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15 Feb 2018

“We heart colour!”: Young Talent in the West Midlands wanted for Inspire 2018

What an incredible Inspire 2017 we had – over 60 entries were seen by some 130,000 visitors during the summer! Inspire 2018 is back and bigger than ever, returning to our prestigious Bridge Gallery at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. We will be showcasing work submitted by children and young people aged 5-19 years old living in the West Midlands. The theme for this year’s competition is: We Heart Colour! 

We have hundreds of pounds of art vouchers to give away as prizes, and we need you!   Children and young people should submit their work to our panel of artists and curators to be in with a chance and share their art with our huge audience.   “We heart colour!” is inspired by artwork full of colour, emotion and stories, such as Gary Humes piece “Fragment of a rainbow IV” on loan from the Arts Council Collection, and An Ode to Christian Joy by Emily Sparkes. Read More...

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14 Feb 2018

Amongst the Neon and the Nudity

Tucked away in one of the booths, between the numerous depictions of the human form in all its variety, and the neon glow of Tracey Emin’s When I Think about Sex I Think about Men, Women Dogs, Lions, Group Sex (And I Love you All), Charlotte Prodger’s BRIDGIT has the potential to be overlooked. It is more often given a five minute head-around-the-curtain glance in passing, before you’re drawn to the alluring sound of yodelling from Isaac Julien’s The Long Road to Mazatlan. But BRIDGIT is captivating in its own way; when experienced you are transported into a personal and memorable archive on identity. For me, this has become one of the highlights of the Coming Out exhibition.

Titled after the Neolithic goddess associated with fertility and healing, BRIDGIT expresses the abstract process of time, and the loss of self we all feel at some point in life. The film transitions from the domestic privacy of the home, to the vast expanse of nature, in a slightly jarring yet engaging juxtaposition. Read More...

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9 Feb 2018

Dancing Girl by Marguerite Milward

This gorgeous sculpture from The Past Is Now: Birmingham and the British Empire  exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is equally beautiful and sad. It is one of many sculptures created by the Birmingham trained artist Marguerite Milward in her attempt to create a record of the various racial types she encountered when traveling across Africa and through India.

Read More...

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30 Jan 2018

Cleaning and Restoration of a 19th Century Frame

Birmingham Museum Trust’s collection contains approximately eight hundred gilt picture frames.

One such frame belongs to Dante Gabrielle Rossetti’s unfinished oil on canvas La Donna della Finestra, which was painted in 1881 and acquired by the museum in 1883. Read More...

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26 Jan 2018

Coming Out at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

“I’m a straight, white, cis male. What does this exhibition have to offer me?”

The question had been posed to us in the form of a training role play. Supposedly asked by a visitor of the museum staff, the question was also more or less the one that I had asked myself in the weeks running up to the launch of Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender and Identity at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in December. I was sure there would be nothing to interest me in the exhibition. Read More...

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22 Jan 2018

Igbo Jug

Hi everyone! It’s Emma MacNicol, Collections Trainee here at Birmingham Museums Trust, and I’d like to share with everyone something about a jug…

I first came across this vessel when putting away objects from the World Arts collection emptied from Gallery 33 in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Tucked away in one of the cabinets was this very un-assuming jug. Made from clay and used to carry water or palm wine, it was made by an Igbo tribe in the Cross River state of Nigeria in the late 19th Century. Igbo are one of the many tribes in Nigeria and one of the many people who drink palm wine across West Africa. Made by collecting and then fermenting sap from the palm tree, palm wine is an alcoholic drink that had particular significance in traditional Igbo culture. It was incorporated into many customs such as weddings and gatherings. Vessels like this jug may have been used to carry palm wine by suitors who were meeting their future in-laws for the first time. As it was customary to bring large quantities of the drink as a gift to the family. There are different variants of palm wine, with each type being used for what occasion dependant on the various Igbo tribes. When distilled, palm wine becomes a stronger drink known locally as ‘Ogogoro’. Although, Ogogoro is largely associated more with other tribes in Nigeria, like the Urhobo. Read More...

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16 Jan 2018

A Recipe for a City Feast

What memories does food stir up for you? Is it the aroma of caramelised onions and nutty spices? Sandwiches and chocolate rolls on a sunny picnic? Or perhaps sharing Sunday dinner or celebrating Iftar with your family?

These are just a few of the memories that visitors to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery have shared over the last few months in a series of writing activities and workshops, with Birmingham writer Mandy Ross. Read More...

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8 Jan 2018

"If museums did not exist, would we re-invent them and what would they look like?" - author Robert Janes

Though provoking inter-connections are presently being made at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The galleries housing Soul City Arts’ Knights of the Raj oral history exhibition on the Bangladeshi origins of the city’s curry trade (ends January 14th 2017), the iconic Burne-Jones collection and decolonial curatorial experiment The Past is Now: Birmingham and the British Empire sit next to each other in a angular shape on the museum’s second floor. 

The challenging and difficult journey that the Museum staff and the group of co-curators that produced The Past is Now undertook has been powerfully and honestly documented by Sumaya Kassim in her essay The Museum Will Not Be Decolonised. It is essential reading, and should be regarded as an integral part of the exhibition.  Read More...

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22 Dec 2017

The Ghost of Christendom by Keith Piper

In December it feels inevitable that Christmas will impact most of the population in some way or another. Keith Piper’s Ghost of Christendom explores the complex connections between Christianity, slavery and the British Empire. Made up of 18 framed sections of computer montage images printed on white laser paper, this work was originally displayed at the Ikon gallery in the exhibition ‘A Ship Called Jesus’ in 1991. It had been shown there above a grave of broken glass opposite a headstone inscribed with an account of the 1564 slave-trade voyage by Elizabeth 1’s envoy John Hawkins.

Images in the montage include a photograph of the artists own feet, the infamous illustration of enslaved people as cargo on a slave ship published by T. Clarkson in 1808; flames and chains. The image imitates stain glass and the crucifix shape cements the reference to artwork seen in churches, particularly depictions of Jesus’s crucifixion. Read More...

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18 Dec 2017

My work placement in Marketing and Communications at Birmingham Museums Trust

Hi everyone! I’m Beth Gordon-Taylor, and I’m a second year student at the University of Birmingham. I’m currently doing a work placement in Communications with Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT) as part of my degree. 

For 7 weeks now, I have been here every Thursday learning all about the Marketing department which is situated in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. I wanted to undertake this placement because I enjoy being creative with words and enjoy history and the arts – therefore it seemed perfect to get some experience with Birmingham Museums! After university, I’m keen to continue exploring the world of marketing and public relations. Read More...