21st Jan, 2021

Major exhibition brings contemporary art to two of Birmingham's finest buildings

A MAJOR initiative is bringing contemporary art, including work by Birmingham-based artists, to two of the city’s most distinguished heritage venues: Aston Hall and Blakesley Hall.

Aston Hall is a magnificent 400-year-old Jacobean redbrick mansion and Blakesley Hall is a Tudor timber-framed house set among avenues of modern houses.

At each site, a selection of important works from the Arts Council Collection will go on display alongside select pieces from Birmingham’s own collection.

‘Walls Have Ears: 400 Years of Change at Aston Hall’ will mark the Jacobean mansion’s 400th birthday year. The exhibition will present contemporary portraiture by artists including Mawuena Kattah, Ryan Mosley, Eugene Palmer, Paul Rooney, Zineb Sedira and Donald Rodney.

In its 400 year history the house has seen many changes in the social, demographic and economic landscapes surrounding the Hall. The selected artworks explore themes of history, culture, class and race that resonate with Birmingham’s own identity.

The exhibition includes a number of Birmingham artists, including Vanley Burke, whose photograph, Rasta Man from Handsworth (1968), captures a young black man growing up in Birmingham in the late 1960s.

Boundary II (2000) by Barbara Walker is taken from the series ‘Private Face’, which focuses on the African-Caribbean community in Birmingham and depicts an everyday scene within a neighbourhood barbershop.

At Blakesley Hall, ‘Nature’s Presence’ takes inspiration from the hall’s historical relationship with nature and the garden.

The display includes different artistic perspectives on the natural world. The works present subject matter including flowers, fruit and animals through a range of media, from film and photography to paintings and sculpture. The artists in Nature’s Presence, such as photographer John Blakemore and Birmingham-based artist Ruth Claxton, explore human observations and interactions with nature.

Georgie Hopton’s photographic work Faded Blooms (2009) shows the fragility and beauty of decaying flowers. Meanwhile Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Still Life (2001) depicts a traditional fruit still life decomposing over time.

Jill Constantine, Director of the Arts Council Collection, said: “We are delighted that the Arts Council Collection will be on display in these two new exhibitions and that the local communities who enjoy these much loved houses will also have the opportunity to explore contemporary art from the Collection.”

For more information about the upcoming exhibitions, please see: birminghammuseums.org.uk/whats-on


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