The New Art Gallery

The New Art Gallery has a trio of great reasons to visit now

The Garman Ryan Collection at The New Art Gallery in Walsall means it’s always worth a visit, but the temporary exhibitions on at the moment make now an extra good time to go.

The Humble Vessel on the top floor looks at the symbol of the simple boat as depicted by various artists through time, and made relevant now by sights of refugees fleeing so often by boat.

It includes a newly-commissioned work by Pakistani artist Fazal Rizvi, a three-screen video installation of what looks like a small fishing boat from anywhere in the world bobbing about on the water. There are concrete boats which will be going nowhere, by Bob and Roberta Smith, and in an 1873 painting by Jules-Ėmile Saintin a woman in black looks sadly out to sea, a reminder that the waters have often taken lives.

Eric Ravilious’s Storm is a wonderfully blowy, colourful work, and there are other appealing depictions of boats and harbours from the past century. The exhibition ends on July 24, but is worth toiling up to the top floor to visit.

The more recently opened Land, Sea and Air takes as its starting point artists who have used maps as their source material. The exhibition brings together works by seven international artists using maps in very different ways.

You can get pleasantly lost in Frank Bowling’s huge colourful Map Paintings, made between 1967-71 – if you step back parts of the world can be seen through the vivid and attractive colours.

Cornelia Parker’s works show a series of London street maps with burns in them from a meteorite which came down in Namibia in 1836, which has been heated and then burnt over the various locations.

Tiffany Chung’s mixed installation includes photography, a map on the wall showing a timeline, and pieces from history to tell the story of her father, shot down in a mission during the Vietnam war and held prisoner for her entire childhood. It’s a moving and intriguing work.

Shilpa Gupta’s There is No Border Here is very relevant because of recent and ongoing events. It’s a poem on the wall talking of battle, conflict and love, beautifully written in tape which reads “there is no border here”.

These are the highlights of a fascinating exhibition.

Finally, if you think you’ve seen the Garman Ryan collection enough times, think again. As part of a three-year partnership, there are interventions in the collection from the Tate. A total of 16 works from the Tate have been paired with the gallery’s own pieces, related by either artist, theme or subject matter.

It’s fascinating to wander around and read the interesting booklet which investigates the ideas behind these links. Sometimes it’s similarities in theme – there are two paintings of Suffolk with different sky scenes, by John Nash and John Constable, for example.

In other cases it’s the same artist – an oil and a watercolour landscape by Camille Pisarro, and a bronze sculture and ink drawing by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. There are also other big name artists featured – Picasso, Braque, Rodin, Modigliani, Degas, Gainsborough, Freud, Epstein, Eric Gill, and Odile Redon. One comparison puts a Bernard Leach fruit bowl from 1955 with a Solomon Islands fruit bowl from the nineteenth or twentieth century. My favourite is the huge Raoul Dufy painting of The Wheatfield from Tate paired with a much smaller Harvest Scene watercolour from Walsall.

It’s a great set of exhibitions to enjoy and explore in one building.

Advertisements

Coventry and Warwickshire’s art world in 2014 – a quick look back

A tour with Jeremy Deller, an evening with a KLF star, a camp parade, champagne on the terrace – and an embarrassing slip into an art work. Some of my memories of 2014.

As most galleries stay closed today, it’s time to look back at some of the highlights of the last year in the local art world – or my take on them anyway.

I can’t believe it’s nearly a year since I set out on a horrible January night to see George Wagstaffe and Michala Gyetvai’s exhibition at the Michael Heseltine Gallery in Middleton Cheney, near Banbury.

Their combination of sculpture and textiles work well together and it was lovely to see how they’ve inspired and revitalised each other’s art careers.

I ran into them several more times during the year too, at Ragley Hall where artist Dawn Harris had a residency which produced some interesting exhibitions and some fun openings, and where Michala was one of several artists working from studios in the stable block.

