Indieterria presents A Very Insecure Exhibition

Dear Readers,

A Very Insecure Exhibition flyer #1

The opening of A Very Insecure Exhibition – the place was packed!

The opening of A Very Insecure Exhibition

Vanadian Avenue has always been about music, pop culture and art. We absolutely adore any artistic activity and when we are notified that something interesting and unique is going to take place, we cannot help ourselves but to check it out. After hearing that two legendary music photographers, Karen McBride and Shari Dawson are going to do a collective exhibition, we booked hotel, tickets and off we went to see what was happening in the kingdom of Mancunia.

Before arriving to Manchester, we spoke to both artists about their exhibition, but they were mysterious as Sphinxes and didn’t reveal anything about it. They were so adamant not to let things slip, that they refused to name the place of the exhibition until the last day and even then, they had to be convinced by the BBC DJ to do it.

In the days of social media and constant bombardment by notifications, such attitude may be surprising but knowing both ladies, we can understand why they chose to promote their event in this way.

Thomas Haywood of The Blinders – the most popular print at the exhibition

The opening of A Very Insecure Exhibition – the famous Elbow image!

First of all, both Karen and Shari are fiercely independent. They don’t follow any trends and they don’t look up to anybody else. Secondly, they take the Manchester motto of “doing things differently” very literally and always come up with something fresh and exciting. They are also trend setters, always a step ahead of the game. When the rest of the world is busy printing stage times to the last seconds or sending invites, Karen and Shari do the opposite. They provided their fans with minimal information and encouraged them to patiently wait for the right moment. And this tactics worked like a charm! When we arrived at the PROJECTS MCR skate park venue where the exhibition took place, we found out that the place was tightly packed. It was really fascinating to watch – people queued eagerly, exchanging ideas and being excited like  group of kids before unpacking their presents on Christmas morning. We have never seen anything like this before. In a world over-saturated with news, being told only the bare minimum, suddenly seems radical and very punk!

Shari Denson and Karen McBride – photo by Simon Lee

Skatepark MCR is a very specific place, full of concrete pillars, fantastic graffiti (the portrait of Princess Leia is probably one of the best we have seen in our lives!), slops and ramps. It is located under Mancunian Way and is separated from the main road by a fence. Holding exposition in an open air venue can be tricky on a chilly  February night, but the organizers made sure that the cafe was opened and served hot drinks and cakes to those who needed a little something to warm them up. There was also another drink bar, crafty built from recycled pallets and placed among the pictures that served cold drinks and ice creams.

John Robb (The Membranes/Louder Than War Magazine) who also conducted interview with Karen and Shari at the opening

At the bar

Since learning about the location of the exhibition, we were speculating among ourselves how Karen and Shari’s pictures are going to be displayed. After many guesses, we reached the conclusion that the venue is so unusual that the set up is probably going to be very traditional. We imagined rows of white, elegant boards with pictures displayed in even rows and the visitors passing from one end of the venue to the other with a glass of wine in hand, admiring them. You can imagine our surprise when we saw the final layout! Absolutely nothing traditional, no boards, no elegant browsing! The images, although beautifully printed on large scale billboards, were plastered alongside the slops, hang from the ceiling and were displayed on the walls or even covered the ramps and the floor! To get to see them, we had to move really close. We were forced to bend down, get on our knees, climb and walk around the uneven edges. And in that moment, we truly understood the genius of both photographers. Their art is not to be displayed in a museum or just glanced over. It needed to be felt, touched, breathed in. It was supposed to be in-your-face, it was supposed to feel like you had to work to earn the right to see those images. Only then we could truly appreciated them. The images are strictly linked to the city of Manchester. They portray musicians, artists, cultural icons and regular people frozen in  a single moment in time. They are not static, they are expressive, moving, they feel alive. They would still look beautiful in an art gallery, but it would never be the same. And the title finally made sense. A Very Insecure Exhibition was exactly that – vulnerable, chaotic, unique yet inspiring and very much alive. It felt true and one of a kind. By the end of the evening, the public could take the prints home and the exposition was gone. One time event only, one evening, something brief but beautiful. Just like real life.

Malicia and Keith Higgins

Musicians Against Homelessness Manchester Manager – Andy White

Malicia and photographer Neil Winward

Malicia and music promoter Paul Cartwright

Paul Cartwright

Rita and Mancunian poet – Karl Hildebrandt

Admiring, or taking the photographs home was not the only attraction of the evening. John Robb, punk rock legend and editor of Louder Than War magazine interviewed Karen and Shari for nearly half an hour and we had a chance to listen to their anecdotes, stories from working behind the stages and experiences as professional photographers in one of the most competitive and difficult industries. In the end, Karen and Shari received small gifts form the grateful visitors – two chocolate cameras!

