“If it’s been done before, should we even attempt again?”: a snapshot of a conversation I had with Tom Glover this week. Tom joined the Project Birmingham community last year as we were gearing up for our biggest event so far, helping to launch the gallery space at the incredibly popular Medicine Bakery + Gallery.
With a passion for writing and a shared desire to create a more accessible art community, Tom has contributed a number of works to our blog. Most recently, he interviewed the up-and-coming Farwa Melodina following her recent exhibitions with Medicine x Ikon Gallery “Forward” and the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG’s) “Women, Power, Protest”.
Catching up with Tom this week to discuss the piece and where he wants to head next, he raised his frustrations with the apparent lack of simple, effective art publications in the city. Making the comparison to some of the art scene in other cities, there seemed to be a void for regular communication that provided a concise, enticing and accessible summary of Birmingham’s current exhibitions. It’s not that it isn’t being done, nor hasn’t been done before. It is simply, in the view we concluded this week, not being done as effectively as it could be. And heck, it’s not always about being first - it’s about being the best. Ask AltaVista (Google it if you have to and you’ll prove my point).
One of the examples we discussed was the Metro’s advertisement for Rachel Maclean’s sensory-overload of an exhibition “Too Cute”. Described (in short) as the perfect thing to do on a rainy day in Birmingham. Whilst avoiding the rain/sleet/snow is certainly a perk for any indoor activity at this time of year, it is not the real reason this exhibition is a must see. Once you have walked through the traditional gallery, in the BMAG, your world is turned upside down with the brash, nausea-inducing pink hue. Reflecting the sickly-sweet babyfied filtering of real issues, with complex emotions reduced to 2D emojis, Maclean brandishes every form of medium to reveal the truths she sees in today’s society.
Revealing truths is the fundamental value of art. Concepts about the human condition; about suffering, about emotion and experience, are replicated a millions times over in a thousand different forms. It ensures that these truths are not forgotten. As a consequence, these ideas are not original, but no less important. Recently, and quite significantly, the “Women, Power, Protest” exhibition demonstrated that experiences of repression, and objectification, as well as emancipation, courage and solidarity of feminism today. Each piece as powerful as the last. And in congruence they shout a louder message.
Dropping Tom back off at his home, we concluded that whilst there much to consider before a starting point could be found, we were confident that this idea would succeed. Therefore, I wanted to write this post for a couple of reasons:
Firstly, a question to you: how would you like to be informed of everything going on in the Birmingham art scene? Consider what medium and how often? Answers on a post card (or email) please.
Secondly, I think Tom’s vision for such a publication is worthy cause. If you have any advice, or you would like to help produce the content with him, please get in touch and we will connect you. We will be at our next event on the 12th April at Café Artum. Come say hello and bring your ideas and enthusiasm for the greatest city in the UK.
Thanks for reading, if you made it this far.