Birmingham

My saunter to New Street station in Birmingham turned into spending the afternoon wandering around the city centre. I’ve been to Birmingham on many occasions, so I didn’t quite fullfil my original intent which was to hop on a train to someplace I’ve never been…reason…time was just not my friend…I had to be back in Leamington before 1600 to pick up my car from the mechanic…so I thought, why not see what I have not seen in the “city of 1001 trades.” Many of the giants of Industrial Revolution kicked around in Birmingham…men like James Watt, Matthew Boulton, William Murdock, and Joseph Priestley.

I did a quick read through my guide book to get a general sense of history and to make a mental map of the street plan. Having limited time on the ground, I decided to head for the art gallery first.

There’s something about wandering around city streets that tugs at my sense of insignificance. I feel like Ralph Ellison’s main character in the Invisible Man.

“I am inivisble man. No I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids – and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorted glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination – indeed, everything and anything except me.”

Chances are I will never see any of these people again…and to think for a brief moment fate brought us in contact with each other and yet we will never really know one another…

Enroute to the art gallery, I stopped to take some random photos of people:

In Victoria Square, a new bottled water company was running a promtoinal event. They had invaded the city in drooves to hand out free bottles of water. It was like being in a marathon race where people handing you water along the route. My thirst was quenched all day.

The city art gallery is famous for its comprehensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite art. I find most art galleries to be very inspiring. I’m particular attracted to pictures of great men doing great things…heroic scenes of sacrifice. Where are the giants among us now?

My next stop was the Ikon gallery of contemporary art. I must confess, I am one of the unenlightened buffons who doesn’t understand contemporary art of the let’s collect ‘found objects’ of junk, slap it on a piece of board, give it a title and call it art. One of the displays at the Ikon was a box full of tangled Christmas lights that were switched on. I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. Every year when I collect the Christmas tree out of the attic, i’m confronted with a box of tangled lights, but I never thought to slap a title on them and call it art. Maybe that’s why i don’t have a major exhibition at the Ikon.

It didn’t take me long to get exhausted by the mockery of art I saw in the Ikon. Where is the blood, sweat and tears like you see in the works of the old masters?

Time ticked and I had to move on. I only had about an hour left before I had to get back to the train station. The central library was my next stop. My love of books kept me from passing by such a shrine without having a wander around the stacks. Unfortunately this was my last stop before heading home.

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