“A Very Insecure Exhibition” proved to be a very big success for both artists. There is a talk that another event will take place in 2020. We cannot wait.

Flyer for next year`s event.

See you shortly,

As usual – you can see entire gallery of snaps below:

The Exhibition:



The Opening:

All the best

In defense of buskers!

Hello dear readers,

We have 2017 already and first post of the year is actually an open letter. Rita and I would like to say a few paragraphs in defense of buskers and street artists. What`s the story (morning glory) you may ask? Well, Worcester City Council decided to crack down on performers in the city and make their lives more difficult than it is really needed.

Our local daily Worcester News ran the new cultural policy on the front page this morning. First day after Christmas break, we were happily about to deal with our office backlog and then – bang! Who needs coffee if you have news like this.

You can read the story here

or enjoy the scans we did so the generations to come can face palm in sheer despair:

Worcester News front page on January 3 2017 Warning: reading may cause spasms to all music fans.

Worcester News front page on January 3 2017
Warning: reading may cause spasms to all music fans.

Worcester News on January 3 2017 - the killer cultural proposal will surely give palpitations to music lovers.

Worcester News on January 3 2017 – the killer cultural proposal will surely give palpitations to music lovers.

We have no idea why culture and arts are under constant attack in West Midlands. Sometimes, it does feel like living out New Model Army`s Small Town England.  But onto the meritum.

The letter below has been sent to Worcester News as our reply to the Council policy, but we decided to also publish it on the blog.

Read on and as Sepultura used to say: Refuse/Resist.


Dear Worcester News (and Dear Worcester City Council, if you happen to read it – but we do not raise our hopes up)

We are writing this letter in response to the proposed regulation of busking in Worcester. We would love to see said document in full to be able to read into it. Unfortunately it seems, the draft is not available online for the public to see. However points mentioned in Worcester News raise several alarms and we would like to tackle them one by one.

Poppy WS sings in from of Guildhall in Worcester High Street

Poppy WS sings in from of Guildhall in Worcester High Street

Before we do it, allow us to quote some data regarding music and creative industries in the UK, as it is essential. According to MusicWeek magazine and Measuring Music 2016 report, music added £4.1 billion to the economy in 2015. Despite problems, the industry was rising 90% in the last 4 years. GVA (gross value added) for the industry was 17%, outgrowing other branches of British economy by 11%.

British Phonographic Industry (BPI) estimates that music consumption rose 1,5% to 123 million album sales in 2016. 45 billions streams (including 1 billion streams in December 2016 alone), 3.2 million units of vinyl sold. British acts such as Coldplay, Little Mix, The 1975, Rick Astley, Calvin Harris, Jess Glynne, The Rolling Stones and Skepta dominated charts this year. All in all – this is a booming business.

But that’s just one side of 2016. Last year we have lost a generation of  musical icons (David Bowie, Prince, George Michael just to name a few) and independent artists (Viola Beach), many small venues and clubs have been closed (40% of small venues had shut doors in the last decade).

Where does that leave us? A booming business with no big stars but many smaller artists who are trying to compete on the field but have no places to perform.  Enter busking.

Unnamed tightrope walker performs in Worcester. This man tours the country from Manchester to Wales.

Unnamed tightrope walker performs in Worcester. This man tours the country from Manchester to Wales.

Playing in the streets is not a new phenomena. Every artist started out in this manner (even the biggest names), but these days people will see much more buskers than before. Kids getting experience is one explanation, lack of venues is another, access to the public is a third but not a final answer. There are many more reasons why we see an artist performing on every corner. We may like it or not, busking is growing and is becoming not only a chosen way of artistic expression but an important branch of the industry.
There is nothing wrong with regulating busking within the city. London did it and their code is fantastic and user friendly.  Tenbury Wells did it.  Even Transport for London has their own busking scene and licenses. A whole range of tools has been employed by different localities (artists are encouraged to use smaller amps to avoid high levels of noise, special spaces are designed for artists, buskers are required to have public liability cover, curfews are established to ensure that nobody plays at night) and they are working.  Whoever been to London`s Oxford Street and seen iconic TommyAndMary duo perform their punk rock set will admit that even the loudest music can be incorporated into city life with relatively no side effects. If Worcester City Council wanted to draw inspiration for their own regulation, there are many templates ready to use.

Punk Rock duo TommyAndMary perform in London`s Oxford Street in December 2015

Punk Rock duo TommyAndMary perform in London`s Oxford Street in December 2015

However we have our doubts that Worcester City Council wants to regulate busking. It seems like the only agenda behind this regulation is to  eliminate artists in general by making their street performance so hard that they will simply give it up.

