Thursday, 30 March 2023

Free Welfare Benefits Training - Monday 17th April 2023

We would like to highlight some upcoming free Welfare Benefit Training for volunteers and staff from community groups and organisations starting in April. Attached is a poster with the full details, please feel free to share.

 Coming soon, free training on welfare benefits provided by Mark Portlock of the Birmingham Carers Hub. Mark has a reputation across the city for his expert knowledge on welfare benefits. In the past his training has been delivered to social workers, health professionals, carers and carer support groups.

Now the Sutton Coldfield NNS is funding a course of 6 training workshops to local groups and assets. The 6 workshops will cover different types of benefits and each one will last 2 and a half hours. The first session, an introduction to benefits, will take place at The Harvester function room on Boldmere Road on Monday 17th April. The same session will be provided in morning and afternoon. You can attend one workshop, all six or pick which are of most interest to you. List to be published soon.

If you would like to attend the first session please do get in touch to book your place and preferred slot (morning or afternoon.)

Email us at 


Thursday, 23 March 2023

Melati Suryodarmo - Passionate Pilgrim exhibition at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

Melati Suryodarmo - I'm a Ghost in My Own House Performed at Lawangwangi Foundation Bandung (2012. Photo courtesy of the artist
Melati Suryodarmo - I'm a Ghost in My Own House
Performed at Lawangwangi Foundation Bandung (2012. Photo courtesy of the artist

17 May – 3 September 2023

Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

Free entry. Open Weds-Sun, 11am-5pm

This summer, Ikon becomes home to a major exhibition of ground-breaking performance art with the first UK solo show by acclaimed Indonesian artist Melati Suryodarmo.

Suryodarmo is renowned for her strenuous durational performances that last several hours, testing the limits of the human mind and body. Through live performances from the artist and “delegated works” performed by over 50 associated artists and community activists, the exhibition, which occupies the entire gallery, celebrates her dedication to pushing the boundaries of her own practice and building performance art networks.

Suryodarmo’s exhibition at Ikon is supported by the Bagri Foundation, the British Council through the Connections Through Culture grants programme, and the Melati Suryodarmo Exhibition Circle: A.I. Gallery; ShanghART; Tanya Michele Amador and Michiel Verhoeven; and Michelangelo and Lourdes Samson. Developed in collaboration with Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Museum MACAN), Jakarta, Indonesia.

Accessible Community Games

Accessible Community Games - flyer


Warwickshire Local History Society talk in April

Creative Commons wikimedia
Creative Commons wikimedia

"The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas and Movements in the English Revolution"

Warwickshire Local History Society (WLHS) continues its programme of evening talks on Tuesday 18th April with a talk given by Professor Bernard Capp.

Held at the Primary School Hall, Aylesford School, Tapping Way, Warwick, CV34 6XR, this talk is entitled “The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas and Movements in the English Revolution”.

Following the society’s AGM at 7.15 pm, the talk will start at 7.30 pm with tea and coffee served from 7 pm.

There is no need to book and non-members can attend for just £3, refundable if they join the society on the day.

If you have an interest in local history and have good organisational skills WLHS would like to hear from you. We are looking for a new Programmes Secretary to run our programme of evening talks. To find out more about the role please visit

For an informal discussion about this role please contact

For more information about the society and events please visit their website, Facebook: @historysoc; Twitter: @Warwickshistsoc

Monday, 20 March 2023

Nothing Happens (Twice) - Spaghetti Gazette Theatre Review

Nothing Happens (Twice) 

A theatre production by Little Soldier Productions

17 March at Midlands Art Centre (MAC), Birmingham

Reviewed by Pete Millington

Multilingual physical theatre duo draw parallels between Waiting for Godot and autobiographical experience of being dressed as flamingos in Westfield 

Devised by Mercè Ribot and Patricia Rodriguez | Directed by Ursula Martínez

The promotional literature for this production sketches a picture as to what to possibly expect from this quite wacky though very clever two-woman show. Some main elements:

Physical theatre - according to Wiki, a genre of theatrical performance that encompasses storytelling primarily through physical movement. Performers can communicate through various body gestures (including using the body to portray emotions), Waiting For Godot - a play by Samuel Beckett in which two characters, Vladmimir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo), engage in a variety of discussions and encounters while awaiting the titular Godot, who never arrives. Strangely I have never seen, studied or even read Waiting For Godot but I feel I have grasped the concept sufficiently by osmosis, and imagined the detail and dialogue, such that I would feel confident to discuss at a dinner party. 

Two Spanish women dressed as flamingos promoting the Andalucian tourist board in Westfield shopping centre... ok, at which point the intrigue began to set in and I became more tempted to see this production than I probably would be to seek out Beckett''s original, as intellectually genius as it undoubtedly is.

