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Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Birmingham's hedgehog crisis on video

Harry Palmer talks about hedgehogs from Nicky Getgood on Vimeo.

Birmingham’s hedgehog crisis. PRESS STATEMENT:


Birmingham’s hedgehog crisis.

Why local eccentric activist Harry Palmer made an historic public appeal.


1 in 3 gardens no longer have an annual visiting hedgehog.

1 in 8 children have never seen a hedgehog.

On Saturday 22nd November 2008 at 3pm, Harry Palmer publicly spoke about his concerns for the hedgehog crisis at the Bullring near the historic St Martin’s church in Birmingham. Mr Palmer, a self proclaimed eccentric archaeologist, reinstated a public meeting as a matter of urgency and historic relevance, particularly in regard to hedgehogs.

In the heart of Birmingham a blue heritage plaque, placed ten feet on the side of the rag market, largely goes unnoticed. Until it’s pointed out, many have never seen the sign which states ‘Near here stood the old market cross. Public meetings took place here in the 18th Century.’ It was this sign and its significance combined with his love of hedgehogs that inspired Harry to talk openly about the safeguarding of this lovely creature.

With all the focus on the credit crisis, perhaps we should also consider the challenges concerning the humble hedgehog. Whilst the spotlight is on our own economic survival and security, the simple and shocking fact is that the hedgehog is under threat. According to Dr Pat Morris, considered the godfather of British hedgehogs by 2025 the poor old animal may well be extinct. Indeed, since the mid 1990s, it is estimated that hedgehogs have declined by over a half. Reasons are varied. This year after the recent cold weather, wildlife sanctuaries are being inundated with starving baby hedgehogs. Juvenile hedgehogs are particularly vulnerable and admissions to the centres are abnormally high.

Environmental issues are not helping. With wetter summers and warmer autumns, hedgehogs are having second litters later in the year making the newly born unable to survive. Unfavourable conditions of poor food supply and necessary warmth and shelter prior to hibernation add to the threat. Malnutrition is now a major factor with many hoglets weighing less than 300 grams are more than ever prone to the effects of starvation. Simply put, hedgehogs simply cannot cope with all the changes.

What other facts effect the humble hedgehog and its imminent plight? The habitat of hedgehogs in cities and towns has significantly altered. Gardens have less hedging of course, being replaced by wooden or brick fencing. Increasingly paved patios and slab-stone frontages have replaced gardens adding to the downturn of plant life and hedgerows. Simply put, less fauna and flora negatively affects the ecosystem. Swallows and bees are now reported to be struggling due to changing habitats and environmental circumstances. It’s an unsettling truth also that pollutants and toxic waste, plastic bags and empty containers - crisp packets, sandwich wrappers and plastic beakers for example, make the curious hedgehog susceptible to potential poisoning and suffocation.

So what can we do to help prevent any further number of hedgehogs from dying?

There are number of things that will help:

1. If you see a hedgehog in daylight, then it is likely to be malnourished and needs attention. Hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures. It is best to seek advice (details below).

2. Lawn-mowing can be dangerous to hedgehogs. Hedgehogs may be in the undergrowth and many have been killed due to gardening accidents. Steady as you go!

3. Don’t feed hedgehogs milk or bread. They should be given meat based catfood and water.

4. Be careful with household rubbish and waste. Don’t leave plastic bags or containers etc.. outdoors. Hedgehogs are inquisitive and will find places to explore. Be careful clearing up any areas where you have piled-up wood, boxes etc.. as hedgehogs may well be hiding and resting.

5. Plant hedges and plantlife in your garden. Before adding any major areas with patio and paving stones, consider the environmental impact. Less greenery means less wildlife which damages the ecosystem.

6. Love nature and wax lyrical. Tell others about how much you love nature and that about the hedgehog crisis. Give people tips on how to deal with a hedgehog situation. Solutions encourage a positive culture of empathy and support.

For more detailed information / emergency:

British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
Tel: 01584 890801

West Midlands Hedgehog Rescue

Birmingham’s hedgehog crisis. Why it’s so important.The full story

(Bringing 18th century public meetings into the 21st century
at Birmingham’s Bullring market).

Discretely tucked away ten feet high on the side of a wall in the oldest part of Birmingham is a blue heritage plaque. Out of obvious gaze, it importantly states that public meetings happened here in the 18th Century. You will find this sign at Birmingham’s Bullring market which includes St Martins church, located in the heart of the city. Here the city began many years ago, where the outdoor veg market sits side by side with the indoor rag market opposite the meat and fish market. Self evidently, this is a place which still continues to sustain a diverse underbelly of shoppers and stall holders – the public. One cannot underestimate the significance of this location and yet nobody seems to know about the existence of this sign and what it crucially attributes to. Upon pointing it out to local friends and passers-by, it clearly goes unnoticed.

Harry Palmer invites a public meeting about Birmingham's hedgehog crisis.

On a dark cold winters day the public
meeting sign hides in the background.

Despite religious impromptu weekly announcements, certainly little or no alternative public speaking/meetings occur in the immediate area. My ongoing project - Sites of Social Special Interest concerns the examination of places and spaces that are least remembered or thought about (currently focusing on Birmingham). In particular, SSSI is a creative artwork, an exploration of places that affect us all despite seeming irrelevant, abject, forgotten or peculiar. I select locations and associated activities to heighten a collective experience, shared in-situ, amongst others. These have included children’s murals and myths at night in the underpass beneath Bristol Street. Others include a pictorial survey of Harbourne high street and its historic Victorian toilet. Over many years, the majority of my art work has similarly prevailed in collective, eccentric and people focused activities (

In the 18th Century meetings outdoors in central locations were deeply political - a means of empowerment through expressing points of view.

