The Birmingham Grid Project 2023 – In Search of Urban Happiness

A new photographic Grid Project was launched in November 2022 and will be carried out in Birmingham and Halifax in 2023.  The project, In Search of Urban Happiness, will use different methods to previous projects and, along with photographers, will use writers.  Local poet Ian Henery has been commissioned to supply a variety of different poetry forms to accompany the images of Birmingham which will then be published and exhibited in Birmingham.


“A good environmental image gives its possessor an important sense of emotional security” explained Ian Henery “and whose landmarks are easily identifiable.  We are asked to look at topography, building materials, spatial characteristics and degrees of maintenance but it`s the people who make a place and the people who give life to a city”.


Ian has already spent some considerable time exploring Moseley with photographer Dave Moore in a segment called “A Journey from Victorian Inequality to Cultural Diversity”.  Dave took a series of photographs which Ian then illustrated in a variety of different poetry styles including one incorporating every song title on the multi-platinum selling Moseley Shoals by Birmingham band Ocean Colour Scene.  All of the poems were tried and tested in front of live audiences at open mic gigs by Ian in Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton before being offered up to The Grid Project.


“Dave is a stunning photographer” explained Ian “and I am lucky to be working with him.  Every photograph is different so every poem has to be not only different but in a different style.  However, to keep a common thread running through the work I inserted the words “off the grid” into every poem.  The project is called The Grid Project and Dave and I are “off the grid” exploring the different pathways through Birmingham and recording a changing city in images and words.  I was pleased that I was able to capture this element of friendship in the first poem I wrote for Dave`s first poem which had an image of Moseley Road.  I took the story of friendship in Ocean Colour Scene`s song, The Riverboat Song off the multi-platinum selling Moseley Shoals and cast Dave  as the hero, singing his songs and taking his photographs.”


Ian also got the chance to meet with Ocean Colour Scene`s Simon Fowler on Friday 3rd March during his sold out One for the Road acoustic set at the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham and show him the poem he had written  based on Moseley Shoals.


“I think Simon appreciated it” said Ian “because he is also a poet.  I invited him to join us and he still lives local.  It`s his choice, really, but I know after his acoustic set Ocean Colour Scene have a national tour”.