PDF: 100 Birmingham Sketchbooks (1987)

1991 (& on-going) ‘[small] Monuments’

Imagine if Birmingham had been Prague in September 2000. The place would have been full of dancing and tactical frivolity, costume, smoke bombs, banners and flags, barricades, pepper spray, boarded up windows, balloons, water canon, large inflatables, baton waving, processions and sit downs, bottle and stone throwing, music and sound tracking, whistle blowing, shield walls and protective clothing, littering and graffiti, fireworks and fire crackers, Pinks and Blues. There would, of course, have been the possible destruction of property but at least the city would have been alive – it would have been a place again.

“…imaginary beings. As symbolic protectors of civic pride and dignity their attributes consist of agility, power, strength and reason.  Their benign disposition through their form…creates a spatial installation of peaceful coexistence” [unknown source].

If public art is also the art of making places, it has to learn to work outside of, and possibly in opposition to, the power coalitions which have eroded notions of ‘place’ for a hundred years. If public art ignores the social complexity of ‘place’ – our ‘being’ in the world – then that art will be without meaning or content. A trifle.

© David Patten: ‘WORLD CITIES | Birmingham Welcomes the World’, October 2000

William H. Calvin: ‘A Stone’s Throw and its Launch Window: Timing Precision and its Implications for Language and Hominid Brains’, Journal of Theoretical Biology  104, 121-135 (1983). See also: http://WilliamCalvin.com/1980s/1983JTheoretBiol.htm. ©1983 by William H. Calvin and the Journal of Theoretical Biology / Scanned 1995 WHC


Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, U.S.A.

(Received 15 July 1982, and in revised form 4 March 1983)

Did bigger brains for more precise throwing lead to language, much as feathers for insulation may have set the stage for bird flight? Throwing rocks even at stationary prey requires great precision in the timing of rock release from an overarm throw, with the “launch window” narrowing eight-fold when the throwing distance is doubled from a beginner’s throw. Paralleled timing neurons can overcome the usual neural noise limitations via the law of large numbers, suggesting that enhanced throwing skill could have produced a strong selection pressure for any evolutionary trends that provided additional timing neurons. This enhanced timing circuitry may have developed secondary uses for language reception and production.

Apollinaire 1918 / HKW Berlin 2018

[small monument] Riot Stone | Working Note 8th December 2006 

[previously 14th November 2002] 

[previously 8th July 1989] 

“…the emphasis is on promoting landscapes that are aesthetically pleasing, functionally appropriate and ecological healthy… Almost by definition landscape architecture is…actively involved in the enhancement of the intrinsic qualities of places.” 

[www.qaa.ac.uk – landscape architecture] 

1990 ‘Cader Idris – Horizon Line’, Central Lending Library, Birmingham

Working Note 31st January 2007 

We have received a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) for the following: 

The big poll tax demonstration and files relating to the recent anti-globalisation riots in London over the last few years. Files held on the policing of the anti-globalisation protests in London over the last few years. 

We released the following information on: Date: Wed Jan 10 00:00:00 GMT 2007 

Due to the size of the documents this information is available in hard copy only. If you would like copies of the released information please contact Information and Record Management Services (IRMS) on 020 7035 1029 quoting ref FOI 698. 


Riot (Sacheverell) in 1715; Riots of 1791, what led to the, 220; Riots of 1791; The “Revolutionary Dinner” 226; Spies bring out false reports of the proceedings, 227; “Church and King” 227; The riot commenced, 227; Attack on the Meeting Houses, 228; Dr. Priestley’s house, 228; The second day, 232; Baskerville House sacked and bunt, 232; Attack on Bordesley Hall, 233; Hutton’s Shop, High Street, 233; The third day, 235; Attack on Hutton’s house at Bennett’s Hill, 235; Catherine Hutton’s narrative, 235; Mr. Humphreys’ house at Sparkbrook, 238; Mr. Russell’s, Showell Green, 238; Miss Russell’s narrative, 238; Moseley Hall, 243; The fourth day, 244; Miss Hutton’s narrative, continued, 244; Address of the Magistrates to the rioters, 245; End of the Riots, 246; Conclusion of Miss Russell’s narrative, 247; Dr. Priestley’s Address, 248; Aris’s Gazette and the riots, 249; Conclusion of Miss Hutton’s narrative, 250; Trials of the Rioters, 253; Claims of the Sufferers, 253; The Union Meeting House, 256; Rebuilding of the Meeting Houses, 256 

