I went past New Street railway station countless times. I observed how multiple construction signs appeared everywhere and how the new stainless steel cladding designed to transform the station into a futuristic-style building went up. Of course, I had an eye for an eye-shaped feature above one of the entrances once it’s finished – it will make a perfect subject for a Birmingham urban photography project. I could see it as a background for some wide angle portrait shots. I was waiting for the beauty to unfold on schedule.
Then one day I stopped and looked up mesmorised – there was no need to wait for the shiny finishes to be completed. In the stainless steel ripples of a cladding I saw a giant kaleidoscope in which an abandoned plastic shopping bag became a focal point and where construction warning signs and temporary barriers formed a sort of painterly ‘graffiti’ reflections.
Sky and architecture, roads and people were brought together by undulating steel panels. Bodies doubled and tripled in a weird dance. Sales billboards swelled grotesquely. By the way, spot the photographer mirrored!
These New Street station multiple distorted mirror-like reflections were full of strange life and beauty. You could see why the effect could be called ‘kaleidoscopic‘ after the term coined by David Brewster in 1817 to denote ‘observation of beautiful forms’ – from the Ancient Greek καλός (kalos), ‘beautiful, beauty’, εἶδος (eidos), ‘that which is seen: form, shape’ and σκοπέω (skopeō), ‘to look to, to examine’.
Here’s a series of photos I took before John pulled me away to continue with our trip.