Champagne on the terrace outside the Hall in the sun before a tour of the first (and now only) Open exhibition was particularly memorable. It’s a shame that with a year’s worth of events planned Dawn and the other artists were asked to leave a few weeks ago – I hope they find somewhere else soon, but I fear it won’t be so attractive.

As openings go, the best had to be Qasim Riza Shaheen’s exhibition The Last Known Post at the mac in Birmingham. Vodka and orange, live Sufi music, a highly glamorous and camp parade – what’s not to enjoy!

Walking art featured strongly at the start of the year, with exhibitions of various artists’ work at the Mead, the mac in Birmingham and a Richard Long exhibition at The New Art Gallery, Walsall. Long held an In Conversation in Walsall which showed his non-nonsense nature, and the thought of his long walks, carrying everything he needs with him, was very impressive. The New Art Gallery also held an exhibition dedicated to the history of its Garman Ryan Collection and it was great to see the influence of two women on Midlands art.

Nuneaton’s Museum & Art Gallery continued to offer up some little gems of exhibitions in its own quiet way. At the start of the year I enjoyed Shaun Morris’s exhibition of paintings mostly of the underneath of the M6, and later in the year explored the varied world of illustration and some expansive works by Paul Newman.

Romanian-born Coventry University graduate Mircea Teleaga exhibited his moody paintings influenced by his home country at the Lewis Gallery in Rugby School, an attractive gallery which often has interesting exhibitions but is unfortunately only open weekday afternoons.

Other Coventry University graduates were chosen to have their work exhibited as part of New Art West Midlands, and I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more of Lucy Hutchinson’s work in future. Her striking golden wallpaper telling stories of family across the world was a highlight of the show at the Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum.

At Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, Professor David Carpanini brought Welsh valley life into focus in gritty paintings. The Compton Verney the season opened with Moore Rodin, including some striking large works in the grounds which made a great impression, and continued with the Folk Art exhibition which moved up from London later in the year.

At Rugby Art Gallery & Museum the annual show of the Rugby Collection was enlivened with a focus on conservation work, and the end of the year show It’s A Wrap looked at the tradition of wrapping in Japan, furoshiki.

In March, I saw Bill Drummond begin his 12-year world tour at Eastside Projects in Birmingham, which was a fun and predictably wacky occasion – let’s hope we’re both back there for the planned end of it in 2025.

At the Mead, a personal highlight was being shown around the All That is Solid Melts Into Air exhibition by its creator Jeremy Deller, while I interviewed him, then also hearing him talk about it at the Herbert, before being bussed back for the official opening. Very entertaining and interesting.

At the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, the interactive exhibition Is This A Dagger? Was a good idea for an exhibition, and a nice excuse to visit the theatre again. And at Packwood House in the summer, Hilary Jack created some great installations to enhance a tour of the lovely grounds.

Coventry Artspace launched a programme of exhibitions looking at Coventry in the former Coventry Blaze shop in the City Arcade in the autumn, and at one event there I stepped back to clap a speech and ingnominously stepped back into Kathryn Hawkins’s installation, river …. splashing water all up the wall. Sorry about that (again).

There were closures too; the Gallery Upstairs in Henley-in-Arden, run by brother and sister Carey and Paul Moon, and previously owned by their parents, closed with a final exhibition in May and the beautiful building was put up for sale.

In Coventry, a group of artists calling themselves Through the Wall Projects, including another New Art West Midlands artist James Birkin, who paints great paintings of mostly derelict buildings, set up shop in one of Coventry’s fairly derelict areas in Bishop Street. Matthew Macaulay of Pluspace got involved to hold a couple more exhibitions there, but unfortunately the threat of business rates saw them having to move out.

The Lanchester Gallery Projects project ended at the building in The Hub after a varied and often challenging series of exhibitions but the university has continued to run it as a gallery, ending the year with a bright exhibition of paintings by John Devane including some influenced by American movies. The American influence was also strong in the closing exhibition of the year at the White Room in Leamington, in which Horace Panter – day job: bassist with the Specials – showed is growing catalogue of paintings.