– “The Little Riot” (1793), 298; The Scarcity Riots, 300, 302 

– in the market-place and at Edgbaston, in 1810, 331 

– (Religious) in 1813, 364 

– in Moor Street (1816), 352 

– in front of the Royal Hotel (1837), 454 

– in the Bull Ring (1839), 457-61 

– at Snow Hill Flour Mills (1847), 556 

– “Murphy Riots” (1867), 569.

2007 Castle College Maid Marian Way Campus, Nottingham, with Lovejoy Birmingham and Kathryn Moore

Drive home thoughts – 18th May 2007

“Painting doesn’t mean anything” (Larry Poons) or the memory of painting? The memory of painting (in dialogue with the ambient) or Leone Alberti’s close down of the possibilities (specific viewing distance, a fixed centre and particular lighting positions – an intersection that cannot be altered, the picture plane as fixed boundary). Alberti’s let’s get real robustness shoring up painting’s inherent fragility.

Painting’s inherent fragility. 

A silent splash. An invisible rippling. A pebble dropped from a lost bridge into a buried canal is a fragile thought. As painting. Work that holds itself together without the “factitious unity of the tableau.” And from this we can build whole cities indifferent to difference and the relations of difference – a ‘villaging’ that privileges a momentary fragility.

Throwing stones, dropping a pebble, erasing a text, walking and talking – transitional practices, small time tactics, fragile thinking in search of the fullness of time. In search of great time. “I insist on my experience of sensations in time – not the sense of time but the physical sensation of time.” [Barnett Newman].

Painting’s institutional values are now in error – damnatio memoriae. Do we have to go through this again?

“…artists grow weary of neglecting their everyday realities in the hope of achieving…art market success… Prevailing ideas about art and culture at numerous academies and art schools are still based upon the concept of originality and uniqueness of art – art in service of representation and not of society. And there is a widespread lack of recognition of the fact that, in an entirely mediatised environment, new and different complex requirements are imposed upon artistic productions and thus upon their producers” [Ute Meta Bauer].

It’s just the old con – with the parting on the other side.

Flax Mill Sketchbook #2, 2007

ixia 2008

To answer Cathy, I don’t think that any public art in Birmingham could sum “up the mood for protest, demonstration, emotion” (although, enjoyably, the statue of Queen Victoria is sited where the public gallows used to be).  Most rumbles in Birmingham (back to 1791) have been linear (‘on the move’ and ‘place to place’) rather than object orientated or object inspired.  The last serious rumble (G8 Global Street Party in 1998) started at New Street Station and then focused itself at the Bull Ring roundabout.


As Hyde himself says, “The Gift has always been hard to summarize,” so I’m not going to attempt to say much more about it in this forum because I would risk turning this into a ‘reading circle’.

I referenced Hyde’s notion of ‘The Gift’ because of a suggested gift exchange (reciprocity) between the art-like Bull (art as gift) and the public “offerings” back to the Bull during its repair.

It is worth highlighting that for Hyde, “a work of art is a gift, not a commodity” that exists “simultaneously in two economies, a market economy and a gift economy.”  This, on the surface at least, could be useful in understanding some of the interactions public art has to perform. Certainly, Hyde’s notion of ‘The Gift’ underpins certain types of public art practice, particularly in the USA – for example see Buster Simpson’s description of what he does at:


This distinction between the gift being in the practice rather than in the object makes me nervous of Will’s emphasis on ‘things’.  If it is possible to rub the testicles of things, is it also possible to appreciate the golden balls of practice?  Isn’t it the interactions of practice that reveal the transactions and obligations of public art?  And isn’t sculpture what you trip over when rioting through the streets?