The hedgehog crisis in Birmingham offered another suitable subject for my next SSSI (the fifth in the series). These days the obscurity of outdoor public meetings and speaking - a public gathering that combined an historic place with genuine concerns, has little merit. The hedgehog crisis aimed to captivate public interest, using nature and a crisis as a matter of attraction, re-instating outdoor public address, a political landmark and activity in the process. Why not talk about something other than religion that is important and allowed for an alternative non-religious concern? The spirit of public speaking is all about voicing an opinion, usually as a matter of campaign and urgency, hence a public meeting. In the 18th Century meetings outdoors in central locations were deeply political, a means of empowerment through expressing points of view - a collective sense of citizenship through participation and engagement, motivated from deep felt concerns of a seditious or religious related politic. The potential is still here today, located in central Birmingham. Indeed, my talk also invited Dominik Kai Brotherton to attend and speak about alternative relationships; something that he felt was beneficial and important to also share (please see later).

A public meeting takes place as Harry explains the Hedgehog plight.

Birmingham has been shaped via the opportunity to express heartfelt concerns and opinions in public – for others to hear outdoors. I assert that this is still an important attribute and it has distinct place concurrent with the city’s development and history. Dominant historification is happily promoted and financed, typically presenting a squeaky clean tourist-city-as-attraction via commercial investment (rather than more radical or alternative perspectives that made Birmingham remarkable and established an international city (let us not forget)). Under the current system of capitalism, the professional climate of investment encourages trivialisation of heritage and politics. Abandoning the past by way of editing-out the blood and sweat of the underclass and the turmoil of a population bellies ignorance and a new wave of fascism. This is not healthy of course. I therefore decided to reanimate the right to public address and in particular to initiate a topic outside religious proclamation, unfinanced and without a logo. Who would show?

Harry offers helpful tips to help hedgehogs.

One can be serious and smile at the same time!

Complimenting public announcements of course is the reliance on the internet and media communication to give us a sense of freedom of opinion and thought (really?). Digital forums are not public meetings! My argument, as with most of my art creativity, is to side step the negative cultural trance; alternatively exemplifying interaction as personal and physical engagement, and in doing so to directly speak about myths, issues and stories amongst others and break the spell of conditioning and manufactured consent. We should not rely on dominant and assertive attitudes as a matter of sacrosanct control, and hence we should not underestimate or undervalue the physical and the personal combined – especially as our legal right to public activities is increasingly restricting our freedom of expression and the way we think and approach life. Politics appears more extreme in our current climate, even when it’s only a matter of voicing an opinion. This is very worrying. We should not be put off! Things are much more urgent than ever. Heritage as well as art is far more than the glamorisation of culture that many adopt today. We need to intervene in ways that encourages positive social discourse and not alienate each other in the process. Such is a lack of genuine joy and a need for community! One can be serious and smile at the same time!

After my talk on the Birmingham hedgehog crisis, Dominik Kai Brotherton took the opportunity to speak about alternative relationships. Here is his unedited text. Please note that I publish this material irrespective and independent of my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Dominik talks about the nature of alternative relationships.

Public Speaking RE: Radicalising the way we express love.

Open Relationships, Alternative Relationships, Polygamy, Polyamory, Whatever you want to call it, I hope this translates more as a speech of personal motivation, than as a preach of condemnation.

Boys and Girls, a not-too surprising statistic:

89% of UK inhabitants admit to cheating on a partner at some point in their life. Yet in strange contrast, less than 1% of the UK’s population currently consider themselves to have an “open relationship”. So why is that?

Clearly, there is a desire beyond one partner; beyond monogamy. Yet it comes out in the forms of “cheating”, and “2 timing”: in secret.
We are so scared of jeopardising our relationships that we either sacrifice, suppress, or hide our true impulses. Most of us probably did a double take of some guy or girl on the bus today, but wouldn’t tell our partner about it.

Concepts like, “cheating”, and “betrayal” continue to confuse and alienate me. They both hinge on some kind of deception, which, if you are truly open with your partner, need not exist. We all enjoy different people for different reasons: being open about that shouldn’t be taboo.

People express love in many ways: linking arms, kissing, love letters, hugging, intercourse, shaking hands, a phone call, a warm embrace, S&M, music: anything you put your heart into. To some degree or other, you are expressing love to everyone you communicate with, and so I see it as presumptuous to declare that there is a line restricting what is appropriate to use as an expression, or not, or to who I am expressing myself. What is so different between kissing someone’s cheek, and kissing someone’s mouth? They are only an inch away from each other. Why does it matter whether it is my mother I’m kissing, or my ex, if it’s the same gesture.

Dominik explains his ideas in public outside St. Martins church

By redefining my own relationship, I have learnt so much more about myself and about my partner. I have learnt that in reality, I can’t depend on one person to be the sole provider of everything I have desired in life. That’s why we have friends and family, with whom we have relationships and with whom we share love.

You shouldn’t be scared or held back by prejudice in your expression, and I encourage you to make love, however you want to imagine its creation, with your friends, male and female, your family, yourself. Kiss your sister, write your dad a love letter, feel your friend’s skin.