So that’s it for 2014 – an interesting, if not stand out year. Here’s looking forward to more in 2015 – preview in the Coventry Telegraph, January 2.

Noémie plays with sense of time and space at The New Art Gallery, Walsall

Observatoire III

Measurements of time and space are played with to give an illusion of permanence in an exhibition by French artist Noémie Goudal.
The Geometrical Determination of the Sunrise at The New Art Gallery in Walsall comprises photographs, films and installations. In the work Goudal is described as exploring “the relationship between reality and artifice and the intersection between nature and the man made”.
In a series of black and white photographs, Observatoires 2013-14, the artist has taken her reference point from the astronomical observatories built by Maharajah Jai Singh II in Jaipur and Delhi, inspired by the sun, moon and stars and used as an astronomical observatory.

(more…)

Dreams Part II: Two women’s gift which transformed a town’s landscape is celebrated 40 years later

Kathleen Garman Ryan
Lady Kathleen Epstein with some of her art collection C.1972
(Image ref: GarmanRyanCollection)

It is 40 years since the Garman Ryan collection was created and given to the people of Walsall, and put on show for everyone from further afield to enjoy.
The permanent exhibition at The New Art Gallery in Walsall has been supplemented with lots of archival material for the anniversary exhibition, entitled Dealing with Dreams, which tells more about the history of its creation by two generous and insightful women. There’s also a room dedicated to works left by another woman who is part of their complicated story.
The story of the Garman Ryan collection is one of generosity and loss.

(more…)

New Art Gallery brings together great overview of Richard Long’s career

There has been a lot of Richard Long’s work on show in the Midlands in the past year – and now there’s an exhibition dedicated to him at The New Art Gallery in Walsall.
The gallery is showing Richard Long: Prints 1970-2013 and a work created in the gallery, Spring Circle, 1992. The prints cover all those he has made during his career.
In a fascinating In Conversation with the Walsall gallery’s director, Stephen Snoddy, Long was questioned about his career and his work.

(more…)

Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota impresses at The New Art Gallery

Size may not be everything, but 400 old suitcases suspended from the ceiling certainly make an impression.
The installation by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota at the New Art Gallery at Walsall fill a large gallery, and start off hanging near the floor at one end, and then get gradually higher so you can walk underneath. They are used and old, and you an only imagine the journeys they have made, and who their owners may have been.

(more…)

George Shaw and Graham Chorlton make New Art Gallery THE place to be

LEYTONSTONE 1995199 2012
Above, Leytonstone 1995, 1999, 2012, by Laura Oldfield Ford

There is a Place…. where you can find works by six artists in a thematic show which brings together some great scenes of urban emptiness.
The New Art Gallery at Walsall is showing There is a Place…until April 14, and it’s a place well worth visiting.
Coventry-born George Shaw contributes both Humbrol-painted paintings, and more unusually, etchings, of Tile Hill. There’s a huge pile of rubble behind a fence, showing the end of a pub where his mother apparently once worked, and another empty space, and in The End of Time, a path leading to where a pub building once stood.
The 12 short walks are etchings of scenes from around the area, showing scenes that are becoming familiar if you’ve seen more of his paintings and watercolours – garages, bleak paths, but green tree-filled areas too, and poignantly fence posts with no fence in between. They’re small, detailed and show his versatility.

(more…)

Frank Sidney Smith’s paintings at The New Art Gallery show beauty born from trauma

A LIFE full of trauma and tragedy has helped create some paintings which are enchanting and enthralling.
It seems as though Frank Sidney Smith decided to use his creative urges as a type of therapy, to try to come to terms with everything that had happened to him.
There are times when it’s impossible to look at some paintings without reference to the artist who created them and what he or she has endured, and this is one of those times.
The images are pretty and child-like in initial appearance but many tell stories of unbelievable sadness. It’s vital to read the paragraphs underneath each one in this exhibition at The New Art Gallery, Walsall, to have an understanding of what the innocent-looking pictures really show.

(more…)