There are two prominent things that I love about Birmingham that I believe are the ingredients to some of the best successes in this city. First is its talent and second is its women; so it makes sense that when I heard about the community Alto and its first all day event, I just had to be there and if you have met Anna and/or Holly (Alto’s curators) then you will understand why Alto is such a huge deal in a city full of equality like Brum.
If you haven’t heard of Alto (by now you should) then this is what it is about…
Alto is a community/collective that acts as platform for creative women of all backgrounds to be with like minded ladies, to share their work/business and support each other and the community keeps growing and going from strength to strength. Holly and Anna have created an invaluable support network, they have worked incredibly hard which was reflected in this event held at Cherry Red’s in Birmingham City Centre. These two ladies are a huge inspiration all by themselves.
Held from 3pm to 11pm, unfortunately I wasn’t there for the whole day, but, what I did see (and I guess really witness, because magic like that falls under the phrase of ‘seeing is believing’ – you had to be there!) was utterly fabulous. So here are for me some of the key highlights of Alto’s first all-day event of the year.
There’s something exciting about the small journey to an event for me, as I climbed the mountainous steep stairs of Cherry Reds I began to get a rush of excitement and ambiguity in the pit of my stomach – a sense of ‘what is up those stairs and behind that door?’ washes over me, a bit like coming downstairs on Christmas morning as a child and not knowing what to expect. I managed to tackle the stairs, I got to the door and I stopped before pulling it open, taking a deep breath before taking in the rumbling excitement that was hidden behind the door. Opening it I was greeted by two rooms brimming with people, happy, enjoying themselves; a mix of people, talking, laughing, sharing and simply… being. This is what I call as a great reception to an event. After saying hello to Anna, I turned around to take the room in again and there it was… the box on the table – “What is Feminism – The ‘F’ Bomb” – with pens and paper to post your thoughts. And that was when I stopped to think, what does feminism mean to me? Well I would have to think about that for a little bit, let it percolate and try to make some sense out of something that means a great deal to me, however means so many different things at the same time. So let me tell you a little bit more about the event and then reveal what I discovered.
Something I love to feel at events is cosy and I felt right at home with the artwork of the fabulously talented artist Jenny Haruki hung upon the walls of Cherry Reds and above the fire place, the purpose of Alto is to help creatives showcase their work and what better way then to furnish the venue with Jenny’s eye catching pieces. With the simplicity of black and white lines and shading and beautiful women, she produces statements, not just art work. Check out her work, you won’t be disappointed: Jenny Haruki
The two bands that I want to write about, I have to write about together because of how they made me feel. Both bands include male and female members, both lead by female vocalists – who were strong and on fire! Shaake are an alternative band and there is something delicious about their music that does make you want to shake! The Mourning Suns, a psychedelic folk band with so much charisma and skin tingling notes that like any musical affair, I have to see them again! The lead singers of both bands not only have vocals of diamond quality, sheer rough beauty with many facets, but hold a stage presence that translates to the audience, not just by their voice ability but by their physicality as performers. The lead singer of Shaake moved her body with the music in a way that anybody would when delivering the passion creatives have for their art. And Rosie Wilkes from the Mourning Suns represented everything that shows strength and again, passion in creative work, after still performing despite a personal event on the Sunday morning; that for anybody else would stop them from continuing to perform. It presents the drive and knowledge that doing something you love helps you get through the tough bits. Big, big, big love to Rosie! And the band for supporting her. Their performances reminded me why being a creative is just as realistic as any other career path, the emotion and feeling it can draw out is as real as anything else you can encounter in life – so the next time I hear someone with the opinion, ‘the arts is not a realistic career choice’ I will happily ask them to list the occasions when music has evoked something more than just easy listening for them.
Jodi Ann Bickley was there! This is the fangirl in me. She is an extremely gorgeous lady to have an event like Alto, I don’t know anyone that doesn’t love Jodi, she is not only an incredible woman but an amazing being. From being a multi-talented poet and spoken word artist, to fighting and getting on top of ME, to now the Best Selling author of One Million Lovely Letters, which is probably the loveliest mission in the world, she performed at Alto accompanied by an all female string group, silencing the room with her glittering poems and sparkling delivery. Jodi’s journey and story is inspiring and above all, lovely. If you don’t know about Jodi, then you should check her out now!
So, by the end of the night I was pretty exhausted, I think that’s what happens once excitement and enjoyment runs all the energy out of your body. The event was embellishment of what Alto stands for as a family of highly creative ladies and once you get involved you want to know, see, hear and explore more! But going back to the ‘F’ Bomb, can I now answer that question? Well, yes and no… I think I have a range of versions of answers and thoughts, but there are two things that for me, I believe can answer some part of what feminism means (for me anyway). The first being passionate strength; something that I saw in Alto was the strength of the women that made the event happen, the women that performed and the women that came. I think the difference between strength and passionate strength is, strength can be getting through something because you have to and not because you want to and passionate strength is getting through something or doing something because you not only want to but because it is driven by love and the biggest belief in what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. The second is closer to an idea of what feminism is; drawn out from what I saw when I got to the event, seeing a mix of men and women of all ages and backgrounds talking, drinking together, laughing and simply being. Being human, being there, and being together is what I saw at Alto, everyone supporting each other and showing love, was the pinnacle of the event and lights up the base fact that you don’t have to be female to be a feminist you just need to be.
A huge congratulations goes out to Anna and Holly for so effortlessly piecing together such a crazily wonderful event; I cannot wait to see/hear what is coming next so I’ll be constantly checking their page! Have a look at Alto and make sure to like the Facebook page – Alto