The danger after the success of The Life of the Mind exhibition was always that the Epstein Archive would quietly slip back into obscurity in the basement of the gallery. Not so. We are now at the start of the next exciting installment of the gallery’s relationship with Bob and Roberta Smith. We were always aware of the need for a legacy for the New Ways of Curating project and the Archive Gallery on Floor 1 of the gallery is the best place to cement the outcomes of the project into the fabric of the building.
So, what next? Bob and Roberta Smith’s Epstein Archive Gallery is now closed for the summer and will open again in mid-September, completely transformed. The new archive gallery will be the antithesis of the White Cube, extremely colourful and rammed to the gills with material from the archive, art, film and interactives. The room itself will be transformed into an artwork as Bob will be painting directly onto the walls. The gallery’s technicians are making new display cases for the space and Bob has chosen a colour scheme inspired by the 1951 Festival of Britain. The FoB was a huge exhibition, much like a World’s Fair, designed to celebrate everything good about Britain and also raise the nation’s morale as wartime restrictions, such as rationing, continued into a new decade. An anniversary exhibition of FoB is currently on at the Southbank Centre – I’d really recommend it if you’re in London.
This week saw the gutting of the old room, removing all of Bob’s works – though a large chunk of it will be included in the new room. All of the paint has had to be specially mixed as 1950s colours are obviously not the public’s first choice for their living rooms – their loss. The room will be painted next week ready for Bob to paint directly onto the walls.
While the gallery is closed, you can still look into it, so have a look next time you’re there – you never know, there may be an artist at work! I will be updating the blog at each stage of the process, so check back to see how we’re getting on.
A multicultural festival right in the heart of Walsall’s community.
The first Caldmore Village Festival was held on 29th-31st May 2010 to an incredibly positive local response. The 10,000 people who attended over the three days of the festival experienced a colourful multicultural kaliedescope of music and dance performances, Asian sports events and carnival and music workshops.
This year’s Festival promises to be even bigger and better. On the 22nd of May we are holding a sports Mela on Walsall Rugby Club which will include such traditional Asian sports as Kibaddi, Stone Lifting and Beeni (arm wrestling) along with some of the more traditional British field and pub events as tug-of-war and darts. The following weekend (28th to the 30th of May) the bank holiday, we have three days of performance and participatory arts taking place on the playing field of Caldmore Primary School. The Saturday will kick off with the Caldmore Village Festival 6-a-side football challenge, along with the Caldmore Primary school’s fate. Attention will then shift to the spectacular main stage with its stunning sound system which will play host to an array of stunning multicultural acts, from Bollywood to Bhangra, from Memphis blues to jumping jive. Coupled with these three days of amazing music and dance, there will be a range of arts workshops for all ages on the main field culminating in the carnival procession on the Monday afternoon. The Festival will be topped off on Monday Evening by some of the country’s finest Asian music acts.
Caldmore is a multicultural area on the edge of Walsall town Centre. For many years it has been the natural home of Walsall’s artists and artisans from many cultures around the world, but it is also one of the most economically deprived neighbourhoods in Walsall.
The Festival committee has involved a wide number of community groups in planning for the festival and local groups are pledging to organise a range of community cultural events leading up to the festival weekend and during the weekend itself. Additional projects have included regular community clean ups, combined music and food events called ‘ A Taste of Caldmore’ and the group has just taken over responsibility for a community garden in the heart of Caldmore.
Want to get involved?
If you are able to volunteer during the festival this year, we would love to hear from you. We still need people who can help out with stewarding on the days of the festival, so if you have a few hours to spare on the days of the festival please get in touch, its great fun to be part of the team.
Glen Buglass. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 01922 653114
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Our blog http://caldmorevillagefestival.wordpress.com
Featuring the old and new Manor Hospital in Walsall
17 May – 18 June 2011
In 2010 journalistic photographer Gemma Thorpe began to document the changing face of Walsall Manor Hospital as it entered the final phases of its epic redevelopment. The outcome of this photographic exploration is a series of detailed prints that capture the essence and character of the spaces. Gemma’s focus ‘wasn’t so much on architecture and construction but on the people that use the hospital, and the relationship they have with the buildings’. After the exhibition at the gallery, the photos will then be moved for permanent display within the new hospital building.
Although this project was based on a new building for the hospital, for me the focus wasn’t so much on architecture and construction but on the people that use the hospital, and the relationship they have with the buildings. There is a real sense of community at Walsall Manor Hospital; around 3500 people work there every day. As staff member Geoff Hateley said, “It’s like a small town, or like a big wheel, with each department as a cog to turn it”.
I was particularly interested in how people added character, made their mark on the old buildings; the details of murals that had been painted years ago, how patients had peeled away parts of a frosted privacy screen in order to see the new construction going on below. Then, once departments started to move out, I could see where people had been; faded notice boards that had once been full of health advice leaflets, marks where a carpet had been worn down. Although the building was worn, it was full of life; many people working in the East Wing and Sister Dora Outpatients spoke fondly about the buildings and were sad to see them go.
It was a challenge to go from photographing in a building full of character and history, to the new building, which is full of light and space, but felt so big and anonymous at times. I began to highlight the freshness of the architecture and the ways people were interacting with these new spaces. During my last couple of weeks at the hospital I began to notice a real sense of pride developing for the new building, how people were bringing life to it. It’s interesting to think that one day this building too will be layered with memories.
Gemma Thorpe, May 2011
Following the exhibition at The New Art Gallery Walsall, the photographs will be on permanent display within the new hospital building on Pleck Road.
Photo courtesy of Gemma Thorpe.
Saturday 14 May 2011
12pm – 4pm
Kathleen Garman is easily describable as the patron saint of Art in Walsall. Thanks to the donation of the Garman Ryan Collection in collaboration with Sally Ryan, she forged a solid link between the town and contemporary art that still endures, and which guarantees the place of art in the area. This May would have seen her 110th birthday.
The Garret Garman Appreciation Society (G.G.A.S.) in honour of Kathleen, are planning the ultimate flickermob to celebrate this event – as The Garret is a collective of artists based in and around Walsall many of our first experiences of contemporary art were in either the E.M. Flint Gallery or The New Art Gallery Walsall. So, we plan to celebrate the life and largesse of the woman who made this collection possible in a fitting manner, by re-creating one of her legendary picnics. Every aspect will be used to pay homage to this Grand Dame of the Arts – from costume to the hamper contents!
We’ll be assembling on the gallery’s terrace at 12 noon and indulging in a variety of artistic and picnicking practices. Then at 3pm we’ll be cutting a birthday cake, toasting Kathleen, and reading out birthday messages. As part of our celebrations we would like to invite you to send Kathleen (or any other special person in your life) a birthday telegram which will not only be read out at the flickernic but displayed online and preserved in a book made by the members of the garret. We also want you to share your first memories of art with us, whether at a gallery, on the street or at a performance, and you can do this in a number of ways:
Post a comment on the GGAS Birthday Telegrams page: http://the-garret.org/birthday-telegrams
Email your message to email@example.com
Post your message to the G.G.A.S. Facebook Event wall: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/event.php?eid=155610497836092
This event has been inspired by the Epstein Archive and the ongoing Bob and Roberta Smith residency, and we intend to use this opportunity to discuss this legendary Lady and the impact she has had on all our lives, and also to draw attention to this extraordinary resource.