6 things you should know about Sir Michael Balcon, Birmingham’s Film Knight:

6 Things you should know about Sir Michael Balcon, Birmingham’s Film Knight:

 Birmingham born Sir Michael Balcon (1896-1977) is featuring in a brand new exhibition at the Parkside gallery. The exhibition is dedicated to the film producer whose work had a huge impact upon the British film industry for over half a century, he was knighted for his contribution to British cinema in 1948.


Here are six things you should know about the legendary film producer:

  1. Sir Michael Balcon helped create the original BAFTA awards. Balcons’ grandson Daniel Day Lewis has won the BAFTA award for best actor four times along with an three Oscars.
  2. Balcons’ filmography features over 300 films including cult classics such as BAFTA award winning The Blue Lamp and Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, Whiskey Galore and Kind Hearts Coronets.
  3. Birmingham born Balcon would make references to his child hood city. In the Blue Lamp, the hero protagonists PC George Dixon was named after the school he attended in Birmingham.
  4. Balcon was an integral part of the British Film Institute (BFI) and helped set up the Experimental Film Fund in the 50’s. The fund has since become part of the BFI’s regular funding for British Film Projects.
  5. Balcons granddaughter, Tasmin Day-Lewis followed her grandfather’s footsteps and has also directed and produced movies. Her work includes Private Wound (1996), The Healing Arts (1986) and The Cat and the Canary (1978).
  6. The Blue Lamp (1950) which featured Dirk Bogarde and Jack Warner won a BAFTA for the best British movie in that same year. This film was produced by Sir Michael Balcon and directed by Basil Dearden.

“Birmingham’s Film Knight – Michael Balcon” exhibition is set to open to the public in the gallery space on Monday 12th September and will continue till the 21st of October 2016.

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.

The Birmingham Big Art Project voting is underway

The city of Birmingham is set to undergo a massive change in future with the development of the HS2 high speed rail line. The project is a massive undertaking that will see renewed growth within the city. While this will develop the accessibility of trade and business, it provides the perfect opportunity for Birmingham to mark the occasion with its unique style and commitment to public art.


The Birmingham Big Art project was set up to commission an iconic piece of public art that will help Birmingham’s international recognition and place the city on the world’s cultural map. The aim is to build upon the new developments within the city and provide a lasting legacy that encourages civic pride through the diverse communities in the city using public art.


The project is set to cost around £2 million pounds and will also build upon Birmingham’s already rich culture in industry, design and art. It will be the centre piece of the new Curzon Street development and more importantly the final art piece will be decided upon by the residents of Birmingham.

As we have seen with the example of the Angel of the North, public art can be a powerful symbol for a community and city. I am happy to hear that Birmingham is encouraging the public to help raise funds for the Birmingham Big Art Project. 

Empowering citizens through culture is a positive way of engaging the local community.  Whether large or small, I hope Birmingham picks a work that will make the public proud, stand the test of time and act as a magnet for cultural tourism. 

I hope it also inspires other artists to create new works.”

Androulla Vassiliou

Europe’s Former Culture Commissioner

In May 2015, land was secured by the council and a shortlist of artists were selected to submit their ideas. A year later and the ideas where turned into full 3D models and placed on show as part of the public consultation process. The five artists, their ideas and proposals are as follows:

1: Susan Philipsz : ‘Station Clock’

Station clock is proposed as a aural clock that is designed to represent the testament to time covering past, present and future. The clock comprises 12 digits that represent each of the twelve tones on the musical scale. Sounds will be produced in conjunction and collaboration with Birmingham City University Conservatoire. Each tone changes in volume depending of the time of day such as the loudest chorus being played at midday.


Born in Glasgow in 1965, Susan Philipsz live and works in Berlin. Her work involves exploring the psychological and sculptural potential of sound. Susan has had many exhibits displayed over the last last few years including the Museum of Modern Art in Chicago in 2011 and Tate Britain in London 2015.

