Ok so we can proudly confirm our next community graffiti mural will take pride on walls of Birmingham’s best, and a personal favourite of ours, music venue PST, Digbeth. Heading up the Brum Spirit community commission will be one of France’s most notable street artists RCF1, who will work in collaboration with Brum Spirit veteran and Birmingham’s own graffiti artist HOAKSER. These two talented artists will work to immortalise the wealth of history associated with Digbeth, and culture of the local community in the mural, entitled “People Stand Together” from August 4th to 10th.
If you have ventured out to Kings Heath you will have seen the 2013 Brum Spirit commission on Kings Heath Parade ‘Welcome To Kings Heath’ mural, which was the work of HOAKSER, and visiting Brazilian artist Ficore. Birmingham’s own HOAKSER, whose work ranges from private commissions to solo exhibitions of which are currently held in galleries in 13 countries across five continents, why not take a look at the Q&A he did for us ahead of the collaboration. HOAKSER will head up the mural and work alongside RCF1. RCF1 who is originally from Paris and over 25 years experience has seen his work exhibited all around the world, from Tokyo to Buenos Aires, one his careers most notable points saw his distinctive primary colour patterns called upon as part of EDF ‘Art Alongside Energy’ 2013 programme, and features on the side of the EDF power station in Rio State.
These two talented artists will join forces to paint for the first time, and will take inspiration from portraits of Highgate residents taken by Some Cities photographers Dan Burwood and Andrew Jackson, to embellish the facade of roots music venue PST with a large scale mural.
Nowadays Highgate is categorised by the City Council as amongst the poorest of Birmingham’s Priority Neighbourhoods. We are pleased to announce our next community inspired mural will take place August 4th – 10th and will be lead by HOAKSER, in collaboration with French artist RCF1. I also sell my work online which involves photographing, documenting, and marketing my creations as and when I make them. Canvasses, prints, custom recycled spray cans, toys and sculptures are always being added to the store on a weekly basis along with one of a kind printed t-shirts and other stuff to weird to explain. Being self employed has made me learn lots of other work roles too… things like how to make and maintain my own website, blog and online stores meant developing graphics skills and learning how to use certain bits of software. Having lived in Kings Heath forever, it was really cool to be given such a big wall on the main high street to paint in the place I grew up in. The response, support and conversations I kept having from the passing public also slowed things down but made it even more special in terms of achieving something to be proud of that everyone supported.. If you want to know more about HOAKSER then check out his website, blog, or give him a little follow here! We feel Brum Spirit is all about when you feel full of pride about being a Brummie, and living in this unique and vibrant city of culture. Over the last 4 years we have been fortunate enough to facilitate and host, in our humble opinion some of the best international collaborations. When the chance to open our doors to an international exchange presented itself, of course we were very excited, and a little nervous.
We decided the best way to work was to start small and build from there, creating connections between visiting Brazilian artists and their counterparts along the way, and collaborating with existing organisations in Birmingham to enrich their programmes with something from further afield. Things began in March 2011, with Gilberto Mauro and Ricardo Garcia performed A Good and Giving Heart at The Edge in Digbeth, as part of that year’s Flatpack Film Festival. In June 2011, reggae artist Jota III visited from his home in Espirito Santo for the first time, for our inaugural edition of underground music celebration Rebel Spirit. Come September 2011, it was time for the big push – we welcomed 28 visiting musicians and visual artists from across Brazil, to stay with us in Birmingham for a week, and participate in Espirito Brum 2011. We worked alongside Friction Arts at the Edge, and PST in Digbeth, to run performances, workshops and interventions that allowed the artists involved to explore new relationships, and new ways of connecting with each other, and the visiting public. For us it was really important to unite Brummie and Brazilian artists on the programme, encouraging creative dialogue and developing audiences for everyone at once.
Back in 2012 we welcomed a roster of highly talented and respected Brazilian artists into our multicultural and vibrant fold, rather than marking out the differences between us, we were inspired through music and visual art and discovered common ground – both within our own city, and far beyond its borders. It all began in May 2012, when we traveled with 25 artists to the first edition of Espirito Mundo Brazil, in Sao Paulo and Vitoria. Highlights from 2012 included: Our adventure to Brazil and the relationships we were able to grow and develop along the way. Based in Kings Heath, we felt very much like a part of the community, to prove it Brazilian artist Ficore and Kings Heath original Hoakser collaborated on the graffiti masterpiece that is the ‘Welcome to Kings Heath’ community inspired mural, taking prime place on the side the high street. We kicked off celebrations on Kings Heath Village Square, and teamed up with local foodies Brum Yum Yum to offer live music, dance and workshops to the vibrant Kings Heath community. The inspirational community percussion group, Drum Together Brum, led by percussionist Damon Wilding, formed to learn something new with someone new, with the aid of Our Big Gig Extra and Birmingham City Council. The idea behind Brum Together was to create a free multi faith event to unite local residents from all walks of life, to come together and find common ground in learning a new skill. Drum Together Brum have now launched their own campaign to bring you a community street party on Sunday July 13th in Highgate – the event campaign reached its goal of ?830 through crowd funding platform Space Hive. In association with IDFB we brought an evening of Brazilian reggae and hip hop flavours, celebrated through dance and music. Set in the Old Print Works in Balsall Heath the Open Day allowed 200 people to have a go at something new with someone new, in one of Brum’s upcoming and vibrant arts venues.