Beckett's original? Though herein lies the twist because Nothing Happens (Twice) is not actually an interpretation of Waiting For Godot (not a close one at least) as much as being a play about not being allowed to perform an interpretation of Waiting For Godot. Which is where this play of parallels becomes both clever and entertaining, as the audience quickly realises that we are part of the creatively-brilliant conspiracy to witness a story about not being allowed to witness a story. Having not seen or studied Waiting For Godot I don't actually know whether such ironic themes run through it, though it is described as a play where nothing happens, so perhaps that's an irony in itself. When asked what his play was about, Beckett answered "it's a play about symbiosis", which I think refers to the close, ongoing relationship of the two main characters and certainly Nothing Happens (Twice) is a wonderful exploration of the relationship between these two clownish characters, Mercè and Patricia, at times both energetic and desolate, playful and sardonic, but always symbiotic.

The set for the play is very simple, combining a minimalist stage with some videography conveying text and purposely mundane photography. Yet the interplay of Mercè and Patricia is captivating from beginning to end and at frequent points the audience are howling out loud with laughter. The physical theatre is strong, using props as metaphors and not forgetting the flamingo costumes, and indeed the costume changes (which exemplify the Nothing Happens (Twice) title to an exasperating degree). I note in the promotional material that Mercè Ribot and Patricia Rodríguez have worked with Paul Hunter (Told by an Idiot) whose production about Aston Villa winning the European Cup I saw at The Rep last year and was the first time I had read a description of what physical theatre actually is (and a bit like Waiting For Godot - I knew what it was without knowing what it was, probably through watching Charlie Chaplin as a kid). I do very much like the genre of physical theatre, the sense of crazy, clowning ad-lib whilst at the same time being a vehicle for pathos - the tears of a clown or in this case two clowns.   

I don't know how long Waiting For Godot takes as a theatre production, I have in my head it should take about 6 hours to do the concept full credit, but Nothing Happens (Twice) is of a very manageable length, less than an hour including the clever interval where the 'off-duty' actors play a game with the audience just to prove they have read Waiting For Godot but without breaching performance copyright. 

I feel that disallowing Little Soldier Productions from performing an interpretation of Waiting For Godot smacks of the publishing company's legal department shooting itself in the foot, a bit like the Tolkien estate instructing a cafe near where the author lived as a child in Moseley, change its name from The Hungry Hobbit, one is left thinking "oh! Come on!" But in this case the genius of Ribot and Rodríguez has prevailed.

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Butterflies and angels take over The Commandery in Worcester


Wayne Warren, Golden Wings 2014-2022, © the artist
Wayne Warren, Golden Wings 2014-2022, © the artist

Aspire - Contemporary art exhibition by artist Wayne Warren

The Commandery, Worcester

Aspire arrives at The Commandery, Worcester on 1 April until 3 September 2023

8 works on the themes of aspiration, dreams and ambition placed at significant points

Free family workshops with artist Wayne Warren on Easter Monday 10 April

Butterflies and angels are taking over The Commandery in an exhibition filled with hope and aspiration. Aspire opens at The Commandery on Saturday 1 April and runs until Sunday 3 September 2023.

The artworks have been created by contemporary artist Wayne Warren in response to the beautiful Commandery building and it’s amazing one-thousand-year history. The artworks represent aspirations, dreams and ambitions.

Visitors can follow the trail of artworks around The Commandery, take a selfie in front of huge angel wings in the historic Great Hall and enjoy a programme of wing-inspired family activities over the Easter holidays, including a workshop with the artist himself on Monday 10 April.

Situated in the heart of Worcester, The Commandery has been a medieval monastic hospital, a Tudor home and a 1950s print works, but is most well-known for being the headquarters of the Royalist army during the Battle of Worcester in 1651 – the deciding battle of the English Civil War.

The artworks include Golden Wings, situated in the building’s beautiful Great Hall; and Growth, a new artwork commissioned especially for the exhibition at The Commandery, featuring gold leaf on oak leaves and acorns, situated upon a stool made of wood from the Boscobel Oak, purported to be the tree King Charles II hid in when fleeing from the Battle of Worcester.

Wayne Warren’s work has been exhibited at Worcester Cathedral and internationally in Hong Kong, Beijing, New York and Venice. Wayne says of his show at The Commandery: “My work reflects my thoughts and feelings about the 1,000 years of history contained within the fabulous building.”

Commandery Manager Rachel Robinson says: “It is fascinating to have The Commandery’s history interpreted in new ways and to shed light on its many layers of history. We hope visitors will enjoy finding the artworks around the building, taking their angel wing selfies, and having fun with the family activities.”

The Commandery is open Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm and Sunday 11am – 3pm. It is also open Bank Holiday Monday 10 April 10am – 5pm and there are workshops at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. Normal admission applies, no extra fee for the exhibition. Small fee for the family activities. For more information, please visit