The Folly Project
The Folly Project aims to start a conversation between artists, buildings of historic significance and their communities. We hope that lots of you will come to share your thoughts and ideas as we open up this unusual space with intriguing yet challenging art and architecture.
The Folly’s Former Uses
Follies are often described as pieces of fanciful architecture without useful function. Far from decorative whimsy, Perrott’s Folly was designed to be a very visible symbol of ownership and status. Built in 1758 for the wealthy landowner John Perrott, the folly was used as a viewing tower within his country estate. Entertaining friends and peers from the tower, Perrott would have been able to show the extent of his wealth in an immediate way. Rising 30 meters high, the tower was not only used to see, but could also be seen widely. It is for this reason the tower is also referred to as the Monument.
In the 19th Century, the tower was used as one of the world’s first weather stations by the meteorological pioneer and chronologist Abraham Follet Osler. Osler was on the cutting edge of manufacture and technology; the Osler family glass firm took prime position at the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace under Abraham’s leadership and he also installed an astronomical clock in Cannon Street, which became the City of Birmingham’s time piece. The clock and bells adjoining the City Art Gallery known as ‘Big Brum’ were donated by Osler in 1885 are still used today.
Perrott’s Folly continued to be used as a weather recording station under the Birmingham Midland Institute until the late 20th Century. The 21st century saw it’s temporary use as an off-site art space by the Ikon Gallery and for smaller independent projects and events. We are very excited to be running the Folly Project from the tower, which we hope will secure the buildings future as a monumental creative space.