Midlands Modern Review

The Midlands Modern exhibition is currently taking place in Parkside Gallery until January 14th, 2017 and is an opportunity to see some great exhibits of modern Midlands manufacturing. At a recent private viewing of the show, I got the chance to look through the range of exhibits on display.

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To start off some of my personal highlights, I first looked at the Gordon Russell exhibit containing the design work of Richard Drew Russell. This particular exhibit shows design work on chairs and includes a cathedral chair from Coventry. These chairs have interesting design elements to enhance the functionality of the seat.

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One of the most exciting pieces within this part of the exhibition is the 1949 Baffle Console and Radio Cabinet.  The design and curvature alone make it interesting. It also serves the purpose of baffling the sound from the radio console above making it a must see for audiophiles.

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Midlands Modern also features designer Susie Coopers work for Wedgewood Group. Wedgewood is still a household name in ceramics and tableware today but the Carnaby Daisy and Gay stripes surface patterns by Susie really makes this range of Wedgewood stand apart. The ceramics exhibit highlight how designs can change the nature of an ordinary object into something far more interesting aesthetically.

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Midlands Modern covers the wide spectrum of disciplines in manufacturing and design throughout the Midlands. The works of printed and woven fabric by Tibor Reich are on display within the exhibition space. In the mid-1950’s Tibor developed a brand new approach to textile design entitled Fotextur to create revolutionary next design for fabric. It is fascinating to see some of the different results of Tibor’s experimental design work in the gallery.

The Midlands manufacturing scene isn’t just known for its work with ceramics, design and fabrics. Midlands Modern includes a wide range of different displays including steel and metalwork, lighting and more.

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I would highly recommend visiting the gallery for this enjoyable exhibition as not only are the exhibition ranging in variety and interest but are a testament to midlands manufacturing over the years. Curator Richard Snell has also provided an interesting video to give you an insight to some of the thinking behind the designs. He also highlights that these designs are important as part of Midlands history and heritage and they will also be part of its future in manufacturing and design.

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A lot of companies involved that pioneered these designs are still going strong today. Their influences can be seen in other modern day products and manufacturing processes. With the Midlands beginning to experience growth again, new opportunities will arise in manufacturing and design. By looking into the manufacturing designs and successes of the past in Midlands Modern, we can see that they are still relevant today and could be a great influence for future design and manufacturing processes within the Midlands.

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Midlands Modern is now open and will continue until January 14th. Check out the website for more details on all of the current and future exhibitions and sign up for the regular newsletters.

Parkside Gallery is active on Twitter and Instagram via @ParksideGallery, so if you go to the exhibition, be sure to tweet or tag the gallery using #MidlandsModern

5 Christmas tips for Artistic people

Christmas is just around the corner with seasonal stress beginning to take effect. Art can often help relieve some of that stress and help give your busy schedule and hectic mind a rest. Here are 5 Christmas themed tips we have created for artistic people to help relieve the stress.

1.Visit the German Market:

You may think that the volume of people and the hustle and bustle of the Birmingham German market may be stressful. However, it’s all about timing. If you visit the market during the middle of a weekday and it becomes more peaceful. It also gives you a proper opportunity to browse some of the fantastic arts and crafts on display.

2.Winter Art Fair:

If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city centre, then Eastside Projects Winter Art Fair might be for you. It launches during Digbeth’s First Friday on the 2nd of December and continues over the weekend. The gallery will be transformed and filled with affordable artworks, artist books and editions, music, homemade refreshments and will showcase independent artists and self-publishers from the West Midlands and beyond.

3.The Magic Lantern Festival:

This next festival is being launched for the first time in Birmingham at the Botanical Gardens on the 25th of November. The festival is designed as a fusion of art, heritage and culture; a festival of light and illumination. Visitors will follow a trail around Botanical Gardens and explore giant lanterns and more while exploring traditional Chinese culture and the amazing 2000-year heritage of Lantern Festivals.

