Balsall Heath Living Room

Balsall Heath Living Room


Posted 2023-07-18 by dpmfollow

Sat 01 Jul 2023 - Sat 30 Sep 2023

Birmingham’s Moseley Baths is being turned into a living room complete with exhibitions, art activities and films this summer. The historic Grade II listed building has converted its gala bath space into the temporary Balsall Heath Living Room and is inviting all to come ‘Back to Ours’.

The initiative is the latest in a series of developments and pilot projects being run by the Moseley Road Baths Charitable Incorporated Organisation which was formed in 2017 to manage the facility with the aim of ensuring it provides much-needed facilities and activities for people in the Balsall Heath area. It is made possibly by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Balsall Heath’s Living Room is a pilot project aiming to discover how the building, which also hosts regular swimming sessions and other community classes, can best be developed as a space used by all local people. “Reaching more people is absolutely what we want to do,” says Sadim Garvey, marketing and communications lead for the CIO. “The baths is a civic building gifted to the people of Balsall Heath so it’s important that we explore what audiences of 2023 want and need. We need to listen to and deliver the programming our community wants.”

The Living Room project has been produced by Tickertape Parade, working with other local artists and organisations. Visitors first enter a welcome space where they can sit and relax. The central area has been curated by Ort Gallery and is given over to art installations and will house workshops and activities throughout the summer. And the deep end is a television room designed by Flatpack Festival which will be showing a series of films and summer sporting events.

Birmingham based artist Nilupa Yasmin has created Hamara Ghar / Amor Ghor an installation for the second room. Featuring printed Bengali words on basket-weave fabrics hung from the walls, the artwork draws on the idea of decorated wallpaper in a living room – and it also examines language and its role in society.

She explains: “The work very much speaks about this idea of how languages come together and how different spaces will hold and put things together. In Balsall Heath there are so many languages and this work is a homage to this. And the idea is that after the exhibition because the artwork is printed onto fabric, it’s quite easy to make it into different things. So sustainability is an important part of this artwork with the idea that they will definitely be used in some way after the exhibition and not just for that space.

As part of the project, the team have also refurbished and opened one of the Women’s Slipper Baths – a historic part of the facility where people historically came to bathe in individual cubicles before the advent of bathrooms in people’s homes. “We’ve thought about bringing back the slipper baths and why would someone want to come and have a bath now when that’s not a facility that people need any more as there are baths in their homes,” says Sadim.

And she adds: “So we’ve restored one cubicle and refurbished it with some 2023 features, whilst retaining what it would have been like for people to have a bath in 1907 at Moseley Road Baths and get involved and literally submerge themselves. We’ve been going through consultation with loads of local organisations, and particularly women’s organisations, to ask what they wanted the space to be used for, and it was very much the idea of the experience of necessary luxury. So we’ve tried to respond to that.

Balsall Heath’s Living Room, which began on July 1 and runs until September 30, features a host of activities for people of all ages and aims to help determine how best Moseley Road Baths can respond to the needs and wishes of the local community into the future. “The ideas for Balsall Heath’s Living Room have all been fed by doing a lot of consultation with organisations about what it is which stops people from entering the building and how we change that so that everyone feels welcome,” says Sadim.

She goes on to explain: “What brings people into this building is its heritage or a swimming session but that’s not enough. Moseley Road Baths needs to be a living thing, to feel part of people’s weekly lives. It should be a destination, we want people to come from further afield but we also want it to be a living and breathing thing for the people of Balsall Heath, along with the other local amenities in this area. We need to make sure that our facilities aren’t just about swimming but feed into a greater wellness and wellbeing and that we are answerable to our community. We’re very lucky that we had a campaign to keep this building alive and that shows it matters to our community. But it can’t just be a heritage building, sitting flat. It needs to make sure that it is needed by the people of Balsall Heath and Birmingham and our programme is making sure that it’s proactive about that.

The aim of the project is to encourage visitors to the space. “We want to reach more people and we hope they will come and visit Balsall Heath’s Living Room, enjoy some of the installations and activities on offer, learn about the heritage of the building and its people, or just find space to relax. The aim is that there is something for everyone this summer.

For full details of Living Room and all Moseley Road Baths activities see here. Please note that although Balsall Heath’s Living Room activities are free, usual swimming charges apply.



253134 - 2023-07-18 16:08:34


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