I’m rather reluctant to let Greenberg exit stage left in a cloud of Kantian aesthetics without at least one more comment.  Although it is clunky, elitist and redundant in (many) places, his 1939 essay ‘Avant Garde and Kitsch’* is well worth re-reading in the present economic climate (“Capitalism in decline…”).

For example, “The encouragement of kitsch is merely another of the inexpensive ways in which [new civic elites, city marketing, ‘anywhere’ retail, etc.] seek to ingratiate themselves with their subjects.”

What Greenberg does provide is an early distinction between art, popular culture and consumable culture (kitsch) which I think can be read in terms of intentions rather than aesthetics.  The trajectory of the Birmingham Bull is from historic popular culture bull-baiting to a ‘Britain’s Got The Pop Factor And Possibly A New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly On Ice’ equivalent to Greenberg’s “popular, commercial art and literature with their chromeotypes, magazine covers, illustrations, ads, slick and pulp fiction, comics, Tin Pan Alley music, tap dancing, Hollywood movies” and so on.


© David Patten: 21 December 2008

2009 Red Teapot Day, Herbert M&AG, Coventry

100 Birmingham Sketchbooks (1987) | exhibited Ikon Gallery (1989)

https://quickanddead.wordpress.com 05.01.2012

Sketchbook #01: detailing 7 minutes and 33 seconds.

Sketchbook #02: detailing the mild winter of 1658-59.

Sketchbook #03: detailing the heavy storm of 24 November 1703.

Sketchbook #04: [lost]

Sketchbook #05: detailing Act 1 Geo. 1., c27 (1720).

Sketchbook #06: detailing the prohibition of cloth buttonholes 1721.

Sketchbook #07: detailing the casting of a bell in April 1727.

Sketchbook #08: detailing the march of Worcester nailmakers 1737

Sketchbook #09: detailing Rev John Homes observation that, “it seemed as if God had created man only for making buttons.”

Sketchbook #10: detailing 19 October 1751 (riot).

Sketchbook #11: detailing the hailstorm of 1760.

Sketchbook #12: detailing the flood of January 1764.

Sketchbook #13: detailing Mr Burk’s comments in the House of Commons 26 March 1777.

Sketchbook #14: detailing the heavy storm of 9 March 1778.

Sketchbook #15: detailing the gale of 1 January 1779.

Sketchbook #16: detailing the mild winter of 1779.

Sketchbook #17: detailing the mild winter of 1782 – 1783.

Sketchbook #18: detailing the petition of the starving button makers in June 1791.

Sketchbook #19: detailing 15 July 1791 (riot).

Sketchbook #20: detailing the waterspout of 1792.

Sketchbook #21: detailing the flood of 13 April 1792.

Sketchbook #22: detailing 24 October 1793 (riot).

Sketchbook #23: detailing the emigration of 100 families to America in August 1794.

Sketchbook #24: detailing the hard frost of January 1795.

Sketchbook #25: detailing the hailstorm of 1798.

Sketchbook #26: detailing Westley’s map.

Sketchbook #27: detailing 28 May 1810 (riot).

Sketchbook #28: detailing 22 March 1813 (riot).

Sketchbook #29: detailing the hard frost of December 1813 and January 1814.

Sketchbook #30: detailing the snowstorm of 23-24 January 1814.

Sketchbook #31: detailing 12 September 1814.

Sketchbook #32: detailing 1816 (riot)

Sketchbook #33: detailing the mild winter of 1820.

Sketchbook #34: detailing the frost of January 1820. 

Sketchbook #35; detailing events at Pebble Mill Pool.

Sketchbook #36: detailing Act 5 GeoIV., c97 (1825).

Sketchbook #37: detailing the depressed condition of operative jewellers.

