‘Hello Bird, Hello Fish!’ sharing event at The Springfield Project

Art Works commissioned B’Opera to co-create a new musical production with children under five and their families at The Springfield Project in Sparkhill.

B’Opera have co-created a new musical production, ‘Hello Bird, Hello Fish!’ with and for children and their families who are users of The Springfield Project Children’s Centre, Mini Springers and Park Road nurseries. Funded through Birmingham City Council’s ‘Next Generation’ fund, the piece was devised through a programme of participatory sessions and was showcased at The Springfield Centre on 22nd February 2022. Families were invited to this special performance to see their ideas in development.

Read more about the whole project, including the process of co-creating the work with pre-school children and their adults and exploring big ideas with little people on our ‘Hello Bird, Hello Fish!’ project page.

Relaxed, interactive and inclusive

Everyone was greeted with free-flow sensory play opportunities with members of the B’Opera team to allow children and their adults time to explore the space, meet the performers and touch some of the props. This was crucial in creating a relaxed, interactive space where everyone was welcomed and made to feel comfortable.

High quality opera in Sparkhill

The playfulness continued as B’Opera began the performance, with some children moving, singing and dancing alongside the performers. The audience was treated to a combination of classical opera, new versions of classical nursery rhymes and a lullaby in Urdu. Characters wore colourful costumes that accentuated each animal’s movements – the gracefulness of fireflies, the elegance of fish or the swooping and swishing of the lost bird.

Space to reflect

The audience was invited to gather for food and reflection following the performance, through informal conversations or adding written comments to the ‘feedback fish’. Some spoke about their own experiences of feeling excluded, through racial or faith based discrimination. Others commented on their parents’ use of lullabies to soothe them as children.

Sarah Robbins, CEO of The Springfield Project, has written a piece (opens as a PDF in a separate window), outlining the value of this project for the community she serves in Sparkhill. Thanks are due to Sarah and all of the staff at The Springfield Project for embracing and facilitating the project throughout.

Where next?

This initial sharing of ‘Hello Bird, Hello Fish!’ is hopefully the first outing for the work – B’Opera hope to develop it further and tour the piece to other children’s centres and community venues. There are plans to include performances as part of this year’s Commonwealth Games Festival programme and The Springfield Project’s Creative Families Festival.

If you are interested in learning more about ‘Hello Bird, Hello Fish!’ or would like to host a performance, contact Zoë Challenor at zoe@bopera.co.uk.

All images © Rachel Gillies for Art Works

‘My Doorstep, My Culture’ exhibition launched at Moseley Road Baths

‘My Doorstep, My Culture’ is an exciting programme of creative workshops across three community organisations, led by local Artist ILdikó Nagy. It has culminated in a group exhibition, open until the end of March at Moseley Road Baths.

Participants from Amal Creative, Kinmos and Smart Women CIC co-designed a series of workshops based on which artforms they wanted to explore with multidisciplinary Visual Artist ILdikó Nagy. Participants were eager to express themselves creatively and committed to working collaboratively to create something reflecting their skills, talents and cultural heritage. From a henna decorated door lit by lanterns to handsculpted incense burners, a huge willow-woven heart to needlefelted Yemeni flags, each group has crafted objects to show others who they are and what matters to them.

You can find out more about the groups’ creative journeys over on the ‘My Doorstep, My Culture’ page of our website.

The exhibition was launched to an invited audience of participants, their families and friends on Saturday 22nd February in the glorious setting of Moseley Road Baths’ empty Gala Pool. Over 30 people attended the launch where groups viewed each others’ work for the first time and reflected on their achievements with food and drink.

My Doorstep, My Culture’ is in the Gala Pool until 31st March 2022.

Art Works will be continuing to explore ways to support these community artists in their creative journeys.

Soothing Stitches with Sharper Arts at Highfield Hall

Sally Harper from Sharper Arts shares information about her most recent project, with a group who meet at Highfield Hall in Hall Green.

Soothing stitches – The aim of the project

To reach out to adults 50+ members of the community that may be isolated or lonely and engage them in a group activity, to enable them to feel part of a group.  Sally will do this by providing weekly makes and interactions through face-to-face workshops and craft kits.  These kits would be created, distributed, and workshops led by Sharper Arts. For the people not attending the workshops Sally will be offering advice and help to create the items from the kits through social media, WhatsApp and by e-mail.

The six kits/ workshops will include fabric hearts, fabric jewellery, bunting, pockets and pouches, handmade books, and fabric wreaths.

Our ‘Sip and Stitch’ session will be face to face workshops that will last an hour and will be taking place at Highfield Hall. This will allow members of the community to come together, try out a new skill and share what they have made with others. There will be 10 places available for the face-to-face workshops and a further 15 kits available for members of the community to collect to make at home.

The whole soul of the project would be to keep the community connected and have a sense of achievement in these troubling times and living through a pandemic.

Four focus areas of the project

Together: This project is all about coming together, making friends, combating isolation and loneliness, and enjoying working together to experience different ideas.

Environmental: We will be using as much recycled fabric, materials, threads, and trims as we possibly can. Materials have come from donations and from local scrap stores rather than buying new fabrics we can re purpose and redesign to use materials destined for landfill.

Up skill: Everything that we will make will be very simple. No need for a sewing machine or fancy gadget or materials, Sally has designed the sessions so that they are easily accessible to a wide range of people. The hope is that once the people attending the workshops have created from their kits, they will share with family members and friends.

Sharing: To empower and celebrate everything that is created. There is no right or wrong to this project and it would be great to share lots of different ideas that have had the same starting point. Social media and WhatsApp will enable us to share with those not attending the sessions but might want to give the ideas a go in the future.

Contact Sally for more info: 07808 988945/ sharperarts@btinternet.com

Social Media: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/soothingstitchesbirmingham/

Web: www.soothingstitches.co.uk

About Sharper Arts

Sally Harper from Sharper Arts is a community artist who has been delivering projects and workshops for over 20 years within the West Midlands. As a small organisation the work that Sally does is inspired by the needs of the community as she delivers quality projects in conjunction with other organisations such as Near Neighbours, Sampad and The Springfield Project within the local area. There is a big focus on bringing the community together to combat isolation and loneliness as well as sharing new skills and developing ideas together.

What’s The Truth? What Have You Heard?

What’s the truth? What have you heard? is a series of short digital pieces for social media and messaging apps, developed from research with women living in Balsall Heath, working in partnership with Moseley Road Baths. They feature Yasmin Jasmine responding to local women’s concerns about different issues relating to Covid-19 and vaccines.

These films were developed from research working with older women who attend the baths weekly Chat & Splash session for women for whom English is a second language. The research sessions were fun, friendly and informal conversations with swimmers and other local people in May 2021.  Each short piece explores a different area of concern regarding public heath guidance relating to COVID-19. They were developed following social distancing guidelines, by Janice Connolly working with freelance writer Rupinder Kaur and community filmmaker Rachel Gillies.

Yasmin Jasmine was created in response to women saying they would like to hear stuff from a woman like them who they felt  had her feet on the ground and listened with her ears Yasmin is played by Rupinder Kaur.

What’s the truthWhat have you heard? debunks myths and explore new ways of community messaging around public health and wellbeing, by using the language and lives of ordinary people. For more information visit: www.birmingham.gov.uk/coronavirus.

You can also get up to date information direct to your phone or inbox by signing up to be a Covid-19 Community Champion. www.birmingham.gov.uk/COVID-19_Community_Champions.