2018 – the stories that matter

December 20, 2018

It’s approaching the end of the year and it’s the perfect opportunity to get comfy and catch up with the stories that matter; we’ve compiled a list of our projects from this year so you can watch, read and listen to your heart’s desire over the festive period!

We are Family – Our pop-up exhibition of material from The Multistory Collection toured to libraries and community centres across Sandwell, exploring ‘family’ through stories and images of local people. We ran a programme of associated events including ‘Who do you think you are’ with author and BBC Genealogist Paul Crooks, at the West Bromwich African Caribbean Resource Centre – family history, rice and pies and music – a winning combination! See pics from the event here.


Tipton Tales – Find out about the stories that lie at the heart of the town of Tipton in our very first poetry book, Tipton Tales. The anthology is curated by Emma Purshouse and features 9 other poets that have deep-rooted connections to the Black Country and a respect and love of the region. You can listen to a selection of the poems on Soundcloud including Emma Purshouse, Liz Berry, Roy Macfarlane and Billy Spakemon. We thoroughly recommend it! Alternatively, buy a copy via our shop


Girl Gaze – We were delighted to work with Creative Black Country, curator Iona Ferguson and the Nazar Foundation on Girl Gaze: Journeys through the Punjab & the Black Country, UK – a new photography project about women, by women, exploring the unique connection between women from the Punjab and the Black Country and bringing together newly-commissioned work by four women artists: Jocelyn Allen (UK), Jennifer Pattison (UK), Andrea Fernandes (India) and Uzma Mohsin (India). The work was exhibited in India and will come to West Bromwich as part of Blast! Photo Festival 2019. Image © Jennifer Pattison.


Black Country Lungs – A new photo book and exhibition, made in collaboration with Dutch photographer Corinne Noordenbos  tells the stories of people living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in the Black Country through photographs and first hand testimonies. One of the project partners says – “I showed my colleagues, and you could just see by their faces how powerful the pictures were. I can’t really find the words to say to you: if you can imagine, we see patients every day, and we see their faces every day and we have conversations with them every day but somehow when we saw the photographs – that saying “ a photograph or picture paints a thousand words” that’s how powerful these images were.” To find out more about the project watch an artist interview with Corinne Noordenbos.


Sandwell Stories  – Where does the Black Country start and where does it end? What happens in one of West Brom’s oldest buildings? Are greetings cards a thing of the past? Sandwell Stories is an audio project produced by Multistory where we talk to, and share, everyday experiences of local people. We chat with people we meet on the streets, at home and in the workplace, and record their views, ideas and stories to create our bi-monthly podcast that is played on the Black Country Matters radio show and on our website. Podcasts can be listened to here and an exhibition of photos by Emma Case, along with the audio will travel across libraries and community centres in Sandwell in 2019.


The Women’s Honour Award – Earlier this year, the public were invited by artist Sarah Taylor Silverwood to nominate women who they thought deserved to be honoured and celebrated. The nominated women had many things in common: they went above and beyond; they often worked behind the scenes; they were strong supporters of families and communities; often they were volunteers or carers. Ultimately, they are incredible women who deserve to be honoured and celebrated. We’re looking forward to the launch of the Women’s Honour Award next month, coming to West Bromwich Town Hall on 24 January 2019. Keep an eye out for updates on our social media channels in the New year! Image ©Emma Case for Multistory.


Out of the Shadows – Without a doubt one of the highlights of the year was launching Out of the Shadows; the untold story of people with autism or learning disabilities by Polly Braden and Sally Williams at the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC). It’s always a special moment for us when we come together to see the finished work with project participants, partners and artists. Some of the project participant’s including Lindsey, Rodney, Dharminder and Roy spoke about their experiences of the Criminal Justice System in front of their portraits. We’ve been overwhelmed by the public response to the exhibition and are making plans to tour the exhibition across the UK next year. in the mean time the book can be purchased via Dewi Lewis and you can read our feature in the Guardian Image: Roy © Polly Braden for Multistory.


Portraits in Motion – Volker Gerling made flipbooks with people he met on the streets of Sandwell and performed in the Town Hall in November 2018. He says: “Reacting to the camera in action, people shift and move and abandon the poses they first assumed when they knew they were going to be photographed. They react spontaneously. Their gestures and emotions are immediate, caught up completely in the present. These people are suddenly very beautiful and what they show is true and real. These moments are the essence of my work.” Don’t worry, if you missed his performance he’ll be back at Blast festival 2019.In the mean time, check out his project page here.


My.Self – In November we launched a new book with Michelle Sank called My.Self at Sandwell College. A number of students who featured in the book performed songs or poems in response to the work.  Michelle talks about what inspired her – ‘I’m interested in how adolescence is marked by rites of passage that are reflective of cultural values and how this is expressed within ethnically diverse communities in the Black Country. I am exploring the way these rituals often mark a socially recognized transition to adulthood and responsibility and to some recognition of sexual maturity. I will document how these rites of passage can differ from male to female and how the emphasis on body image, performance and dress are a personal means of expression.” View a selection of images here and purchase the book via our shop. Image: Caprice © Michelle Sank.


David Goldblatt-  We’d like to remember our dear friend David Goldblatt who died in June. We partnered with David from 2011 to May 2017, as part of his long-term photographic project about South African ex-offenders, which he extended to the Black Country to take portraits at the scene of crime. It was a great honour to work with David, researching and setting up his shoots to meet ex-offenders here in the UK and sitting with him while he listened to, and recorded, their stories. We will miss you David.
A selection of work made with ex-offenders and exhibited in UK prison can be viewed here. Image © Graham Peet.


Blast Festival – There’s lots of work being made with communities in Sandwell as we speak as part of Blast! A festival of photography, walks and talks. Blast! is a celebration of people, art and place – over 40 local, national and international artists have been invited to make new work, in collaboration with local communities, that will be presented in locations across Oldbury, Rowley Regis, Smethwick, Tipton and Wednesbury with the festival opening in West Bromwich. Put the dates in your diary – the opening weekend is 24 & 25 May 2019. We kicked off the programme with a series of artist talks from The Caravan Gallery, Erik Kessels and Martin Parr as a sample of what’s to come. You can sign up to the newsletter here for all the events and opportunities coming up. There’s also lots of exciting volunteering opportunities – if you’re interested please contact Richard (

Have a wonderful Christmas break and see you in the New Year!

The Multistory Team

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