Merchandise Workshops 

Local people were invited to produce the merchandise for the biennale at a series of printing workshops held across the local area. We felt that embedding the production of publicity within the community would give ownership of the project to people who lived in the area. Our rationale was that if they made the poster they were much more likely to put it up in their window and promote the biennale.

Occurring at street level, this internal merchandise production mechanism incorporated a design originally produced for the 1969 Balsall Heath Festival that simply stated ‘I’m a Balsall Heathan’. It could be suggested that there is a relationship between the area’s persistent litter and dumping problems and not enough people having a sense of local identity and our idea was that by using this statement it might go some small way to readdressing this problem.

But the badge also had other slightly subversive undertones: Heathan is a homophone and sounds likes the distinctly paganistic ‘Heathen’ (this is perhaps one of the reasons why we were drawn to it). Indeed, someone who worked in Balsall Heath who was a Christian found it a problematic statement as it suggests an ungodly person and refused our offer of a T-shirt on this basis.

This aspect of the project was supported by the West Midlands Police Property Act Fund.

Using Format