I recently enlisted the help of my lovely sister as an adventure buddy and photographer for the day and headed to the city to scope out some street art in Digbeth, Birmingham. We live just outside the city and love doing things in Digbeth so this was a fun day out for us.
Digbeth is a fanstastically odd mix between abandoned warehouses and industrial spaces and a vibrant creative quarter. It’s the sort of place you go for alternative shops and etertainment, to enjoy street food and have drinks in the evening.
Birmingham’s central location in the West Midlands makes it a great option for a day trip from most parts of the country. You can get there within 1h30 from London by train. The best site for train tickets (and the one I use) in the UK is trainline; they also have an app that you can download to get paperless tickets.
If you get the train in to the city centre, it’s best to start at Moor Street Station. If arriving from Grand Central station, exit the station towards the bullring and go straight through the tunnel towards Moor Street.
We guided ourselves around Digbeth’s colourful corners and railway arches with the help of Walk Run Cycle’s Birmingham Street Art route. You can download the app for on the go too. It’s worth noting that, like most graffiti and mural hotspots, the art is ever changing so what’s there one day might not be there the next!
We followed this route for the first part of the journey and got a bit side tracked towards the end once we got to the custard factory. Also it had gotten dark and we wanted to get some tasty eats at Digbeth Dining club, so this may have a part 2 someday (stay tuned). I’m going to give you the DIY tour highlights in the order we saw them.
Birmingham Friends of the Earth Mural
Having turned left out of Moor street station (towards the bullring) and turning left again, we walked to the end of the street and went left under the tunnel. Coming out of the tunnel we turned right and walked through a Shaw’s Passage to The Warehouse on Allison Street, a café and community centre from Birmingham Friends of the Earth. That’s where we found this cute green heart mural; a lovely symbol of caring for plants and the environment.
Meriden & Bordesley Street
This giant spider by former musician turned artist Annatomix can be found in the car park on the corner of bordesly street and Meriden Street. Annatomix is known for her edgy (literally) geometric style and animal inspired murals. We came across two other pieces by Anatomix on our hunt Around Digbeth. She also makes some really cute geometric prints and designs, which are for sale on her website.
Also in the car park, we found a few little bits, like this little guy.
Mural by Phill Blake
This Audrey Hepburn-esque portrait on Bordesly Street is by artist Phill Blake a.k.a. Philth. He is known for this style of murals with female faces and for pattern design. We found a few of his other pieces dotted around Digbeth too.
Future of Birmingham Mural
Adorning the walls of Suki10c, a music venue and club, is the Future of Birmingham Mural by local artist Gent48 for Bass Festival 2019. The colourful mural pays tribute to black artists and creatives from the local area, including Jacob Banks and Jorja Smith. The artwork features 22 talented people including chefs, local business owners, athletes, muscians and comedians.
It’s so vibrant and I love the colours and patterns used. I also love the idea behind it of celebrating black talent and lifting up talented people in the city.
This portrait was painted by local artist Dan Newso, who often incorporates optical illusions into his work. It is painted across two gates, so I was lucky to catch a glimpse with the gates closed. I don’t know much about the mural design but it has a very captivating, bordering on creepy vibe to it. I absolutely love the colours and the pattern though.
Milk Street Arches
There were lots of bright colours and tags under the arches. Here are a few pieces we found:
Little Ann Street
On this street you’ll find this striking mural by artist Title. Next to it is a map of venues around Digbeth known as the “Digbeth Dozen” just in case you get lost on your way around!
Floodgate Street & Railway Arches
We found loads of large murals in this area, that crosses over the canal, on our way to the Custard Factory, another perfect place to start or end your search, with plenty of things to do and places to eat.
Happy belated New Year and also boo!
More from Gent 48
These are two snippets from a big piece under the arches that I think has been around for a while. I’m not the biggest fan of this style, but it’s a big piece that many locals will recognise and by a well known, talented and versatile local artist Gent48, who also did the Future of Birmingham mural.
Some Arch Finds from Various Artists
From a sad clown, to David Bowie and some tiny people with satellite inspired loud-halers (or maybe telescopes?), here’s a glimpse at the art under the Floodgate Street arches. Around this are you’ll find the majority of street art in Digbeth, Birmingham. The various artists here include I’m Watching , Hull Graffitti and Graffoflarge.
Under the arches you’ll find two pieces by street artist Justin Sola. The above bearded character was started at High Vis Fest, a local street culture festival. Also under the arches is this glamorous portrait of a lady in sunglasses.
Below is another mural by Justin Sola of a neon voodoo queen, just as you come out of the arches towards the Custard Factory.
I absolutely love the colours in this one, the way it plays with the light patterns on her face and the neon, city lights feel of it. The patterns in the background have elements of a city skyline too. This is another piece from High Vis Fest, this time from artist N4T4.
Excuse the potato quality, but above is a photo I took of an old mural by N4T4 in 2016 with a similar vibrant and futuristic style. Due to the changing nature of any street art scene, this one is no longer there. In its place stands the beautiful monochromatic mural by Phill Blake below.
The Custard Factory
The Custard Factory is an open plan area of independent shops, bars and entertainment. It’s home to some of my favourites, like the Mockingbird Cinema and seasonal craft markets from The Paperdolls. Also in the vicinity are various art galleries, the fun night out/work social, Ghetto Golf and the famous Digbeth Dining Club (a must if you’re in Birmingham). it’s also a really colourful place full of twinkly lights and large scale street art pieces. Here are a few we found wandering around the Custard Factory area.
More From Phill Blake
I love this portrait by Phill Blake in the Custard Factory. I love the luminosity of her skin, and the incorporation of lilies and the artist’s pattern work. It almost seems to shine in the dark.
Bars stood in the way of us and this feminine portrait from Phill Blake, found under the floodgate Street arches. I’d seen pictures befor but like it much more in person. I love the sultry warmth of the colour and her stare.
Dan Kitchener Mural
This beautiful Tokyo inspired rainy cityscape is what I envisage when I think of the Custard Factory. I love the use of light and colour and dimension. This was created by artist Dan Kitchener in 2014 for City of Colours Festival. If you walk back towards the bullring and train stations via Gibb Street you will see another similarly styled piece by Dan Kitchener on your right.
More from Annatomix
This huge cat and mouse mural is another one by Annatomix. I love the colours, the detail and the geometric style.
We also found this cute fox by Annatomix under the arches. It was awkward to snap, being behind a car parking space, but a good one!
Inkie Mural & LGBT+ Grannies
There is a lot going on in this picture. This is just a glimpse of the detailed high rise mural by Inkie for city of colours 2014. If you haven’t already seen it, the monster mannequin in the window gave us both a fright. And then underneath it is this cute and colourful mural of two kissing grannies by Pete McKee.
Girl on Fire
Love the contrast of this blue girl and flames mural with the bike rack. And the photobombing foot poster of course. This was painted by 0707art, an Italian artist who has painted hundreds of murals worldwide. They tend to focus on female portraits and the concept of beauty, as well as incorporating art into things like abandoned street signs. This leads me to wonder whether the bike rack placement was intentional or not.
Ghetto Golf & Birdies Bar
I got some funny looks and a questioning for loitering outside the venue, but I wanted to capture the cool monochrome doodle like street art outside of a Ghetto Golf. Below is the colourful art outside beach themed bar, Birdies.
Thanks for Reading my guide to street art in Digbeth, Birmingham!
What was your favourite mural? Let me know in the comments!