ART & HERITAGE
JANUARY – JUNE 2014
EVERY FAMILY HAS A HISTORY Sathnam Sanghera Black Country Echoes Celebrating the communities built around Black Country manufacturing Pop Art at Wolverhampton Exploring the history of the collection
WOLVERHAMPTON ART GALLERY
BANTOCK HOUSE MUSEUM
WOLVERHAMPTON CITY ARCHIVES
BILSTON CRAFT GALLERY
SPECIAL PLACES. GREAT IDEAS. Art & Heritage 1
Love what you do, do what you love The School of Art in Wolverhampton has a long history of art and design excellence and has been offering specialist arts education since 1851. Our creative team consists of renowned academics and industry professionals, expert technicians and internationally recognised researchers.
Postgraduate: MA Design and Applied Art Discover a creative platform with which to question and develop your individuality in the specialist discipline areas of glass, ceramics, interiors, fashion or textiles.
MA Digital and Visual Communications Unlock the creative processes that inform contemporary advertising. Suitable for those with a background in the visual arts, marketing or advertising.
MA Fine Art Develop as a practising artist with this multidisciplinary course which will expand your understanding of the critical discourses, histories and contexts from which contemporary art is constructed.
Research/PhD opportunities You can also apply for Research or PhD opportunities with the Centre for Art, Design, Research and Experimentation (CADRE).
Flexible study: Courses are available to study on a full or part-time basis, apply now to start with us in January or September 2014.
Contact us: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit: www.wlv.ac.uk/arts Call: 01902 322 058 Follow us @WLVArtandDesign facebook/WLVArtandDesign 2
Art & Heritage
The University of Opportunity
WELCOME. Last year I was delighted to find a reference to the ‘stunning art gallery’ in Sathnam Sanghera’s debut novel, Marriage Material. I believe it is the first time that Wolverhampton Art Gallery has been mentioned in a novel! Our buildings are special places contributing to an interesting architectural environment that surprises many visitors. We were reminded of the importance of the Gallery when it was voted the ‘City Treasure’ in the summer, and the inclusion of the Gallery and Bantock House on the board of the Wolverhampton version of Monopoly shows how important these sites are in shaping the identity of the city.
lifetime gift of their Pop collection to regional galleries made by Eric and Jean Cass.
We actively seek to reinvigorate the built environment. The Bilston team, with Planet Art, are developing a sculptural scheme in Bentley Bridge and we won Gold in the Large City category for Britain in Bloom, maintaining a record of excellence set in 2009.
Cultural diplomacy is an important strand of the Council’s work to attract inward investment. In 2014 an exhibition drawn from our Pop collection and the work of Pauline Boty will tour to Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Poland.
Part of what makes our buildings special places is the collections. From these we can draw knowledge, enjoyment and inspiration. A highlight of my year was meeting the lady who sold the Lichtenstein to Wolverhampton in 1979; her memories of working with leading US pop artists were compelling. Former curator Brendan Flynn has researched the origins of the Pop collection, which continues to be a focus for our research. We recently received funding from the Esmée Fairburn Foundation to look at the European connections with British Pop as we have acquired some major European Pop works through the exceptional
Donations are especially important for our local history collections as much of this material is in private hands, so we were delighted to receive the Beatties archives from House of Fraser, ensuring that the history of this landmark store is preserved as a resource for local people.
Our collections website www.black countryhistory.org.uk showcases our collections worldwide and as part of the European funded, Ambrosia programme, in 2014 we shall work with 33 partners including the Catalan Ministry of Culture, the Hungarian Museum of Travel and Tourism, and universities in Athens and Vilnius to trial digital applications, using collections relating to food and drink. We celebrated Wolverhampton Photographic Society’s 125th anniversary with the co-curated exhibition From Darkroom to Digital and the university and the Friends of
Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Museums supported the redisplay of Sensing Sculpture, highlighting the importance of Wolverhampton in the story of British sculpture; the first sculptor president of the Royal Academy, Sir Charles Wheeler, trained at Wolverhampton. Staff worked hard to achieve Accreditation for the three museum sites in 2013 and our front of house team answered over 14,000 enquiries received at the visitor information point. The learning team continues to provide a great programme for all ages and the Meet Me @ WAG conversation group for the over 50s won the 2013 West Midlands Arts and Health and Wellbeing Award. Wolverhampton has a rich past and our manufacturing heritage in particular, celebrated this autumn in the Black Country Echoes Festival, has created global connections through trade. We continue to uncover remarkable stories and learnt recently that Viennese architect Otto Neurath was employed as Bilston’s ‘Consultant for Human Happiness’. WAVE will strive to be a vehicle for human happiness in 2014, so please enjoy this magazine. Corinne Miller Head of Culture, Arts & Heritage Art & Heritage 3
our promise is to deliver a Quality Client Experience; providing expert legal advice and service to meet the specialist needs of our individual and business clients....