Even in legislation, expression of love has been restricted and filtered. Homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1967! And I think people will look back at our contemporary viewpoint and think the same of incest. People are quick to condemn it as disgusting or unnatural, much as homosexuality has been, but when there is clearly so much love for your family, if you are comfortable with it, then why not express that love physically?

Regarding this viewpoint, people often ask, “if you have no moral boundaries regarding incest, then do you also condone bestiality, necrophilia or paedophilia?” The fundamental difference for me between incest and the other aforementioned taboos is that assuming both parties are acting of their own free will, consent is still given, whereas the illegality of bestiality and paedophilia appears rooted in the inability of those involved to give consent. Necrophilia is a grey area, with some states of America not prosecuting necrophiliacs on the grounds that a person loses all of their human rights at the point of death.

Now, there’s a frequent misconception with open relationships that it’s just a licence to go on one night stands all the time, but this is about radicalising a whole culture and tradition and trying to develop out of our repressed condition, not just an excuse for no strings sex!

One man writes,
“there are real virtues and benefits of non-monogamy (not just the logistics of how to do it), such as the personal growth one experiences by letting go of jealousy, knowing that your lover is freer person because of your understanding, and the fact that all involved have an opportunity to know, love and experience different people”.

I must stress, that not everyone suits an alternative relationship. Some people are just easily contented and claim to be completely satisfied by their lover in every possible way. Others are simply too insecure to stop being possessive, for whom even monogamy is difficult. Never the less, I think it is important to question and challenge your emotional bonds, even if don’t think you are suited to an alternative relationship.

Be true to yourself, firstly.
You should feel empowered to follow your desires and express affection towards people you feel for; your friends, your family, fond strangers; not scared that the Mrs might find out.

Secondly, be true to the Mrs.
Tell him or her when you “ cheat ”. Tell them that you fancy other people if you do. Tell them you fantasise about other people. Never lie. It’s very much part of the essence of being “open”, and separately, I don’t think I can recall a single situation when lying has helped for the greater good.

And thirdly, if being true to yourself and following something you feel jeopardises your relationship, then maybe you’re in the wrong relationship! Too often I’ve seen couples sacrifice each other’s happiness for a partnership that’s well past its best-by-date.
Don’t do it.

Having said that, I have supreme faith in the rejuvenation of monogamous relationships, through a manifesto of change, but it is clear that many are reluctant to disturb their comfort zone. I honestly believe relationships can be achieved without possessiveness, and a need to control your partner’s love. Through confronting your jealousy and dissipating your insecurities by having faith in yourself, I think it is possible.

And that is the encouragement I am trying to impart to you. Challenge your current relationship and radicalise the way you express your love.

-Dominik Kai Brotherton, 22nd November 2008

Article by Harry Palmer November 2008.

Picture credit: R.Hewitt.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Birmingham’s hedgehog crisis.

URGENT - Birmingham’s hedgehog crisis.
NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT FEED HEDGEHOGS MILK! Please feed them meat based catfood and water.

Public speaking campaign to raise awareness concerning the plight of the humble hedgehog.

Join Harry Palmer this Saturday (22nd Nov) near St Martins Church – Bullring, Birmingham (3pm sharp) to hear details surrounding the tragic crisis of the hedgehog in Birmingham.

1 in 3 gardens no longer have an annual visiting hedgehog.

1 in 8 children have never seen a hedgehog.

‘Wildlife sanctuaries are being inundated with starving baby hedgehogs after recent cold weather took its toll on already declining populations. A combination of a mild autumn followed by snow has left juvenile hedgehogs particularly vulnerable, wildlife experts say.It was reported in the Guardian that the public are being urged to report any young animals they see foraging for food during the day. The animals are normally nocturnal.’

This will be followed by Dominik Kai Brotherton who wText Colourill publicly speak about alternative relationships and why they have a lasting impact.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

HARRY PALMER IS DEAD! Out and About! Art-Not-As-You-Know-It!

I discovered the name of another ''Harry Palmer'' whilst out on a psychic phenomic journey in Birmingham recently (August 2008).

Out and about!

Here, I discuss the workings of my creative art activity in various locations - places and spaces, and my recent exploration of psychic-phenomena which inspires continued public environment manifestations. This is only one element of the 360 degrees of many other creative things that I do!

The majority of my last fifteen years of practice has essentially been to use places and spaces, making a wide range of different solo and collaborative art works (some financed, whilst others certainly not!). These places range from allotments, bridges, rowing clubs, village halls, carboots, streets, roads, pubs, through to deconsecrated churches, rivers and canals, amongst a wide array of many. A key factor has been to work with a sense of personal freedom, applying an intelligent combination of connections to these places, and the ideas being generated, in which I have managed to successfully negotiate independent access to. Indeed, it is worth pointing out that whilst I have succeeded to mutually operate in public environments, I have nonetheless always maintained personal integrity, and if too many limits are felt to be constraining an idea, I have always sought to resolve in favour of the art or artists that I have had the pleasure of supporting and working with.

Affirmative, outlandish, highly personal and unmediated art works, have increasingly become of vital importance to me over recent years. Indeed, as the current editor and co-publisher of the annual tabloid style newspaper, The Eccentric City , I continue to identify and invite people that express and explain their highly individual creative pursuits – in their own words and images.

My performance at Birmingham carboot (at the wholesale market in central Birmingham) 2001 (as part of Friction Arts Ltd - Sunday Best "Tat Art" project).

