Works in Birmingham.


There are many redundant small factories and workshops in Birmingham. The one pictured here fronts onto Sheepcote Street, and appears to have been, to look at the roof lines, two separate buildings with two separate uses at one time. To the rear of the building there is a wharf giving access to the Birmingham Main Line canal.

Adjacent to the works, on the corner of St. Vincent Street and Sheepcote Street there is the “Roundhouse”, part of which can just be seen to the extreme left of the image,  a horseshoe shaped building constructed around 1840 for the LNWR as a coal and mineral wharf, it is now a children’s nursery.

2 thoughts on “Works in Birmingham.

  1. I believe it was during a moment of deep reflection that Thomas Aquinas stated, “The chief end of humanity is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” I personally have always felt an inward sympathy with that most lofty of statements, but occasionally, just occasionally, I find something in the creative works of mankind that challenges my singular striving toward the divine. It’s as if in striving toward what Thomas Aquinas refers to as ‘the chief end of humanity’, the corporeal eye may just be shut to the riches of this material existence which surrounds us. What a tragedy!

    Yet in furnishing the onlooker with such an artistic portrait as that which is presented in Works in Birmingham, the photographer is reminding the viewer, the conscious receiver if you will, that the inner strivings toward the eternal are in essence a yearning to break free from his decaying existence. It is my view that this is well represented in this piece by virtue of its gloriously sublime features. The truth about mans’ advance into decrepitude, and his simultaneous reach upward toward something higher and eternal, is depicted here in a way equal (in my humble opinion) to one of Guaguin’s famous works of self reflection.

    It’s all here. The reflections upon the window panes; the boarded up glass (no doubt intended to remind us that the ability to self-reflect is a gift, transitory in nature, but which may one day be shattered and replaced with a material of an inferior nature; the moss growing between the cracks of the paving blocks which would once have been a focal point of hustle and bustle; there would even appear to be a sticker on one of the ground floor windows, a beautiful reminder that our ability to self reflect on our unique place in the universe is on occasions punctuated by the presence of our mundane passage through this life -that is to say, our ability to both reflect and allow light to pass through our souls by virtue of its translucent nature is balanced by aspects of opacity with which we must daily contend. Oh, what a battle it is to be sure!

    In conclusion, thank you for representing in a photo, simple and sublime, thoughts which philosophers have long struggled to express within the confines of human language. I feel that you may have done this very thing in the framework of Works in Birmingham. A picture tells a thousand words. I feel the words your picture tells are, to put it frankly, without end. Verba aeternum!

  2. I have to praise you for this belter of a picture!

    This is a characterful buiding and you’ve really done it justice- the effect is almost hypnotic. Black and white was the only real choice for this image and it works on so many levels. Pinpoint detail and a good use of angles; i’d say it’s a bit of a classic.

    Surprised there aren’t more comments for this one.

    Leo Cook.

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