Georgia Tucker, Terra Firma, VR installation, 2019

Georgia Tucker, Terra Firma, VR installation, 2019

Terra Firma (2019) by Georgia Tucker combines a physical and VR installation which explores the environmental crisis through different spaces. The installation is a narrow room that houses an immersive and interactive VR environment portraying a speculative future of increasing consumerism. Terra Firma exemplifies the artist’s concerns of our impact upon the natural environment and the production of man-made materials, represented respectively by woodland and plastic.

Further interaction with the work comes through a QR code, providing a weblink and narrative. The narrative is set 50 years in the future, where Georgia transports the viewer to Earth’s last natural woodland. A plastic netting ‘viewing’ barrier has been used to prevent further damage to the woodland. However, it has adapted, and thrives within the trees as an organism. The viewer is now encased within a compartmental maze and a natural soundscape, and is able to explore the tunnels and never-ending plastic structures. Whilst VR exposes the viewer to vulnerability, removing their sight and sound, the building provides a place of protection.

Georgia is a graduate of Birmingham City University. Her work, on display at The Row, was selected  by International Curators Forum for New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial.

Georgia Tucker’s virtual reality installation Terra Firma was selected by International Curators Forum for New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial. Her work is on display at The Row.

Ameera Sadiq, Untitled, 2019, mixed media installation

Ameera Sadiq, Untitled, 2019, mixed media installation

Ameera Sadiq is interested in how our perceived reality, constructed from our sensory input, can transform the perception of our environment. Her current sculptural assemblages aim to convey a sense of disconnectedness from reality, bearing a resemblance to a virtual world or out of body experience. The work has an otherworldly appearance marked by the intensity of luminescent colour schemes, and metallic and plastic surfaces that evoke futuristic and technological environments. Her practice draws inspiration from sci-fi cinematography, exploring unsettling dystopian worlds, where futuristic realities fail, when dreams and desires become questionable.

Drawings and collages allow Ameera to build a library of ideas that inform the construction of her sculptural installations. She employs an experimental approach to rethink and utilise everyday objects and materials by violating their intended use and depicting them serving an alternate purpose. Ameera frequently uses mass produced objects and materials to explore their technological capabilities.

Ameera’s installation is on view at the Lanchester Gallery, Graham Sutherland Building, Coventry University as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial. She is a graduate of Birmingham City University.

 

Ameera Sadiq’s installation at The Lanchester Gallery is the subject of our next New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial artist spotlight.

Hira Butt, Dhee Rani (Princess Daughter), Mixed media

Hira Butt, Dhee Rani (Princess Daughter), Mixed media

Hira Butt’s work revolves around the ideologies of gender and cultural dominance and her research on ‘Pak/Brit Mess’ – a self-defined term expressing a mixture of Pakistani and British culture – that has left empowering emotional and psychological effects on her personality.

Dhee Rani (Princess Daughter) is a series of bejewelled sculptures that reflect the complexities of domestic violence and contemporary slavery as a result of cultural transition. The series is a provocation to the commodification of life partners who are selected on the basis of property, exchange and domestic function rather than personality, aspiration or other human qualities. It reflects on expectations behind the selection and its potential fallout. The football, for instance, recognises globalised male dominance within the ‘beautiful game’ and incorporates feminised, domestic Pakistani decoration. The series is a confrontation of the pressures that enforced cultural differences or fictional differences can have on those that undergo tremendous cultural transition.

Dhee Rani (Princess Daughter) is exhibited at The Row. Hira is a graduate of Birmingham City University.

Artist Hira Butt is the subject of our artist spotlight today. Hira’s work was selected for New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial by International Curators Forum.

Image: Shiyi Li, ‘Minister of Loneliness’, 2018

New Art West Midlands invites you to the launch of No Limits, the visual arts strategy for the West Midlands, devised following consultation events across the region.

The launch will be followed by a very special performance by artist Shiyi Li of her percussion and live collage work ‘Minister of Loneliness’.

No Limits
Friday 15 November 2019
6 — 8pm

The Studio
The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum
Coventry
FREE
Register for the event here.

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England. Additional support from Coventry Biennial, Birmingham City University, Coventry University, Hereford College of Arts, Staffordshire University, University of Wolverhampton, University of Worcester, International Curators Forum, The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum and The New Art Gallery Walsall.

 

(Image: Shiyi Li, Minister of Loneliness, a collaborative performance involving chamber music, animation and live art performances made in conjunction with international percussionist Gloria Yehilevsky and originally performed by Aisling Reilly).

New Art West Midlands invites you to the launch of No Limits, the visual arts strategy for the West Midlands, devised following consultation events across the region.

The launch will be followed by a very special performance by artist Shiyi Li of her percussion and live collage work ‘Minister of Loneliness’.

Installation view, The Range, Eastside Projects

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

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

Flatpack Film Festival: Birmingham Arts Lab at Parkside Gallery. Image by Julia Nottingham

Birmingham Art Lab: the city’s artistic heritage

 

Birmingham, 1960s: most of the post-war, city centre buildings are being demolished and the city waits as the structures of the modern era begin to take shape. But as the city waits for its concrete renaissance, the artistic youth, impatient as ever, make things happen.

 

Flatpack Film Festival: Birmingham Arts Lab
at Parkside Gallery. Image by Julia Nottingham

 

In late 1968 five young members of the Midlands Art Centre, restless in the centre’s conservative programme, made plans for a new, youthful, avant-garde movement. Mark Williams, Fred Smith, Dave Cassidy, Tony Jones and Bob Sheldon decided to break away from the MAC and form Birmingham Arts Lab, which went onto shape the city’s art scene for a generation.

 

Birmingham Arts Lab, one of 40 or so Arts Labs across the country, was a space for young, interdisciplinary artists to experiment, collaborate and make work for the new era. Regular live events, screenings and exhibitions took place that allowed different art form to come together in new and experimental ways.

 

Tower Street

 

After six months of intense fundraising, which included gigs by bands including Coliseum and Fleetwood Mac, Birmingham Arts Lab officially opened in a single room in a Tower Street building. Over the next eight years it slowly grew to fill the whole site which included a cinema and theatre space, workshops, a coffee bar, and flexible exhibition spaces (as well as make shift accommodation for young artists who would appear from beneath the coffee bar!)

 

It was here between 1969 and 1977 that the Birmingham Arts Lab undertook its most ambitious projects and was the central hub for creative work in the Midlands. Young artists including Simon Chapman and Ted Little and cartoonists Steve Bell and Hunt Emerson found inspiration and the necessary facilities to launch their careers in the Tower Street studios and played a major part in the running of the Arts Lab.

 

As described by Stuart Rogers, former theatre programme manager at the Birmingham Arts Lab, the run-down Tower Street site provided the perfect space for young, experimental artists of the 60s to explore their creative projects:

 

‘Although we didn’t have anywhere near the revenue funding of most arts centres now, it seemed possible to programme anything. lf you wanted to do a national tour with three Peter Handke plays, take a mixed-media show to Switzerland for a one-night stand, or set up a huge outdoor festival of international performance art, you could. Unencumbered by the administrative baggage we carry today, and totally untainted by any thoughts of commercial sponsorship, we, and the funding bodies, were light on our feet – anything was possible if the idea was good enough.’1

 

Flatpack Film Festival: Birmingham Arts Lab
at Parkside Gallery. Image by Julia Nottingham

 

Gosta Green

 

In 1977 Birmingham Arts Lab moved to a new building on the grounds of Aston University.

 

A former cinema, the building in Gosta Green seemed the perfect fit for the Birmingham Arts Lab whose programme had become increasingly focussed on film and live art over the eight years at Tower Street.

 

However, it turned out that the Arts Lab had been reliant on the dilapidated, make-shift centre that had grown in Tower Street and could not survive the move to an established building. The reverential building restrained the creativity of the young group who had been accustomed to the freedom provided by their previous base.

 

Novelist Jim Crace recalled the move to Gosta Green and the subsequent demise of the Birmingham Arts Lab.

 

‘Of course, the Lab could not survive the transfer to the custom-built cinema-cum-bungalow at The Triangle. That was a building brimming with order and reverence. Abandon hype, all ye who enter here. Noisy people coming off the street went quiet. The queues were well-behaved. The coffee was not toxic any more. There was no longer any risk of fire. No dangerous and unattended spark would ever nurse and manifest its flame in there.’2

 

Due to creative and financial constraints, in 1982 the Birmingham Arts Lab merged with the university’s art centre to form The Triangle Arts Centre, a conventional arts complex that ran until 1994.

 

Despite the Birmingham Arts Lab’s demise in the early 80s, it was the longest running Arts Lab in the UK, gaining it a fabled reputation, and has had a lasting impact on the Birmingham arts scene. Birmingham continues to be a thriving base for experimental arts, with creative hubs in Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter owing a great debt to the early pioneers of the Birmingham Arts Lab.

 

Flatpack Film Festival: Birmingham Arts Lab
at Parkside Gallery. Image by Julia Nottingham

 

Flatpack Film Festival: My 68

 

50 years since the birth of Birmingham Arts Lab, Flatpack Film Festival is paying homage to the group with exhibitions and events across the city. The ten day festival, which runs from Friday 13th April until Sunday 23rd April, includes artist talks, live events and exhibitions at Birmingham Open Media, Midlands Art Centre and Parkside Gallery.

 

Parkside Gallery’s exhibition ‘Flatpack Film Festival: Birmingham Arts Lab’ features iconic, original prints by some of the Art Lab’s most prolific artists including Bob Linney, Ernie Hudson and Ken Maharg.

 

At a time when Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans was still hot off the press, the printing press was a major part of the Birmingham Arts Lab. Initially used to print posters to promote events, the press soon became a catalyst for artistic output, being used to produce comics and artwork as well as commercial products.

 

Over a decade, the screen printed material became an emblematic strand of the Birmingham Arts Lab and helped define its brand and activity. This is reflected in the posters and comics exhibited at Parkside Gallery which build a picture of this creative, experimental hub and of the artists who worked there.

 

The pieces featured, on loan from Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, include some of the best work produced by early-career artists who found creative freedom at the Arts Lab and went on to be international names in the world of design. The posters tell the story of the group’s creative journey as the Birmingham Arts Lab went from a one room arts space to one of the largest and most renowned Arts Labs in the country.

 

 

Flatpack Film Festival: Birmingham Arts Lab is open at Parkside Gallery until 25 May 2018.

 

Birmingham Arts Lab artists Ernie Hudson and Bob Linney will be in conversation, discussing their work and the Arts Lab on 13th April 2018, 17:00, at The Mockingbird. More information can be found at https://2018.flatpackfestival.org.uk/.

http://www.bcu.ac.uk/parkside-gallery

 

 

Rogers, Stuart (1998). “Birmingham Arts Lab: Remembered”. Birmingham Arts Lab: the phantom of liberty. Birmingham: Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
Crace, Jim (1998). “Birmingham Arts Lab: Remembered”. Birmingham Arts Lab: the phantom of liberty. Birmingham: Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

Chris Ansell, Assistant Manager, Events and Exhibitions at Birmingham City University, reflects on Birmingham Art Lab: the city’s artistic heritage as part of Flatpack Film Festival.

Larissa Shaw, Flesh Party, 2017

28 artists have been selected for the exhibition, New Art West Midlands 2018 which will take place at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry and Airspace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent in February to May 2018.

 

Larissa Shaw, Flesh Party, 2017

The artists are recent graduates from the West Midlands region’s six leading art schools at BA, MA and PhD levels:

Nicola Arnold, University of Worcester

George Caswell, Birmingham City University

Aileen Doherty, Birmingham City University

Jez Dolan, Birmingham City University

Amrit Doll, Birmingham City University

Gem Douglas, Birmingham City University

Jessica Eburne, Coventry University

Louise Hampson, Staffordshire University

Lucy Hanrahan, Birmingham City University

Simon Harris, University of Wolverhampton

Keri Jayne, Staffordshire University

Lisa Kemp, University of Wolverhampton

Bob Langridge, Hereford College of Arts

Bryony Loveridge, Coventry University

Tony McClure, Birmingham City University

Hayley McNally, University of Wolverhampton

Bayley Morris, Birmingham City University

Olivia Peake, Birmingham City University

David Poole, Birmingham City University

Lewis Pritchard, Staffordshire University

Larissa Shaw, Birmingham City University

Margaret Shuter, Hereford College of Arts

Sarah Walden, Birmingham City University

Lily Wales, Birmingham City University

Grace A Williams, Birmingham City University

Jodie Wingham, Birmingham City University

Darren Withey, Birmingham City University

Valerija Zukova, University of Worcester

Our three selectors of the 2018 edition were Patricia Fleming (Director, Patricia Fleming Projects, Glasgow), Sinead McCarthy (Curator, Liverpool Biennial) and Ingrid Pollard (artist and photographer, London).

The exhibition includes painting, sculpture, digital and sound installations, assemblage, photography, prints and film and video works that reference wide ranging contemporary themes from artificial intelligence, fake news, gender inequality and surveillance to timelessness, interruptions, displacement and glitches, to how our lives are now lived through the screen.

Rachel Bradley, Project Organiser of the annual exhibition said: ‘The selection panel members are very impressed year on year at the diversity and quality of the artists’ work they are able to choose and showcase in the New Art West Midlands exhibitions. The project has now seen 176 artists pass through this early career professional development experience which has made an invaluable contribution to the development of the West Midlands’ visual arts scene over the past six years. It also gives audiences an opportunity to see new work by a new generation of artists.’

New Art West Midlands Exhibition 2018 is led by Birmingham Museums Trust with support from participating host venues. It is funded by Arts Council England alongside Birmingham City University, Coventry University, Hereford College of Arts, Staffordshire University, University of Wolverhampton and University of Worcester.

28 artists have been selected for the exhibition, New Art West Midlands 2018 which will take place at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry and Airspace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent in February to May 2018.