bring authentic Indian street food to Selfridges

Indian street food restaurant Rola Wala is set to bring a flavour explosion to Birmingham once it opens at Selfridges in the Bullring. 

Opening on Monday February 19th, Rola Wala, which means 'man that rolls' in Hindi, will not only bring a wide range of authentic Indian street food to the city, it also promises to knock your socks off with a super spicy chilli chutney. 

Rola Wala will serve a range of flavour-packed dishes from the mildest dal to spiced meats. Balti-loving Brummies will also rise to the challenge of Rola Wala’s eye-watering Scorpion sauce, made from the Scorpion chilli, which peaks at a tongue-stinging 1.4 million Scoville heat units on the Scoville scale. 

If Birmingham’s hottest chutney is a step too far, locals can enjoy Rola Wala’s freshly made dishes that feature layers of complex spicy and savoury, sweet and sour tastes, as well as spice bowls filled with sweet potato saagwala, Nagaland lamb or chicken tikka, and vegan-friendly red dal served with sourdough naan or nutrient-rich red rice from Sri Lanka. 

Sides include Kashmiri Cauliflower Popcorn Bombay Birdsnest Fries, Avo’ Chaat Salad, and the incredible ‘Red Channa Dal’, a spice-fuelled twist on India’s favourite comfort food.
For every meal bought, Rola Wala helps to feed a hungry child living in poverty, by donating a meal through charity One Feeds Two. Since the restaurant launched, it has provided 350,000 meals. 

Rola Wala is the brainchild of Australian Mark Wright and was born on the streets of London via Mumbai and Kolkata. It launched in 2012 when he tested out his ideas at street food markets in London after a trip to India. 

After regularly appearing at street food markets in the capital, Mark and his partners Mark Christophers and Danny Vilela set up their first restaurant in Leeds, with two more sites opening in Spitalfields and Oxford. 

Mark said: “Three years ago we had a gazebo with a hole in the roof, and wet hair at a festival, now we’re opening our fourth bricks and mortar restaurant in the heart of the Bullring in Birmingham - the home of the balti, some of the best Indian food in the country…and the most passionate foodies! 

“For our new restaurant, we’re keeping it ultra casual, just like we did on the streets - with an incredible range of dishes inspired by our time in India - sourdough naan rolls, flavour-packed spice bowls, and inspired sides made using all-British meat, spices from North India, onions from Mumbai, and limes from Kerala."

Thursday, 15 February 2018

REVIEW: Brief Encounter at The REP, Birmingham

Being arguably one of the best love stories ever told on screen, it seemed rather fitting to find myself enjoying Brief Encounter, on stage at Birmingham's REP Theatre until 17th February, on the most romantic day itself; Valentine's Day. However, as classic as David Lean’s 1945 film is, this adaptation from Emma Rice, tells the story in a whole new way. 

Rice's Brief Encounter, which was originally produced in conjunction with The REP and took to the stage back in 2007, has triumphed in every corner of the globe, from the West End to Broadway, and right back to Brum. To say we're glad to have it back where it all began, with the incredible magic from Kneehigh Theatre, would be a total understatement. 

Despite the production having a much more modern and eccentric feel to it, the story is still very much set in 1938, and is to my pleasure, quintessentially British and takes us right back to a country on the brink of a World War.
We meet our starstruck lovers Laura and Alec at a railway station, which the entire set is based around, when Laura finds herself with grit in her eye, and nearby Doctor Alec comes to the rescue. Despite achingly trying not to totally fall in love with each other, they soon do, despite both having settled middle class lives with husbands, wives and children at home. 

The audience never meets Alec's significant others, but by meeting Laura's, we follow the change of her, from devoting wife and mother to a woman who yearns to live fully, with danger and constant risk taking. We watch her drift further and further apart from her routine life, and fall out of love with what she is so used to, whilst she falls wildly in love with Alec. 

Of course, given the story line, it was never going to end well. But, despite it being wrong what Alec and Laura are doing, the audience can't help but want them to end up together. Alongside the heart-wrenching story of Laura and Alec, stand an absolutely fantastic cast. Being mostly based in the railway station's cafe, we meet cafe owner Mrs Bagot, played by Lucy Thackeray, and her lover, station guard Albert, played by Dean Nolan, whose love story is one of huge comedy and brings wide smiles to each audience member.
As well as Mrs Bagot and Albert, the audience totally fall in love with young lovers, waitress Beryl, played by Beverly Rudd and charming Stanley, played by Jos Slovick. It is with Beryl and Stanley's help that the production is given a good pinch of slap-stick humour, as well as beautiful singing from both, and we are reminded just how wonderful it is to fall in love for the very first time. 

