Wholesale Memory is Friction Arts attempt to collect and preserve some of the myriad stories from Birmingham’s historic Smithfield market, before it closes forever in early 2017. Edit: Now early 2018 Birmingham’s early growth and subsequent development depended in no small part to the market, which was established after Local Lord of the Manor Peter de Birmingham secured a Royal Charter its market in 1166. Birmingham’s Wholesale Markets, built on the site of the old manor House, opened in 1883. Birmingham’s markets have always reflected the diversity of the city, reflecting to tastes and cultures of the communities that have settled here. The Sunday morning Car Boot Sale has a particular significance for the city’s newly arrived communities, it’s 300 or so stalls offering many their first chance to trade locally. The Wholesale Market provides the city with fresh fruit, meat, fish and vegetables and is a vital part of the city’s infrastructure. The market is it’s own world, with it’s own rules and ways of working, it’s own colourful characters and still has a certain ‘wild west’ atmosphere, in an increasingly mediated society. It’s important that this history and these stories get captured now, before the market makes its final move to Witton – many traders are choosing to retire or change their business, rather than make the move and there is a danger these stories may be lost forever, if we do not act now.
We will be interviewing traders, customers and some of the many other people that use and inhabit this unique space in the city. We will record, film and transcribe their stories and find ways of sharing them back to the people of Birmingham, both online and through exhibitions which will tour around heritage sites across Birmingham. As the markets close for the last time we will celebrate and help to preserve this important place and ensure it lives on in the collective memory of Birmingham’s citizens.
If you are as keen about preserving our heritage in this crucial and unique point in our city’s development, please get in touch and we’ll let you know how you can help – we need to work together to retain our history, while there is still time to do so. If you would like any further information regarding the project, or how you can get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01217726160. The wonderful Sunday Market will be closing on August 20th 2017 (unless it, too gets a ‘stay of execution), so every week, from 9th July we will be infiltrating the market with celebratory interventions, tin can singing, wandering musicians and other surprises, ending in a celebratory sharing of food on the final day. If you haven’t been before, get yourself down to the corner of Sherlock ST and Pershore St between 8 and 1 on a Sunday and experience it while you still can.
Wholesale Memories has received the kind support of the Heritage Lottery and Big Lottery funds. Thanks to all the people who play the lottery.