Found in Ladywood 2010 / by Claire Farrell

Found in Ladywood

Ladywood, Birmingham, 2010

'We've just witnessed History'

A project by WERK in partnership with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Artists - The Leo String Quartet (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) and Composer Duncan Chapman.

Written and produced by Claire Farrell WERK, Found in Ladywood was a site specific performance based community intervention and engagement project.

The project culminated in a contemporary urban performance within a working engine room of a fire station in Ladywood, a suburb of Birmingham on the 9th October 2010.

The Leo String Quartet (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) took their renowned classical repertoire out of traditional settings and into a working engine room of Ladywood Fire Station for an autumnal performance of Shostakovich Quartet No 8 and original site specific urban composition.

The score was created by Composer and Music Animateur Duncan Chapman and inspired by a series of walks with residents to record the sounds of their environment. The Composer notated the music working with Ladywood residents in a series of artistic workshops, which included collaboration with the Leo Quartet to produce the piece for the engine room performance.

Claire Farrell, WERK was inspired to write the project for the community by both the CBSO’s ethos to engage new audiences, and ‘Lost in Ladywood’ a 2007 project by artist Simon Whitehead, commissioned by MADE. WERK aimed to engage and reach community members in Ladywood within all aspects of the project; within the creative process, to provide opportunities for residents to learn new skills by being part of the event team to produce a classical performance on their doorstep. The event was produced on a small budget, utilising resources that were accessible to the community with the aspiration that events could continue in the area post performance.

The engine room in Ladywood Fire Station had never been used in this way before; it provided a venue offer in terms of a unique performance space, providing great acoustics and a key location within the heart of the community.

Community event skills workshops

The journey leading up to the performance involved members of the community working with Claire Farrell, WERK within a series of workshops to give the group the opportunity to learn a variety of skills and to become the event team for the project. WERK in collaboration with the community event team transformed the engine room of the fire station with simple lighting into a performance space with risers and rows of chairs sourced in kind to line the back of the engine room for the 9th October 2010 event.

WERK and the community group planned and delivered the event through participation in all aspects of planning leading up to including the performance day. The simplicity of the performance space transformation was intentionally site responsive, and also an opportunity to demonstrate to the community event team and audience members that a Fire Station in the heart of their community could be used as a performance space.

Post Found in Ladywood members of the same community event team formed for this project produced their own musical event at the fire station and continue to do so today. The latest performance event in the fire station took place in April 2015, five years on.

Sponsored by Birmingham City Council Working Neighbourhood Fund, with special thanks to the West Midlands Fire Service and Birmingham Solihull Mental Health Trust Foundation for supporting the project.