Let`s have a look at some of the proposals drafted:

–    No buskers within 50 meters from each other – Worcester on a daily basis is much quieter than other cities. On average we will have two buskers performing at the same time. Even during festivals and carnivals, we can hardly see artists being that close to each other. We can honestly think of 5 spots around the city where buskers play (most common will be in front of Debenhams).  This seems to be a non issue – as we don’t see Worcester becoming Glasto of busking anytime soon.

–    No busking between 9 pm and 8 am – that seems to be fair point and we dont have arguments with keeping a night time peace at all. We had to slightly adjust this part of the blog post as the fantastic Collective 43 pointed out that during Christmas Fayre, they played late slot until 8:45 pm (we checked metadata on the pic and it corresponds). Originally, we thought it was later than that! We truly hope that some exceptions will be however made for carnivals and festivals anyway in the draft, especially in summer when days are longer and music can flow a bit more. Being on the town on Friday night can be a good testament to the fact that many pubs or clubs are much more louder past 9 pm than a person with a guitar and an amp. Also, please note that entertainment part for Christmas Lights Switch On started last year so early (before 5 pm) that most people had to miss it. Music can`t last too long  that is obvious but it cannot start too early- otherwise who will have time to come and see the event?

The Collective 43 playing live at Victorian Fayre in Worcester in December 2016

The Collective 43 playing live at Victorian Fayre in Worcester in December 2016

–    Bans on any sign inviting people to pay money – London Busking Code has this as a rule: “Busking shouldn’t be confused with begging. Buskers put a lot of effort into their act, give a performance and entertain the public”. We are not sure if Worcester City Council has our local artists for beggars or if they have been deceived on the sizes of signs that artists use. Most of them have a hand-made note with their name. Some performers,  like Bristol based Saskia Griffiths-Moore who visited Worcester in September 2016 had a small sign telling people that she was fully independent artist funded by sales of her CDs. Ban on signs is being enforced only in Worcester and seems harmful, if not perverse.  Another point is that Councillors should really peek into the bowls and hats of buskers if they have a chance. They will not see big fortunes unfortunately. This part of the draft should be dropped and forgotten. The fastest, the better.

Bristol based singer Saskia Griffiths -Moore busks in Worcester in September 2016

Bristol based singer Saskia Griffiths -Moore busks in Worcester in September 2016

–    Maximum performance of 45 minutes afterwards artist must leave the area for 2 hours – this rule has only one explanation. To limit performance of musicians as much as possible and to make Worcester even more quiet than it is. Did we forget that Worcester is a market town? By definition it should be lively, bubbly and full of sounds. Worcester is visited by artists from many cities: Birmingham (like Obi Rudo – Belgian/Congolese rapper who calls UK his home) or Bristol (Saskia or Shemakeswar or Rita Lynch) or Oxford (B-Sydes) or even Cardiff.  If an artist is traveling for few hours by train to reach us, why limit them to 45 minutes of performance? Can`t we give them at least one hour? And with so little of good busking spots, and little revenue they get – do we think it will be profitable for artists to visit Worcester? They will just skip us and make us all culturally poorer.

Belgian/Congolese rapper and grime artist - Obi Rudo performs in Worcester

Belgian/Congolese rapper and grime artist – Obi Rudo performs in Worcester

–    An agreement to stop performing  on a request by police, Council workers etc. – So not even 45 minutes is guaranteed.  Because it seems that so many people will have the power to silence artists, it won`t be even possible to play a few songs. Nothing short of censorship in our book. But who needs artists and culture anyway? We have a statue of Elgar on High Street.

–    Complaints from shop owners about the noise – We can`t speak about every shop keeper in town but there seems to be a good relationship between artists and shop/stall owners. CrownGate has a small scene in the middle of their shopping arcade where artists can perform. We have spoken to many buskers and people who listen to street music in the past year and there was only one instance of loud music being complained about (the performer was a dancer and not a musician). Can we know how many complaints about buskers were lodged with the Council in the last year? In summer Worcester welcomed a whole brass band Gugge 2000. They were ace but very loud. Our ears were ringing for two days and it was fine.

Gugge 2000 play in front Guildhall on the High Street, Worcester as a part of Summer Festival

Gugge 2000 play in front Guildhall on the High Street, Worcester as a part of Summer Festival

We love music and had a chance to see not only fantastic local artists (Amie, Stolen Chocolates, Ken Pollock, Neil Ivison, The Fidgets, Jodie Hughes) but respected artists as well (Nigel Clark of Dodgy, Rita Lynch) perform in town. Some of the artists were busking. We acquired a handful of signed CDs. Seen breathtaking art (Richard Price and his paintings, tightrope walker who played a violin). We enjoyed each and every of the performances. We spent countless hours to promote those artists online as well, to put Worcester on a music map. We don’t understand why Council is trying to discourage art and music, instead of supporting it.