In fact, the show successfully followed three sets of love lives without being too obvious, and showed falling in love in three totally different ways. For me, the show got the feeling of falling for someone down to an absolute T. 

As well as being a captivating story with a twist or two, the production is made as special at it is thanks to the incredible sets. Thanks to a bridge that creates the railway station, to a boat ride, to cinema screens to plush restaurants; they are all so easily and swiftly brought to life on the stage without too many scene changes.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't a slight romantic, so for me, this production of Brief Encounter was everything I could have possibly wanted it to be, and so much more. For me though, it was the comedic element that really made the show what it was and it was the perfect blend of emotional and hysterical. 

I was incredibly impressed with the beautiful voices of the cast, especially Jos Slovick, who really helped bring that extra bit of romance to endless scenes. Character highlights would definitely have to be from Lucy Thackeray and Dean Nolan, who actually took on the roles of three characters during the play, including Laura's husband who waited patiently at home for her.
Brief Encounter is a hauntingly good love story, but Emma Rice's take on the classic brings the story to life for a whole new generation. I strongly suggest you don't miss the show whilst it's back on the stage where it all began. 

Rating: 10/10

Photo Credit: Steve Tanner

Friday, 9 February 2018

Birmingham St Mary’s Danceathon returns

Birmingham St Mary’s ‘Let’s Danceathon’ is back for another year, and it’s asking people to bust their best moves in support of their local Hospice.

Taking place on Saturday March 3 in Kings Heath, the event will allow dance enthusiasts to strut their stuff for six continuous hours to help raise vital funds for the charity.

From BollyTone to Clubbercise, SwingTrain to Freestyle, participants will have the chance to groove their way through six different styles of dance, with experts on hand to lead the way.

Lucy Watkins, events manager at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, said: “Let’s Danceathon is a really lively and energetic event in which participants of all abilities are welcome – whether you’re a complete beginner or a dancing queen. 

“We’ve got a great mix of different dances to suit everyone, so it’s a fun way to get active, experiment with new styles and find a dance you love.”

This is the second Let’s Danceathon that Birmingham St Mary’s has hosted, with last year’s event quickly selling out to 200 participants. It raised over £23,000 for the Hospice, which provides vital care and support to local families living with terminal illness.

Lucy added: “It costs £8million to run our crucial services every year, so we truly rely on the generous support of local people to ensure we can continue to provide the best hospice care to individuals, their families, loved ones and carers, wherever and whenever they need it.”
Every day, Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice supports 350 individuals across Birmingham and Sandwell.

Let’s Danceathon takes place from 3.30pm to 11pm at King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys. 

Tickets start from £10 and can be booked here

University of Birmingham’s Arts & Science Festival announces programme for sixth edition

The University of Birmingham’s Arts and Science Festival is set to return to the city next month, taking place across the university’s campus and beyond. 

Taking place from March 12-18 2018, the week-long festival is set to treat audiences to over 60 inspiring events exploring all things art, science and the spaces between. 

The theme this year is Stop Start! promting a diverse programme exploring time, movement, migration, behaviours, life, death and much more. 

Here’s what is taking place this year…


This year’s festival talks will provide opportunities to learn about an array of topics. 

Ten years on from her landmark BBC series THE INCREDIBLE HUMAN JOURNEY, Alice Roberts explores the latest insights into the colonisation of the globe by our ancient forebears. 

Enter the world of DIGITAL DINOSAURS with palaeontologist Dr Stephan Lautenschlager at the Lapworth Museum of Geology and unearth CREEPY CRAWLIES OF THE 1600s at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. 

Reflect on bipolar disorder in STOP, START, PAUSE: KEEPING MOOD ON TRACK and in STARTING WITH STEAM: THE ORIGINS OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION IN BIRMINGHAM Dr Malcolm Dick and Dr Kate Croft will lead an interactive session exploring the significance of Matthew Boulton and James Watts’ steam engine.


Arts & Science Festival returns to Birmingham’s Electric Cinema with sci-fi thrillers TIMECRIMES (2007) and FLATLINERS (1990) introduced by University of Birmingham academics, as well as the hilarious Trash Film Night, featuring the brilliantly terrible HARD TICKET TO HAWAII (1987). 

