Hockley Flyover Underpass in Birmingham is adorned with the brutalist concrete sculpture of artist William Mitchell. The scultpures were installed in 1968 and Mitchell intended for them to be climbed on. They have recently rediscovered and publicised by Brutiful Birmingham and Birmingham University Mountaineering Club.
We can describe the form of a dance abstractly, as easily as a climb without the climber. Yet climbing, uniquely, also produces something analogous to material works of art, the climbs themselves. And it’s a fact that in discussing particular climbs we use a language like that of aesthetics, valuing them on scales of seriousness, complexity, integrity and individuality; setting them in relationships; rejecting them for artificiality or impermanence.
- The Ordinary Route, Harold Drasdo (1997)
In these houses men as in a dream pursue the Platonic Forms
With wireless and cairn terriers and gadgets approximating to the fickle norms
And endeavour to find God and score one over the neighbour
By climbing tentatively upward on jerry-built beauty and sweated labour.
- Birmingham, Louis McNeice (1935)