2: Roger Hiorns : ‘As yet untitled’

The ‘As yet untitled’ submission from Roger Hiorns proposes a landscape of transformed steam and locomotive engines. The engines will sit amongst a scattered collection of stone car engines to provide contract. Exteriors of the trains engines and carriages will be set to resemble human skin. The idea is proposed as a symbol of shaping our sexual and physical identities by and through the development of technology.


Roger Hiorns was born in Birmingham in 1975 but lives and works in London. Hiorns work combines material to transform objects and urban situations. Hiorns has displayed some of his past exhibits have be displayed in the Rudolfinum in Prague 2015 and The Art Institue of Chicago in 2010 along with many other galleries around the world. In 2009, his installation ‘Seizure’ was nominated for the Turner Prize award.

3: Heather and Ivan Morrison: ‘Blue Print for Happiness’

Heather and Ivans Blue Print proposal is derived from the perfect colliding cuboid geometries created in minerals beneath the earth. The design is to provide intricate gleaming facets representing the many layers of Birmingham’s long history into a new geometry. The sculpture serves as a metaphor for the potential of Birmingham and its statement of intent to become a city of the future in a world full of constant change.


Heather was born in 1973 in Desborough while Ivan was born in Instanbul in 1974. They both live and work in Herefordshire and craft works designed for public spaces. Their work revolves around active engagment covering everything from story telling to histories, sites, material and processes. In recent years their work has be placed on display at the Whitechapel Gallery in London along with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and Tate Modern in London.

4: Brian Griffiths:  ‘Small Giants’

Giffiths’ sculpture is based within jewellery and designed to be worn by the city of Birmingham and its people. The proposal includes working within select groups in the jewellery quarter to produce a series of additional bespoke pieces that would be made available to the public to compliment the sculptures display.


Born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1968, Brian lives and works within London. Brian’s sculptures value the narrative and overblown theatricality through the use of everyday objects.  His work has been exhibited far and wide including at the Galeria Luisa Strina in Sao Paulo, Brazil along with being part of the Hayway Touring Exhibition in 2011.

5: Keith Wilson: ‘Industrial Revolution’

The industrial revolution proposal by Wilson involves a slow moving public sculpture that over a ten year period will travel from one end of the Eastside City Park through to the other. The idea is to represent Birmingham’s history of labour and the transportation of materials  in a reinvented post-industrial ‘art’ sculpture that carries layers of rich culture within its design.


Keith Wilson was born in Birmingham in 1965 but now lives and works from New York, USA. Wilson’s sculptures are designed to be playful while being imbued with domestic and industrial resonance. Wilson’s exhibitions have been displayed in galleries across London including the Milch Gallery and the Camden Arts Centre. He has also been involved with wider projects such as the Hayward project space in London.

Voting is open to members of the public who visit the exhibition at Millennium Point. Forms are available on site and also provide an opportunity to feedback to the artists directly via the comments box. The aim is to unveil the winner in early 2017 with a view to having the piece commissioned and built for 2018.

You can also follow the progress of the project via the Birmingham Big Art Project’s  website and keep up with the latest developments via the projects twitter account @bigartproject



Big Birmingham Art Project from Eastside Projects on Vimeo.

Sourced: The Birmingham Big Art Project , Millennium Point

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.

New Birmingham Arts Map

The end of July sees the release of the new Birmingham Art Map. The map will include the latest exhibition and event details from 1st August until 31st October. The map covers the many events and exhibitions held in venues within the greater Birmingham area and will include listings for our very own Parkside Gallery.

Arts map Capture

Look out for the print versions which should be available for free at many outlets, retailers and cafes toward the end of July.

If you can’t wait for the schedule to come out in print, you can check out http://birminghamartmap.org/information/ for the latest details or follow @_artmap on twitter. The new maps will be hitting Parkside Gallery foyer soon.

A look back at the #BCUInspired Festival


Now in its Second Year the #BCUInspired Festival has proven to be a vibrant and exciting event for everyone. The Festival contained a number of graduate exhibitions that showcased the innovative talent of Birmingham City University (BCU) Students across the Arts, Design and Media sites. During the Inspired Festival, Parkside Gallery participated by showcasing an exhibition titled ‘BCU: A Year in Pictures’ encapsulating various special moments from around the university in 2015/16.

