Birmingham City University student, Gurpreet Kaur, responds to Eastside Projects‘ recent group exhibition, The Range.

I told my friend ‘’I feel weird’’, ‘’why?’’ she said? ‘’I don’t know’’. ‘’I just feel weird’’ ‘’I went to an exhibition where…’’

Walking down Heath Mill Lane you will come across a brown building next to Central Taxi parts blending in with the others. Keep an eye out for the scaffolding bars, yes that’s Eastside Projects. Use the second door with the huge door handle, which is probably an artwork. Then slowly walk in trying not to feel too intimidated by the people at the front desk. Don’t worry. ‘Ask’ them if you can see the exhibition and they will give you an exhibition guide. Walk in and enjoy! Trying not to feel intimidated again. Jokes.

You will be greeted by a mixture of artist works scattered across a white/grey bare room featuring artworks by: Adam Farah, Ain Bailey, Beverley Bennett, Hashim Ali, Seema Mattu and Zarina Muhammad. All curated by Rehana Zaman.

‘The Range’ is the correct name for the exhibition. There is certainly a range of themes such as culture, society and lifestyle running across the exhibition. Music, human rights, poetry, apprehensive, cringe and gimcrack stuff. So, if any of these interest you then make sure you direct yourself to Heath Mill Lane.

The space will absorb you in with calming sounds of a forest and tweeting birds. Starting with Hashim Ali. ‘My Mate, Jim Roberts’ is the first artwork I viewed even though it’s the last one on the gallery guide. It’s a video on a TV screen which seems like a collection of home videos and memories compiled together, which every family has. The nine-minute movie seems to consist of a timeline of the artist’s life. Childhood memories, Pakistani news, buildings, shops and the environment of the home town in which the artist has been nurtured in. Growing up as an Asian in the UK something you will be familiar with is the mimicking of an Asian accent. You too will understand this if you remember to spot the headphones. As time goes on the artist grows older and there are videos of fights in the clips. The police then come onto the scene. This may express the teenage years of the artist’s life. The culture of the first and second generation of migrants in the UK are conveyed through this video. I could relate to some scenes in the clips such as: the shaky family video footage, the Asian accents and the news. It brought the bond back to myself. Me questioning who I am and what it means to be a second-generation British migrant.

Baljinder Kaur is another artist who embraces her heritage and culture through art. She too is part of the generation whose grandparents and parents migrated to the UK. As a British Indian Sikh, she is intrigued by the lifestyle of the Sikh generation now, whether they be elderly or youthful. She drew a sketch of herself as a senior. Through her sketch, your first observation is the long, flowy attire worn by the person. You can also see the person wearing an apron which suggests that the attire underneath would be worn on a daily basis. As from the name of the sketch, the person is known to be ‘mopping’. Would the forthcoming generation want to wear this attire? How would they feel doing daily chores wearing the attire? Just as Hashim Ali has collated his life and culture through video clips Baljinder Kaur too collates her life and culture through observing and sketching the lifestyle of people within her community.

On the grey walls you will see some familiar posters that you may recognise if you have your aunty from India in your WhatsApp contacts. Massive low-quality posters on the walls done by Zarina Muhammad. ‘May your WEDNESDAY be magical one! Be safe, happy and healthy…’ ‘Have a wonderful THURSDAY Good Morning’. Not quite sure what the message was. Even though the poster looked naff, reading the quotes on them bought a sway of positivity to me. Maybe the scale of the writing on the posters had an impact on me, rather than the text on my smart phone. Maybe next time I get one of these messages from my aunt, I will cherish it more with gratitude. Maybe I should have the confidence to send these to everyone in my contacts and embrace the eyes in which Asians see modern day technology.

As was the door handle when we entered the exhibition, the lights that illuminate the gallery are also artworks created by Adam Farah. When walking in you may think they are just normal lights or may not even notice them. I only knew they were an artwork when looking at the exhibition guide. I noticed them when they were warming up the cold industrial area. They seemed like a blanket to the whole exhibition which wrapped and bonded together all of the artworks. With such diverse responses from the artists, the cultural concepts created merged all of the artworks together.

That’s another exhibition to add to the unusual list. But what was unusual? The idea is strong. You can find out for yourself.

There’s lots more artworks to go and see which haven’t been mentioned. There is also another exhibition on by Freya Dooley which is a neon pink room. So if you like pink. Exciting.

Gurpreet Kaur

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