Cultivating Heritage

Heritage has always been my compass in helping me to locate where I am, who I am and how I can make sense of the world around me. It’s what motivates me to use it as the vehicle for helping other make meaning and make a difference in their worlds.

This short film was created by Culture Central as the arts and cultural sector support organisation for the Midlands and features interviews with myself and some of my fantastic colleagues. It highlights the value of our work at Moseley Road Baths in creative approaches to exploring heritage and also gives a lovely snapshot of some of the highlights of our work over the past year.

Building the Village at Moseley Road Baths

In 2003 I took a part time job at a local swimming pool to earn some money whilst training as a film maker. The building had so much potential…

Social history is my first love, so working in the Grade II* listed Moseley Road Baths was pretty special. It could also be completely demoralising, with the ongoing threat of closure and redundancies as the cost of vital repairs went up and up. In 2006 I got on board the newly formed Friends of Moseley Road Baths, connecting with others who shared my belief that a renovated building could be so much more than just a swimming pool, but a symbol of pride and a space of connection within Balsall Heath.

20 years later, I am putting my energies into the development and delivery of an arts and culture led heritage programme of activities at Moseley Road Baths.  This sits alongside a £33m capital works programme in the Baths and neighbouring library, secured after years of tireless campaigning by the Friends of Moseley Road Baths and our allies.  As the ‘Partnerships and Participation Development Officer’, my role defines who we work with and how, placing local audiences at the heart of this £500,000 National Lottery Heritage Fund supported programme and therefore centring their voices in the building’s longer term development.

During 2023 we delivered four pilots – creating a Living Room in the empty Gala Pool; reimagining the role of libraries through performances in Balsall Heath Library and hosting our ‘Exchange’ Festival; employing six local Young Curators to curate the stories of the building through producing their own ‘Bathcast’ podcasts and reopening the ‘Slipper Baths’ for visitors to come and bathe in their own bath cubicle. Each pilot has featured some really targeted, brilliant programming, connecting people in new ways with the heritage of the building and its people.

We are now taking findings from these pilots to develop a longer term programme of activities which we hope the National Lottery Heritage Fund will support to enable work to continue from 2025 onwards. What I have been part of over the past year reinforces my belief that when we are rooted in our heritage, communities can come together to make meaning and joy in a way that feels essential for navigating the world right now. We’re building our village – creating, connecting, crying and cuddling – and I love it.


It’s been a real pleasure to document the development and sharing of a very beautiful immersive audio experience, created as part of Birmingham’s cultural programme for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Notnow Collective, a group of four Balkan women, came together to create the work which asks questions about migration, belonging and the rituals people create to fit in. It was an ambitious site-specific project, set within Moseley Road Baths, a busy Grade II* listed Edwardian swimming pool with active renovations.

Watch the film to learn about their approach to co-creation, use of new technologies and the team of exceptional artists whose approach to storytelling and holding space for reflection and community is truly wonderful.

We Went All Out

The Commonwealth Games arrived in Birmingham this Summer, and with it came delivery of a vast array of arts and cultural events across the city. I’ve been busy devising and delivering community-led projects. Here is a snapshot of some of the fun I’ve been having…

Our Social Fabric

‘Our Social Fabric’ has seen the creation of a large tapestry in the empty Gala Pool space at Moseley Road Baths. The tapestry boldly weaves together the stories and cultures from a diverse, dynamic neighbourhood, and showcases Moseley Road Baths as a Grade II* listed heritage and sporting venue as part of the Commonwealth Games programme. It has been created by women from Amal Creative, a local Yemeni women’s organisation, and visitors to Balsall Heath Second Saturdays in the Daily Thread textile studio in the Old Print Works.

As Co-ordinator of Art Works, I devised and developed this project from conversations within the local community and commissioned two fantastic emerging artists, Tia Parmar and Mahawa Keita to deliver workshops. The tapestry is on permanent display in the Gala Pool.

Funded by Birmingham City Council’s ‘Celebrating Communities’ fund for Balsall Heath East West as part of Birmingham 2022 celebrations to welcome the Commonwealth Games to Birmingham.