Public spaces provide a tremendous opportunity for me as an artist. Importantly, many of the places which we think as public spaces should not be confused with public realm locations and activities which ‘allow’ (and control) festival or social and/or marketing relations as highly defined enclosures. These public realms have unfortunately and increasingly been motivated by politics and corporate policies, drastically reducing, and restricting, inspired creativity. In Birmingham in the UK for example, even the vetting of buskers by the city council, means that licenses have to be obtained to qualify for suitable public entertainment. My artwork avoids such areas and ethos, especially those which require go-ahead sanctions. That is why, I want to stress, that the public gallery and museum system and its associated cultural network, has equally and similarly never appealed. I do, however, support independent spaces and currently actively assist The Edge in Birmingham.

Below: Pictures from The Sirens Project 2003 (a 7 day circumnavigation of Smethwick by narrowboat).

So the means of connecting to a public place, mapping the creative ideas that I am progressing with, are of great personal importance. With this has been a liberation, perhaps a deviant or heretical departure from the claws of art-as-you-know-it. Indeed, whilst I now find myself moving into exciting locations, currently those which are deemed as abject or dislikeable (unimportant?), I now rely on a sense of personal enquiry which I share with (a few) others. Being fascinated by unmediated and resistant to self imposed referential art critiques, I find myself continuing to make less than typical art ‘exhibitions’ and activities. For example, working in subways (underpasses) at 1.30 in the morning exploring children’s murals, on high street corners as pictorial surveys of still-in-use Victorian urinals, rundown and derelict coach stations as reminiscent studies, as well as graveyards, and most recently - car parks as forgotten post war bomb sites.

One current theme for 2008 perhaps indicates the core concern - Sites of Social Special Interest (SSSIs). Importantly, invitees come as participants, whereby a sense of exchange takes place. One is rarely observing the freakish or foolhardy or the subtle with the sublime - as a public member of the audience. I bring people together as an aside from what conventionally we might expect. Having invited people to an SSSI, the time and locations often remove a sense of obligation or coercion (and this is also important to the autonomy of the artwork and our interaction). The agenda is to act in the moment, to be there when it happens, and to collectively shape, in-situ, under my initiation, a sense of peculiar, yet celebratory, highly unique activity. (I aim to inspire having brought my research and process into the places, from prior visits and investigation (as well as recognising these places as historic and forgotten landmarks as a process of artistic archaeology and mythical – involved - making).

Below: Sites of Social Special Interest No.1 Bristol street subway (Birmingham). The Official launch occured at 1.30am in the morning. 3 people turned up!

Early research and social cartography (map drawings by Sian Hindle) takes place in the underpass.

A pedestrian partakes in the research and investigation concerning the children's murals and graffiti.

The launch with 3 people in attendance - 1.30 in the morning. A sense of atmosphere in generated as I talk through the connections of the murals and their to review:

The majority of many of my ideas in general, are governed by my focus on motivation. Recently, I have been examining the energy of what I call psychic phenomena, as the initial starting point and evolution of potential pieces of art work creations. I spend a lot of time in-situ, out and about, discretely alone, wondering privately or in crowds such as carboots and Birmingham indoor market for example, finding myself observing my creative impulses which are indeed the building blocks of what I might do next. Here, I personally perceive (and attempt) a letting go of my ego - and it is from this position - aware of the less than favourable monetary returns and peer advocacy, that enables such work to be made (The will to power through disappearance – re: Hakim Bey). This is an important condition and challenge of course (yet always provides the most exciting work). Here, my self professed role as a Zen Punk is in operation – a fusion of DIY and momentary activity, using the least amount of complicated material and technological resources to express the creativity that is animated amongst myself, with ourselves (as invitees and as those who encounter by chance – which is also a crucial part of the making that I create!
(Please note this is only one area of my artwork).

On Psychic phenomena: The stimulation of embryonic energisation, ideas and simultaneous manifestation in the making of (my) creativity (re: eccentric archaeology).

Psychic-phenomena is something I describe concerning the reaction in our bodies regarding the self stimulation of creative ideas - a sense of euphoria, the ‘rush’ that the body biologically and physically feels when an (embryonic) idea becomes impressed upon in our being; when a trail of creative thoughts are aroused, are in the process of personalised exploration, being created in the here and now. For a short period of time, we become overwhelmed with a sense of euphoria and eureka! Ideas are at their peak, we sense (all over our body) a bio-electrical reaction. You could equate the experience similar to an adrenalin rush, an effect whereby the body reacts at a high creative speed.

To explain this a little more, as we generate an idea (the more intense the idea seems to us personally, the more we are overwhelmed by the effects upon ourselves), the human body creates a thrill - a sensation akin to flight and fight, but this feeling is neither of these – it is more delight and excite, a nervous combustion, of mental exaggeration - a physical sensation we feel, a force of creative narcotics, a natural chemical reaction within our whole human and biological framework. The heartbeat increases, blood pumps around our body a little faster for example, our body temperature increases a little bit, becomes physically animated, and importantly our hormones are excited, and in particular, growth hormone, now proved that when we generate creative ideas (as affirmation within ourselves) - we release a fraction more growth hormone than per normal (which, in part, enables us to be biologically and physiologically ‘young’). Hence, the vital point I wish to make about psychic-phenomena – that this energy is, without question, promoting and instructing the body (the person) to sustain life as a positive pursuit and reason for being, and willing ourselves (as a vessel of evolving information) – to progress within and with the potential arising.

