The Black Country grew from a cluster of more than one hundred tiny villages that slowly changed from farming to industry to make a living. These eventually merged together into one vast manufacturing district, sometimes called the 'Workshop of the World' during the industrial revolution.
The geological and industrial past of this area is a very proud one in the hearts and minds of our people. It finds expression through local dialect and traditions and also in the arts.
The stories here are rich and colourful and continue to inspire literature and art, that capture and bring to life tales of landscape, working lives and social conditions of the communities and landscapes of the Black Country. The warm humour, the hard working nature of local people and the darkened landscape at the height of the industrial revolution, which resonate with ingenuity, suffering, passion and pride are all reflected in our most famous works.
Our galleries are brimming with paintings and sketches recording life and times before during and after those intense Industrial Revolution days. Today, this is a place where artists flourish and still often choose geological and industrial themes for their creations.
Many 'geoart' public realm sculptures are scattered around the landscape, with the largest and most impressive of these featured in the Geosites. Contemporary artisan culture, particularly in the glass making area of the Crystal Mile in the southern part of the Black Country retains traditional glass making skills and brings them forward into contemporary glass making and artworks.
Echoes of the industrial past are also found in very well known popular culture through the works of Charles Dickens, Tolkein and film makers. While writing Lord of Rings at his home in Birmingham, JRR Tolkien was so taken with the industry of the Black Country that it inspired the landscape and frenzied activity of ‘Mordor’. Film producer James Whale created the memorable imagery for the landscapes of the famous Hollywood film Frankenstein, which was based around evening visits to Dudley Castle.
This is also the landscape where heavy metal music was born amidst the noise and flame of the heavy industries of the 1960's and 1970s. Bands such as Led Zeppelin, Slade, Judas Priest, ELO and many more added a new strand to cultural expression here.
There is also a warm welcome to be found in the traditional Black Country pubs. This is a rich cultural landscape that evolved in this unique place.