Our Families, Our Journey

‘Our Families, Our Journey’ celebrates the rich cultures within Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath. Children and adults who live in the area have been creatively exploring how people from the neighbourhood made their way here and how this contributes to the rich cultural landscape of the neighbourhood and of Birmingham.

I commissioned artists Kiz Manley of HipHop Heals and Alison Clawley of Make Good Arts to lead workshops in Conway Primary School, Nelson Mandela Primary School and Ashiana Community Project. They used stimulus such as local history, maps, fabrics and spices as a starting point for delving into the themes of the project.

Alison has supported groups to use a range of techniques, including fabric painting, printing and appliqué, to decorate fabric squares and create a fabric wall hanging for each group, one of which was displayed at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery throughout August. Kiz has taken stories and ideas from different cultures to imagine a new country, complete with its own sports teams, flags and passports.

Funded by Birmingham City Council’s ‘Celebrating Communities’ fund for Sparkbook and Balsall Heath East ward as part of Birmingham 2022 celebrations to welcome the Commonwealth Games to Birmingham.

10 to 11 Blossom Project with Kinmos

Kinmos got involved in some floral fun in June and July, creating blossoms as part of Number 11 Arts’ partnership project with the National Trust, ’10 to 11′. It builds on the National Trust’s Blossom Together in Birmingham project, which will see a ‘ring of blossom’ planted around the city. In my role as Art Works Co-ordinator, I commissioned Kinmos to deliver a series of workshops with people who drop into their regular Tuesday sessions. Using foam, ribbon and fabric, the group worked hard together with lead artist Rachael Hawkins to created hundreds of individual flowers. These were attached to a woven willow heart during weekly sessions.

Members of the public joined Kinmos on Sunday 10th July at All Saints Church Square in Kings Heath, for an afternoon of floral fun. Passers-by of all ages decorated the wicker heart with beautiful blossoms, got their faces painted and joined in with live Karaoke!

BOSA – NotNow Collective

There’s nothing quite like collaborating with a team of dynamic and brave creative folk. Notnow Collective are a group of four Balkan women with a curious, playful and experimental approach to storytelling. I was thrilled to join them to document the evolution of ‘BOSA‘, an immersive audio site-specific performance set in my beloved Moseley Road Baths.

The performance built on conversations and workshops with the ‘Chat and Splash’ women’s group of ESOL learners and pushed possibilities using 360 degree spatial audio and the chaos of inviting audiences into a busy public building undergoing renovations. Somehow, what emerged was a gentle, soothing storytelling, exploring ideas of migration and belonging. Above is the trailer, but I’ll be posting up the promotional video and full ‘making of’ film soon.

BOSA was ‘Creative City’ funded project as part of the Commonwealth Games.

Journeys of Hope

It was a real privilege to once again join In Her Shoes in their deep, important and joyful work to empower women through music. I documented this summer’s ‘Journeys of Hope’ project, which brought together migrant women from across Birmingham in songwriting and solidarity. A core group of women collaborated with Katy Bennett, Ann Jones and Lou Atkins to write songs about their experiences of making Birmingham their home. They then connected with women at Mothership Projects in Bearwood, refugee women at Allens Cross in Northfield and newly arrived Ukrainian women and their families at Moseley Hive to write new songs to be performed at a celebratory event.

Witnessing and feeling the sisterhood created through song during the project was very special. Laughter, tears, rage and above all hope were shared, giving important space for women to express themselves and connect with one another.

What have you heard about Covid?

Women and Theatre is working in partnership with Moseley Road Baths and local women in Balsall Heath, to create a series of short videos which share information about Covid-19 and promote positive wellbeing messages.

I will be working alongside Janice Connolly of Women & Theatre and poet, writer and performer Rupinder Kaur to talk to women of all ages and backgrounds about concerns, anxieties and misinformation about Covid-19 guidelines and vaccines. Join us for a swim and a chat and then we’ll be getting creative with some fun workshops to develop the short films.

Sessions take place on Mondays (17th and 24th) and Thursdays (20th and 27th), 11:15am-1:15pm over the next few weeks. For more information, call Matt Smith on 07849 214 799 or e-mail