Monday 31 March 2014

Grand Union Studios

Last week Ashleigh and I visited the Grand Union Studios in Birmingham with the NT Midlands Contemporary Art Futures Group. We had a brief intro into the background of the studios, and then met some of the artists there. First was Elizabeth Rowe who, amongst other things has done a very interesting community art project in Balsall Heath which led to establishing a biennale in this deprived part of Birmingham. She also had a residency at Dudmaston Hall in 2013.

Next was David Rowan, a photographer who photographs the collections at BMAG and does his own work on the (mostly underground) rivers of Birmingham. This is a really interesting mix of different types of very fine photography.

Another photographer we met was Stuart
Whipps, one of the photographers involved in the Reference Works project at the Library of Birmingham which I mentioned in my first blog post, last October. His work is compelling in its focus on the form and texture of everyday objects and places.

The work of Juneau Projects is extremely diverse and a lot of fun. Their work is truly multimedia, with robots, audio, print, animation, painting, laser-cut perspex - all very appealing to wide audiences. They've also worked with the Trust before, at Tatton Park, at the last biennal.

The last person we saw was Tom Bloor, who works with his twin brother, Simon, on architectural and sculptural projects. One of the things they are working on is playground designs, inspired by Isamu Noguchi.

In the afternoon, we had a talk from Deirdre Figueiredo, director of Craftspace about what she called the craft ecology of an area or county. We finished with an update from Nicola Shipley of Grain, and an intern, Clare Reece. This led to a discussion about potential for photography work at NT properties and having a shared, one-year programme at four different properties.

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