Psychic-phenomena - as I named it before coming across the term and definition upon later research - concerns the emergence of an exciting idea that is starting to make sense to us personally. Most often, it is a novel or eccentric idea, bound by an individual’s sense of personal perspective. In this process, we create a tremendous positive sense of self, self worth, value and creative solutions in an ever evolving world around us. It is a self determined energy, riding rough-shot against the demands of society’s pressures or posturing. Psychic-phenomena throws away the rule book! It demands attention as beneficial. We are, at this point in time, in a position to heed it advice and direction! We should, equally not become overwhelmed by the energetics it can create!

The more intense and more personalised an idea feels to us in which psychic-phenomical experiences now operate - the effects upon ourselves are heightened. We are in our dreamland, in the juices of orgasmic rushes, electrified and amplified. We are in a state of natural ecstasy. The angels have spoken! It is, I believe, of great mystical importance. According to Alexandra David-Neel, ‘the secret of psychic training, as the Tibetans conceive it, consists in developing a power of concentration of mind greatly surpassing even that of men who are, by nature, the most gifted in that respect. Mystic masters affirm that by the means of such concentration of the mind, waves of energy are produced which can be used in different ways….That energy is produced every time a physical or mental action takes place….The production of psychic phenomena depends on the strength of that energy and the direction in which it is pointed.’ Footnote No. 1

Some things to heighten psychic phenomena and hence creativity.

Avoid attention seeking.
Avoid academia, institutions and bureaucratic structures and systems - places of authority and control.
Avoid poor quality food (particularly industrialised products).
Avoid disturbing conditions and over stimulation (TV/Internet/- electronic devices).
Avoid stress and worry.
Avoid paying attention to media (newspapers/magazines and all forms of propaganda and coercion as such).
Avoid the manipulation of others as well as expectations and persuasions.
Do not over concern yourself with other people’s belief systems and pressures.
Avoid or limit the use of medical industrial products and procedures.
Avoid coercion, obligation and a sense of guilt.
Respect your sense of self importance and self worth.
Avoid carcinogenic places and spaces.
Avoid noise pollution and light pollution (artificial lighting).
Avoid claustrophobic conditions.
Avoid deodorants and other bodily applied toxins and pollutants.
Be alert to mood swings, and the management of habitual disappointments and desires.
Limit or avoid alcohol and too much caffeine.
Avoid self harming (mental and physical).

Some things to aid psychic-phenomenic and creative energy:

Peace and quite.

Go wondering and find natural places and spaces (do activities including Intuitive Walking – see my earlier entry in the blog).
Eat natural food products and have a healthy diet.
Drink good quality water.
Try and use natural health remedies.
Try some singing (voice projection).
Choose joy over depression (as an affirmative choice).
Do your best with your posture.
Exercise regularly.
Honour and apply common decency amongst others.
Learn from your mistakes!


No.1 The World Atlas of Mysteries by Francis Hitching.

Copyright2008HarryPalmer:HARRY PALMER IS DEAD! Out and About! Art-Not-As-You-Know-It!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Very early painting...


Painted text reads

(from right to left):

The making of art (untitled).

The making of art with added water (untitled).

The remaking of art with added water (untitled).

Here in the world of humour....a noncomformist albeit eccentric painting from 1991 by myself! It was one of my very first public art exhibits. I remember one of the art lecturers exclaiming that I was swimming out to an island on my own (I think that meant that I was not concerning myself with the general run of 'art' studies etc..). This has been very much my hallmark before and after this go where the universal impulses take me....if I encourage them etc...I personally like to review the work of the past because I make new connections, new myths and extend and remind myself of elements that have helped shape me....the shaping carries going on and on brothers and sisters!


Mythological Canal Circumnavigation of Smethwick (UK) - 2003.

In 2003, I conducted a mythological canal circumnavigation of Smethwick by narrowboat. A seven day reconnaissance and exhibition tour took place on a specially adapted canal boat. The Sirens booklet, written by myself - the first accounts of mysterious activities, mythological tales upon the pending navigation of the Birmingham Main and Old canal lines - was self published. Here are some pictures from that truely extraordinary adventure. More pictures to follow:

Smethwick Pumping Station

Stories and predictions announced from our narrowboat public platform.

Fellow researchers.

Mythological creators on exhibit.

M5 motorway canal exploration, 2003.

Project commissioned by British Waterways and The Public arts agency.



A term I use to describe the expression of ideas in my personal vernacular, that at times might seem absurd, nonsensical or dislocated (often in association with what is known as derailment (typically, a conversation (or written material) which deviates in direction, at odds with the theme or main topic being discussed. One has derailed!)).

Wednesday, 23 July 2008



Harry Palmer Eccentric Archaeological Car Boot Performance. 2001.
Birmingham (UK) whole-sale markets.

Performance experiment/experience: making art in-situ. Harry Palmer continues the role of eccentric archaeology; alongside fellow friends and fellow artboot/Sunday Best artists: Sandra Hall, Lee Griffiths, Olly Shapley and Mark Lynall.
Commissioned by Friction Arts Ltd.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


Sites of Social Special Interest No.2 - Digbeth Coach Station, Birmingham (UK)


The idea of this project was to adapt (some would call is ‘appropriate’) the term ‘Sites of Significant Scientific Interest’ into a personal exploration of ‘social significance’. I therefore began a series of accounts in the city of Birmingham (UK) in which is ‘investigated’ Sites of Social Special Interest or SSSI. Herein are some documentation of ‘events’, gatherings and exploration under the SSSI banner. Enjoy.

