The Elders Project is BAF’s first partnership project with MAC. It provided a range of arts and cultural activity for Elders in Aston & Newtown led by both emerging and established artists. The project enabled us to explore a model for co-designing through supported delivery of the arts in local communities.

Project Co-ordinators: Carol Pemberton MBE and Pauline Bailey, Visual Artist

"As part of the Elders project, myself and Xhosa Cole (saxophone/flute) were inspired by the wonderful shared discussions and memories presented to us, by a very open and generous group of Birmingham elders. The conversations moved around topics of identity, race, the joys and difficulties of life, religion, music, youth and maturity. We were also struck by the recitations of some well-known and lesser known poems, that members of the group had brought in. These included uplifting pieces of writing such as 'Still I Rise' by the late Dr Maya Angelou, and the Christian poem 'Heaven's Grocery Store' as recited in our group by Orville O'Connor. Using the recitation of this poetry as a creative base, Xhosa and myself wrote the piece of music 'Poem', which you can listen to as part of this exhibition. 

The music is part-composed, part-improvised and the piece features some audio recordings of poetry as beautifully read by members of the group. 
The second work, is an exploration of the classic West Indian folk song 'Yellow Bird'. This is a piece of music that was clearly popular and remembered by many of the elders, and as such we decided it would be fitting to play a version of this song ourselves. The classic original melody was unpacked and developed using traditional Soca and Calypso rhythms as a springboard for further improvisation. Xhosa and myself wish to thank all the participants for being so giving and for sharing their experiences with us."David Austin Grey (Composer/Pianist)