In the largest partnership of its kind in England, four art institutions and five universities are working together to showcase the new work of emerging artists in the West Midlands. New Art West Midlands is collaboration between Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Grand Union and Wolverhampton Art Gallery. This initiative exhibits the work of 24 recent graduates from the region’s undergraduate and postgraduate fine art degrees and covers a wide range of media including painting, installation, film, photography, and much more.
The participants have been selected by artist Mel Brimfield, curator and theorist Paul Goodwin, and founder and head of the Environmental Art Department at Glasgow School of Art, David Harding OBE. This impressive panel of judges have selected promising artists who demonstrate the diversity and vibrancy of art in the West Midlands. 20 of the 24 artists displaying work are women and their work explores contemporary themes across multiple forms, highlighting the best of the graduate art scene. The inaugural show in 2012/2013 attracted 50,000 visitors and many of the artists showcased have proceeded to forge successful careers as a result of their exposure at New Art West Midlands.
Taking place across four venues, the exhibition encourages visitors to explore the region as well as the creative talent of new artists. Each gallery features a selection of the participants and displays the art in varying and intriguing ways. Barber Institute of Fine Arts will feature a standalone exhibit as well as placing a number of works amongst their permanent collection of oil paintings by Botticelli, Rubens and Turner and others. James Birkin’s art is part of this interesting combination as his paintings of an abandoned nightclub in Coventry will be inserted amongst the work of Old Masters. Further highlights include: Lucy Hutchinson’s chinoiserie wallpaper and self-portrait photography examining class stereotypes in the UK and Hong Kong at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery; Sharon Farrelly’s vivid paintings inspired by popular culture at Wolverhampton Art Gallery; and Sarah Sehra’s performance works at Grand Union, which explore Shamanism and the natural landscape.
Five of the artists will be selected as prize-winners and will be given the opportunity to undertake a residency, exhibition or project at a West Midlands gallery.
Exhibits open on the 14 February. For the dates of each gallery exhibit and more details visit: www.newartwestmidlands.org.
1. Glen Stoker, Re-living Room (2013), Exhibited as part of New Art West Midlands at Grand Union, Image courtesy the artist.