Invigilator: Digbeth

paul conneally + nikki pugh + you + them
Saturday 29th March, 2-5pm
meet at VIVID at 2pm

As Digbeth continues its metamorphosis and assimilation into Eastside (Birmingham’s transforming, revitalising and regenerating regeneration project[1]) art institutions and project spaces present there are slowly increasing in number and yet, for the most part, they are safely kept behind locked gates, barred windows and access-controlled doors.

For Invigilator: Digbeth, a team of volunteers will take the role of gallery invigilator/visitor assistant outside where, rather than sitting in gallery spaces, they will be watchful over the streets and the day-to-day life unfolding there.

This is the fifth in the Invigilator series[2] where a single set of directions has been transposed onto different locations to determine the exact place for watching over; we can choose our significant starting points, but then a pre-determined sequence of lefts, rights and straight-ons takes us on a not-quite-random walk to an unplanned invigilation site.

Invigilator: Digbeth will consist of several invigilations taking place simultaneously throughout the Digbeth area. The significant starting points will be the galleries, studios and project spaces that would normally host the invigilators. The same galleries, studios and project spaces responsible for Digbeth’s renaissance…

Digbeth is also significant as the starting point for the Invigilator series as a whole since the directions used to arrive at the invigilation sites were derived from those used to get from home to a part-time job invigilating at VIVID.

All are welcome to join us for Invigilator: Digbeth. We will meet at VIVID at 2pm, borrow some of their red t-shirts and then walk to our respective invigilation sites (about 4 people per team) where we will be watchful for about 30 minutes before returning to VIVID for refreshments and feedback. No special equipment required: just bring yourselves, suitably warm clothing and a willingness to interact with the city.

Queries on the day phone: 0121 766 7876 (VIVID office)
Further information on the Invigilator series:


[2]New Forest,Derby,Tokyo and Nuneaton

Invigilator:Digbeth has been supported by Access West Midlands

invigilator invites

Invigilator : Digbeth

We’re currently getting excited about the re-appropriated business cards we’re using for the Invigilator: Digbeth invitations. Hope you do too!

[link to vimeo page]

paul conneally + nikki pugh + you + them
Saturday 29th March, 2-5pm

meet at VIVID at 2pm

bring a red top if you haven’t already arranged to use either one of ours or one from a different venue

invigilating Digbeth

Since May last year, Paul Conneally and I have been invigilating.

First I invigilated some of the New Forest. Then Paul replied by hopping on the train with the morning commuters and invigilating a building site in Derby.

Shortly after that I wanted to explore what would happen if you had more than one invigilator. I wanted to see how the presence of multiple invigilators affected the dynamics of an area that has to be walked through (rather than just a point location that people can walk past).

invigilating Tokyo

I was in Japan at the time so this gave rise to Invigilator: Tokyo and – inevitably – a whole barrage of further questions!

More recently, Paul and I met up in Nuneaton for the first of the invigilations that we have done together. More questions!

We now feel it is time for us to turn the process around on itself and use the next invigilation to examine its origin: my old part-time job invigilating the gallery space at VIVID.

We want to dissect what we have learned so far.

We want you.

We’re currently gathering people who would like to don red t-shirts and join us on Saturday the 29th of March for Invigilator: Digbeth. We want to scale up the Tokyo action and send small teams of invigilators percolating out through Digbeth: turning the whole cultural quarter thing inside-out to extract people from their barricaded, security-protected warehouses and onto the street for an hour or so.

As a nod to how this series of works came about, we’ll be using VIVID as a base, liberating their red t-shirts, and also returning there for the debrief session and refreshments afterwards.

The invigilations themselves involve following a set of left/right/straight-on directions and then probably about 30 minutes standing around that location being watchful. What we’re after, in order to give Invigilator: Digbeth some clout is a) as many invigilators as possible so we can properly cover a large area and b) some suggestions for relevant starting points for the random walks.

