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Friday 27th April 2007

Adobe Building Photos

I'd seen the posters on the side of the Museum and Art Gallery, but I hadn't had chance to pop in and see the exhibition until now. The Waterhall at the side of the gallery contains some great large format pictures of adobe buildings, mainly in Mali with a few from other West African countries. My first impression was "they're not straight", in contrast to the vast majority of buildings. Next, I was drawn to the surroundings, the few objects left outside, the piles of sticks on some of the roofs (or constructing some of the roofs?). Then I became intrigued by the construction process - are there "bricks" of some sort inside, or is it a single mass like concrete? And next, what are they like inside?

The buildings reminded me of Gaudi's Casa Mila %EXT% in Barcelona, and a little of Hundertwasser.

A video documentary at the far end of the gallery brought it all to life with interviews with master builders, tours through the streets, and finally, glimpses inside some of the buildings. Apparently, the builders have secret spells which they cast to keep the buildings standing, but they also have more sinister ones which can, for example, cause a man to fall off a wall and be killed!

Worth a visit.

Friday 20th April 2007

The Birmingham Open

Over a hundred works of the highest standard by contemporary local artists, and I'm not talking watercolour landscapes or pictures of cats! This really does show how vibrant the arts community in Birmingham is. Most of the work is 2D (pictures, paintings, ink and pencil drawings), with some sculpture and video. It really is too much to take in all at once, so worth multiple visits. One piece which I spent a lot of time observing was Gail Troth's painting of fish, constructed using her unique and painstaking technique.

Oh! and they're mostly for sale too, so if you spot something you fancy, you could put money into the local arts economy and walk out with something which is a joy for ever.

Thursday 12th April 2007

Music by Howard Skempton

Visited Acocks Green Library to see this free performance by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG) %EXT%, and it really was excellent. We started with Suite from Delicate featuring six pieces for two cellos and percussion including glockenspiel. These really showed off the versatility of the cello, from deep resonant thrumbings to "follow my leader" type games. Next Clarinet Quintet with three short movements, some humorous, some darker. Finally Ben Somewhen lively pieces inspired by a series of cartoons by Ben Hartley %EXT% which featured harp and double base in addition to cello, violin and viola. Apparently there's a recording being made of the Ben Somewhen pieces this very weekend!

The non-standard venue was part of Birmingham City Council's Arts Champions scheme, which links individual arts organisations with particular areas of the city. BCMG is linked with Yardley, and we had a big turn out.

Wednesday 11th April 2007

New work at Vivid

Sean O'Keeffe and Steve Bulcock's Draw a Cowboy opened at Vivid %EXT%, alongside Tobias Sternberg's stop frame films.

Draw a Cowboy creates a kind of animated "join the dots" image derived from real footage from cowboy films. We see small crosses, sometimes labelled "monument valley", "spur", "gun", "hat" etc which trace the movement of the original object's edges. At times, it's cryptic, unclear, and then it leaps into life and it's almost like seeing the original film. A separate monitor shows the process, using software developed to track the movement of crash test dummies!

Tobias Sternberg has been artist in residence at Vivid since early February and been slaving away to create stop motion films. I expected the standard "random office objects moving around like animals" kind of thing, but this was very different. The films are all very much set within the Vivid space in which they are being shown. In one, the camera flies through the rafters of the room, in another, it circles a suspended basketball, looking for all the world as if it is a planet. The stop frame approach makes the films look too perfect, as if they are computer raytraced.

Crowd6 - Simple Pleasures (till 11th May)

Crowd6 %EXT% is a new, artist-led, gallery in Bearwood. It's open weekends (Sat 10-4, Sun 11-2) and weekdays by appointment. The inaugural exhibition is Simple Pleasures featuring work by Naomi Butler (who, indidently, was in the Birmingham Complaints Choir), Jamie Randall, Elizabeth Short and Steven Varndell.

The works include video of the secret lives of seamonkeys and photos of Angel (think Buffy) being seduced!

Hurray for a new arts space! I think all these artists are graduates of Margaret St, and a fine counterpoint to the rather bizare story in the press a few months back of Birmingham being lacking in the arts!

P.S. They're receiving sponsorship from Belvoir Lettings in Bearwood %EXT%, so if you're looking for somewhere to live there, tell them Crowd6 sent you smile

Saturday 7th April 2007

Win your name in lights...

I finally got round to checking out this Birmingham based website where you can win your name in Hollywood lights %EXT%. Have a go. But let me win smile

Friday 6th April 2007

KR-36 continues

Although I can't tell you anything about it, KR-36 continues, is great fun and you can still get involved... %EXT%

Kiosk - Thornton-Pitt Investigates

The Kiosk's journey around Birmingham reaches the Bull Ring Markets with besuited investigators Thornton and Pitt interviewing members of the public about their experiences.

Tuesday 3rd April 2007


The Event %EXT% is now in full swing and I've got to plug KR-36 %EXT% by AAS %EXT%. It's an interactive performance and well worth signing up for. I can't tell you much more as it would spoil the surprise but email npc(at) or use the phone number here for details.

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See Also: Web Changes for other recent updates, All Blog Pages for previous blogs. You might also want to read other Birmingham Bloggers

This is my blogchalk: United Kingdom, West Midlands, Birmingham, Moseley
Topic revision: r4 - 12 Apr 2007, andyp
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