Above, Man Versus Motherland by Dean O’Brien, at the Barber Institute
Four Coventry University graduates are showing work in top Birmingham art galleries as part of the New Art West Midlands initiative.
They are among 22 recent graduates chosen from West Midlands university art schools for the exhibition.
So where is the true birthplace of lawn tennis – Royal Leamington Spa or Edgbaston in Birmingham? Those with a view on the matter could bat that debate about all day, and it’s something that’s looked at in a wonderful exhibition at the Barber Institute in Birmingham.
It seems that Thomas Gem and his friend Jean Batista Augurio Perera played on Perrera’s lawn in Edgbaston in 1859 – but both moved to Leamington in 1872 where they formed Leamington Lawn Tennis Club with two local doctors.
Gem himself drew a sketch of their first match as a foursome, at the Manor House Hotel, at the first club in the world formed specifically for playing lawn tennis. The exhibition features a photograph of the sketch which was presented to the Manor House in 1957 and sadly subsequently ‘lost’.
As the original club is no longer going, the Edgbaston Archery & Lawn Tennis Society is now the oldest surviving lawn tennis club in the world – but on the strength of this exhibition and accompanying catalogue I can forgive Birmingham its boasting.