4.Winter Craft Fair at Ikon Gallery:

On the 25th of November Ikon Gallery will be holding its annual seasonal market showcase. The market contains bespoke handmade products by artists, designers and crafters from around the Midlands. It’s the perfect opportunity to pick up those unique one-off gifts for friends and family. The great thing about holding an event like this at the Ikon gallery is that you have the chance to take in the exhibitions that are on at the moment. Art, shopping and then a relaxing cup of tea/coffee (hot chocolate if not a fan of the others) makes it an ideal destination for artistic people.

5.Netflix and Bob Ross:

If you have had enough of  crowds stressing you out and want to relax. Pick some paints and canvas and be artistic from the comfort of your own home. The best way to do this is to watch Netflix. Relax with Bob Ross as he guides you through the Joys of Painting. There are over 30 episodes with more to come in the future. It  is sure to keep you busy and actively creative over the Christmas holidays.

“We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.” – Bob Ross ‘The Joys of Painting’.

That’s our five Christmas tips for artistic people. Why not share yours with us. It could be an event, something you like to do over the Christmas period or any tips you want to share us.

Let us know in the comments below. You can also Tweet us or tag us via Instagram and Twitter @ParksideGallery using #PGChristmasTips

Digital Arts combines with wearable tech to map reactions to music

Birmingham-based digital arts producer Harmeet Chagger-Khan has teamed up with artist Tas Bashir and leading British Asian arts agency Sampad, to explore how the concept of Rasa can be mapped and digitally visualised into conceptual art.

Photo (top): Cassipeia A: Cassiopeia A in Many Colors, Smithsonian Institution

Photo (top): Cassipeia A: Cassiopeia A in Many Colors, Smithsonian Institution

Utilising Qawwali music to generate a state of mind and then mapping it digitally could lead to some unique artistic outcomes. The mind has been an interesting theme for artists but through the use of digital tech, the ability to map the emotional response leads to a potential unique form of art. Turning performance art into tangible physical art that unique crafted digital through emotional responses could lead to interesting hybrid results.

Qawwali is a form of Sufi devotional music with a tradition that stretches back more than 700 years. The rise in its contemporary mainstream popularity can largely be attributed to the late, great Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan who is widely credited with introducing Qawwali to international audiences. Qawwali music tends to begin gently and build steadily to a very high energy level in order to induce hypnotic states and a sensation of the sublime, both among the musicians and within the audience.

From October 2016, the creative team will collaborate with neuroscientists and psychologists from the University of Birmingham. They will be using new technologies to capture detailed scientific data from a group of participants made up of a variety of generations from local communities.

The aim is to test the assumption that it is possible to capture and cultivate a sense of transcendental awe through monitoring and recording the neurological, physiological and emotional responses to the music. Through the combination of musical responses and technological monitoring, patterns in responses can be mapped. These can be presented in a variety of visual ways and could lead to new forms of art and music combinations.

Clayton Shaw, Associate Director of Sampad says

“Although this kind of digital mapping and exploration has been carried out in relation to responses to Western classical music, it’s truly fascinating to now take it one step further by using new technologies to explore how people in the 21st century connect with centuries-old Qawwali music and perhaps challenge audience expectations of how art can be presented”

The Qawwali Shrine project and the creative team will also partner up with Birmingham Electro Acoustic Sound Theatre (BEAST) at the University of Birmingham in January 2017.

The open performance will invite people from the tech, digital, arts and academic worlds to join the test participants.  It also includes members of the wider community for an interactive musical experience, that will immerse them in a soundscape of traditional and digitally re-worked Qawwali sounds.

Producer for The Qawwali Shrine, Harmeet Chagger-Khan adds:

“We want to find out more about how people experience and express the ‘sublime’ and whether similar patterns of response emerge, as they transcend into a state of enlightenment in reaction to the music. Can we pinpoint that state of ‘Rasa’ or spiritual rapture? Can science and tech help us harvest that evidence? Can we capture it visually?”

Findings from The Qawwali Shrine will be presented in March 2017 as part of the University of Birmingham’s annual Arts & Science Festival.

You can find regular updates about the project on twitter @qawwali_shrine.

If you want to get involved or participate in the project, you can find out more at http://sampad.org.uk/