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28th February 2022

Form 6 Critical and Contextual Studies group visit galleries in Birmingham

The Form 6 Critical and Contextual Studies group recently visited some gallery spaces in Birmingham.

Director of Art, Elinor Brass, tells us more:-

“The first stop was the Ikon gallery, which is a contemporary art space with a focus on education and showing up and coming artists from all over the world.  We were lucky enough to have a guided tour of both the exhibitions currently open in the gallery.  The first, entitled  Carlo Crivelli ‘Shadow in the Sky’ is an unusual exhibition in that it displays Renaissance paintings in a contemporary space and the students heard from their guide a lot about the curatorial decisions made along the way.  From there we visited the brilliant Britta Marakatt-Labba show in the upstairs gallery which is entitled ‘Under the Vast Sky’.  It was so fascinating to find out about the Sami culture that Marakatt-Labba represents within her beautiful embroidered pieces and to see how she shares the struggle this indigenous population encounters in their daily lives.  From the Ikon we walked through the city to the main Gallery and Museum taking photographs and considering the place for this grand Victorian building in the 21st Century.  We are lucky enough to have Toby Watley talk to us about the museum in lessons, who is the Director of Collections for the Birmingham Museum Trust.  He leads on exhibitions, collection management and acquisitions, as well as conservation and research programmes. He will share with us about the gallery’s origins and how it fits into modern-day Birmingham.

After lunch, we headed to Digbeth to some very different art spaces.  Firstly at Grand Union, we found out more about how the art space is run and how it supports artists with affordable studio spaces alongside the exhibition space.  The gallery does a lot of work with communities in Birmingham actively seeking to build new audiences for art.  The exhibition introduced the students to some interesting curatorial approaches in a space completely contrasting to the Ikon.  The final stop of the day was to Recent Activity, a project space run by the artist and curator Andrew Gillespie.  Andrew gave us a very informative talk about the space and how it came about.  We heard about the challenges of running a space, but also the opportunities.

It was a day rich with experiences and provided the students with plenty of food for thought as they start to design their own exhibitions for their coursework.”

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