Bobbie-Jane Gardener’s Sweet Selly review

You might have noticed us mention a project called for-Wards now and then over the past year or so. for-Wards is a two-year musical project right here in Birmingham, at the beginning they were telling us the project’s aim was to discover and record the different sounds of Birmingham and make music out of them!

Well, it’s a little more complicated than that, what they did was divide the project into 10 parts for the 10 districts of Birmingham, in Year 1 they looked at 5 of these, Selly Oak, Hodge Hill, Perry Barr, Northfield and Edgbaston. Also, each area was assigned a musical composer, Selly Oak was taken on by for-Wards Creative Director herself, Bobbie-Jane Gardner.

We went along to Bobbie’s event ‘Sweet Selly’ on Saturday 24th June at Bournville Junior School.

The building itself is an old church, with large wooden beams and a beautiful stain glass window.

The live performance is split into sections, the four wards within the Selly Oak district – Selly Oak, Brandwood, Bournville and Billesley – with a musical composition representing each.

Acts included local poets from P-Café, Anne Peck, James Kearns and Phil Banting who performed their spoken word pieces accompanied by sounds that had been found and recorded in Bournville.

The Leap Ensemble played a light and uplifting piece on Clarinet, Double Bass, Guitar, flute and saxophone called ‘Birdy’. They followed this with a tipsy sounding piece ‘Down the Canal’. Next, they were joined on stage by Billesley Primary School who performed a jaunty piece.

Finally, the audience were asked to move outside as the final piece for Bournville was performed on carillon (no we hadn’t heard of it either, a type of organ that operates big church style bells), which was a grand and unique end to proceedings.

This was followed by a quaint tea party, notable attendees included none other than Mr & Mrs Cadbury who seemed to be enjoying the affair.

An unusual and joyous event, it’s interesting to see the project taking shape! There are still two more Year 1 performances from Percy Pursglove on 29th June and Justin K Broadrick (ex Godflesh & Napalm Death) on 1st July. Year 2 launches in September and we can’t wait to find out who the new composers will be.

For more information on the for-Wards project see: