Today, Monday 21 December, cultural organisations across the region will showcase a collection of 60 second digital commissions. Marking the Winter Solstice (the shortest day / longest night of the year), It Gets Lighter From Here aims to provide moments of happiness and hope before the days do, quite literally, start to get lighter. To date, the project, the brainchild of The West Midlands Culture Response Unit (WMCRU), has raised £34,050 for commissions, providing vital financial support for the region’s freelancers and community members who have been left unsupported through the pandemic, with a lack of job security and stable, regular income.

47 organisations from a huge cross-section of artists and artforms, have agreed to provide 179 commissions in total, including commitments from BOM, Creative Black Country, Friction Arts, Meadow Arts, Midlands Arts Centre (mac), Severn Arts, University of Worcester, Vivid Projects, and Warwick Arts Centre. Involving a huge cross-section of artists and art-forms, substantial audiences and networks will be reached across the region and beyond, creating a wide celebration of hope, optimism and possibility for the future.

The micro commissions will be searchable on social media through the hashtag #ItGetsLighterFromHere. There will also be a ‘thunderclap’ moment at sunset (around 3.55pm) as all commissioning partners and artists will post content simultaneously, marking the darkest moment of 2020.

James Yarker from Stans Cafe said: “The #ItGetsLighterFromHere one-minute rule will prove a great creative challenge for artists young and old. I can’t wait to see all the inventive solutions they come up with. Audiences will find these snack size art works ‘more-ish’. There will be all sorts of flavours and we can enjoy getting a taste of everything, even those art forms we’ve never experienced before or think we don’t like. It will be for trying everything out because ’something else will be along in a minute’ – literally! 

There is no ‘official programme’ for #ItGetsLighterFromHere, so no one is saying what you can and can’t watch. Experienced and new artists are all in the mix together. It’s an evening for making new discoveries and because it’s all on social media you can share the things you like with all your family, friends and followers.

On the shortest day of the year #ItGetsLighterFromHere will share the brightest West Midlands artistic talent with the world.” 

More information can be found here.


On Monday 21 December, cultural organisations across the region will showcase a collection of 60 second digital commissions. Marking the Winter Solstice, It Gets Lighter From Here aims to provide moments of happiness and hope before the days do, quite literally, start to get lighter.

Job Centre Junior, Amelia Beavis-Harrison. Photograph by Greg Millner

In autumn 2017 we offered artists and curators living in the West Midlands the opportunity to apply to receive a studio visit from an arts professional. Nine artists from across the region have been selected and will have the opportunity to discuss work and to seek feedback and practical advice on their practice.

Job Centre Junior, Amelia Beavis-Harrison. Photograph by Greg Millner

Artists Amelia Beavis-Harrison, Anna Katarzyna Domejko, Ian Giles, Andrew Gillespie, Kate Green, Kurt Hickson, James Lomax, Mark Murphy and Corinne Perry based have been selected from Warwickshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Birmingham. These nine ambitious artists were selected from a pool of strong applications thought sought to develop new connections and new conversations about their practice.

These artists will be visited in the coming months by arts professionals working both inside the region, nationally and internationally: Irene Aristizábal, Nottingham Contemporary; Lana Churchill, Bosse & Baum; Anne de Charmant, Meadow Arts; Seán Elder, Grand Union; Ryan Hughes, Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art / Office for Art, Design and Technology; Milika Muritu, Cell Project Space.

Applications were shortlisted by a panel including Deborah Robinson, Head of Exhibitions, The New Art Gallery Walsall, Zoe Lippett, Exhibitions and Artists’ Projects Curator, The New Art Gallery Walsall and Anneka French, Project Coordinator, New Art West Midlands.

The successful artists are announced for the most recent phase of our Engine studio visits.

Kurt Hickson, Dead Painting #2 (2016), Dead Painting (2014), Black Triangle (2016), and Night Fume (2017). Exhibition realised as the result of the last round of Engine Studio Visits.

We are again offering artists and curators living in the West Midlands region the opportunity to receive a studio visit* from an arts professional. This is an opportunity to discuss your work and to seek valuable feedback and practical advice on either artistic or curatorial practice.

Kurt Hickson, Dead Painting #2 (2016), Dead Painting (2014), Black Triangle (2016), and Night Fume (2017). Exhibition realised as the result of the last round of Engine Studio Visits.

We are delighted to announce that this year’s studio visitors will be:

Irene Aristizábal, Nottingham Contemporary
Irene Aristizábal is Head of Exhibitions at Nottingham Contemporary. In 2010, she was the recipient of the H+F Curatorial Grant and worked as Guest Curator at the FRAC Nord Pas de Calais, Dunkirk. Prior to moving to London, she co-directed the not-for-profit space Bétonsalon in Paris. She has curated exhibitions and projects at the Miro Foundation, Barcelona; La Maison Rouge, Paris; the Museum of Health Sciences, Bogota; Form Content, London and LOOP festival, Barcelona.

Lana Bountakidou, Bosse & Baum
Lana Bountakidou is the co-founder and co-director, with Alexandra Warder, of Bosse & Baum, a contemporary art gallery founded in 2013 based in Peckham, London. The gallery promotes new developments in arts and culture, curating site-specific exhibitions, supporting emergent practitioners of art, with a focus on audience development in contemporary visual arts and culture. The gallery has a strong focus on performative art practices, with an active events programme which accompanies exhibitions, bringing current discourses to the attention of new audiences both in the local community and internationally.

Anne de Charmant, Meadow Arts
Born in Geneva (Switzerland) of Hungarian and Italian parentage, Anne de Charmant is a French citizen who feels European above all. Having trained as journalist, she was an arts correspondent for various French and Swiss media and press. Her particular interest in the contemporary visual arts led her to specialise in that field and when the opportunity arose she turned her hand to curating. Meadow Arts is a non-venue based organisation that collaborates with partners across the region, in order to bring excellent contemporary art to underserved areas; often using unusual venues to produce exhibitions, new commissions and events. Meadow Arts has been supported by the Arts Council from early on and is now in its third round of NPO funding.

Seán Elder, Grand Union
Seán Elder is a curator, researcher and writer based in Birmingham. He works with artists to produce writing, exhibitions and public programmes. Past projects include a Anthology of American Folk Song: a Scottish Première of new work by Steve Reinke at Glasgow Film Theatre, tracing the [public] garden wall, with artists Gordon Douglas and Tako Taal, which took place at Glasgow’s historic Botanic Gardens, and a new piece of writing, Hockney’s California, as part of Active Model, an exhibition for Glasgow Open House Festival. Previous to his role as Associate Curator, Grand Union, he conducted independent projects in proximity with organisations including LUX Scotland, The Glasgow School of Art and The Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow. He has written and spoken on research of Queer aesthetics both in his current writing residency with Cooper Gallery Dundee, as well as CCA Glasgow as part of their Talk See Photography lecture series.

Ryan Hughes, Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art / Office for Art, Design and Technology
Ryan Hughes is director of Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art. He has worked extensively in artist-led spaces both nationally and internationally as well as with institutions including museums, universities and local authorities. Additionally, he has made projects in ‘unusual’ locations including churches, mountains, online and in print. He has worked closely with practitioners from various fields including musicians, technologists and writers in addition to many artists and believes that interdisciplinary and collaboration are crucial. He has shown work by Lev Manovich, Radical Software Group, Ryder Ripps, Assemble and Andy Holden whilst also conceiving and delivering professional development programmes for emerging artists including students and recent graduates.

Milika Muritu, Cell Project Space
Milika Muritu is co-founder and Director of exhibitions at Cell Project Space. Recent projects include; ‘Free Traveller’, Yuri Pattison acquired by ZKM Museum, Karlsruhe (2017) ‘Submission/ Critical Mass: Pure Immanence’, Anne De Vries, selected for Berlin Biennial (2016) and ‘Greenhouses’, Aude Pariset, exhibited at ‘ARS 17’, Kiasma, Helsinki (2017). As an RCA Sculpture postgraduate, Muritu continued her Fine Art practice until 2007 exhibiting at 6th Sharjah International Biennial (2004). Appointed by ‘Commissions East’ she produced a public artwork and adjunct publication for ART U NEED (2007). Now working solely as curator she has collaborated in public programmes at Serpentine Gallery, London (2005) Tate Britain (2008), Hayward Gallery (2008), Turner Contemporary (2009) and is visiting lecturer at Camberwell College of Art, Central St Martins School of Art, RCA, and Royal Academy Schools.

If you would like to apply for a studio visit, please send a short application to for the attention of Anneka French.

You should send a maximum of three images of relevant work, your CV and a summary of no more than 300 words outlining who you would like to meet and why, and how you feel it would help to support and develop your practice. Please send as a single PDF document.

Applications will be shortlisted by a panel including Deborah Robinson, Head of Exhibitions, The New Art Gallery Walsall, Anneka French, Project Coordinator, New Art West Midlands and Zoe Lippett, Exhibitions and Artists’ Projects Curator, The New Art Gallery Walsall.

The deadline for applications is 12noon, Friday 3 November 2017.
*We recognise that not all artists or curators have or require studios. The visits can take place at a mutually convenient date and time and an appropriate venue.


We are again offering artists and curators living in the West Midlands region the opportunity to receive a studio visit from an arts professional. Application deadline: 12noon, Friday 3 November.

Julian Opie, City.

Meadow Arts‘ latest exhibition Synthetic Landscapes explores our relationship to the land. Taking place at both Weston Park in Shifnal and Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, the exhibition features a number of new commissions and works by both emerging artists and some of the most prominent British artists working today. Anneka French spoke to Meadow Arts’ Director Anne de Charmant to find out more.


Julian Opie, City. Synthetic Landscapes, Weston Park

How has the theme of Synthetic Landscapes arisen?

The overriding curatorial line that Meadow Arts explores is our relationship to the land we inhabit, whether social, cultural or even emotional: the notion of landscape is very important. We are blessed in this region with some of the most beautiful landscapes in Britain and the area has inspired many artists, writers and designers. For example, the Picturesque movement was born in Herefordshire at the end of the 18tth Century. As Curator, I also have a personal advantage; as a foreigner, firmly established in Britain, I can observe certain traits that might seem obvious to many but are well worth exploring. The relationship to landscape is one of those; there is such a strong bond to the landscape in this country, much more so than in the rest of Europe.

The case of ‘Capability’ Brown and his peers is a high point in this relationship because he offered such a strong ideal. It certainly answered something quite deep in the collective psyche. A point of balance maybe between nature and culture, an enhanced but secure place for man to situate himself in the environment. It has become a reference point but there is nothing truly natural in Brown’s designs and it’s fascinating to see how this works.

Most of the artists in this show wrestle with the landscape being overloaded with cultural and social references and respond in different ways. Ged Quinn, in his magnificent large paintings, literally offers the viewer the clues to the cultural construct that lies behind a landscape proposition. In his film, The Arrival, Salvatore Arancio goes beyond the point of equilibrium and opens the door to otherworldly interpretations. Edward Chell finds pockets of truly modern landscapes on motorway verges, then studies and champions them.

How does this theme interact with the physical landscapes and contexts at Weston Park and Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery?

While at Weston Park the vast Pleasure Grounds were being carved out, over the hills and only a few dozen miles away at Coalbrookdale, near Ironbridge, the instigators of the Industrial Revolution were looking at transforming the landscape too, but with an eye for engineering and productivity. For them, the densely-wooded valley constituted a system to be improved upon and exploited. The natural environment needed to be surveyed, gauged for all its possible uses. Soon brand new enterprises would flourish, such as the first ever iron bridge and key individuals come to the fore such as Thomas Telford.

How is the exhibition being divided across sites and what drew you to these sites?

These two essential models, the idle/idyllic one, epitomised by Brown at Weston Park and the working/economic one, represented by Telford stand in perfect opposition in this corner of Shropshire, so it felt right to have two separate shows with some connection between them.

We asked emerging West Midlands artist David Bethell to select works from the Museum’s collection and respond with his own work. Bethell has built an ambitious and slightly haphazard contraption which is meant to accomplish all sorts of tasks: it is a carriage and a plough but also a surveying machine and a humble cart. It will be displayed at Shrewsbury Museum and support a film of the contraption moving through the landscape at Weston. In the Walled Garden, Bethell has built half a bridge that disappears into the wall, only to reappear as the other half in the museum in Shrewsbury.

Synthetic Landscapes, Granary Art Gallery, Weston Park

Can you tell me more about the works on show and the newly commissioned pieces?

Pablo Bronstein’s Chinese Bridges in the Landscape is a truly stunning piece that is hard to describe but really has an impact. It was always going to be a large outdoor piece, that much I had agreed with Bronstein but it took a while for the right shape to emerge. He had done large scale works but mostly indoors and is at the moment working for the Rambert Ballet on a huge set. So the outdoor/landscape proposition interested him. The two bridges stand in one half of the Walled Garden and they are made of printed and laser cut wood. Treated like billboards, these Chinese Bridges in the Landscape offer a brilliant deconstruction of the artifice of landscape designs. The installation plays tricks with visitors but is also shown not to work.

In the same way Heather & Ivan Morison’s piece is not what is seems and is deliberately strange and slightly unsettling. It is made of scagliola, a sort of fake marble favoured by the Georgians for its opulence. The sculpture is housed in one of the pavilion bothies, lolling on the stone floor. It is an amorphous, but not entirely abstract shape, that both invites and rejects readings.

The third commission is Bethell’s but other artists have modified or adapted their work for Weston. Helen Maurer has used the gardener’s bothy to amazing effect, using the fabric of the place, like water troughs or cavities and shelves to create a suite of little installations that glow like precious jewels in the darkened spaces.

The list of artists include some of the most significant British artists working today alongside some earlier on in their career. How have these artists been drawn together?

At Meadow Arts, we always try to show the work of well recognised artists which are not so easy to see outside the traditional big centres. ‘Big name’ artists are often very happy to escape their usual haunts and are interested in testing out new ideas in interesting new contexts such as the great places where we work. For Synthetic Landscapes I asked artists like Julian Opie, Ryan Gander, Quinn and Bronstein to participate along with other established artists.

For emerging artists, it’s a great opportunity to show their work alongside these established artists. As one of the only contemporary visual arts NPOs working in the region we feel it is part of our role to create these opportunities. In this show we have commissioned Bethell for the first time although he has worked in the region before. Jasleen Kaur is a fascinating young artist. We also work internationally by showing the work of French artist Hélène Muheim for the first time in the UK, and the very gifted Italian artist Salvatore Arancio with whom we hope to work with again next year.

Has the Weston Park location been challenging to work with?

Weston Park is a huge place and we have chosen to work only in the gallery and in the Walled Garden, which gives us a sense of containment like an open-air gallery. The gardeners’ bothies have offered us great opportunities: Maurer has interacted with the ruined space beautifully, she used discarded objects such as an old tin bucket or a watering trough to create amazing incidents. Arancio’s film is being presented in a space that could have been one of the locations of his work.

What can visitors expect?

They will see wonderful work, from very large, stunning interventions in the landscape, such as Opie’s sculpture City, a 3m tall model of a group of skyscrapers, to intimate and stunning little drawings made with eye shadow by Muheim.

What are your hopes for the exhibition?

I’ve been told the exhibition is really enjoyable which is certainly one of our goals! I also hope that it will give rise to new conversations and maybe new perspectives. As well as an arts audience, Meadow Arts invites new audiences to encounter contemporary arts, sometimes for the first time. We hope that by presenting the works in a different context and by creating connections that are clear to follow, we make the experience pleasurable for the audience.

4 June to 3 September 2017 – Weston Park
24 June to 3 September 2017 – Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery

Meadow Arts’ exhibition Synthetic Landscapes explores our relationship to the land and takes place at Weston Park in Shifnal and Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery. Anneka French spoke to Director Anne de Charmant to find out more.