Services for Business Agricultural & Rural Business Crime Charities Commercial Property Corporate Debt Recovery Employment & HR IP, Technology & Media Licensing Litigation Town & Country Planning Services for Individuals Employment Family Motoring Offences Personal Injury Residential Property Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning
Proud Sponsors of Wolverhampton Art Gallery
www.fbcmb.co.uk 4 Art & Heritage
Follow us on Twitter
FBC Manby Bowdler LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership.
CONTENTS ART & HERITAGE JANUARY – JUNE 2014
07 News 14 Young Ambassadors 16 Once upon a time 19 Echoes of all our pasts 22 Happiness and housing in 1940s Bilston 24 EVERY FAMILY HAS A HISTORY
EDITOR Rebecca Morris CONTRIBUTORS Jessica Bromley, Paul Brown, Marie Cooper, Karen Davies, Brendan Flynn, Sophie Heath, Charli Hill, Rachel Lambourne, Laura Marsh, Marguerite Nugent, Tess Radcliffe, Helen Steatham, Claire Whitbread, Paul Quigley, Connie Wan DESIGN Chris Griffiths Design Front Cover Image C.J. Fereday, Catchem’s Corner (1951)
27 Pop Art at Wolverhampton 30 Bentley Bridge sculpture trail 32 Black Country Echoes 34 THE PEOPLE behind the portraits 37 Q&A with Justyna Ptak 38 FIRST WORLD WAR COMMEMORATIONS 40 Archivist’s corner
GUEST CONTRIBUTORS Justyna Ptak Justyna is a West Midlands based photography artist and winner of the 2012 West Midlands Open ‘best in show’ prize. Sabrina Rahman Sabrina is Anniversary Research Fellow in Art and Design History at Northumbria University, and was previously Leverhulme Trust Visiting Fellow at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. She has worked as a guest curator at the City Museum of Vienna and was a Fulbright Fellow at the Institute of Art History, University of Vienna. She holds her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.
41 From the collection 42 Learning at WAVE 44 Make it 46 VISUAL ARTS IN THE BLACK COUNTRY 48 Places to visit in the Black Country
Sathnam Sanghera Sathnam is a local, award-winning author and The Times columnist and comment writer.
Art & Heritage 5
Are you a.... Professional/Amateur Photographer? Product Developer? Videographer? Creative Designer? Fashion or Make-up Artist?
.....get the best out of your photo shoot! Our large ground floor studio is available to hire for a wide range of creative and commercial based projects..... .....so whether you're looking to get that perfect shot of your latest product; take the most recent family or team portrait for the album; develop your personal portfolio or capture your own creations and artistic talent, then the studio is for you. Range of photographic equipment including various background colours Vehicle access to studio Changing and shower facilities 1 hour, 4 hour or full day bookings available Disabled access
Free car parking 24-hour security
For more information about SPARK Photo Studio e: email@example.com
SPARK Business Incubation Centre t: 01902 837409 www.sparkspace.co.uk 6
Art & Heritage
NEWS Women and Pop on the Culture Show One of Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s most popular exhibitions of 2013 will be featured on a Culture Show Special on BBC2 this spring. Presenter Alastair Sooke looks at the work of female Pop artists and in the course of filming he visited the Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman exhibition and interviewed co-curator Dr Sue Tate. Other works from the Art Gallery’s collection have also been headline news recently. A key work from the collection took centre stage on BBC1’s The One Show in November 2013 in a feature marking the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. Andy Warhol’s Jacqueline (1964) is a screenprint on canvas that uses an image of Jackie Kennedy taken at her husband’s funeral, during which she came to symbolise the national sense of loss and bereavement.
Dr Sue Tate and Alastair Sooke during a break from filming for the Culture Show. © Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Watch out for more TV broadcasts this spring involving WAVE venues on BBC2’s Great Train Journeys, which includes a visit to Bantock House Museum by Michael Portillo, and on BBC2’s Flog It – Trade Secrets, which visits Bilston Craft Gallery. John Grayson, a local artist and enamels expert, will be talking about the Bilston enamels, and the programme will offer tips and advice on antiques and collectibles.
