The Southside Building meets B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival
On Friday 25th September, the annual B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival returned to Southside, Birmingham to celebrate its 5th year. This year, we are proud to be sponsors of this electric two-day event as B-SIDE went IN-SIDE. From Friday 25th to Sunday 27th, audiences were treated to a host of interactive activities including online dance battles, workshops, performances, and more!
With a rich and colourful history, the city of Birmingham makes for the perfect backdrop in celebration of diverse cultures. At The Southside Building, we consider ourselves “the expressive building”. From the design-led office space to the creative members we attract, we champion expression of different forms. The Southside Building offers a workplace experience unlike anywhere else in the city centre, with office suites from 157 – 6,318 sq ft and co-working spaces designed for like-minded thinkers.
We are passionate about ensuring that local talent, businesses and individuals have access to an engaging environment in which their creativity can thrive. Both sharing a passion for creativity and culture, teaming up with the B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival to sponsor this event, has been nothing short of a match-made in heaven.
Amongst the amazing activities surrounding the festival, there was one that will be sure to catch the attention of passers-by here at The Southside Building. To mark the 5th anniversary of B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival, the large side wall of Birmingham Hippodrome was given a graffiti-style makeover as local Birmingham artist, Zuke took to the skies to paint a mural in homage to the B-SIDE girl.
Ahead of the festival, we caught up with the man behind the mural to talk all things art, creativity and expression here at The Southside Building.
Please tell us a bit more about who you are and what you do?
My name is Zuke and I’m a graffiti artist based here in Birmingham.
What does graffiti art mean to you?
Graffiti is everything. As a kid growing up, I found it hard to get into sports but I was always artistic. When the hip-hop movement came to Birmingham, I knew instantly that was exactly what I wanted to get into. I may not have had the fresh clothes to join the break-dancers, but the graffiti element of the movement really rocked my boat as I was always artistic as a child. So, I just held onto the passion, embraced it and after 35 years, I’ve never looked back.
How did you get started?
Back in ‘85/’86 when I first started, you had the legendary UBA crew and they would meet up just around the corner from my house. Growing up I was really inspired by them and quickly became a part of the crew. Through them I then met another graffiti legend, Mark Goldie. Looking back, I suppose I was like his protégé in school. We would travel up and down the country. I was introduced to a lot of different writers which really shaped my experience as a graffiti artist. These experiences taught me key lessons and gave me the confidence to stay true to my graffiti style and not rush the process.
How do you feel to be working with the B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival here at The Southside Building?
I’m absolutely buzzing about the whole thing. I’ve never had an opportunity to create something like this before and so I’m really happy to be involved. Over the moon!
The theme behind the mural is “the B-SIDE girl”. What does “the B-SIDE girl” mean to you?
For me, it’s about being positive. Representing who you are and being fresh. Ultimately, it’s about being true to yourself. The message we are trying to send is to not let any barriers hold you back. It was also about celebrating diversity for me. We could easily have created a B-boy themed mural but we see those images all the time. It was important to go against the grain in this way.
Talk us through the graffiti process scaling this building.
The first thing is the idea, quickly followed by the design work. That process itself took about 2 weeks. The next part was to get it signed off. Then it was all about working out how we would pull such a great feat off. We’re talking about a mural the height of 4 double-decker buses high and double that in width. In cases like this, you can use a projection or a grid system. We went for the latter because the beauty of it is that it helps you put the outline up on the wall. Because of these giant scale walls, it’s essential that we follow this process.
Here at The Southside Building, we are all about expression. How important do you think it is that creatives are able to express themselves – be it through art or even business?
I can’t even express how important it is. It’s absolutely vital. That’s why it’s so important that spaces like The Southside Building exist. Ironically, as a child we used to call ourselves “Southside”. We were all like a family of creatives. The fact that Birmingham’s Southside has gone on to represent surrounding communities, is very important. We need to make this thing bigger and keep pushing forward with it. When we were younger, we didn’t really have access to creative platforms like this. It’s so important to help young businesses and creatives push themselves. That’s why support matters. Without the right opportunities to guide us, we may lose the way.
Our offices are design-led to create an environment that unlocks creativity. What helps you feel your most creative?
When it comes to feeling creative, I think everything stems from being comfortable in yourself. Getting yourself into that state of mind where you know who you are and what you are doing. I like to surround myself with positivity. That’s how I really get into the zone when I am working on something. Excellence also matters, so I try to do the best that I can and that never fails.
The B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival is a celebration of hip-hop culture which showcases the diversity of talent in the city of Birmingham. How important is it that spaces like this exist here?
I don’t think it should ever stop. We have people from all over the world who we share this beautiful city with. I believe that diversity matter because we’re better together. There’s so much rich history and culture in the world that having something like this with people from all walks of life, is a great celebration.
One thing that unites the B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival with The Southside Building, is a passion to support local creatives. How important is it to you that we support local artists?
From my experience growing up in Birmingham there are a lot of very talented people who have a lot to offer. It may be dance, art or even tech but you may need a platform and support to get there. That’s why it’s important that we showcase this talent and empower each person to fulfil their dreams and ambitions.
This mural piece will be showcased in the heart of the city. What do you hope the people of Birmingham will take away from the mural?
What I’d like is for people to walk away with real a sense of pride that we as people in Birmingham are coming together and that at the end of the day, if you haven’t got love, you haven’t got anything.