Harry, Sue, Dave, Brendan and Mitra.



A couple of pictures from the Harbourne street urinal pictorial survey in Birmingham (UK). More written about the ethos of SSSI on this blog site. SSSI No.3 invited people to come and share - experience the only street in Birmingham that still has a still-in-use public free victorian urinal.


The idea of this project was to adapt (some would call is ‘appropriate’) the term ‘Sites of Significant Scientific Interest’ into a personal exploration of ‘social significance’. I therefore began a series of accounts in the city of Birmingham (UK) in which is ‘investigated’ Sites of Social Special Interest or SSSI. Herein are some documentation of ‘events’, gatherings and exploration under the SSSI banner. Enjoy.


Bristol Street subway/underpass - Birmingham (UK) / 2008
On going eccentric archaeology in progress.


The idea of this project was to adapt (some would call is ‘appropriate’) the term ‘Sites of Significant Scientific Interest’ into a personal exploration of ‘social significance’. I therefore began a series of accounts in the city of Birmingham (UK) in which is ‘investigated’ Sites of Social Special Interest or SSSI. Herein are some documentation of ‘events’, gatherings and exploration under the SSSI banner. Enjoy.

A letter to contact grafitti tagger named Debra.
With Social Cartographer, Sian Hindle, talking to pedestrians concerning
the six children's murals at the subway.

Local passer-by attends the self proclaimed celebratory exhibition (Harry in the background).

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Sites of Social Special Interest (pictures)


Sites of Social Special Interest (SSSI) is an eccentric archaeological exploration of places and spaces which present themselves to me. Selected locations appeal to my sense of the outsider and the abject (as places of little respect and valuable concern (particularly outside monetary status). Creative activity occurs in-situ at these places, with an invited public if they so wish. SSSI requires no solicited physical permission, are empheral, and offer no obligatory attendance. We are free at last. Oh yes, this is completely unfunded and unfinanced (no monetary implications are engendered), which is beneficial to us all of course!

For those wanting to understand the joys of Psychic-Phenomena, of dropping out, being responsible and at the same time remaining happy - the Sites of Social Special Interest might be something you may benefit from. SSSI is a small part of my Eccentric Archaeological advancements.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Intuitive Walking -The will to be with Mother Nature (The Art of Zen-Punk Walking and Inherent Learning). A Pilgrimage into the Unknown Without a Map.

Harry's intuitive walk, Avon estuary, Bristol, 2001.

Intuitive Walking - The will to be with Mother Nature (The Art of Zen-Punk Walking and Inherent Learning). A Pilgrimage into the Unknown Without a Map….

(Please note that this article is not intended to convince you into taking unnecessary dangers and that, like all good things in life, you make decisions based on your own self determinisation – you take the risk if you think it’s worth taking). In actual fact, this article is a personal itinerary and investigation, written outloud in public (as I plan my next intuitive walk shortly).


Since I was nine years old, I have had a calling. This calling, an inner voice if you like, has been to ‘walk and meditate’. This inner direction, so to speak, is something I brought into being when I was 20 years old, listening to the direction, as part of a vision that I experienced, whereby a mental picture of a place in East Africa came into my psychic radar. I acted on faith, and found myself six months later in Arusha (Tanzania) in East Africa; on an exercise in walking and mediation – with no particular preconceived outcome(s). I did not, however, recognize this as a typical holiday trip. Now, 17 years later, having journeyed many geographic places, with many exposures to a sense of alienated places, through to more familiar locations and safer have(a)ns - the point being, that I now sense a time in my life to allow this ‘calling’ to re-enter my psychic radar. So below, I present the way in which I will engage this process, that being something I describe as Intuitive Walking (and the art of zen-punk meditation – at cross between the attributes of zen meditation and DIY creativity).


Dare we go into the countryside for example, into landscapes unknown, without a map whatsoever (with suitable provisions, dare we risk the dangers of the terrain for our absolute survival)? The Eccentric Archaeologist may well benefit from un-prescribed outings, the pleasure of walking intuitively into the unknown. The benefits – a step closer to nomadic migration, a step further away from our dominant prescribed existence (certainly in ‘The West’) – a little sojourn, a shamanic shift from our chakra’s that are blocked by the geographic and physiological determinisation of our nannying dictatorship that manipulates our sense of purpose in cities and towns, of farmed land, or built up geographic territories – our paths of prevalent existence that quashes us with a sense of passive, negative introspection, of hedonistic commercialisation, the rampant conservatism that prevails into many a neighbourhood – into our lives. Dare I present the Zen-Punk of Intuitive Walking, stepping over the boundaries of personalised limitations as figments of our fear-strapped imagination!? The intuitive walker finds refuge in being amongst the unknown, celebratory and rewarding at every turn, every step into the unknown, encountering demons and angels as they present themselves….


