#NicklinUnseen Shortlisted for Proud Projects Award

Mike Mounfield
Projects Manager

The latest in Colmore BID’s series of outdoor photography exhibitions, #NicklinUnseen, has been shortlisted for a British BIDs Proud Projects Award. This national award is given for a handful of projects every year to BIDs that have, in the opinion of the judges, gone beyond the standard in devising and delivering a project to animate or promote their district. Colmore BID has previously won an award for a public realm project, Colmore Square, but we’ve never been shortlisted for a cultural project before. We’re very excited about it.

To the few of you out there who’ve never heard of Phyllis Nicklin: she was a staff tutor at University of Birmingham (UoB) in the Department of Extra Mural Studies. Between the 1950s and her sudden death in 1969 she captured on slide film a remarkably detailed, nuanced record of Birmingham during a period of flux. She did this to support her students’ work. Her slides lay untouched in a filing cabinet for decades, until they were intercepted on a one-way trip to the dumpster by David Oram, by day a mild-mannered (not really) employee of the University and by night a co-founder of social media phenomenon BrumPic. David and local photography academic Pete James approached us about putting on an exhibition featuring images that had never been seen by the public before.

Those of you who took full advantage of the #NicklinUnseen project will know that it was more than an outdoor photography exhibition in Snow Hill Square. We also made a short documentary film about Phyllis Nicklin’s work, with the help of local film-maker Vermillion Films. You can see this moving tribute to Phyllis and her work here. The film premiere, which took place in the beautiful setting of the Courtyard at Hotel du Vin, included winners of competitions run by BrumPic and Hidden Spaces as well as a goodly number from the Colmore business community. In fact it was ‘standing room only’. We also ran an interactive workshop which explored the context of Phyllis’s work, as well as offering the opportunity to ‘shoot like Phyllis’ on a walkabout in the District. Colmore Row art gallery Reuben Colley Fine Art ran a project called ‘Nicklin Revisited’ where members of that gallery’s group of fine painters re-interpreted Phyllis’s work from the exhibition.

#NicklinUnseen generated over £150K in PR for Colmore on an investment of about £20K (plus a grant and other external funding) and, through the documentary film, has etched a lasting tribute to the remarkable work of this unsung hero and her subtly beautiful record of one this city’s many periods of radical change.

I’d like to thank BrumPic and UoB, Heritage Lottery Fund, sponsor JMP, Reuben Colley Fine Art, Pete James and finally Joanne Davis, my ‘sidekick’ who no longer works for Colmore BID, without whom things like launch parties and film premieres might not have happened at all. Whether we win a ‘Proud Project’ award or not, #NicklinUnseen was a great project and I’m proud to have been a part of the team that delivered it.