Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
The museum is offering three new exhibits at the moment the first being ‘Women Power Protest’.
Women Power Protest is part of the Arts Council Collection National Partnership Programme. This programme brings together four major UK galleries were together they curate, host, and share new innovative exhibitions.
It’s been a century since the first women won the right to vote, ‘Women Power Protest’ brings together modern and contemporary artworks to celebrate female artists who have explored identity, protest and social commentary in their work. Artists including Susan Hiller, Lubaina Himid, and Mary Kelly, as well as controversial artists such as Sam Taylor-Johnson, Sonia Boyce, and Margaret Harrison.
The exhibition is a collection of painting, photos, models, news paper cuttings and film, some with warnings as they depict rape.
I had mixed feelings about this, some pieces I like others I just couldn’t grasp what the artists was trying to convey.
‘Too Cute, sweet is about to get sinister’
The exhibition starts with a video, ‘Dr. Cute’ a grotesque Care Bear like creature (played by the artist) presents a short lecture on the themes explored in the show. The doctor attempts to give an academic account of cuteness and its affects, but is constantly hindered by sudden emotional responses including pulling the head form a very nice teddy bear, as artworks incite reflexes of love, repulsion and fear.
Rachel Maclean’s ‘Too cute’ exhibition is where cuteness is taken seriously. Rachael is fascinated by cuteness’s ability to captivate us. Her investigations and the collections explore both what cuteness has meant to us historically and why society is so fixated on the sharing and reproduction of cute objects and images.
I quite liked this exhibition with its wide range of artifacts, that said the monkey injecting himself unnerved me a little.
Saving the best till last Leonardo da Vinci A Life in Drawing,
This exhibition contains twelve drawings which include examples of all the drawing materials Da Vinci used, including pen and ink, red and black chalks, watercolour and metalpoint.
Da Vinci believed that visual evidence could be more persuasive than academic argument, he believed an image could convey knowledge more accurately and concisely than words. Only a few of his drawings survive as the were never intended for others to see. Which I think is a great shame. I couldn’t believe the amount of detail he put into the drawings, no matter how small the drawing the details were astonishing.
1 Oozells Square,
Hew Locke: Here’s The Thing
Set over two floors Locke introduces a recurring theme ‘the ship’ with countless meanings, they evoke centuries of warfare, trade and cultural imperialism.
The first floor gallery 1 contains a photographic print embellished with acrylic paint and ink, it shows the HMS Belfast surrounded by aircraft from the 1950’s and present day. Another print shows Huan Tian XI a Chinese cargo ship that visited Britain in 2012 and should have joined the diamond jubilee pageant but missed the pageant due to a delay in the Suez Canal. Island Queen is a charcoal and pastel drawing of Queen Elizabeth II, which was made 5 days before the Iraq War in response to the conflict around weapons of mass destruction. Two model ships one the USS Constitution, a heavy frigate used in the War of Independence opposed the slave trade decorated with Benin masks.
Gallery 2 on entering you are surrounded by ‘The Nameless’ made of plastic cord and beads it encompasses the whole room a parade of unlikely characters, part animal part human. The figures march to drums, tambourines, clarinet, trumpet and clapping hands. Winged creatures associated with heraldic imagery can be seen, Cherubim and Seraphim used in funeral adornment are joined by Death who is central to the scrolling parade shown by the presence of skeletal figures and Kalashnikov assault rifles.
The last room on this floor shows ‘The Tourist’ and I will admit this unnerved me just a little, I can’t put my finger on why, it just did. The Belfast visited the Caribbean in 1962 stopping at Trinidad on it’s final voyage. This piece is a video tour of HMS Belfast in which Locke has placed mannequins going about their business and making costumes and props to Calypso music. All of the mannequins wear masks made of beads, chains, skulls. Sitting and standing just in front of the screen are 5 more mannequins 4 of which wear masks and as the guide says ‘ The mannequins are uncanny presence, silently watching their own ‘Holiday movie’.
On the second floor ‘Hinterland’ provokes a feeling of a land behind. There is a reworked photograph of a statue of Queen Victoria, the statue was removed from it’s pride of place in 1970 and dumped in the undergrowth of Georgetowns Botanical gardens. There is an untitled portrait of Queen Elizabeth II known as Orange Queen, the portrait is encased with kitsch accessories, plastic jewellery ,greenery and toys. ‘Souvenirs’ is a shelf of busts of Queen Victoria, Princess Alexandra and Edward VII. The base material is Parian (a porcelain imitating marble), the busts are adorned with handmade and found materials including clay skulls, shells, medals, toys and one which I thought looked for steam-punk, (I do hope I will be forgiven). A collection of Gold loan documents can be seen, the work presents history of trades and colonial power. the final exhibition is an installation of boats called ‘Armada’ the boats are suspended from the ceiling. It comprises new and old ships, if you look closely UN medals, references to current refugee crisis, a small souvenir of HMT Windrush and a model of the Mayflower.
The last exhibition is set in the Tower Room and is a video by Lin Ke called ‘Fly’
A young Chinese man sits crossed legged in font of his laptop, his meditative position foiled by irritating movement of the cursor. The artist is networking into a globalised virtual world that is clearly not conducive to relaxation
If you do look at the photos, please for give them, my camera is in for repair and I had to borrow a camera phone, lest said about that the better!