'Lighting Scheme for Longbridge' 2015, by Cathy Wade by Claire Farrell

Lighting Scheme for Longbridge 2015, by Cathy Wade

Cathy Wade has completed a number of works as part of Longbridge Public Art Project by WERK. The Lighting Scheme for Longbridge project re-thinks the future of public and private space in Longbridge.

Working closely with St. Modwen’s urban design team, Wade created a planting and lighting system for the new town centre. The ideas for the development of the project have come through the 2014 iteration of Longbridge Light Festival.

Programmed lighting and a series of multi-stemmed birch trees have transformed a hard-landscaped space into one that can be explored. This is a work of art with a practical and social function that will subtly alter according to season, time of day and the natural growth of the plants.

Wade’s vision is for this work to metaphorically and physically connect aspects from different moments in the timeline of Longbridge – to help pedestrians navigate the new walkways and publically accessible areas, and to offer an alternative, nuanced perspective of the current site development. 

'Longbridge Street Signs' 2014 by Luke Perry by Claire Farrell

Longbridge Street Signs 2014, by Luke Perry

Longbridge Street Signs was a commission from WERK in which Perry developed and installed a series of steel road signs within the Longbridge area as part of the Longbridge Public Art Project.

The words on each sign are phrases taken from conversations with numerous former Longbridge plant workers, again, like much of Perry’s public works, directly reflecting the thoughts, experiences and emotions of people from this particular place. One sign reads ‘I slept to the sound of the hammers’ – a particularly evocative statement about the audible and emotional reach of the plant.

Perry’s series of four signs are subjective and open to interpretation, acting as mediations on and interventions within the landscape. It is significant that Perry manufactures artworks himself, often using processes that have been used for multiple decades. This set of creative skills and knowledge connects his output directly to those of the Longbridge site. Perry’s working processes, as a maker of public artworks, consistently involve collaborations and discussions with communities. This supports opportunities for residents, such as those of Longbridge, to explore their own identities, in their own voices, while availing of the expertise of an artist in the creation of monuments to Longbridge’s varied legacies and to its future.

'Thousand Trades' by Industry of The Ordinary by Claire Farrell

Thousand Trades 2016, by Industry of The Ordinary

Chicago based artists Industry of The Ordinary were invited by WERK in March 2016 to develop a permanent artwork for Greenlands Select Social Club in Longbridge.  

The artists worked with the committee and club members at the club develop a permanent art work titled ‘Thousand Trades’. This title comes from the central role Birmingham played in the Industrial Revolution and the plethora of trades that were once present in the city. Greenlands represents a living monument to the history of the region in this regard, as many tradespeople have passed through its doors over the decades.

The artist's researched nearly 3,000 club member’s names that have been engraved on two new doors that, replacing the old entrance and exit doors at the club.

This work pays tribute to the concept of social club members, the camaraderie, unions and unity of a wealth of skills, craftsmanship and tenacity that enabled the clubs independent existence. This is a story that is echoed across the UK, social clubs have been significant contributors to the fabric of society for decades, some are declining, but all are defiant. 

As part of the artists research they undertook a series of recorded interviews with members of the club you can listen to the recordings here.

'Star Map' by Cathy Wade by Claire Farrell

Star Map 2015, by Cathy Wade

When Lord Herbert Austin visited the old print works in Longbridge on 4 November 1905, a leap of imagination was required – this was the site he had selected for the Longbridge car factory. 

Underpinning Cathy Wade’s ‘Star Map’, installed in Longbridge, are some of the intangible factors that brought Lord Austin to this particular part of southwest Birmingham. Rather than focus on the history of the plant per say, Wade’s sculpture is a carefully researched visualisation of the night sky over Longbridge, at its signature longitude and latitude, at the time of Lord Austin’s visit. Constructed from stainless steel, with constellations cut through to reveal points of light by Digbeth-based manufacturers, Clifton Steel, this is a monument to an auspicious moment. ‘Star Map’ echoes the flux, energy and power of machinery within the ever-changing face of the skies above us.

'A Hundred Thousand Welcomes' by Dave Sherry by Claire Farrell

A Hundred Thousand Welcomes 2009, by Dave Sherry

The featured text is a large-scale replica of the handwriting of Sister Sabina (MBE). Sister Sabina nicknamed the ‘Mother Teresa of Birmingham’ who has dedicated more than 22 years of her life to help the homeless in Birmingham through founding SIFA Fireside.

Part of Digbeth Public Art Project (2007-2009) was conceived and produced by WERK. A process driven and socially engaged project that involved extensive community engagement, historical research, events and workshops within the development of site specific, and responsive permanent public art work.


'Boundary' 2010, by Rob Colbourne & Stuart Mugridge by Claire Farrell

Boundary 2009, by Rob Colbourne & Stuart Mugridge

Boundary by artists Rob Colbourne & Stuart Mugridge was part of Digbeth Public Art Project by WERK. The project was part of the redevelopment of Birmingham Coach Station with the aim to support the regeneration of the area and enhance the sense of arrival to one of the cities major gateways (1.6 million visitors a year). The project engaged the local people within the artist's research and development phase through a series of unique participatory events held at various venues across Digbeth. The resulting site specific work Boundary evolved from a grounded engagement process with the local community.