These powerful images have been selected from over 500 in the OOM Gallery Archive to illustrate the demolition of the past and a premonition of the future for the City of Birmingham.
Jamaica Row is the pedestrian route situated between the Open Market and St Martin’s Market. Its name derives from a pub called the Black Boy in reference to King Charles II, who was dark skinned.
The rare grainy archival photographs taken between June 2000 and September 2003 reveal a process of transformation, as the landmark Bullring constructed during the 1960s is razed to make way for the 21st century. Past, present and future are juxtaposed in images that show buildings of previous decades being surgically ripped open, disembowelled and laid to rest, whilst the shape of the modern city is still being determined.
Through Caesar’s eyes, giant mechanical birds greedily peck at the expensive real estate. Bubblewrap swathes the Selfridges building like a sweet wrapper, whilst the film camera plays toreador with the lively plaster bull.
A shopping empire declines and in its place a bullish emporium of daring design and mammoth scale claims its shadow and footfall. Birmingham sheds its concrete skin and continues to re-invent itself like no other city in the United Kingdom as it strives to become a European icon of urban success. – Roger Shannon: Professor of film and Television, Edge Hill University
FACTS: The Bullring has been the historic market of Birmingham since 1166. In excess of £500.000 per day was spent on building Bullring. 15.000 tonnes of steel are in the Bullring. The new Bullring will provide over 1.2 square feet of retail space. Selfridges in the Bullring is covered in a skin of 15, 000 spun aluminium discs. The bronze bull at the base of the Bullring weighs 5 tonnes. Over 8,000 were created in the Bullring.
Pogus Caesar is a multimedia artist, photographer, author and curator.. He was the Director of West Midlands Minorities Arts Service. Co curated ‘Into the Open’ Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield (1984) and ‘Caribbean Expressions in Britain’ Leicestershire Museum and Art Gallery (1986). During a visit to New York in the 1980’s he acquired a Canon film camera which he still uses – he has worked in countries including India, South America, South Africa, Albania and the Caribbean documenting diverse communities. The outcome has resulted in 18,000 vintage negatives. Selected exhibitions: Into The Open: Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield UK 1984. Pogus Caesar Paintings: Cartwright Hall, Bradford UK 1986. Forward Ever Backward Never: Artangel, London UK 2003. Seeing Slavery: The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent UK 2007. That Beautiful Thing: Wolverhampton Art Gallery UK 2008. Pattern Recognition: The City Gallery, Leicester UK 2009. Islands on the Edge: Atlantic Wharf Gallery, Boston USA 2015. Staying Power: V&A Museum, London UK 2015. Caesar’s work is represented in public and private collections, including V&A Museum, London UK; The City Gallery, Leicester UK; Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield UK; Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton UK and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Birmingham UK. Caesar lives and works in Birmingham, UK.