The Curio City Shop was housed in an old curry-house in a semi-derelict shopping centre (being redeveloped) in Five Ways, Birmingham. The shop was set up as an attempt to make us and our work visible in the community and to see what would emerge from that. We opened with no agenda, other than to see what happened, which resulted in dozens of projects, exhibitions and interventions, culminating in Reality Estate in the Autumn of 2007.
The first people through the doors were young people from nearby Five Ways Estate, an overlooked area, tucked behind Broad Street and surrounded by the concrete collar of Five Ways and the Ring Road. The young people were fascinated with what we were trying to do, and soon became regular visitors to the shop. Within a month we had our first project. The young people were looking for a place of sanctuary, hard to find in this very urban area and came up with ‘My Conceptual Garden’ (their title) – a performance involving poetry and dance which talked about their need for a safe space to be.