Jesse Bruton at Ikon Gallery

Jesse Bruton is one of the founding members of the IKON Gallery and a Birmingham College of Art Graduate and former lecturer. This stunning retrospective looks back on Bruton’s development of his artistic practice from 1950s through to its end in 1972 – when Bruton turned to painting conservation.


Jesse Bruton, Devil’s Bowl (c.1965). Oil on canvas. Image courtesy of the artist

Bruton studied at the previously known Birmingham College of Art now Birmingham School of Art, where he met the artists David Prentice, Robert Groves and and Sylvani Merilion. Who along with Angus Skene, would go on to establish the critically acclaimed IKON Gallery. Their paths crossed by mere chance, as in 1963 Skene purchased one of David Prentices’ early works for £25 – humorously delivered to Skene’s house in Selly Oak, strapped to the side of his Vespa Scooter. They all felt a lack of support for contemporary art or artist from the leading galleries at the time, and out of that discontent – the idea of the IKON gallery was born.

Jesse Bruton was “preoccupied with the nature of travel” and was greatly influenced by landscape. Amongst these were the Spanish landscapes from his scholarship days, the Dutch townscapes, the Welsh mountain and Pembrokeshire coastal landscapes. Bruton worked from drawings and photographs of particular places he had visited, he translated the slopes and jagged rocks through a very minimal colour palette.

These travels can be seen within his paintings, at his current solo show at IKON Gallery, which runs until 11th September 2016. The show opens with a number of paintings that show Bruton’s brief interest in colour, and how he combined its use with multiple textures to create his early landscape works. Two of his earliest sketchbooks are shown, these prove to be the most intimate pieces as you feel closer to the artist at work.

“I wasn’t particularly interested in colour. I wanted to limit the formal language I was using – to work tonally gradating from black to white, leaching out the medium from the paint in order to enhance a variety of textures. I also felt that colour got in the way of describing the structure of the landscape …”

Compared with the previous paintings, Bruton’s later works show a shift into a minimal colour palette and composition. He depicts sloping and meandering thick white lines that cut through the black of the background, fading in and out of white, grey and black.These works were produced after the long – distance driving that Bruton undertook. They convey Bruton’s personal experience of his journeys, and a sense of isolation can be felt through the forms that Bruton has chosen, the black backgrounds of multiple paintings seem to engulf the seemingly fragile, white calligraphic forms.

The exhibition runs till 11th September and there is a full colour catalogue available in the IKON’s Gallery shop.

Jesse Bruton and Pamela Scott Wilkie in conversation with Jonathan Watkins, Thursday 8th September, 6-7.30pm – FREE

This event is an opportunity for you to hear from the artists themselves, in conversation with current IKON Gallery Director Jonathan Watkins. They discuss the earliest memories they have of the IKON gallery and their shared interest in journeys and how they represent them in their artistic practices.

New Designers 2016 show, as it happened

The New Designers exhibition show is held every year and is a great opportunity for the arts and design community to come together and show their ideas.

Birmingham City University sent four groups of graduates to this year’s New Designers show. This included the school of Architecture and Design, Jewellery, Visual Communication and Fashion and Textiles.

Over the course of the two weeks the various BCU graduates showcased their work and ideas, networked and even won some highly coveted awards.


The experience overall from the students and the faculty has been great and also an important step in the development of the students and connecting with others.


Many of the students found this connection along with viewing others works to serve as an inspiration for their own future projects.

You can see more of the student’s content via twitter @BCU_Arts or on Facebook page.

You can see more  of the students content @BCU_Arts or on our Facebook page.

5 jewellers moving beyond the boundaries of jewellery design

Parkside Gallery’s latest exhibition flockOmania2 has been attracting a lot of curious interest, as the work of creator Zoe Robertson along with other artists and performers pushes the boundaries of jewellery design.