Pop On Tour Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s successful exhibition Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman is now on tour at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex (until 9 February 2014). The exhibition, co-curated by Dr Sue Tate, was developed with the close co-operation of the artist’s family, Whitford Fine Art and the Mayor Gallery, London. Emma Robertson, Head of Communications at Pallant House Gallery, said: “We are delighted to be able to show Boty’s work at Pallant House Gallery alongside our extensive collection of British Pop Art. The exhibition complements our on-going programme celebrating key artists of the period such as Peter Blake, Derek Boshier and others, reinstating Boty to the forefront of the movement. We are already seeing a very positive visitor response to the show and lots of interest from press and we look forward to welcoming many more visitors during the period.” The exhibition follows Boty’s artistic progression from her early experimentation with various media such as painting and stained glass to a series of sexually and politicallycharged paintings and collages. It demonstrates how her oeuvre enriches
Pauline Boty, Colour Her Gone (1962) © Artist’s Estate Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund and the Friends of Wolverhampton Art Gallery & Museums
the male-dominated sphere of Pop Art with a female perspective, exploring themes of female sexuality, gender, race and politics, and contemporary events such as the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of JFK. Works in the exhibition include The Only Blonde in the World (1963), My Colouring Book (1963), It’s a Man’s World II (1965-6), BUM (1966) and Untitled (Self-Portrait) (c. 1955). A smaller version of the exhibition, supplemented by key works from Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s renowned Pop Art collection, will next tour to the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Poland from 14 March – 18 May 2014. A book entitled Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman by Dr Sue Tate accompanies the exhibition. It is supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the Friends of Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Museums. Available from Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Pallant House Gallery and via Amazon. Art & Heritage 7
The recent Pop Highlights exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery showing the stunning life-size waitress by Allen Jones and an Op Art sculpture by Victor Vasarely, which explores optical illusion and geometric patterns. © Wolverhampton Art Gallery
New Acquisitions – Cass Gift In 2012, collectors Eric and Jean Cass donated over £5 million of modern and contemporary artworks to the Contemporary Art Society (CAS) for gifting to museums. The CAS has described it as one of the most important gifts in their 100 year history. Wolverhampton Art Gallery is just one of the museums to benefit and during 2013 visitors were able to see some of the key works allocated to the Gallery. The gift has enabled Wolverhampton to develop its Pop collection with major works by British artist Allen Jones,
Art & Heritage
as well as develop a new focus on the impact of European artists on the UK Pop movement with works by Victor Vasarely and Karel Appel. Developed over 40 years, Eric and Jean’s collection is one of the most significant collections of contemporary art in the UK and was previously housed at Bleep, their spectacular modernist home in Surrey named after the pager system that Eric Cass’s company invented. Wanting their collection to benefit the widest possible audience, the philanthropists approached the Contemporary Art Society to disseminate over 300 works to museums across the whole country.
Corinne Miller, Head of Culture, Arts and Heritage at Wolverhampton City Council, said: “We are delighted to receive these important works and very grateful to Eric and Jean Cass and the Contemporary Art Society. It’s an extremely generous gift which greatly enriches our Pop Art collection, which is the basis for many of our teaching programmes. Our Pop Art exhibitions are always very popular as the subjects tackled by many pop artists resonate with issues we face today. This exemplary philanthropy on the part of Eric and Jean Cass was recognised in the New Year Honours list when they were awarded MBEs.”
Willie Doherty, Border Incident (1994). Image courtesy of the artist and Matt’s Gallery, London
Tour of Troubles Art to Northern Ireland: 4 April – 7 September 2014 In April 2014, Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s renowned collection of art on the theme of the Troubles will tour to the Ulster Museum in Belfast. It will be shown alongside works from the Ulster Museum’s permanent collection as well as the newly acquired Arts Council of Northern Ireland collection and loans from the Imperial War Museum, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin and private collections. The exhibition has been developed by both venues and is the culmination of several years of collaboration. Audiences in Wolverhampton will have an opportunity to see the exhibition when it comes here in the autumn of 2014. Wolverhampton Art Gallery started collecting art on the theme of the Troubles in the early 1990s and this collecting initiative has been supported over the years by a number of external funding bodies including the
Bantock wagons transporting Brinton carpets in Kidderminster,1930s © Melvyn Thompson, author of Woven in Kidderminster
Contemporary Art Society, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund as well as The Friends of Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Museums. It is a unique collection that the city can be justifiably proud of, containing work by internationally known artists such as FE McWilliam, Paul Seawright and Turner Prize nominee Willie Doherty.
Brintons Carpet for Bantock House The Friends of Bantock House Museum are donating funds to purchase a new carpet for the oak staircase at the museum. The carpet is being produced by Brintons of Kidderminster who have been manufacturing carpet in the area since 1783. Staff from the museum searched period designs, both at the Museum of Carpet and at Brinton’s own archive, before choosing a pattern that complemented the Arts and Crafts surroundings of the Edwardian entrance hall.
During their research, staff discovered an image of Thos Bantock & Co., the haulage company owned by the Bantock family, transporting large rolls of carpet from the Brinton factory. It’s a steep haul from the factory to the railway station in Kidderminster and a fully loaded Bantock lorry is shown being pulled by a team of horses. This shipment is thought to have been bound for Macy’s, the famous department store in New York. This is the most recent item to be purchased by the Friends of Bantock House Museum, who have raised funds to purchase many items for the house including an Arts and Crafts dresser, a music stand and period light fittings to enhance the period displays at Bantock House. They have also paid for the restoration of the Grandfather clock in the Dining Room.
