THE ARCHIVE: A celebration of Metal!

A personal account of the Home of Metal 2011.

By Carrie-Anne Bound.

The artwork here was created by me following the “Home Of Metal Weekender”. I was so inspired by what I saw and heard I just had to create something that would stand as a reminder of this great event and a big thank you to Capsule and the venues for doing all this in the name of history and heavy metal. It is a collage of artefacts, memorabilia, brochures and other items, all connected by heavy metal, Capsule and the Midlands/Black Country.

The Home Of Metal project by Capsule is a celebration of heavy metal and The West Midlands and Black Country with exhibitions and events across the region. My partner, Alison and I travelled all across the birthplace of heavy metal during the four days of the “Home Of Metal Weekender” from 1st to 4th September 2011, visiting everywhere involved from Birmingham to Wolverhampton.

I’m the daughter of a driver from Ettingshall who worked as a driver in the steel industry and still live in Wolverhampton today so I felt proud to show my partner Alison (from Stafford) around the area as she learned its history, its way of life and the music it spawned.

On our journey in a little old Fiat (called Flight 665) we learned about the history of the area, its rich heritage of iron and steel work, mining and leather manufacturing whilst drinking the free Kraken and munching on way too much junk food and sweets.

Everywhere we went we found like-minded people who were enjoying remembering the past glories of metal and the area and relishing the great sense of belonging and camaraderie that both metal and our great peoples are famous for.

This is an area of hard workers who also like to play hard hence the birth of metal itself which, over our journey, we learned was born right here. Yes it is based on American blues but with a raw power, energy and complexity that is all our own. We saw articles, memorabilia, clothing, photos and many other fascinating items from the bands that made this area famous – Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Diamond Head, Napalm Death & Godflesh. The project’s exhibitions across the area were both fascinating and informative. We certainly enjoyed remembering the reasons why we love heavy metal now as much as we did back in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s – the music form’s heyday.

Our first stop was the main exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and we were blown away by the sheer number of amazing displays covering the industrial and music history of the area. The Judas Priest display was stunning whilst the do-it-yourself exhibits reminded us why the country was so angry back then. It was also great fun to play one of the guitars whilst seeing others maybe having their first taste of the instrument (and who knows maybe inspired to take it up – the next Tony Iommi perhaps?). Next stop was Dudley to discover the mining history of the area and how it shaped an area to give it the name “The Black Country”. They also had some great displays upstairs showing metal in all its guises from swords to good ol’ Black Sabbath. Wednesbury Museum/Gallery was next and for a small museum/gallery they certainly did the Home Of Metal proud with cool displays and fascinating information posters. It was so good to also speak to the man who had helped create the displays – a guitarist who still loves the instrument that inspired him many years ago. Wolverhampton’s Art Gallery’s take on the Home of Metal was more artistic with pieces inspired by the music and this gave us a different perspective – heavy metal is music but has inspired many other art forms from sculpture to film-making (more of that later). Wolverhampton was also where we caught up with the Home Of Metal Mobile Cinema (newly refurbished specially) to watch fascinating old films about the area, its steel working past and the music we love so dearly. What a great idea the cinema was, travelling as it did across the region allowing people from all walks of life to see these historic films free. The LightHouse Cinema offered the perfect end to the day – a late night showing of “Black Sabbath” the film that gave that great band their name. Over the weekend, the Lighthouse also showed many films about heavy metal, its culture, its people and its place in society including “Cathy Come Home”, “Heavy Metal Parking Lot”, “More Bad News” and what also could their be to end it all than “Spinal Tap”! They also hosted the Home Of Metal Conference and a get together on Saturday evening which featured two great new bands and a special performance by the wild man himself Chris Needham.

It wasn’t all about heavy metal and the region’s recent history however. Bantock House featured “The Part They Played” showcasing the part the area played in WW2 and The Black Country Museum told the story of the area and its importance to an industrialised Britain. Bilston Art Gallery on the other hand brought everything bang up-to-date with works inspired by the metal working and coal mining industries as well providing great fun for children and adults alike.

Walsall did us proud too. Friday afternoon was spent walking round the Walsall Leather Museum looking at all the cool Judas Priest outfits and memorabilia whilst learning about the area’s leather industry’s past. Then it was off to the New Art Gallery in Walsall to drink more (thanks for the free Kraken guys!), eat and be treated to a fantastic free gig by the most excellent Gentleman’s Pistols who are destined for great things I’m sure!

The Public was a brief stop but well worth it. We saw the brilliant (but sadly biased) film from Finland called “The Promised Land”.

A perhaps unlikely location for all this metal madness was Haden Hill but they put on a great day on Sunday which everyone, including us, greatly enjoyed. Inside the house were lots of heavy metal related displays, activities for the little-uns (or big kids) whilst outside were performances by some very talented young bands and a feature on guitars (natch) by “RockStar Guitars” who were also on-hand to offer hands-on guitar tasters which could, like Birmingham, maybe one day start someone on the road to heavy metal and stardom.

The whole experience (which hasn’t ended yet by the way) was fantastic and showed what this area can do and why we should all be proud to say we are from the West Midlands and Black Country. My partner and I enjoyed everything and we would like to thank everyone at Capsule, especially Lisa for doing us proud. My partner and I both have disabilities and are obviously a lesbian couple yet we never felt unwelcome, un-cared for or unable to explore and enjoy this great event.

Thank You and Metal-on!

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