The mindset for such a walk must first of all be one of commitment - committing to the unknown, the (im)possible, to the sense of pure adventure. Such a walker can go solo, or with a partner walker, or less favourably – with a group (with each person committed to going where they have not prior planned of course). Each of these scenarios offer different challenges in the walk, this being a matter of negotiation. A solo walker is working on their own instincts, making decisions that they alone are responsible for. A partnership offers both coercion – negative and positive (as encouragement to go ‘the extra step’ can be both a challenge to undertake or a consideration to prevent a path into the unknown (conservatism may enter into the limitations of risk taking). A group is limited potentially with decision making, of accountability and of confusion. A leader may be borne, and here the controversy lies - the nervous energy of law and order, we bring our own baggage (unfortunately this should be left at home (metaphorically)). An intuitive group walk may well result in cluster arguments, whereby the anxiety of one or two people, for example, will set people against each other. Intuitive walking is seriously in peril if this is the (likely case) and one that will prevent the benefits of walking with no prescribed outcome (hard for many to accept, yet astonishingly powerful if people take this journey).

A crucial element of intuitive walking is not to have any prior sense of where you are to go, what you plan to see, no landmarks or planning whatsoever in respect of places the you will visit.


The place where you start - is the only main consideration needed in respect to begin an intuitive walk. From here on in, one is on a path into discovery and revelation. No maps may be used and must not be in your personal possession. The shamanistic power of Mother Nature, of psychic empowerment - will engage in the very instant you begin the journey. You remove expectations. For example, you don't have to get back to where you started the walk (I advise that this is a distraction and will remove the delights and challenges of 'going into the void'). Basically, just begin walking and follow your instincts (intuition). Enjoy and meditate as much as possible. There is no rush! You might walk a million miles, you might not! Giev yourself permission, not a task!


In the early stages of carrying out intuitive walking, a daytime walk is best (in that you may find that once you have encountered a village, town or city etc… that you look at making your way back to the starting point of the walk. (Or at least either find a bed and breakfast or a place to camp BEFORE it gets dark). Bed and breakfast, hotels, inns and hostels etc.. are absolutely fine to use if you so wish.

Longer walks should begin after a period of shorter intuitive walks, (in that an overnight walk, for example, whereby camping is involved) might not be the best thing to do for a virgin intuitive walker. I recommend a walk of length begins post walks of a shorter nature.


Know your starting position – where you are located (village, main road etc..)
Taxi numbers (especially 24 hours) – that are near to your starting position.

Let a reliable friend know that you are going on such a walk (start location, start date and expected end date). Reassure them that this is something you have fully prepared for. Make sure they have your telephone number (your mobile phone) and that you have theirs. Have an agreed time(s) in which you will try and communicate.


Ruck Sack.
Waterproofs (inc. hats, gloves etc…) – particularly for wet season walking.
Good walking boots and change of clothes.
Walking clothes and possibly a walking stick.
Waterproof watch (including date).
Sleeping bag.
Knife, string and a tarpaulin
First Aid kit.
Cash (depending on the anticipated length, I recommend at least £100/ a mixture of notes and small coins – i.e. for telephone machines in particular – you might well need to phone a taxi for example).
Mobile phone (fully charged – with extra battery if possible) – in weather proof bag.
Food (sandwiches, tins of dolphin friendly tuna (sunflower oil)….peanut butter and bread etc…)
Water (2 litres min per person for wet weather walking).
Water purifying kit.
Survival pocket book.
Local/regional taxi numbers (more than one number).
Notepad and pen (recording the elements of thoughts that are perceived and require recording).
Digital Camera.
Plastic bags (small) – to weather proof clothes and the like.


There are non. You make you own up! So that means that commonsense can and should prevail (and we know that this is something we learn). Yet, for example, if you find yourself near a camp site at 4pm in the afternoon – you can indeed make use of it (instead of thinking that you have to find an undesignated place to camp – which is fine as well of course).

However, it is advised that an intuitive walk be done in mild weather conditions, avoiding extreme heat, winds, rains, snow etc... Choose a time and starting place that is suited to a cooler season/climate.

Don’t expect to be back at work at a set time. Remove any pressure to be ‘back on time’ for any engagement after the walk, particularly for those doing longer walks over several days. Rest time should be built in when you return.

Also, avoid terrain that is seemingly very difficult. i.e., avoid large mountain ranges, desert planes etc… that have no indication of ‘human contact points’ – the ability to encounter civilisation is important. So pick a place that would realistically encourage human contact, at the very least (villages/towns/cities etc..)


This is a walk to do when you consider yourself to be in good health. A good sense of self, of level headedness, and it is advised that you have done some (countryside) walking on a regular basis prior to taking on an intuitive walk. It should not necessarily be a walk done ‘out of the ordinary’ when it comes to yourself. You should treat this as intelligently as possible – with good preparation and consideration.


Please consider carefully what you should take on this journey with you. There are many sites and books available on walking, and I advise you research more on the provisions for walking prior to undertaking an intuitive walk.

Please note. The author, Eccentric Archaeologist, Harry Palmer, is not responsible for any walk undertaken other than by himself. You walk at your own risk! Good luck if you do!

Copyright©2008 Harry Palmer / Intuitive Walking - The will to be with Mother Nature (The Art of Zen-Punk Walking and Inherent Learning). A Pilgrimage into the Unknown Without a Map.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Upon further investigation. A site visit to Ludgate Car Park in Birmingham (UK) – which hasn’t been built on since World War II.


The idea of this project was to adapt (some would call is ‘appropriate’) the term ‘Sites of Significant Scientific Interest’ into a personal exploration of ‘social significance’. I therefore began a series of accounts in the city of Birmingham (UK) in which is ‘investigated’ Sites of Social Special Interest or SSSI. Herein are some documentation of ‘events’, gatherings and exploration under the SSSI banner. Enjoy.