  1. Di Mainstone : Di Mainstone has garnered international recognition for her work within creating sonic sculptures that extend from the body and trigger sound. Di has been featured within the New York Times and acquired critical acclaim for projects such as the Human Harp Project. Utilising sound and technology and creating wearable sonic instruments. Di has pioneered “body-centric design” and is considered as part of a new generation of visionaries.

12. Zoe Robertson: An award winning jewellery artist, Zoe is pushing jewellery into the fields of performance, sound, and dance. By designing using unconventional materials, her work not only explores the boundaries of what jewellery is perceived to be, but also initiates a visual language for audiences. Her pieces convey key themes such as body extension, movement and dual wearability in immersive environments, which invite audience interaction and participation. Zoe is constantly planning new shows and collaborative works.


3. Michelle Jessop : Michelle is researching further into art–led contemporary jewellery that goes from being just a physical object and instead becomes a form of language. Her focus is on relational strategies that evoke a sensory response or trigger a memory from the audience. This is further expanded through the use of digital media, social interactions and exploring the role of viewers in gallery spaces.


4. Katrin Spranger : Focuses her work on the future depletion of natural materials and combines this with time-based interactive jewellery. This allows for the creation of stories that comment on consumer culture, environment and science fiction that touches upon several disciplines like fashion, food, photography, performance and installations.


5. Noam Ben-Jacov: A former jewellery design student at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, Noam has been discovering broader perspectives through jewellert experimentation. This has resulted in him uncovering and developing his own unique language and style, revolving his works around the human body and drawing upon the mental and physical elements combined with the space, expanding on potential restrictions. Noam considers that “The human, is both ‘viewer & participant’ at the same time on the one hand he is the center (participant) of the ‘unit’; on the other hand, he is also the viewer, looking on events…”.


flockOmania2 and the symposium are testament to pushing and exploring the boundaries of Jewellery design. The collaborative relationship with dance artists Dr Natalie Garrett Brown and Amy Voris also make this abstract experimentation possible through tailored chorography that matches the vision of the designers, creators and artists. It is expected that design, wearable technology and art, along with interaction will become a more prominent focus for contemporary discussion. These very discussions will show how new stories can be created when exploring beyond conventional and potentially rigid boundaries.  



New musical score exhibition ‘TEXT’ encourages people to think about music in a “different way”


Pop-up musical score exhibition ‘TEXT’ has recently been unveiled at Birmingham City University’s Parkside Building and will occupy the main corridor of the ground floor until April 8.

The display includes 32 musical text scores, a type of post-war written music developed in the mid-twentieth century.

The curators

This Parkside Gallery sub-exhibition has been curated by Andy Ingamells, Paul Norman and Hillary Springfield, second year PhD students at Birmingham Conservatoire and overseen by Dr Michael Walters, Assistant Head of Composition at Birmingham Conservatoire, who said:

It’s about exploring what is music and what is art, we are potentially pushing musicians and thoughts on what music is out of a lot of people’s comfort zone and encouraging people to think about music in a different way.”

Functions of a text score

This “niche practice” in contemporary and classical music has two functions; the first is to encourage musicians to play the pieces, but the second to reflect on conceptual thought experiments.

The audience

The “interpretive nature” of the pieces broadens the audience for this art form, not being confined to just musicians. PhD student, lecturer and performance artist Andy Inagemells said:

“You don’t have to necessarily read music to interpret this form of music, as long as you speak the language that the score is written in. This is an extended idea of what music can be, the style really is quite playful and imaginative and if you keep an open mind it can be quite a joyful experience.”

Andy added: “This form of expression has allowed me to network all over the world, experience being a part of a really nice scene of people and think about music in a different way.”

Formalising this way of thinking

This conceptual thinking has inspired the development of proposed new course ‘MMus Visual and Performing Arts: Idea, concept and realisation’ expected to be implemented in 2017/18, which will formalise this way of thinking.

Birmingham Conservatoire

Birmingham Conservatoire’s new building currently under construction as part of Birmingham City University’s City Centre Campus will include a bespoke ‘Experimental Performance Space’ in which investigative concepts such as ‘TEXT’ can be explored.

