Balsall Heath Instameet
By Annabell Lamba from IGersBirmingham
A very special Instameet took place on 5 March 2016 in collaboration with Ikon, where 50 members of the IGersBirmingham community descended on Balsall Heath, to take pictures inspired by the photographs taken in the area by Janet Mendelsohn during the 1960s.
Mendelsohn’s photographs document the everyday stories of life in the inner-city district of Balsall Heath. Nearly 60 years later a group of IGers were tasked with exploring the area to capture the stories of Balsall Heath today. With the area being virtually unrecognisable and many of its streets, including the infamous Varna Road, ceasing to exist, it was hard to envision what would be caught on camera, how would the residents of Balsall Heath respond and more importantly would we be able to embrace Janet Mendelsohn’s style of photography? How pleasantly surprised we were!
We began our route at The Old Print Works and were then fortunate to have access to the Edwardian Moseley Road Baths building – groups were taken on guided tours, discovering areas usually closed off to the public.
While the images captured speak volumes, the parallels that could be seen between today’s photographs and those taken nearly 60 years ago cannot be emphasised enough.
For IGersBirmingham it was the first foray into true street photography on an Instameet and so many were pushed to explore and develop their own skills – this was made easier by the welcoming community we encountered throughout the day. We hope that Janet Mendelsohn can see the inspiration she provided shine through these photographs and the residents of Balsall Heath enjoyed the IGersBirmingham group descending on their community, embracing their rich culture.
Over 600 images produced at the Instameet can be found on Instagram using the hashtag #igb_meet_mendelsohn. For further information about upcoming Instameets in Birmingham go to the IGersBirmingham Instagram page @IGersBirmingham.