“I came to Handsworth about 3 years ago, from Jamaica. I like it here, there are lots of opportunities. My mother still lives in Jamaica, the life is good there, boiling hot at Christmas time - but not so many opportunities.
This shop - I sell maybe 4 or 5 items a days, so business is not that great. What I sell is that extra thing - people come out shopping to pay their bills and buy food. But I give thanks you know, I give thanks.
I am not religious - I am not this or that thing you know- but I do believe we all have a soul. There is something that is greater than us that is beyond us. I respect other people’s religions, but I don’t need to belong to any one of them. You know?”
Notes from a brief conversation with Kirk in his record shop on Grove Lane, Handsworth.
After spending a couple of afternoons at the Tea Shop on Grove Lane and around Soho Road in Handsworth I am starting to get the sense that this is a fabulous place to start my Inhabit commission. I am struck by the general friendliness of the few people I have met so far, and how rich this part of Birmingham is in so many ways.
My approach is going to be quite open at this stage, and I will let the people I meet and the things that I see and hear influence my thinking and feeling. This is a stage of introductions, making connections and building relationships. This week I plan to be making images and audio recordings as a way of starting to creatively engage, and also to provide me with some material to reflect upon.
It feels really good to be part of the Inhabit process - for me it is very stimulating that there are so many artists working in ways that naturally overlap, and that all of them bring their own different sets of experiences and ways of thinking, imagining and making. I often find residency work can be quite a solitary endeavour - not in the sense of being isolated or cut off, but that artists’ are often left to find their own way with only a few starting points. Inhabit offers the most natural of ‘ways in’ with the very friendly base of the tea room - warm, welcoming, and inviting many different kinds of sharings to take place over cups of tea.
I am starting to think about the complex communities of Handsworth: the importance of belonging and how this expressed in many different ways. What stories are used or created to connect things and people together and enriches and motivates peoples’ lives?