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Heritage, art and culture #Blackcountry

In the Black Country the culture has an eclectic range of influences. People have come from many countries and brought their cultures to influence ours. The main source of influence though is the industrial past.

After a week of being admin of a history page on Facebook, I have come to the conclusion that local people aren’t very interested in the usual history we can learn from books. They want history and art that they can identify with. They want reminders of their childhood. They are not interested in royalty and the the aristocracy. They might watch Downton Abbey on TV, but who do they identify with? The lords and ladies upstairs or the servants below stairs?

People have been looked down upon and scorned for being ‘common’. When Bob Geldof met royalty, even the young princes looked down their noses at him because of his unkempt appearance. We are told that ordinary people  should be aspirational. Who should we aspire to be like exactly and is the inference that we should be ashamed of who we are and aspire to be like the ‘cultured’ middle classes?

Art to most people in the Black Country is boring old pictures in the art galleries. Give them an picture they can relate to of a horse and cart or a narrow-boat on the canal and you get their attention. The picture of the Duke of Marlborough from 1656 leaves them cold. Even Renoir and Cezanne have no place in their thinking. They might buy a print of a painting by John Constable or even Lowry; but to them Picasso couldn’t even draw a picture.

The music of the Black Country is reflected in the many tribute acts that perform in the pubs at weekends. This is the popular music from the past that people can relate to; famous acts from their past come alive for them to enjoy. The money from the arts council might go to the classical art and music that they think is culture; but Black Country culture is of no less importance.

I have to admit to liking the art I see in art galleries and to listening to Beethoven, Mozart and Bach; but I don’t look down my nose at my neighbour who prefers a Banksy print on his wall and Abba on his stereo. The culture and history of the Black Country is rich and varied; it’s different, but it’s not inferior.

I began today with a picture of a Victorian park, that is part of our culture and one that has been eroded over the years. We want music back in the park, the horticultural show and the Carnival. We want fairs and markets and eccentric people, who make life more colourful. We want our fish and chip shops and  sweet shops where people still ask for a quarter of, but get a hundred grams.

This is our culture, like it or not. We don’t really want signs in 12 languages, there is only one Black Country language, accent and dialect. People come here and they blend in without special treatment. They take what they want from our heritage and culture and give us something new in return. We have no right to look down our noses at people and the middle classes have no right to look down on us. Meanwhile:

(Reuters) – A Pennsylvania man was helping decorate his mother-in-law’s tombstone on Monday ahead of the Easter holiday when it suddenly toppled over, pinning him underneath and killing him, a cemetery caretaker said.

She got him in the end…

Black Country humour can be a bit dark….

That’s my Sunday ramble this week. I’ll be rambling through the dustier corridors of my mind again next Sunday morning. Enjoy your Easter lunch, I’ll have something light; I’m out taking photos and video this afternoon down the canal.


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