Frontiers Festival

‘TEXT’ also promotes the notion of welcoming every style of music as long as performers put their all into it, supporting the ethos of Birmingham’s ‘Frontiers Festival’.

Keep up to date with all of the latest news and information from Parkside Gallery by following @Parksidegallery on Twitter and Instagram or like us on Facebook.

New exhibition ‘flockOmania2’ in pictures

Welcome to flockOmania2, a unique solo exhibition filled with captivating approaches by award-winning jewellery artist Zoe Robertson.

This multi-sensory experience, created in response to a collaboration with dance artists Dr Natalie Garrett Brown of Coventry University and Amy Voris, revolves around the linchpin of exploring the relationships between performing jewellery and dance.

Parkside Gallery nominated for ‘What’s On Readers’ Award


Parkside Gallery has recently been announced as a finalist for the Midlands’ leading arts and entertainment guide ‘What’s On Readers’ ‘Best Birmingham Art Gallery/Exhibition Venue’ Award.

The shortlist

The shortlist for the prize includes a selection of well-known art galleries in Birmingham including The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Centrala in Digbeth, Grand Union in Digbeth, IKON Gallery and mac Birmingham.

John Hall, Exhibitions Manager at Parkside Gallery said: “We are thrilled to be nominated for this prestigious regional award, and to be considered in the same category as some of the most reputable and well-respected art galleries and exhibition venues in Birmingham.

“Being shortlisted is a real sign of recognition and highlights the hard work on behalf of everybody associated with Parkside Gallery.”

The date announcing the winner of the award and the location of the ceremony is yet to be confirmed by ‘What’s On Midlands’.

Parkside Gallery’s next exhibition

Parkside Gallery now prepares for its next exhibition called ‘flockOmania’, involving the collaboration of two of the biggest universities in the West Midlands, Birmingham City University and Coventry University to produce a contemporary jewellery exhibition showcasing wearable sculptures, exploring the relationship between Jewellery, Dance and Performance.

To find out more about ‘What’s On Midlands’ visit the official website, and to keep up to date with all of the latest news and exhibitions at Parkside Gallery follow @Parksidegallery on Twitter and Instagram or visit the official Facebook page.

‘Is There Anyone Out There?’

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Documenting Birmingham’s Independent Music Scene 1986-1990

Established in 1986 by promoter and photographer Dave Travis, ‘The Click Club’ was the name of a venue and disco associated with Birmingham’s alternative music culture.

Located at nightclub ‘Burburries on the Street’, on a pre-regeneration era Broad Street, capacity was limited to a few hundred attendees on any one night. However, there is case to be made about for importance of ‘The Click Club’ locally and nationally for the economic role it played as part of a touring circuit and for distributors and retailers of independent music. During its lifetime, the club showcased bands associated with the C86 collection issued by NME (Primal Scream, Fuzzbox, The Mighty Lemon Drops), the emergence of a group of ‘grebo’ bands from the Black Country (Pop Will Eat Itself, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin), the so-called baggy scene (Charlatans, James etc.) as well as many others.

As a central feature in an alternative music scene, at the intersection of several subcultures, the ‘The Click Club’ had enormous cultural value for its participants which perhaps outweighs its economic role. As demonstrated by so many online archival sites and by the Click Club Facebook group particularly, such scenes and venues have proven important to individual and group memory and identity.

2016 sees the 30th year of The Click Club, an opposite moment to explore and celebrate such a space and the scene it represented. This exhibition draws upon the personal archive of Dave Travis whose posters, magazines, ephemera and photographic record detail a dynamic space and time.

This exhibition surveys the nature and value of ‘The Click Club’, locating it within the context of a wider set of cultural and economic activity. The exhibition enlists participant accounts in order to contextualize ‘The Click Club’ as a historical moment that remains important to its community and to the music and cultural heritage of Birmingham.