Art & Heritage 9
NEWS CONTINUED... Parliament Week 2013
Education Award for Bantock
Pupils from Warstones Primary School met a real life MP after building a model of Big Ben at Wolverhampton Art Gallery for Parliament Week. Paul Uppal MP visited Wolverhampton Art Gallery to see the giant model of Big Ben, which the students made during a visit to the Art Gallery during Parliament Week (15-21 November 2013).
Bantock House Museum has scooped an award for the high standard of education workshops it runs for local school pupils. Staff from the popular WAVE attraction collected the Sandford Award, which recognises excellence in heritage education across Britain. And they were in good company – with the other recipients including the National Gallery in London, Hampton Court Palace and the National Museum of Wales.
Parliament Week is a UK-wide programme of events and activities that inspire, engage and connect people with parliamentary democracy. For more information about Parliament Week, please visit www.parliamentweek.org
Pictured with their giant model of Big Ben are (left to right): Dajon Waters (10), Alex Woodham (10), Kia Flavell (10), and Leah Campbell (10) with Wolverhampton South West MP Paul Uppal. © Wolverhampton City Council
Art & Heritage
The Sandford Award is valid for five years and it focuses on formal, curriculum-linked education as well as informal activities for families and adults. Judges visited Bantock House Museum last July to observe its education team delivering school workshops and discuss the education programme and other activities it offers.
Author and Historian Alison Weir (left) presents the Sandford Award to Bantock House Museum’s Operations Manager Michelle Hallard and Manager Helen Steatham. © Chris Vaughan Photography
In 2013, around 1,500 pupils took part in education sessions at Bantock House Museum exploring aspects of Victorian life using objects from the collections, including dolls and toys, and period style craft activities such as making shadow puppets and peg dolls. Meanwhile 2,300 children aged from three to 11 enjoyed a variety of holiday sessions. Curator Helen Steatham said: “This is the second time we have received a Sandford Award, and I am delighted that the service we provide at Bantock House Museum has been recognised alongside some major heritage sites such as the National Gallery. I am very proud of our team.” Author and historian Alison Weir, who presented the Sandford Awards at the National Gallery, said: “It was a humbling experience, encountering so many dedicated unsung heroes and heroines, all committed to enriching our understanding of our heritage.” The award is the second Bantock House Museum has received recently – in November 2013, it was rated “excellent” by VisitEngland’s Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme. Inspectors spent the day at the museum, rating everything from the welcome they received from staff and the way the property is maintained to the quality of the displays and its catering facilities. They also assessed signage and carried out ‘mystery shopper’-style checks to review Bantock’s customer service. And their conclusion? “It was a delightful visit – with attentive staff and a real glimpse back in time. Bantock House fully merits the award of VisitEngland’s accreditation of Quality Assured Visitor Attraction.”
Silver-Gilt awards in 2012 and 2011. Cheryl Welsh, Bilston Town Centre Manager, said: “The funding from Biffa Award is recognition of how we are working really hard in Bilston to make our local green spaces better and more accessible for local people and involve residents in their town environment. The Gallery has been a key part of Bilston in Bloom and we can’t wait to see the improvements.” Sophie Heath, Curator of Bilston Craft Gallery, said: “We are delighted that we can undertake these vital repairs and improvements to the garden which provides a safe green space for local people of all ages, making it an even better community space. It’s also wonderful to be able to give something back and support the volunteers whose hard work and dedication keep the garden beautiful.” The garden at Bilston Craft Gallery © Bilston Craft Gallery
Bilston Receives £9,000 for Garden Project
The Gallery’s neighbours, the Bilston Churchill Conservative Club, generously provided a crucial third party contribution.
Following a successful funding bid by the Friends of Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Museums, work is now underway to enhance and maintain the community garden at Bilston Craft Gallery. The project is being funded by Biffa Award, a multi-million pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to community and environmental projects across the UK.
The Bilston Craft Gallery community garden is a large green space with mature trees and informal cottagegarden style planting. It is the setting for the Gallery’s regular family fun days and is used throughout the year by families and local residents having a picnic lunch or seeking a quiet place to enjoy the outdoors. The garden is largely maintained by volunteers and stocked using plant cuttings and donations. For the past four years, the Gallery has been part of the local Bilston in Bloom campaign, which works to improve green spaces in the town. Bilston was awarded Gold in 2013, following
The grant of £9,000 is enabling Bilston Craft Gallery to carry out improvements and develop the volunteer gardening group that looks after the garden.