Take a look at the Q&A here to see in the organisers own words what Brum Spirit is all about here. A) At heart it’s about encouraging positive connections between artists, audiences, businesses and communities in Birmingham, supporting them to create together and share their world views. This huge confluence of music industry professionals from all over the globe was so inspiring to me – I found a place for myself in the mix, helping people network and build relationships in Portuguese, French, Spanish and English.
I lost my voice over those five days, and came back buzzing with all the potential and possibility of such an inspiring sector. Shortly after that, I met creative practitioner Soesen Edan, and we set up Professional Incredibles. Five years later, we are still growing and learning, PI is still in business, and I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by such inspiring people, who truly add value to the lives of others through their creative endeavours. A) This cultural exchange evolved from a chance conversation in a taxi in Seville, just as WOMEX was winding down back in 2008.
Having lived and worked for some years in Brazil, the country’s culture, music and language were already an important part of my world view.
Espirito Mundo gave us the opportunity to host visiting artists from across Brazil right here in Birmingham, and to open creative collaborations with UK based artists and communities. So far we’ve hosted over 100 artists from Brazil and other nations, in collaboration with over 300 artists from Birmingham and the wider UK. The connections we forged through Espirito Brum also led to two tours of Brazil in 2012 and 2013, where we helped 25 British artists work across five cities. We held music workshops in charities and universities in Sao Paulo, concerts in a 5000 capacity amphitheatre surrounded by monkeys in a jungle park in Belo Horizonte, large format photography exhibitions in Vitoria, and a few more unexpected adventures besides. A) In 2014, we decided for several reasons to part company with Instituto Quorum and Espirito Mundo, and evolve into Brum Spirit. We want to open the doors wide and attract as many people as possible, from all walks of life, out of their houses and into each other’s company, so they can make and do stuff and share thoughts and play games. A) Well, I’m not an expert, but right about now in Brazil I know there are just over 200 million people getting on with their lives, across a huge and divisive socio economic spectrum. As we bathe in the green and gold glow of all the ruckus surrounding FIFA Rio 2014 and all it entails, it’s easy to forget that, until just 30 or so years ago, the nation was atrophied by violent military dictatorship, and some would say little has changed on the streets.
There’s an astounding level of income inequality, a woeful lack of true rule of law, exacerbated by a “pro rich tax system”. A study by the US Embassy in Brasilia in 2010 revealed over 23,000 street children working in highly dangerous sectors from construction to animal slaughter, over 75 Brazilian cities, and according to the Latin Business Chronicle, corruption costs the national economy over $41 billion per year. The other night I watched the opening match between Brazil and Croatia at PST Digbeth, alongside Brum Spirit veteran and Brazilian reggae singer Jota III. A) When people agree to take an adventure together across what appear to be the barriers of difference, they are more often delighted by all the things they have in common, than troubled by the things they don’t share.
At the same time, such a confluence of differing world views and perspectives allows us to gently interrogate the social issues and paradigms that shape our lives today.


Beauty and inequality exist around us all, in our every day lives, and sometimes we are too wrapped up in our own particular outlook to really see this in detail, or be able to make objective and positive changes.
By opening up our homes to visitors from other lands, and agreeing to share our space with someone unknown, the every day routine becomes special, and the delightful process of sharing and learning together comes into its own. After their time here, in a city most have not heard of before their arrival, they become ambassadors for Birmingham.
Our city can be so deferential and unassuming, despite its powerful history and growing influence.
It’s a huge boost to hear from those who visit us from Brazil just how welcome they feel.
