I’ve been using this as a kind of brand image for some time now. I liked it for a number of reasons. First, it’s urban street art, which always seems to sum up the gritty feel of my writing. Second, it’s in Birmingham, which is where most of my stuff is set. And third, it looks like a Pink Floyd album cover, and we all know how I feel about them!
I first stumbled across the picture in the wilds of the internet, while searching for something else (as you do). It was being used as a header by the Birmingham Updates account on Twitter, and a bit of judicious digging showed that the photo was taken by Harrison Cantel. Other than that, I knew virtually nothing about it. Until this morning.
Searching for the original picture again in order to set it as wallpaper on my phone, I came across a slightly different version, on Pinterest, with a bit more information. It seems the original artwork is by Lucy McLauchlan, a contemporary artist specialising in large-scale, mostly-monochrome murals. I’ve seen her work before and loved it – these rather amazing birds on the sides of the old Birmingham library before it (and the art) was bulldozed.
If you head to Lucy’s website and click on ‘selected works’ and then ‘murals’, you’ll see the canal artwork along with many similar pieces on the walls of houses and factories across Birmingham, the UK and even Europe.
As for the canal art location, this is also in Birmingham. Specifically, under a bridge on the Digbeth Branch Canal, a short stretch linking two other canals on the eastern side of the city centre. Completed in 1799, it has six locks and a banana warehouse (!) and lies within the Warwick Bar conservation area which includes a variety of listed canal buildings. I’ve never visited this particular spot before but it looks fascinating and I’m adding it to the list for the next time I go to Birmingham. Who knows, I might even get my own photo of the image I’ve been using for so long!
And thanks to Bethany R on Pinterest for pointing me in the right direction.