A bright and colourful new mural has been painted in Birmingham which celebrates the history and wildlife of Small Heath.

Birmingham street artist Martin Hoakser Edwards, who was commissioned to paint the dynamic looking mural on a canal wall, says he managed to save a baby pigeon from drowning and reunite it with its mother while he was working on the art project.

Edwards, who is well known within the West Midlands graffiti art scene by his tag name Hoakser, has previously worked on canal and community art projects with school children with the aim of introducing young people to the power of art and how it can be used to tell stories, unlock local history, and inspire a passion for wildlife and the natural world.

A derelict area in East Birmingham was cleaned up and transformed with art and landscapingMartin Hoakser Edwards
A derelict area in East Birmingham was cleaned up and transformed with art and landscaping

His latest mural was commissioned by Arts in the Yard and the River Cole Community Commons project.

The idea behind the project is to reclaim a derelict and unused area in East Birmingham and transform and improve it for the community and make the habitat a safe haven for local wildlife.

Over the past 18-months work has been carried out to clear up waste and dangerous materials along Heybarnes Recreation Ground, Tyseley Energy Park, all the way to the Ackers Adventure.

The mural celebrates the people and nature of Small HeathMartin Hoakser Edwards
The mural celebrates the diverse communities and nature of Small Heath
Cycling is promoted in the art, and the Grand Union Canal gets a mentionMartin Hoakser Edwards
Cycling is promoted in the art, and the Grand Union Canal gets a mention

Street artist Hoakser was commissioned to brighten up a wall along a stretch of canal in Small Heath. The artist painted an epic mural using bright and bold colours which references the legendary Birmingham Small Arms (BSA) factory in Armoury Road.

The world famous BSA manufactured bicycles, buses, cars, motorbikes, tools and military and sporting firearms. During World War II the factory was a regular target for the German Luftwaffe.

Thousands of people, many of them migrants from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh worked at the BSA factory in Small Heath in its heyday.

The mural references the Birmingham Small Arms ( BSA) factory in Armoury RoadMartin Hoakser Edwards
The mural references the Birmingham Small Arms ( BSA) factory in Armoury Road

Hoakser also includes Canadian geese which are a common sight in local parks in the area, a heron and even a kingfisher which hearkens the Kingfisher County Park which is a protected natural habitat.

Speaking about the new mural, which took three days to paint, Hoakser said: “I had fun putting this one together across a few walls on Small Heath canal for Arts In The Yard and the River Cole Community Commons project.

“I was tasked with including some of the wildlife found there, a mention to some of Small Heath’s oldest businesses (Birmingham Small Arms, Webster & Horsfall), signposting a few areas, some people, a cyclist etc… this is what I came up with.”

Tiny Tim the pigeon, who was saved from drowning by the artist, also makes an appearance in the muralMartin Hoakser Edwards
Tiny Tim the pigeon, who was saved from drowning by the artist, also makes an appearance in the mural

The artist said he spoke to people who regularly use the canal pathway: “The response to this from the wide range of people who use the canal or live locally was really positive.”

While painting the mural, Hoakser also managed to save a baby pigeon from drowning.

He ended up including a pigeon in the mural: “I also had time to save a drowning baby pigeon and reunited it with it’s mom the next day, then met an old guy who feeds them everyday who said he’d look out Tiny Tim the pigeon. I hope he enjoys the Tim that got added to the wall after he’d left.”

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