Other screening highlights include the Oscar-nominated A MAN CALLED OVE (2015) and the sweeping biopic about the first woman to win the Nobel Prize MARIE CURIE: THE COURAGE OF KNOWLEDGE (2016) at mac Birmingham. 

On-campus screening events include an evening of Stop Motion Shorts curated by the Flatpack Film Festival; Life:Moving, a series of six short films challenging society’s misconceptions about terminal illness and a screening of Emmy-winning documentary YEMEN UNDER SIEGE (2016), followed by a panel discussion with the director Safa al-Ahmad. 

The Festival will also screen UNREST (2017) at the University of Birmingham Medical School, a powerful documentary which charts the journey of twenty-eight year-old Jennifer Brea, who upon being diagnosed with ME (commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome), turns her camera on herself and discovers a hidden world of millions confined to their homes and bedrooms.


A series of insightful exhibitions will be hosted on campus and across the city. 

Highlights include BLACK COUNTRY LUNGS, a unique collaboration between community arts organisation Multistory, Dutch photographer Corinne Noordenbos, and local people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). 

Ort Gallery will present GHOST STREETS OF BALSALL HEATH in partnership with Flatpack Film Festival – an exhibition featuring previously unseen photographs of Balsall Heath and Highgate in the late 60s by Janet Mendelsohn. 

ART AND ANATOMY will showcase the creative talents of students in the Institute of Clinical Sciences, who have been invited to interpret this year’s festival theme – Stop Start! – from an anatomical perspective.

SLIME CITIES explores the microbes found in our mouths and features works by artists, students and visitors of Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry.


The workshops will provide opportunities to experiment and explore the intriguing connections between art and science. Events include STOP SITTING, START MOVING, an interactive session on why being sedentary is bad for your health and YOU WANT ME TO STOP DOING WHAT? a lively workshop on climate change. 

MAKE YOUR OWN PARTICLE! is a hands-on session designed to teach children and their parents about the varying personalities and behaviours of different particles and in Art and Technology participants will be able explore some of the technologies that are helping to reshape art and its production. 

Artist Ian Andrews and physicist Kosta Nikolopoulous experiment with visualisation and mark-making in PARTICLE PHYSICS AND FINE ARTS and DYS FUNCTION, presented by Vivid Projects’ Black Hole Club, is an interactive workshop examining the form and function of cognitive interruption as experienced by neuro-divergent individuals.


Visitors will be able to explore campus through guided walks including SOUNDWALKS, a new series exploring hidden audio worlds. THE INVISIBLE ART OF THE GUIDED WALK is a city-wide walk unpicking of the hidden mechanics of the guided tour by Ben Waddington (Director of Birmingham’s Still Walking Festival). 

PATHWAYS TO BIRMINGHAM’S FUTURE starts in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and explores the impact of urban regeneration in the city and TIME MOVES considers time and movement in a selection of interactive and participatory family activities at Winterbourne House and Garden.


For family fun, WHERE’S MY IGLOO GONE? is an extraordinary immersive performance journeying into the Arctic, presented by The Bone Ensemble. 

THE PARTICLE EVENT at mac Birmingham presents works that explore the connections between movement, interaction and the invisible including Neutrino Passoire, a performance by contemporary dancers Mairi Pardalaki and Fanny Travaglino and musician Katerina Fotinaki.

Full details of the Arts and Science programme and ticket information, head here

Leonardo da Vinci drawings to go on display in Birmingham

Leonardo da Vinci, The head of an old bearded man, c.1517-18 RCIN 912499
Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018
Local art lovers are in for a real treat next year. To mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, 12 of the Renaissance master's drawings from the Royal Collection will go on display at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, as part of 12 simultaneous exhibitions across the UK.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, coming to the museum in February 2019, will give the widest-ever UK audience the opportunity to see the work of this extraordinary artist, with 144 of his greatest drawings from the Royal Collection forming the 12 exhibitions.
Twelve drawings, selected to reflect the full range of Leonardo's interests; painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany, will be shown at each venue in Birmingham, Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, Sheffield and more.
As the only venue in the Midlands, visitors to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) will see the intricacy of Leonardo’s work through 12 works never seen in the city before. 

Drawings on display will include the Head of an Old Bearded Man (c.1517-18), and A Map of the Valdichiana (c.1503-4).
Revered in his day as a painter, Leonardo completed only around 20 paintings. He was respected as a sculptor and architect, but no sculpture or buildings by him survive; he was a military and civil engineer who plotted with Machiavelli to divert the river Arno, but the scheme was never executed. 

