This Saturday Pete will be leading a special photo walk in Digbeth with musician and artist Sam Underwood. It will follow the same loose format as last week’s walk with Iain from SOUNDkitchen but will be very different indeed. For a start, Iain is a soft-spoken Scot while Sam is a grinning bearded chatterbox. Here’s a photo I took of Sam talking about his work at If Wet, an event he co-runs.


Sam has done all manner of things related to sound and music but specifically relevant to this walk is his Sonic Graffiti project where he installed a number of electronic instruments in the fabric of Digbeth. At least one of them is still functioning, cemented into one of the railway arches by the Custard Factory. (If you come on Saturday we’ll show it to you.)

The Sonic Graffiti project is a nice example of a theme throughout Sam’s work – the juxtaposition of natural, ambient sounds and his own manufactured sounds, and what comes from that combination. To this end he has developed many techniques for listening and processing the sounds around him, from simple cupping of ears to specialist microphones.

On Saturday he’ll share some of his techniques and help you become aware of sounds you might not have noticed before, or in some cases have been unable to hear. We’ll use contact microphones and stethoscopes to penetrate the shell of the city and use our bodies to feel the vibrations of Digbeth.

And then we’ll take some photos.


With the last walk I was pretty relaxed about what sort of photos people took. I wanted to see where their imaginations would go, and they went in some really interesting places. (I’ll be writing this up properly after this weekend.)With Sam’s walk I want to be more prescriptive.

One of my favourite classes we ran at the beginning of Photo School in 2012 was Abstract Photography and I’ve used facets of that class in workshops I’ve run for the Ikon gallery. Abstract street photography is a rich area to play in because it encourages you to look closer and find new images in familiar objects. It can be gritty and realistic or fantastical and otherworldly. By using a tight frame and getting right into the details we really get to know Birmingham in an intimate way.

So, on Saturday Sam Underwood will get you listening closely to Digbeth, and then I’ll get you to look closely. And then you’ll take some photos. What marvelous photos they will be.

This walk is limited to 10 places. There are 3 places left at time of writing. Please book your place here.