The Inspired Festival launched with a special screening of Tarantino’s classic Pulp Fiction, which was voted as Best Film of the 90’s by BCU Staff and Students.

The first graduate show private view was held at the School of Art. It was an engaging and challenging evening that showcased the multi-medium practices of final year Fine Art and Art and Design Students. The inspired event was accompanied by an awards ceremony with prizes given to students in disciplines that included Sculpture, Painting, Photography and Curation. The Prestigious Pip Seymour Painting Prize being awarded to Tabi Lampe for her vibrant and atmospheric paintings.


Set against the dramatic backdrop of the historic building, Birmingham school of Jewellery showcased a diverse range of work within areas such as Gemmology, Horology, Silversmithing and Jewellery practice.  One of the most striking elements was the multi-disciplinary nature of the work, highly relevant to the industry and contemporary jewellery making. Andrew Glover from BA (Hons) Horology went away with four Awards, most notably the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers Award and the Cartier Award.


The night of the 15th June was the largest Faculty of Arts, Design and Media private view, welcoming over 1000 visitors to Parkside building. Shows filled all four floors – bringing together Industry partners, alumni, staff and family to celebrate the student’s achievements. Some of the most prestigious awards came from Furniture Design, Architecture and Textiles Design. Triple Award Winner Beau Birkett was awarded with the Louisa Ann Ryland Scholarship, which will fund his travel to Copenhagen to work in the Furniture design industry for a month.

The second year of the Inspired Festival has been a huge success, it’s generated a large amount of  interest and strengthened links to industry. We’re looking forward to next year’s shows and wish all of our graduates every success in their future endeavors.



`Sir Michael Balcon – Birmingham’s Film Knight’

Birmingham born Sir Michael Balcon is featuring in a brand new exhibition at the Parkside gallery. The exhibition is dedicated to the film producer whose work had a huge impact upon the British film industry for over half a century. Balcon produced a vast filmography of over 350+ films and mentored the likes of David Puttnam and Sir Alan Parker.


Balcon was involved in many areas of the industry including studio head at Gaumont-British and Ealing Studios. He received a knighthood in 1948 for his services to the film industy and helped set up the BAFTA awards. Balcon was an integral part of the British Film Insitute (BFI) experimental Film fund in the 50’s, now known as the BFI Film fund  headed by Ben Roberts.


Born at his father’s tailoring shop in Birmingham in 1896 and part of a family of eastern European origin that had migrated to the UK Balcon was able to be at the forefront of the British film industry. He had a strong eye for talent and is credited with giving Alfred Hitchcock his first film role.

During the 1920’s Balcon  teamed up with two fellow film pioneers Oscar Deutsch and Victor Saville.  Oscar Deutsch later went on to set up the iconic ODEON film circuit applying the art deco talents of Birmingham architects, Harry Weedon Partnership. Mean-while Victor Saville left for Hollywood where he became an A list movie director. These three ‘Brummies’ who were brought up but a few miles from each other revolutionised UK film in the ‘20’s and ‘30’s in respect to their work rate, entrepreneurialism, innovation and success.

The exhibition seeks to explore the life and times of Sir Michael Balcon exploring themes such as the immigrant ‘arrivals culture’  and the collaborative work that he undertook throughout his career. The show will also explore Balcon’s time at Gainsborough and Gaumont along with his prolific work at Ealing studios. The show reflects upon Balcons legacy and raises questions about Birmingham as a film city and the legacy for the new generation.


Professor Roger Shannon will be curating the show which aligns with his passion for Film and Television and his research in UK film policy and Independent Film. Roger  has previously organised a symposium on Balcon’s career in 2012, he will be supported by film experts at the BFI, Mac cinema, Flatpack Film festival and Birmingham City University.

Birmingham’s Film Knight will take place between 12thSeptember – 21st October 2016.