So, for now, we’d like you to do three things for us:

  • Put that date in your diary: 29th of March, 2-5pm.
  • Suggest some cultural venue/art institution-esque starting points that the random walks to the invigilation locations can start from. We know about the obvious ones near to VIVID such as Ikon Eastside, the Custard Factory and the soon to be opened Eastside Projects, but we’d like more. Are there any? Bung something in the comments and let us know about it!
  • Let us know if you’d like to take part. All welcome, but we’d be particularly keen to hear from anyone who would normally work as one of the aforementioned venues.

More details to follow a bit closer to the day, and further invites are being circulated in the real world too.

invigilator 4

Like the memorial in the park, all I really feel confident about saying regarding each of the pieces in the Invigilator series at the moment is simply that they happened.

george eliot was here

Nuneaton: George Eliot and Invigilator were here.

invigilator: nuneaton

invigilator: nuneaton

caterpillar was here

line up!

Walk to work: but very slowly and without getting out of turn.

the sound of watching

A week or two ago I posted an incomplete post about invigilator: Tokyo.

Well, I’m back in the UK now and sorting through all my documentation from the trip to Japan.

I’ve uploaded a few images to Flickr. There’s a slideshow here, but the pages on Flickr include captions giving more detail about each image.

but I was a bit wary about taking too many photos during the invigilation. I think it’s just a little bit too intimidating for a project that’s so much about how people react to subtleties within a space.

So, as an experiment with alternative forms of documentation, here’s a sound recording we made of the invigilation:

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Over the last week I’ve been able to cobble together a couple of fairly respectable sandwichboards that I intend to use to mark out an area under the watchful eye of a group invigilation.

It required an interesting combination of tools and materials from Meg’s studio and things like tweezers and a compass that I have in my rucksack.


(just to put things to scale, the table is about a foot high…)

Finding people to work with for the invigilation is proving much more difficult so, for the time being, the boards remain blank and the red t-shirts un-worn.

the watchers

On the way back from invigilating a small section of the New Forest, we encountered Copythorne Carnival.

I was interested in the resonances with what I had just done and the presence of the stewards and the bystanders.

invigilator: new forest

Following on from this post, yesterday I transposed my usual walk to work in Birmingham to the area around my family home in the New Forest.

Rather than taking 20 minutes, we were walking for over 2 hours.

Many thanks to Lizzy and Russ for tailing me at a discreet distance with the telephoto lens.

Walk to Work – a proposal

I set Kevin the task of mapping out his normal route to work in terms of lefts and rights etc and asked him to set off one day from where he was staying in China and Walk to Work following his normal route and ‘do some work’ when he got there where ever that was. The definition of work is blurred here so do something – take photos write sweep the street – whatever.
Paul Conneally

An interesting proposition has come through to work with Paul Conneally and Kevin Ryan on the challenge of transposing people’s usual journeys to work onto different locations, and then performing some sort of work function at the new location.

Kevin's walk

Kevin’s walk in Chongqing resulted in some really nice images which you can now see on his photo gallery.

Meanwhile, I recorded my journey to work for Paul to do what he will with:

  1. Right
  2. Right
  3. Left
  4. Left
  5. Right
  6. Straight over
  7. Straight over
  8. Straight over
  9. Right
  10. Delay of 32 minutes
  11. Right
  12. Left
  13. Left
  14. Right
  15. Left
  16. Right
  17. Straight over
  18. Straight over
  19. Straight over
  20. Straight over
  21. Left
  22. Left

After some discussion, we seem to have a distilled version of my typical day’s work invigilating at a local gallery that Paul will reproduce somewhere else:

  • Arrive at your location and set up.
  • Perform a general tidy up of the area.
  • Settle into your seat and become absorbed in your book/music whilst at the same time being attentive to the needs of others around you.
  • Answer any queries in a polite and professional manner, asking any visitors if they wouldn’t mind adding their name to the visitors book.
  • At about 4 o’clock ask if anyone wants some chocolate and then go to the nearest newsagents.
  • Return to your seat as before.
  • Start packing up 5 minutes early if you think you can get away with it.

That’s the starting point anyway – I’m really interested to see what conversations Paul’s presence might catalyse. We’ve been strict withourselves and dismissed the temptation of too many bells and whistles: Paul’s mission is essentially to sit, to be, and to watch.



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