Wholesale Memory

Friction Arts documenting our Wholesale market

For many people who call Birmingham home, the Markets are an afterthought, a part of the city that they may only occasionally dip into. What they may not realise is that Birmingham started its life as a Market Town, when Peter de Bermingham was granted a charter to run a market from what was at the time just a small settlement.

So, it’s something of a tragedy that the historic Wholesale Markets are set to close this year without many people making much of a noise.

Their relocation to Witton takes market traders out of the heart of the city where they have existed for over 800 years.

Fortunately the markets have a friend in Friction Arts, who are housed in a nearby industrial unit which has been transformed into an arts venue. The studio itself is packed full of curiosities gathered from the Sunday morning bootsale; remnants from Friction’s last large heritage project, the immersive ‘Digbeth Echoes’. That project saw memories from Digbeth and Highgate brought to life through recreated environments.

This time, Friction staff and volunteers have been up bright and early to meet with traders, staff and customers to capture tales of this unique space. The result (so far) is a wonderful selection of stories, reflections, photos and archive images which can be viewed on the projects’ Tumblr site. In time, it is hoped that these will form part of an installation and bring these rich stories into the public eye. For anyone with an interest in how heritage can be made relevant and exciting it will be worth looking out for.

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