Sketchbook #38: detailing the flood of 26 June 1830.

Sketchbook #39: detailing the hailstorm of 9 May 1833.

Sketchbook #40: detailing 15 July 1839 (riot).

Sketchbook #41: detailing 1844 (conference).

Sketchbook #42: detailing 29 June 1847 (riot).

Sketchbook #43: detailing 4,980 tradesmen listed in White’s.

Sketchbook #44: detailing 1844 (conference).

Sketchbook #45: detailing the flood of 11 November 1852.

Sketchbook #46: detailing the gale of 26 September 1853.

Sketchbook #47: detailing 1854 (conference).

Sketchbook #48: detailing the opening of Adderley Park 30 August 1856.

Sketchbook #49: detailing 800,000 guns for the American Civil War.

Sketchbook #50: detailing the Orsini bombs used in Paris.

Sketchbook #51: detailing the mild winter of 1857.

Sketchbook #52: detailing the storm of 15 June 1858.

Sketchbook #53: detailing the frost of December 1860 to January 1861.

Sketchbook #54: detailing the lightening of 23 June 1861.

Sketchbook #55: detailing the flood of 23 June 1861.

Sketchbook #56: detailing 5 October 1862 (conference).

Sketchbook #57: detailing 1865 (conference).

Sketchbook #58: detailing the flood of 8 February 1865.

Sketchbook #59: detailing 16 June 1867 (riot).

Sketchbook #60: detailing the thunderstorm of 26 August 1867.

Sketchbook #61: detailing 13 October 1867 (riot).

Sketchbook #62: detailing 23 August 1869 (conference).

Sketchbook #63: [lost]

Sketchbook #64: detailing the rain of 1872.

Sketchbook #65: detailing the flood of 25 May 1872.

Sketchbook #66: detailing 12 May 1873 (conference).

Sketchbook #67: detailing 14 January 1875 (conference).

Sketchbook #68: detailing 7 March 1875 (riot).

Sketchbook #69: detailing the thunderstorm of 17 June 1875.

Sketchbook #70: detailing the great improvement scheme of 10 November 1875.

Sketchbook #71: detailing the tolling of St Martin’s bell.

Sketchbook #72: detailing 18 January 1876.

Sketchbook #73: detailing the gale of 30 January 1877.

Sketchbook #74: detailing the storm of 20 February 1877.

Sketchbook #75: detailing the whirlwind of 4 April 1877.

Sketchbook #76: detailing 17 July 1877 (conference).

Sketchbook #77: detailing 7 November 1877 (conference).

Sketchbook #78: detailing 5 March 1878 (conference).

Sketchbook #79: detailing 2 May 1878 (conference).

Sketchbook #80: detailing the long frost of 1878 – 1879.

Sketchbook #81: detailing 1879 (conference).

Sketchbook #82: detailing 17 June 1879 (conference).

Sketchbook #83: detailing the lightening of 3 August 1879.

Sketchbook #84: detailing the frost of January 1881.

Sketchbook #85: detailing 14 June 1881 (conference).

Sketchbook #86: detailing the storm of 14 October 1881.

Sketchbook #87: detailing the rain of 1882.

Sketchbook #88: detailing 6 August 1883 (conference).

Sketchbook #89: detailing the gale of 11 December 1883.

Sketchbook #90: detailing the mild winter of 1883 – 1884.

Sketchbook #91: detailing the tempest of 15 June 1884.

Sketchbook #92: detailing 13 October 1884 (riot)

Sketchbook #93: detailing the lives of 400,774 inhabitants.

Sketchbook #94: detailing the lives of 194,540 men.

Sketchbook #95: detailing the lives of 206,234 women.

Sketchbook #96: detailing the lives of 58,044 children under the age of 5.

Sketchbook #97: detailing 50 people born at sea.

Sketchbook #98: detailing the lives of 1,127 artists, art workers and musicians.

Sketchbook #99: detailing 162,583 workers without specific occupations.

Sketchbook #100: [lost]