They are also family men, poets, teachers, students, sports fans, foodies, counterculture lovers and proper gentlemen. We took them home in Soesen’s van and made them supper, then went on to Jazz at the Spotted Dog in Digbeth, where the landlord John Tighe introduced them to Guinness and a true Brummie Irish welcome. By the time they had to leave, they’d taken about a million photographs of the varied cityscape and its people, performed 5 shows across Brum, filmed a music video and recorded vocals for an EP, fallen in love with fish and chips, and forged a whole bunch of creative partnerships that are still in force today, through their co productions with Munchbreak and DJs Feva and Switch. A) If someone tries to be racist in public, they are invariably laughed out of the room or off the bus.
A) It’s about tolerance, open mindedness and really appreciating a good masala fish and naan.
A) Yesterday I saw a young Sikh dude and his Jewish mate skating together through New Street, sharing a packet of Hob Nobs. On Saturday January 25th 2014, Professional Incredibles, Our Big Gig Extra, Birmingham City Council, Near Neighbours and All Saints Centre invited people from all walks of life, from across Birmingham, to try something new with someone new.
We know that trying new things and socializing with others is beneficial, both on individual and community level. With this in mind, Brum Together wanted to celebrate and showcase ways in which you can get involved with those around you, try out new experiences and improve your wellbeing in the process.
Over 30 different organisations and practitioners got involved with Brum Together, and over 90 people came the event.
The whole day gave the opportunity to learn about a new hobby or skill, with the likes of Circus Mash,  on hand teaching a variety of circus skills. We also enjoyed performances from a really talented bunch of artists such as  Culture Shock, and Mendi Singh. Also the talented Capoeira Cordao De Ouro Birmingham treated us to an indoor performance, due to the rain, however the heavy downpour did not dampen the group’s spirits, throwing a performance with elements of fight, play and dance; Capoeira Cordao De Ouro were awesome!
Not forgetting the premiere performance from Drum Together Brum, the inspirational community music project led by percussionist Damon Wilding. A big thank you to the Soulful Lebanese Bakery for the catering and also thank you to everyone who brought along a homemade creation to share with the rest of the community.
If you haven’t spotted it already, keep your eye out for the spectacular graffiti mural on the side of Mariano’s Cornish Cafe. The community inspired work of art explores the merging cultures of Birmingham and Brazil, and we think it’s fab!  The artists have even placed a focus on suggestions from local residents about their favourite things in Kings Heath, including the famous Kings Heath monkey man, who visited the mural the day before his 60th Birthday! Here at Espirito Brum we’re also really excited to tell you about another creative collaboration in Kings Heath. We were so excited to speak to Allison Saddler from the People Shop about this one of a kind opportunity, who told us: “We are really looking forward to working with Ficore and being a part of Espirito Brum. Following this, Espirito Brum will be keeping its creativity flowing right through to the very end of the programme, and our final event is set to close the festivities in true artistic style!
Hand in hand, Espirito Brum 2013’s arts events work to inspire a community and showcase emerging artistic talents in a way that it has never been done before. If you missed our first event then you missed out on a real treat, but never fear we have loads more for you to get involved in! There was a great array of delicious food on offer, the Churros were exquisite, the waffles were wonderful, the burgers, ribs, chicken skewers, and deli delight boxes were all mouth-wateringly-good – so many to mention but all we will say is the Espirito Brum team had happy full tummies at the end of the day! In the Muzikstan tent is where you could find us, busily changing the staging and tinkering with sound levels for most the day. So performance-wise, here goes, we had Birmingham renowned Oya Batucuda, who as always whipped up a samba storm, with children of all ages (including the big ones) dancing along to traditional Brazilian sounds.
Up next, it was the turn of North London new-comers Defkon1, who took to the stage just after 1pm.
Then came quite the treat for the crowds when Moshka Medicine Men took to the stage, offering their fresh and unique sounds, Rohit Ballal and Ste Scott come together with a Sitar and Bass Guitar fusion.
Last but not least comes Danni’s People, a Birmingham funk band, because its always nice to finish on some funk right?
That’s all for the music side of things, we hope we have covered all the bases and see you at the next event!!
It’s been a very busy year with so many things to organise; tour has certainly been pushed to the back of the queue.
With the challenge of reflecting the history and culture of Digbeth in one painting, we are calling upon YOU! The idea behind the mural was to develop a sense of local pride, and with suggestions from the local community  flowing in HOAKSER teamed up with visiting Brazilian artist Ficore to incorporate all the great things that gave the local community pride in Kings Heath.
The mural entitled People Stand Together, will emblazon the walls of PST, on Lombard street, and will depict the history, culture and local community of  Digbeth! I’ve spent years working on walls with spray paint and have developed my own style with lettering, wild styles and characters to become established in the Birmingham graffiti scene.
Packaging and posting sold artwork is a skill in itself which is something I love and hate doing. Being a busy car park, there were always cars parked where I needed to be, which again made it even more challenging but rewarding once finished.
