• Wall of Iron

    • (0) Comments by julian 25 July 2011

    The wall of iron is now up at the Manor House, Hall Green Road, West Bromwich.  Many thanks to all those who came and helped nail objects to the wall.  Each object is either found locally or typical of the iron objects made in Sandwell over the past two or three centuries.  The photographs show the progress of making over the three days.

    How does it develop?  Not having made one of these out of doors, I don’t know what will happen.  I suspect that the weather will affect the names written on the card tags, so they will gradually disintegrate, while the metal rusts and leaves downward trails of rust on the white surface.  Ultimately the names will disappear and the objects will remain, till they disappear eventually, a metaphor for what happens in real time.

  • Engraving Workshop

    • (0) Comments by julian 15 July 2011

    Some images from the engraving workshop at Queens Square.  We were engraving onto old brass, iron, steel, aluminium and glass.  The words we put on – tymp, lehr, dog, bloom, and so on – are words from the metal and glass industries which are in danger of disappearing as the industries go.  Some of the words are specific to the Black Country.  When industries go, it is not just livelihoods and contacts that go, but entire cultures.

    And anothe view of the foghorn:


  • A Glass Garden

    • (0) Comments by julian 12 July 2011

    Using research by Joanne, Betty and Noreen, these plates have engraved on them the names of Chance employees and glass-workers from the Spon Lane area of West Bromwich.  I was interested in how family names reflect the transition from an agricultural and land-based economy to an industrial and factory-based one – in a way from the green of the plants to the red of the furnace.  The plates used were made by Chance Brothers.  They will be going on show in Unit 41-42 at Queens Square, West Bromwich, then Oldbury Library.

  • The Launch

    • (0) Comments by julian 10 July 2011

    A couple of photographs of this wonderful thing, at the launch on 9th July – more later


  • The Sandwell Foghorn again

    • (0) Comments by julian 7 July 2011

    I had to put this on the blog.  Trying to create a sound similar to an actual foghorn, I have managed to produce this by manipulating the sound of a steamer’s hooter:

    A foghorn short

    The SMBC Health and Safety Inspector took some readings from our recordings of  local people reading from the archives; these, on a fairly quiet setting, gave a reading of 85 decibels at about two metres when played through the first two sections of the foghorn.  This compares with about 130 decibels at one metre for an actual foghorn.

    Just imagine.    (I’m choosing my words very carefully here)


  • The Sandwell Foghorn

    • (0) Comments by julian 6 July 2011

    Seeing it come together, thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of Ian and Robin.  Seen below are sections 3-5, standing about 7 feet tall, and then sections 1-2 and 3-5.  Half of section 6 can be seen behind and to the left.

  • Archives for Waiting Rooms

    • (0) Comments by julian 3 July 2011

    Saturday marked the final workshop at Smethwick Library, making up the displays to go in doctors’ and dentists’ waiting rooms around the borough.  These will be site-related, giving information about the people and industries in those streets a hundred and more years ago.  They will be at the following clinics and surgeries:

    Asden House, Victoria Road, West Bromwich

    Ling Medical Centre, Frank Fisher way, West Bromwich

    Gelebefield Health Centre, St Marks Road, Tipton

    Neptune Health Centre, Sedgeley Road West, Tipton

    Victoria Health Centre, Suffrage Street, Smethwick

    Oldbury Health Centre, Albert Street, Oldbury

    Whiteheath Clinic, Badsey Road, Oldbury

    And in position they look like this

  • Glass 2

    • (0) Comments by julian 1 July 2011

    Have just been photographing some of the glass waste from Black Lake.  Looks good:

  • The foghorn

    • (0) Comments by julian 29 June 2011

    Photographs of the foghorn being tested in Ian Moran’s workshop in Cradley Heath.

    The two smallest parts of the horn only are shown – it will be three times as long as this, and 9 feet high at the opening.  The sound of the recorded voices played through a 4″ speaker is clear, warm, and potentially very, very loud.

  • Wall of iron

    • 2 Comments by julian 5 June 2011

    George Davis, iron puddler

    John Richards, spring maker

    John Price, nailmaker

    Harry Carter, glass grinder

    Thomas Parkes, polisher

    Ann Grigg, smoother

    Thomas Holden, labourer

    The names seem to go on for ever.  To celebrate this archaeology of people and work and what they made, we will be making a Wall of Iron.  23rd and 24th July, at the Manor House, West Bromwich.  We are aiming to put up a thousand pieces of iron, each one labelled with the name of a person who worked in West Bromwich over a hundred years ago.  We need those pieces of iron that you find in your garden, your allotment, your walks with the dog.  Bring them to the Archives room at Smethwick Library, Wednesbury Art Gallery, or The Public.  (No bicycles or supermarket trolleys please – in fact nothing bigger than your hand).  Come and help put the work up that weekend.

    Here is an idea of what it will look like:

    Think big.  In fact, think very big.