The Biffa Award grant will enable repair of a broken-down historic stone wall between the Gallery and the Conservative Club by a stonemason. The funding will also support additional seating and signage about the garden and a programme of training and support for the local volunteers who work hard to keep the garden wellgroomed and flourishing. The Gallery always welcomes new volunteers so anyone who is interested in getting involved with the garden or another part of the Gallery’s work is invited to get in touch on 01902 552507 or email bilstoncraft firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Biffa Award, please visit www.biffa-award.org
Art & Heritage 11
NEWS CONTINUED... BP Portrait AWARD 2013 Vistors’ Choice Winner Lionel Smit, Kholiswa, 2013 Oil on linen Lionel Smit studied at the Pro Arte School of Arts, Pretoria. His work has been seen in solo and group exhibitions in Johannesburg, Cape Town and London and is held in private, government and corporate art collections. The portrait is of a waitress in a township café that Smit visits frequently. He wanted this portrait to capture the essence of her life – including the long distances she travels to work and her struggles as a single mother. Over the course of two months of sittings, Smit came to know her better and gained insights into her life.
Art & Heritage
BP Portrait AWARD 2013 Sponsored by BP for the last 24 years and now in its 34th year, the BP Portrait Award showcases 55 of the most outstanding and innovative new portraits from around the world. From informal and personal studies of friends and family to revealing paintings of famous faces, the exhibition features a variety of styles and approaches to the contemporary painted portrait. The Award is the most prestigious international portrait painting competition in the world and the popular exhibition continues to be one of the highlights of the annual art calendar. Following the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery last summer, the winners and selected entries are touring to Wolverhampton Art Gallery (1 March – 14 June 2014). Visitors will be able to see for themselves the winning portrait Pieter by Susanne du Toit as well as the visitors’ choice winner, Kholiswa by Lionel Smit. Exhibition visitors voted for their favourite portrait in the show and a record 30,824 votes were cast between 20 June and 1 September 2013. BP Portrait Award at Wolverhampton Art Gallery (1 March – 14 June 2014).
Sharon Farrelly, Babs, 2013
New Art West Midlands 2014 This spring, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Grand Union and Wolverhampton Art Gallery together present New Art West Midlands, a curated exhibition across four art institutions showcasing the new work and creative talent of emerging artists in the West Midlands region. A Turning Point West Midlands initiative, New Art West Midlands exhibits the work of 24 artists, all of whom have graduated from one of the region’s undergraduate and postgraduate fine art degree courses in the past three years: Birmingham City University, Coventry University, Staffordshire University, University of Wolverhampton and University of Worcester. Encompassing four nationally important galleries plus five universities, it is the largest partnership of its kind in England. The featured artists have been selected by the artist Mel Brimfield; the curator,
lecturer and urban theorist Paul Goodwin, formerly Curator of Cross Cultural Programmes at Tate Britain; and David Harding OBE, Founder and Head of Environmental Art Department at Glasgow School of Art. Five artist prize winners will win the opportunity to undertake an exhibition, residency or project at a West Midlands gallery, at New Art Gallery Walsall, mac birmingham, Library of Birmingham, Airspace Gallery in Stoke and A3 Project Space in Digbeth, Birmingham. The exhibiting artists – of whom 20 of the 24 are female – work across media, with painting, installation, film, printing, photography, sculpture and performance all represented. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, 14 February – 18 May 2014 The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, 14 February – 27 April 2014 Grand Union, 14 February – 15 March 2014 Wolverhampton Art Gallery, 14 February – 10 May 2014
Art & Heritage 13
FOCUS ON... Young Ambassadors
ÂŠ Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Charli McCann, cultural promotions officer, finds out more about the Young Ambassadors at WAVE.
Art & Heritage
If you’re 16-24 and would like to become a Young Ambassador in the future, Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s Artforum Gold Club is a great place to start and to get involved in what’s going on at the Gallery. Visit www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk for more information.
Young Ambassadors with ex-officio curator of ARTIST ROOMS, Anthony d’Offay. From L-R: Laura Morgan, Sophie Meeson, Anthony d’Offay, Georgie Walters and Dan Crawford.