Tame sadly died pursuing his love of graffiti soon after we met, which was a sad time for our scene, not to mention for his family and friends. I’ll be bringing out a limited edition resin figure of my masked man character later on in the year, the sculpt for him is almost finished. We are a few years behind some of the world with this scene in terms of exhibitions and shops.
With the help and support from all you lovely lot we have made ourselves quite at home in cities across Brazil, and districts across Birmingham – especially Digbeth, Kings Heath and Balsall Heath.
The other editions of the Espirito Mundo circuit were well established elsewhere in Europe, and we knew that, in agreeing to host the UK edition of the festival circuit, as a tiny emerging comany, we were taking on a big responsibility. This audio visual homage to Gilberto’s great uncle Humberto Mauro, and his home state of Minas Gerais, was our first little step in surfacing here in Birmingham.
The artists also took part in Jazz at the Spotted Dog, performances at The Yardbird, a music industry debate and workshops at South Birmingham College, and other interventions besides.
We found that when the visiting artists first arrived from Brazil, and saw the warehouse spaces in which we worked, and the lack of separation between audience and artist, they began to worry that things would not be professionally run, because they were used to much more formal performance settings back home. It was quite an unexpected process, exhilarating as well as stressful, and we knew that the concept would take a while to sink in with people here, at the same time it would always be growing and changing. Firstly, we called on the services of our incredible graphic design partners Wild Ilk Design Studio, to start building our brand image and reflecting the Espirito Brum ethos.
This marked the start of many international collaborations between UK and Brazilian artists, which we were able to premier at our Espirito Brum events in September 2012 at various locations around Brum. Dragoes de Komodo also caught a plane for the first time and left Brazil to embark on their love affair with Munchbreak, DJ Switch and DJ Feva. With Brummie samba veterans Oya Batucada, North London new-comers Defkon1, and Birmingham’s Mendi Singh on the bill, we were also privilege to be shown how to Forr? in Brum with quick stepped demonstrations, and live jamming from Flautins Matua bringing everyone to their feet. We set out to create multidisciplinary events for people to get involved in, with the aim to bring together communities from varying backgrounds, to enable people to meet their neighbours – whilst perhaps learning something.


Early in the year Drum together Brum premiered the efforts of the group at our event Brum Together, at All Saints church in Kings Heath. The idea behind the event was to encourage the local community to get involved in free arts workshops on the day whilst exploring and utilising this great space on their doorstep. Whilst our ethos is still the same, over the years of working with many great creatives and artists we have feel we have developed in direction, and we would love you to take a look our around our new Website, Facebook and Twitter page to see what we have been up to behind the scenes!
Incase you were wondering what it is all about we got together with Brum Spirit project organiser Tessa Burwood to explain in her own words whats been going on behind the scenes. I was working at the time as a journalist for BBC WM back in 2008, and had taken the week off to help interpret at WOMEX, as part of what was then West Midlands World Music Consortium. Shortly after that, I decided to quit my job and start out on my own in cultural production.
Our goal was to bring together touring and locally based artists on the Brummie circuit in unique live settings.
We were offered the opportunity to run the UK edition of Espirito Mundo, in partnership with Instituto Quorum – a production company based in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil. We knew the project could be really positive for Birmingham, and we like a challenge, so in 2011 we held the first edition of Espirito Brum at The Edge and PST in Digbeth, in partnership with community arts stalwarts Friction Arts. It was something we just had to make happen, and we worked as part of Espirito Mundo for three years, as part of a Europe wide circuit, before striking out independently.
Also, catching Rioghnach Connolly and Dea Trancoso teaching each other their favourite tunes, back stage at The Edge in 2012.
We wanted to open out the exchange to reflect Birmingham’s cosmopolitan nature, and we were determined to continue empowering artists to work in an atmosphere of respect and professional development.
Check this out – I squealed when I read this: Brazilian citizens earning more than 30 times the minimum wage are taxed at about 26%.
The Brazilians who have visited us over the years are ambassadors for their country on their way in, buoyed up by all that confidence that is part and parcel of being from a nation with so many riches of so many kinds. That’s part of its charm and its strength, as well as something that can hold the city back. I remember when Dragoes de Komodo came with their wonderful manager Adriana Franco, back in 2012. They had no idea what to expect, some of them spoke no English, and when they arrived they were tired, a little nervous, and freezing cold. At the end of their first evening, the boys realised they were sleeping in my bedroom, which I’d made up for them for the week.
Research by the Young Foundation has found that wellbeing is higher amongst people who have regular contact with their neighbours and that knowing people in our local area, even if is just to say hello, can have a big impact on how secure and happy we feel about where we live.