Young artist Amie sings on a stage located at the CrownGate Shopping complex in Worcester

Young artist Amie sings on a stage located at the CrownGate Shopping complex in Worcester

There`s so much to be done:

–     On 23 July 2016 London celebrated International Busking Day. 36 cities across UK joined the initiative, additional 100 around the world. But not Worcester. Why not?

–    At the end of January we celebrate Independent Venue Week – seven days of concerts to raise awareness of importance of small venues where artists can play. Worcester is only represented by The Marrs Barr. Is that all we can do?

–    We have The Fidgets – one of the most unique bands on the scene as we speak.  A group that continues the tradition of pure rock mixed with acoustic harmonies. The last band that played this way was Cast and that was 90s. The Fidgets have been on BBC Introducing. They busk around and build their own  fanbase. We wonder if Worcester City Council realizes the potential and opportunities being born from supporting local artists. 1 in every 100 jobs in Liverpool was created by The Beatles. Manchester has Oasis. We are not worse in this regard, we have our own local scene bursting with talent.

Worcester most loved band -The Fidgets play during their BBC Introducing session

Worcester most loved band -The Fidgets play during their BBC Introducing session

–    We won`t mention upcoming artists like Ewan Pollock, Jodie Hughes, Poppy WS or The Jevs – huge talents in their own right, just need some investment. Why can`t we have grants or stipends for artists like them?

–    Busking is not easy. Standing with a guitar in front of the public is one of the bravest acts an artist can do. Sometimes our artists are verbally harassed. We need designed spots where buskers can feel safe and where they can perform. Not the other way around.

Street artist Richard Price inspects his paintings on High Street, Worcester

Street artist Richard Price inspects his paintings on High Street, Worcester

–    Our buskers were freezing while playing during Victorian Fayre in 2016.  Is it really that much to offer them a complimentary tea or a sandwich for entertaining crowds? We are sure it wouldn’t cost a fortune.

–    We have Worcester Music Festival but some genres of music and possible venues are not considered. Not one concert for classical music was organized. St Helen`s Church (which can be a good venue) was standing empty. We would imagine that Council would be co-ordinating or at least contributing towards such initiatives.

We hope our letter won`t be seen as too critical. We are all for regulation but let`s regulate things in a safer, friendlier and  constructive way. Music and art have been bringing huge amounts of revenues and recognition to United Kingdom for decades, but to continue we must invest in them.

Kind regards,
Malicia & Rita Dabrowicz
Vanadian Avenue

Some links to buck up claims in our letter:

All images taken by us albeit with a mobile phone. Pardon the quality.


We will keep you posted once we hear more about this killer cultural procedure.


********* Update 04/01/2017************

Hello Dear Readers,

An update to our open letter – because we managed to gather more information.

When Worcester News broke the story yesterday, a great thing has happened. People came out and voiced their admiration for buskers and street artists. The story on Facebook had over 200 comments, many of them mentioning  our leading band in town – The Fidgets. It was fantastic to read the praises – we can only hope that there`s no doubt right now what a treasure and ray of joy The Fidgets really are.

Online comments regarding Worcester best band - The Fidgets -

Online comments regarding Worcester best band – The Fidgets –

Many people – like us – were upset because we were trying to find out the text of buskers code in Worcester and nothing was available. Not on the City Council web site or anywhere else. If one had persistence – after hours of pestering  Uncle Google, you could find these and they are not a joy to read.

The undated buskers guide that we have found, page 1

The undated buskers guide that we have found, page 1

Undated buskers guide we found, page 2

Undated buskers guide we found, page 2

It  seems to be a very old (decade old?) code of buskers used by Worcester City Council. The trouble with such finds is very simple. Undated documents  may be old, and  if they are not specific means they can be interpreted in many ways. That is why laws  or codes or T&C usually have to be very precise to be functioning.

The source link is this one

Having just one source is not enough. To fully understand what changes are made we still needed the new code for comparison.

So when we went to bed, we were confused just like everybody else.

Thankfully today Worcester City Council stepped up to the task and provided a blog throwing a lot of light on the situation.

You can read it here – it contains the proposed new code and as you can see it is rather user friendly and longish and detailed.  Hear that sound – it’s a collective sigh of relief coming from everyone at Vanadian Avenue.

We had a chat on Twitter with the Councils and we were provided with additional links. The new updated code for buskers was initiated in November 2016 and  is being prepared with Worcester BID and Keep Streets Live! Initiative (

Please read the links below and if you are a busker or a local musicians, please get in touch and let City Council know what you think of the proposal:

That’s all for now folks,