In 2013, Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s ARTIST ROOMS Young Ambassadors were in action once again as part of our Ron Mueck exhibition. The group of four 19-year-olds worked hard throughout the summer to run a series of events and workshops linked to the exhibition, and even found the time to produce their own publication inspired by Ron Mueck’s lifelike sculptures. Having previously worked on the Ed Ruscha exhibition in 2011, one of the highlights for the Young Ambassadors this time around was being granted a very rare visit to Ron Mueck’s studio to meet the man himself, and see how he creates his ‘hyper-real’ works. Young Ambassador Dan Crawford blogged about the experience: “The studio visit was rather intriguing, as when we approached the studio we were expecting to see a sprawling, high ceiling workshop, but we found something more surprising. A small working space consisting of trinkets, sculptures, corners filled with all manner of sculpted hands, feet, half worked on heads, ears, boxes filled to the brim with eyes and a sculpture of an old man sitting in the corner giving us a stare… he [Ron] explained that he does not sculpture an exact copy of someone’s face, and he does not use life models, though he does like to observe people for their poses, facial features, expressions, combining
different assortments of body parts to create a complete sculpture. Overall, a truly inspiring visit which we were privileged to attend.” Dan, Sophie, Laura and Georgie used lots of different social media platforms to share their experiences and talk about what they were doing. When they went to visit Ron Mueck’s studio, they used #AskRon on Twitter and Instagram so that people could suggest questions to put to the artist – with responses coming from as far away as Brazil! The Young Ambassadors also scored a Wolverhampton Art Gallery first when they hosted their Wild Thing Silent Disco in the Gallery’s Atrium. It was the first time that the Art Gallery had hosted a disco, let alone a silent one! With help from their followers on Twitter, they were able to put together a very special playlist inspired by Ron Mueck’s sculptures. Much of what the group did focused on engaging young people with the ARTIST ROOMS: Ron Mueck exhibition, but they also ran an intergenerational project linked to the Art Gallery’s Meet Me @ WAG conversation group for over 50s. Intrigued by how the older generation would respond to the works on show, the Young Ambassadors joined in one of their sessions. It began with a brief ‘tour’ of the exhibition where the group had the opportunity to look at the
sculptures up close together with the Young Ambassadors. This was followed by a more in-depth discussion on each sculpture where individuals were given the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas. A short film based on the work the Young Ambassadors did with the group has been put together, and along with their publication, will be used as a valuable resource when the exhibition tours to its next venue as part of the ARTIST ROOMS programme. The Art Gallery team was sad but immensely proud when it came to saying goodbye to the Young Ambassadors in the autumn as they all headed off to prestigious universities and art schools including Chelsea College of Art and Design and Central St Martins. The group all agree that their time as Young Ambassadors helped secure their places on these competitive courses. Laura Morgan, who is now studying Fine Art and History of Art at Goldsmiths, said, “I felt that at university interviews I was seen as a more attractive student by having the experience of some graduate interns at this point. I have had the ability to enter a university course that previously I would have felt would have been out of my reach.”
Art & Heritage 15
Once Upon A Time in the Midlands… Carrie Slawinska, exhibitions officer at Bilston Craft Gallery, looks back at one of the Gallery’s most popular and interactive exhibitions of 2013. Our summer exhibition at Bilston Craft Gallery explored the rich tradition of story telling in the Midlands, using contemporary craft to interpret different local tales, myths and folklore. New craft works were commissioned by makers whose practice explores narrative themes and illustration. Working with local story teller and researcher Dave Reeves, we selected ten stories and each maker was invited to choose a story to respond to. Melanie Tomlinson created two new works in printed aluminium, one in response to ‘Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?’, a story about a body found in a tree by four boys searching for birds eggs in Hagley Wood in the 1930s. Her second colourful piece told the story of local entrepreneurs the Manders and their relationships with two Indian Princesses. Jeweller and book artist Betty Pepper chose to illustrate the story of St.Brade, a story of love lost and found, using two repurposed books to illustrate the two phases of St. Brade’s life. Textile artist Karen Suzuki created a pair of Game Cocks from recycled textiles in response to the story of The Cock Lectern at Wednesbury Church, in which a parishioner loses a wager 16
Art & Heritage
against the priest and is obliged to pay for a new lectern, but exacts revenge by having it made in the shape of a game cock as opposed to a traditional Eagle. Paper artist Helen Musselwhite was inspired to create a beautiful multilayered paper cut in response to the story of Wild Edric at the Stiperstones. The story resonated with her as she recalled it told during childhood visits to family who lived in Shropshire. Other commissioned works included digitally printed and embroidered illustrations by Stewart Easton, and ceramics by Catherine Boyne-Whitelegg and Rowena Brown. Local artist John Grayson was commissioned to create a new automata at a workbench live in the Gallery over a course of five Saturday afternoons. His design was shaped by input from visitors, and the final piece depicted placard-waving protesters, inspired by the story of the Cradley Heath Chainmakers’ Strike. Other craft makers working in a range of media loaned works for the show, which included ceramic vessels, animations created using handmade puppets, paper birds, and jewellery in acrylic, gold, silver and even bone! Though not
commissioned by the Gallery, local glass artist Vic Bamforth took inspiration from three of the stories to take his work in a more narrative direction than previously. Vic uses a painted Graal technique, and enjoyed the process of translating the written word into a visual form. It was also an opportunity for the Gallery to work with the Mythstories museum at Wem, who kindly loaned four from a series of interactive automata works by John Grayson depicting scenes from the Hindu epic The Ramayana. These proved extremely popular, allowing visitors to get hands-on. The theme of industrial espionage in the story of Fiddler Foley the Nailmaker was beautifully illustrated by leather masks by Rosa Gill and Karen Reay Davies, generously loaned by Walsall Leather Museum, and local collector Derek Simpkiss kindly loaned objects from his personal collection of cock-fighting paraphernalia. Visitors were able to get hands-on in the exhibition with our mini Bilston Market, creating their own character masks and acting out stories, and recording and sharing their own local stories using the story booth. The stories featured in the exhibition can be found on the WAVE website at: www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk/ events/storytelling/
Betty Pepper, The Missing © The Artist Other exhibition images © Bilston Craft Gallery
Art & Heritage 17
E BL N LA TO I A P AV M N RHA RY O I E E AT V L IC OL GAL 5 L W T B 1 PU OM AR ÂŁ FR
Shakti Contemporary art responses to historic South Asian collections
Nikhil Chopra Wolverhampton Art Gallery until 5 April 2014
THE BLOCK CAPITAL PROJECT
INTERESTED IN LOCAL HISTORY?
