Blast! Festival of Photography, Talks & Walks
Blast! Festival invited 40 international and local artists, photographers and curators to showcase work, develop projects and collaborate with communities to present stories about everyday life. With exhibitions, film screenings, events, family friendly activities, performances, talks and walks, Blast! was presented on the streets, the Metro line, in shops, libraries and pubs, on historic buildings and in the community spaces of Sandwell. The festival took place over six weeks in each of Sandwell’s six towns: West Bromwich, Tipton, Rowley Regis, Oldbury, Smethwick and Wednesbury; it was free and open to everyone.
The festival showcased a range of new commissions by diverse contemporary photographers and artists working at the intersection of social practice and documentary photography, made in collaboration with local communities, that explored questions of accessibility and equal representation in the arts.
At the heart of the festival was The Sandwell Pride of Place exhibition: artists Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale of The Caravan Gallery, turned a derelict space that used to house a Poundland shop, into a temporary exhibition space / alternative visitor centre. Co-created with Sandwell Residents, the exhibition invited the community to contribute to the exhibition with their own words and images. The exhibition culminated into an alternative, local perspective on Sandwell, growing daily as visitors added to the artwork and ephemera on display, shared stories and made a mark on The People’s Map of Sandwell.
Blast! Festival Artists & Curators:
Anand Chabra, Andrea Fernandes, Andrew Jackson, Annegien van Doorn, Bethany Kane, Billy Dosanjh, Brendan Barry, Brian Homer, Chantal Rens, Czesław Siegieda, Dawinder Bansal, Emma Case, Emma Purshouse, Erik Kessels, Faye Claridge, Graham Peet, David Attie, Inka and Niclas Lindergård, Iona Fergusson, Jan McCullough, Janine Wiedel, Jaskirt Boora, Jennifer Pattison, Jocelyn Allen, John Myers, Jon Tonks, Kate Jackson, Laura Pannack, Liz Hingley, Mahtab Hussain, Mark Murphy, Martin Parr, Niall McDiarmid, Nilupa Yasmin, Robert Clayton, Rob Hewitt, Sound Kitchen, Stephen Burke, The Caravan Gallery, Trevor Pitt, Uzma Mohsin, Vicky Roden.
With thanks to our partners, Flatpack Film Festival, Centrala, GRAIN, Creative Black Country, Sandwell College, Cradley Heath Creative, University of Wolverhampton, Hill Shorter & West Midlands Metro.
Blast! Festival was funded by Arts Council England and the National Lottery, through their Strategic Funds Ambition for Excellence programme.
It is refreshing to see someone capturing histories & experiences that have not been deemed noteworthy, being captured. As this is a very fast disappearing history as the persons who lived through it are fast passing away. Very well done and much more is needed.
I like to keep our heritage alive. I feel this is important. We need more events like this. It has opened my eyes to what we can still see in our local area.
Brilliant use of space, love that you are leading people through the city – it’s a great celebration of local people and artists.