Leonardo da Vinci, A map of the Valdichiana, c.1503-6 RCIN 912278 
Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

He was also an anatomist and dissected 30 human corpses, but his ground-breaking anatomical work was never published; he planned treatises on painting, water, mechanics, the growth of plants and many other subjects, but none was ever finished.

As so much of his life's work was unrealised or destroyed, Leonardo's greatest achievements are to be found on sheets of paper.

Gurminder Kenth, Museum Manager at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, said: "We are thrilled to be part of the Leonardo 500th anniversary celebrations showcasing the extraordinary talent and skill of one of the world’s greatest artists.
“When a selection of Leonardo drawings were on display here at the museum in 2012, it was an extremely popular exhibition, with queues forming for the chance to see the works up close. With a different selection of drawings to display in 2019, we are sure visitors will be just as excited about this unique opportunity to see his works on show in the Midlands.”
The drawings in the Royal Collection have been together as a group since the artist's death, and provide an unparalleled insight into Leonardo's investigations and the workings of his mind.
Leonardo firmly believed that visual evidence was more persuasive than academic argument, for an image conveyed knowledge more accurately and concisely than any words.  

Few of his surviving drawings were intended for others to see: drawing served as his laboratory, allowing him to work out his ideas on paper and search for the universal laws that he believed underpinned all of creation.

The exhibitions Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing will include examples of all the drawing materials employed by the artist, including pen and ink, red and black chalks, watercolour and metalpoint.
Martin Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings, Royal Collection Trust, said, ‘The drawings of Leonardo da Vinci are a national treasure, both incredibly beautiful and the main source of our knowledge of the artist. 

“We hope that as many people as possible across the UK will take this unique opportunity to see these extraordinary works, which allow us to enter one of the greatest minds in history, and to understand the man and his achievements.” 

The exhibition in Birmingham will be accompanied by an engaging education programme which will help to bring Leonardo’s techniques alive for visitors, along with a series of talks and tours.


Sunday, 4 February 2018

Theatre group set to Wear It Pink for Breast Cancer Research

Award-winning theatre group Bournville Muscial Theatre Company (BMTC) from Birmingham will be embracing a theme of their show ‘Legally Blonde’ and encouraging their audience to wear something pink on Tuesday April 24 in aid of Breast Cancer Now, the UK’s largest breast cancer charity.

BMTC are using their opening night as an opportunity to further the company’s strong record of charitable donations by supporting the Wear It Pink cause front of house, and on stage, at The Crescent Theatre, with the hope to raise at least £500 on the evening for Breast Cancer Now.

The Bourneville Musical Theatre Company, which has been entertaining audiences for over 90 years, was affiliated to Cadbury’s and performed at the Concert Hall on the Cadbury site up until 2000. BMTC won the NODA District 6 ‘Best Performance’ Award in 2017 for their production of ‘Jekyll & Hyde – The Musical', so all eyes are set to be on their performance of Legally Blonde. 

Rebecca Lowe, the BMTC Chairman, said: “We are really looking forward to our wear it pink opening night and some pre-show fundraising activities to raise lots of money for a cause that is particularly close to our hearts and because the vital research undertaken by Breast Cancer Now will help put a stop to women - mums, sisters, grandmas and best friends – dying of breast cancer in the future.

"The theatre will be dressed for the occasion and the show, Legally Blonde, for which rehearsals are now well underway, promises to leave our audience in good spirits to dig deep and donate whatever they can afford.

"We really hope that our ‘wear it pink’ event will gain lots of support and bring us a full house to help us make a significant donation.” 

Lottie Barnden, Senior Fundraising Products Manager at Breast Cancer Now, said: “We are so grateful for BMTC’s wonderful support. We hope their wear it pink opening night event will be a big success, whilst raising much-needed funds for breast cancer research. 

“Right now breast cancer is at a tipping point. Every year in the UK around 50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and sadly around 11,500 women and 80 men will lose their lives to the disease.” 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. One in eight women will develop breast cancer, and today alone more than 30 women will die from the disease. Breast Cancer Now, the UK’s largest breast cancer charity, fund vital breast cancer research across the UK and Ireland. 

Scientists, researchers, fundraisers and supporters are working together to find out how to prevent breast cancer, how to detect it earlier and how to treat it effectively. 

If you would like to join the theatre group for the Wear It Pink evening in April, please contact bmtccommittee@gmail.com for further details on ticket availability and prices.
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