Camila Prada Salt and Pepper set
BUY BLACK COUNTRY LIKE TO GET INVOLVED IN A RESEARCH PROJECT IN YOUR AREA? Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund
Art & Heritage
There is a genuine danger that the experiences of living in high-rise housing will soon be lost forever unless we record the stories of tower blocks and the people who lived in them. The Block Capital Project is recruiting volunteers to help us to research and record these stories. If you are interested in taking part or have memories of living in these developments, please contact Chaz Mason on 01902 552194 or email email@example.com
CONNECT THE RICH INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE OF THE BLACK COUNTRY TO THE PRESENT DAY, WITH A RANGE OF LIMITED EDITION DESIGNER ITEMS. Available at Bilston Craft Gallery, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Bantock House Museum.
Buy Black Country is a partnership between WAVE and the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley Museum Service, Sandwell Museum Service and Walsall Museum Service.
Echoes Of All Our Pasts Paul Quigley, Black Country curator, explains why we should celebrate the communities built around Black Country manufacturing.
The U4 blast furnace in Lorraine, Northern France has been preserved as a heritage attraction. ÂŠ Benjamin Smith /Wikimedia Commons
Art & Heritage 19
Echoes Of All Our Pasts CONTINUED...
Manufacturing employers have influenced the Black Country culture both inside and outside the works itself. Women standing outside the lock manufacturer Josiah Parkes. © Nick Hedges
The sweeping changes of history are made up of little stories. And the great tradition of the Black Country as a centre of industry is also a story of the working lives of countless individuals. The daily grind we put ourselves through might seem mundane or insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but hindsight often reveals that it is each of our small contributions which, when added together, reflect the successes and failures of our society and, ultimately, the way it changes. And the Black Country has seen its fair share of change. Not long after he founded the Black Country Society in the 1960s, John Fletcher pointed out that
“the Black Country has always been a changing region… from agriculture… to mining… to iron-making … to engineering, the essential thing is that industry has always been there”. Fletcher could say with confidence that, despite all the change, industry had always remained because, in fact, manufacturing has persisted in the 20
Art & Heritage
Somers Forge in Mucklow Hill, Halesowen is a survivor from the 1900s and part of the continuing tradition of Black Country manufacturing. © Paul Quigley
Black Country for longer than almost anywhere else. Evidence to support this came to light at an unprepossessing site in the shadow of a busy section of the M6 in 2007. Archaeological excavations at Wednesbury Forge next to the river Tame confirmed that production had been sustained on the same spot for as long as five centuries until the site closed in 2005. The Black Country’s other river, the Stour, has similarly nurtured long manufacturing customs. The local traditions on these waterways – and alongside the canals which came later – have contributed to an unrivalled industrial and manufacturing heritage.
But the truth is that manufacturing does not come about just because raw materials are there – it is fundamentally the result of human effort. Industry, almost by definition, happens because of the wit, ingenuity and downright slog of people. Someone had to develop the skills to turn the raw materials into something. In fact, in the case of the Black Country hundreds of thousands of men and women have contributed to this success. Many came from the area, and many more came from all over the world to work here.
Many have pointed to the uniquely rich mineral wealth as the cause of this success. Surveying the coal, iron, lime and clay which all lay on hand in abundance the American Elihu Burritt was forced to concede in 1869 that
Some individual men who were part of this story – Chance, Foley, Hickman, Mander and Wilkinson – are already fêted. But perhaps it’s time to celebrate the others... and the women too. They may not have achieved the prominence of the industrialists commemorated in street names, parks and memorials of the area, but their effort was none the less for it.
“nature did for the ironmasters of the Black Country all she could; indeed, everything except literally building the furnaces themselves”.