Investigating Team - Paul, Ian, Brian & Harry. June 28th 2008

Note the tiling on the wall behind

(possible remnants of an old victorian toilet for example?)

Private ownership amongst paying customers?

An eccentric archaeology outing (Sites of Social Special Interest No.4) - to investigate informal musings regarding the Ludgate Car Park in central Birmingham (28th June 2008). A place, seemingly abandoned, is arguably one of the poorest maintained car parks in Birmingham (with little upkeep and a skewered layout, confusing and ugly in the very least). This site has not been built on since the Second World War. It is also the location of the last public execution in Birmingham of Phillip Matsell in 1806 (50,000 public members attended).

Following an announcement to invite fellow citizens to explore this environment initiated by myself, a small group of us (Ian Edwards, Brian Simpson and Paul Nocher) spent time in-situ, serving as an eccentric time team reasoning clues to the present physical condition of the car park.

Whilst I discussed the psychic and mental ambience of the place itself, suggesting that noise pollution and other forms of anxiety are deeply shocking to imagining and thinking – to allow contemplation and concentration to underpin and explore that which would come to our attention; During this announcement, the whole group became aware of the overhead police helicopter hovering and somewhat static above us (lasting 15 minutes approx). We seemed to have an audience of some description. We were unperturbed. Eitherway, this was compounded by Great Charles Street / Queensway dual carriageway traffic noise that roared itsway into our conversation, demanding extra concentration between ourselves (and effort to listen to myself reading the brief story surrounding the execution of Phillip Matsell during which time we noted the synchronicity of a scaffold van signage that simultaneously drove past whilst reading about the large scaffold execution structure that was rigged here in 1806 for the last public hanging. The noise surrounding us, hostile in nature, echoed the noises of air-raid planes, of a 50,000 crowd that littered this area in the past. Another psychic resonance that continued to be ‘attached’ to this neglected and historic landmark?)

This car park is reported to be haunted. It is suggested in Haunted Birmingham (a book by Arthur Smith and Rachel Bannister) that sightings of the ghost could possibly be Phillip Matsell (the last person in Birmingham to be executed and which took place here at the corner of Ludgate Car Park and Snow Hill). It could, I reflect, be a person(s) killed as a direct result of a 2nd World War bomb via the destroyed tenant back to back housing that once stood here - a bomb victim killed by the blasts? Days leading up to this investigation, I imagined previous inhabitants being of a medieval nature way before the industrialisation ever took place. In my mind, I saw huts and small fires – the living and working conditions of yesteryear. What are the remnants of history here?

In reference of ancestral communication, further investigations are planned including an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) readings to attempt to record sounds inherent in the immediate atmosphere from the bygone past (I shall report on this in the coming months).

The BT tower is located only 50 yards away from one of the main entrances to Ludgate car park. The tower, it is claimed, can withstand a 5 mega ton nuclear atom bomb. From World War II to a nuclear communication tower - bombs seem to be the symbolic resonance of this particular location in Birmingham - a certain psychic connection that is drawn to this part of the city?

Why has Ludgate Car Park not been built upon since the 2nd World War? Suggestions ranged from perhaps the challenges of surveying and securing the ground to be safe and fit for building upon? Were the foundations safe? The uneven road surfaces, the undulating and sloping ground (twisted and curved), the maturing trees and wild overgrown grass indicative of intentional neglect and sculptural bombing? Perhaps the site, as it is seems privately owned in part, is difficult to resolve as a full use site? Perhaps the cost of purchase is excessive? We were not sure. It did seem strange, in our opinion, that a site such as this, would not be purchased and built upon until now (Ludgate Car Park has just been sold after 60 years) – particularly as it is a prime site in central Birmingham (please note that the Gun Quarter is situated about half a mile away from this car park – the location explains itself – a manufacturing munitions location (the remnants of a war-world nonetheless)).

The Jewellery Quarter is less that half a mile away from the car park. Ludgate Car Park is located between two significant churches – St Phillips and St Pauls. It forms a link from north to south respectively; the footbridge over busy traffic on Great Charles street - it is the physical marker into the new territory, with the car park right infront of you upon exit at the bottom of the stairs as you turn the corner. This transition is abject in feeling, creating an ugly composition mirrored by the strange mix of new, smart, 50s and older architecture that now surrounds you in an ad hoc fashion (abandoned warehouses, posh bars, dismal looking office blocks, modern designer company houses, for example). ((Note that the Jewellery Quarter is a wealthier part of the traditional business community in Birmingham, full of prestige, and a place where warehouses are being slowly converted into living accommodation for example)).

The group discussed the overall geographic layout, the implications of change and the noticeable signs of the past – a cobbled piece of road exposed, the concrete road of patchwork surfaces, tar and aggregate. The walls of old bricks and overgrown landscape, the butterflies that partnered with the burdock bushes, the remnants of a tile lined wall upon a small section of the think indented brickwork (possibly the signs of a gents toilet for example?); of cabling cut crudely and protruding out of another wall close by. Ludgate Car Park, irrespective of history, served today as an apparent eye sore, lost in no -mans land, neglected without any due respect. We at least, made our offerings there and then, a hallmark of eccentric archaeology investigated and honoured, to bricks and mortar of mortal men and women, girls and boys, of car park pay and display, of private landlords, public executions, of munitions and wildlife et al…..

Copyright©2008 Harry Palmer / Upon further investigation…A site visit to Ludgate Car Park in Birmingham (UK) – which hasn’t been built on since World War II.