There was also support from theatre practitioner Hermione Sethi, who led a playful drama workshop, and the very talented Hasret Brown Art, pattern maker Hasret Brown offered up her unusual geometric arts and craft sessions. Culture Shock shared with us a very special session from their highlight performance from the previous year’s project, whilst Mendi Singh treated the crowd to a lesson in singing and tabla rhythms. David Warbrick,Our Big Gig Extra, Near Neighbours, Professional Incredibles, Culture Shock, Hasret Brown Art, CircusMASH, Soulful Lebanese Bakery, Hermione Sethi, Mendi Singh, Drum Together Brum led by Damon Wilding and Capoeira Cordao de Ouro Birmingham. That’s why this year, the city’s favourite cross cultural celebration has embraced all things art and has teamed up with a few of Brazil’s finest creators to deliver you some amazing artistic events this summer!
The poignant piece is a creation by the wonderful visiting Brazilian artist Ficore and Kings Heath home body Hoakser, who have joined forces to mark the arrival of the cultural exchange in the bohemian suburb. Graffiti painter Ficore is going to be working together with our favourite independent clothing boutique People Shop, painting fabric to be made into a bespoke dress by in-house designer Mr.Christian! Shops like ours need to work together and to collaborate with other organisations on interesting projects more often. As you can see, Kings Heath is Birmingham’s place to be this summer, and this is not one to be missed! All our performers delivered high energy entertainment all day to the raptures of support from everyone in attendance. Defkon 1 is an upcoming artist, who blends together elements from grime, soul, dubstep, and UK hip hop.
This is Mendi’s third appearance at Espirito Brum and he never fails to capture the attention of any crowd with his classical tabla music. If your a fan of Indian ragas with jazz and funk inspired bass lines, then be sure to check out Soundcloud and support these guys! The mural caused a bit of a stir, and was welcomed with open arms by local residents and business owners. The two solo exhibitions I’ve had were a whole new learning experience in terms of framing, picture hanging and organising. I’d always drawn stuff and copied my favourite cartoon characters on paper but trying to tag with style or draw letters in spray paint was completely new to me. The mural started coming together after a few days and the public really seemed to enjoy watching it. We have been lucky enough to put on events showing the spirit of Brum and embracing the spirit of Brazil! We were really lucky to count on the support of Arts Council England in this first year, as well as the backing of all those who gave up their time and space to make our visitors feel at home and put on a good show.
Secondly, we built a relationship with Tiger Bam Communications, without whose support we wouldn’t be getting the word out and stepping things up as the years have progressed. We also had wonderful performances from Dea Trancoso, Paula Pi, Joelle Barker (JOLT), Rubiane Maia, Ska’d for Life and Rioghnach Connolley (Honeyfeet) and made so many great memories. We hosted drumming workshops for all the family, in conjunction with Our Big Gig – the free nationwide event to encourage interaction with music.
Read all about the Rebel Spirit event here and whilst your doing that why not have this brilliant mix on in the back ground, Brasil by the very talented DJ Feva! We had various resident artist offering up their knowledge in; open ceramics studios with Becky Belcher, Multimedia pieces and workshops with Anita Roye,Design technology with Richard at CDTX, Crafty Business workshops with Sophie Handy, and the launch of our Looms Room with Mary, Becky, Niki, Sarah and Abi. This year’s edition of Rebel Spirit – just check out the video Learning that Brazilians find tea with milk a bit weird. We put on free, family friendly events for this reason – just like the daytime activities at Muzikstan Midsummer Festival.
It was the first trip out of Brazil for this Sao Paulo based hip hop collective, who are at the forefront of a thriving conscious underground movement across their home nation. We’re going to be putting prints of the exhibited works online for sale and at a special charity auction held in Loco Lounge August 8th, with all profits will be divided between the exhibiting artists and two amazing charities, find out more here. With female vocals from Danni Mayer, combined with funky bass and drums brought a soulful sound to the day, check out more from this band on Soundcloud or follow them on twitter. I’ve been practicing graffiti for around 15 years and have been self employed as an artist for 9. They create eclectic and contagious performances, if you missed them on Saturday then be sure to check out their Soundcloud as Defkon1 are definitely ones to watch.
My job is hard work, fun, stressful, relaxing, rewarding and I enjoy it loads but sometimes hate it too. Graffiti wasn’t something you could learn at school, no one had ever shown me this before and the more I learnt the more I realised how much there was still to learn. From tagging to doing murals on the sides of buildings, there’s a whole heap of practice and knowledge that goes behind that. With anything, the more you learn the better you get, but for me graffiti seems to be endless.



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