The scene is set. Gallery 15 of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery will be the base for our next four weeks as Whitworth Wallis Artists in Residence, becoming the pinpoint of our research and development, embedded within the amazing collections that will surround us. As Artists in Residence, a wording that is full of potential and possibility, we began the week becoming accustomed to the interior spaces and meeting the staff members who run it. After briefings on fire, health & safety and technical procedures we set up our working space, soon to be filled with ideas, research and investigation. A setting of our new collaborative practice, working together for the first time.
The studio is located in the middle of the museum, squeezed between Edward Burne-Jones and the 18th & 19th Century Art exhibitions, an ideal central space that will become a hub for activity and experimentation, open to the public through its two pairs of large and beautiful doors. Its ambience drove us to document the space.
An initial exploration, notetaking and documenting our navigation through the rooms,
passing through Gallery 13’s ‘Birmingham People & Places’ exhibition,
lead us to the ‘I Want! I Want! Art and Technology’ exhibition, perfect inspiration for our current practices. Works here that made an initial impression included for Tony; William Blake’s I Want! I Want! print that opens the exhibition, and works by Ryan Ganders and Ed Atkins, while for Suzie; works by Dryden Goodwin and Aleksandra Mir whilst drawn to circular markings on the floor of the Gas Hall itself.
Sitting in on a children’s workshop; Techlab: Fun Experiments in Art & Tech, we witnessed how visitors engaged within a given space, fuelling our initial concepts about our response to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. During the residency we are keen to see how people navigate the space throughout the collections and the often passive response to the works on display. Later in the week this developed and we began to find ourselves focusing more and more to the unique architecture, layouts and unnoticed details – the very character of the museum & gallery rooms – what could be seen as the museum’s ‘hidden collection’.
This train of thought was galvanised by a visit to the Museum Collection Centre, arranged through our co-ordinator Lisa Beauchamp, Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art. Viewing the collected archives of that first visit, we felt compelled to express the hidden voices of the unseen, knowing this is where the foundation of our following concepts will stem from.
This compliments our combined investigative practice of hidden and unnoticed spaces or moments of, which are prolonged and made relevant, through the capture of those details, in order to allow it to be re-engaged with through an alternative perspective.
The visit was further inspired by the amazing Museum of the Moon held at the Thinktank, by artist Luke Jerram (a simply breathtaking moment) as well as Katie Paterson’s Totality.
For the following weeks, we intend to continue researching our current train of thought amongst other possible tangents, gathering images & building documentation and experimenting in the midst our current developmental practice, inspired by the collections held at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and in the museum archives.
As we will be regularly on site, our space will be an almost constant open studio, 1pm-4pm, with a focus of drop-in sessions on Wednesdays. Stay updated with soon to be confirmed free print workshops and artist discussion, previews of work to include projection, film, photography and printmaking.
Hope to see you there!