Birmingham artists are celebrating the award of new funding.
Grand Union, the gallery and artists’ studios located in Digbeth, is celebrating after receiving a £100,000 vote of confidence from Arts Council England.
The Grants for the Arts award allows the gallery to employ its first Director, increase its programme of contemporary art exhibitions and events, and place greater emphasis on fundraising and marketing. The award coincides with their third anniversary, beginning in 2010 when a group of emerging Birmingham artists came together to find permanent high-quality studio and exhibition space.
The group struck a deal with Isis Waterside Regeneration – a subsidiary company of the Canal & Rivers Trust – to take a unit in Minerva Works on Fazeley Street in Digbeth next to the Grand Union canal which was transformed into individual studios and gallery by Queen & Crawford, arts fabricator also based in Minerva Works. Grand Union now hosts a regular programme of exhibitions, talks and events and is at the centre of a vibrant and growing community of creative organisations and business based in Digbeth.
The studios’ exhibition project space has hosted painting, sculpture, video work and performance from artists across the world, including most recently Norwegian artists Kjersti G. Andvig and Lars Laumann. It also houses to some of the city’s best contemporary artists, including Stuart Whipps, Tom Bloor, Juneau Projects, Liz Rowe, David Rowan, Helen Brown, Harminder Judge and BAZ, whose work has been exhibited nationally. Studio holder and graphic designer James Langdon was recently awarded the 2012 INFORM Award by the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst in Leipzig, Germany, a recognition for his work in the contemporary arts.
Grand Union Director, Cheryl Jones, commented: “The funding we have received from Arts Council England is vital to us establishing ourselves as one of the must-see venues in Birmingham. We are developing an ambitious and exciting free public programme of exhibitions and events, with artists from the UK and internationally. This grant means we can commission lots of new artwork to show in the gallery and also ensure our studios really are the best in the city. We have a really active visual arts community here that are raising the profile of Birmingham’s visual arts scene nationally and beyond.”
Grand Union also supports the development of artists and curators through its Associate Curator programme, in which young, emerging curators are invited to develop exhibitions with mentorship from respected professionals. Current Associate Curator Jenine McGaughran has developed two exhibitions in Grand Union’s project space, complimenting her regular job as Exhibitions Co-ordinator at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery.
Grand Union marks its third birthday with a reception on 24th May, which also celebrates the opening of A Small Hiccup, a group exhibition with eight new commissions with performance, video, sculpture and digital media, which continues until 29th June.
Grand Union is open Thursday to Saturday 12-5pm