New Art West Midlands returns this month to showcase the region’s most exciting emerging artists.
31 artists have been selected to take part in the four New Art West Midlands 2017 exhibitions, which take place at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, mac birmingham, Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
Opening on Saturday 18th February 2017, the exhibitions include brand new painting, installation, sculpture, photography, video, animation and digital artworks, and together give an insight into the latest trends and concerns in contemporary art.
Highlights of New Art West Midlands 2017 include Yazmin Boyle’s monumental 3-metre-long metal sculptures Orbita (2016), made of industrial steel strap overlaid with a feminine lace print and formed into three-dimensional funnels and circles. On show at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, the sculptures touch on themes of gender stereotyping.
Hereford graduate Lorna Brown has poured a lifetime’s experience into her photography. As a person of colour growing up in the Forest of Dean, she was subjected to subtle forms of racism – one teacher suggested that she straighten her hair to make it look neater. Motivated by the desire to explore the role of race within beauty, she set out to photographs of her own body. The resulting images can be seen at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
Poppy Twist’s scarves are emblazoned with 1960s girl group lyrics, recalling feelings of anxiety and being lost, communicated through the tool of songwriting. Megan Evans uses make-up to paint her portraits of women undergoing cosmetic surgery.
Amy Inston’s warm-hearted film Pipe Dream weaves images of Hollywood glamour and the American Dream with footage of the real domestic life of her working-class Birmingham family. Pipe Dream explores everyday reality and America’s promise through ideas of nostalgia, family life and ideologies. The two worlds co-exist in a clash of hope and reality.
Many works share an interest in science and biology. Lindy Brett’s installation Observations uses video and sound from the Lovell Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank, whilst Susan Brisco’s video works examine plant intelligence and neuro-biology. Jade Hamilton’s uses glass biomes filled with plants in a comment on air pollution, whilst Lisa Nash’s sculpture of rabbits are a comment on human relationships with animals. Milly Rowland’s prints depict an imagined marine world full of natural ecosystems and mutated forms.
Themes of globalisation, migration and belonging abound. Thai artist Tuschara Kiewpukee’s kitsch paintings have a spiritual feel, yet are filled with popular American cartoon characters in a celebration of pop culture. Kate Morgan Clare interviewed World War II evacuees, now in their 80s, to inform her installation of paper dresses, which are decorated with fabric prints from the period. Her work also reflects on the experiences of families fleeing the current conflict in Syria.
A sense of place can be found in Bruno Grilo’s sculpture and in Natalie Seymour’s photographic collage of an abandoned Smethwick factory, a world frozen in time.
Each of the exhibiting artists has graduated from one of the region’s six art schools within the last three years: Birmingham City University, University of Wolverhampton, University of Worcester, Staffordshire University, Coventry University and Hereford College of Arts.
Over 180 people applied to take part in New Art West Midlands 2017. The 31 successful artists were chosen by a group of three selectors: Jason E. Bowman, artist, curator and lecturer at University of Gothenburg; curator and writer Angela Kingston and the Birmingham-based artist Barbara Walker.
With four venues, six universities and colleges and 31 artists, New Art West Midlands is the largest showcase of its type in the region. Now in its fifth year, New Art West Midlands has established itself as an important aid in developing the careers of artists. Previous exhibitors have seen their work purchased for the national Art Council Collection and have gone on to achieve solo exhibitions in respected galleries.
The New Art West Midlands 2017 graduates’ exhibition is an initiative led by New Art West Midlands, the contemporary visual arts network for the region.
Formerly known as Turning Point West Midlands, the New Art West Midlands network will lead a number of programmes designed to support and promote the visual arts, creating development opportunities for artists and curators, and strengthening the visual arts sector in the West Midlands.