Indeed, the contribution of local people to the continuing existence of manufacturing (the 2011 census showed that it still employed a disproportionate number in the Black Country) is already recognised today for
Manufacturing has changed the social landscape of the Black Country in the 20th century. Here, workers pose at the now closed Springvale steel works, Bilston in 1977. © Nick Hedges
its economic value, long after the mineral resources have been exhausted. The likes of Jaguar Land Rover and Moog often cite the skills available among local workers as reason to invest in the area. But what about the human stories? As Rachel Lambourne describes on pages 32 and 33 Black Country Echoes is an exciting new initiative to celebrate and record the heritage, art and culture associated with the great tradition of manufacturing in the area. We want to encourage anyone with experience of local industry to make themselves known to the area’s public museums and archives. We have called the project ‘Echoes’ because we have found that our particular shared Black Country history keeps reappearing in the very real stories of people’s working lives. But there are also other ways that the project will look at the idea of echoes. One is that an echo is essentially a response – and so we want to highlight the way that artists, writers and musicians have responded to the area’s manufacturing heritage and industrial landscape. Historically, great writers and
Joseph Fereday was one of a number of artists inspired by the industrial landscape of the Black Country in the 20th century. Catchem’s Corner depicts canal-side industry in Bilston in 1951. © Joseph Fereday
artists have been inspired by the Black Country’s industrialised environment – Dickens, Turner and Tolkien among them – and this is a tradition which continues to the present day. Yet another interpretation of the idea of echoes is the repetition which characterises the re-occurrence of ‘Black Country style’ landscapes in other European countries. So we can find places in Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Poland and Ukraine which share much of the Black Country’s history in coal, iron and steel. Top of this list is the Belgium Borinage region which even calls itself ‘pays noir’. We want to use the project to find out how these places are responding to their own industrial heritage, and maybe in the process learn something about our own.
heritage of the area and the way artists have responded to it. The Black Country Echoes project runs until March 2015. It will build towards a major region-wide festival of arts and heritage between September and December 2014. Black Country Echoes is based on a partnership between Dudley Museums, Sandwell Museums, Walsall Museums and WAVE, the museums, galleries and archives of Wolverhampton. For more information, please visit www.blackcountryechoes.org.uk Email: BCEchoes@wolverhampton.gov.uk Twitter @BCMuseums #BCEchoes
All of these ideas will come together in the culmination of the Black Country Echoes project in the second half of 2014. This will be an important multivenue Festival of arts and heritage starting in September involving the region’s major art galleries, museums and archives. It will feature exhibitions and events in all four Black Country districts celebrating the manufacturing Art & Heritage 21
Happiness and Housing in 1940s Bilston Sabrina Rahman discusses the Austrian philosopher of science, sociologist and political economist Otto Neurath in advance of the opening of an exhibition about his links with Bilston at Bilston Craft Gallery early in 2015. The measure of ‘Happiness’ seems to be the focus of current political debates on lifestyle and culture, but it was also at the heart of the redevelopment of 1940s Bilston. This venture was to be directed by a leading international authority on the very subject of ‘housing and happiness’ – the Viennese economist, philosopher and sociologist Otto Neurath, who in November 1945 was employed by the West Midlands Development and Reconstruction Committee to be Bilston’s ‘Consultant for Human Happiness’. Otto Neurath was born in Vienna in 1882, the son of the renowned political economist Wilhelm Neurath. He studied mathematics, political science and statistics in Vienna and Berlin, and upon completion of his degrees became a lecturer at the Viennese Academy for Commerce and Trade. Neurath was a Renaissance man indeed, famous for his philosophical projects as a member of the Vienna Circle, as well as for developing the Vienna Method of Statistics and the pictographic language Isotype with the German graphic 22
Art & Heritage
Isotype chart taken from Otto Neurath, Modern Man in the Making (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1939)
Photograph of Otto Neurath, taken c. 1940. From the exhibition catalogue Werkbundsiedlung Wien 1932: Ein Manifest des Neuen Wohnens (Wien Museum, 2012) p. 9
designer Gerd Arntz, which is still very much in use today. Upon the end of World War I and the subsequent collapse of the Habsburg Empire, Neurath, deeply committed to the social democratic cause, became a central figure in the Viennese settlers’ movement, in which workers designed and built their own co-operative housing developments. Throughout the 1920s, he continued to guide the city’s innovative social housing programme, which culminated in the opening of the Werkbundsiedlung in the summer of 1932. Under the collaborative direction of Neurath and the architect and designer Josef Frank, this estate on the outskirts of southwest Vienna offered working-class families the opportunity
to purchase or rent homes designed by a diverse group of thirty-one prominent international architects. The Werkbundsiedlung remains one of the most important estates in the history of modern architecture. Despite the strength of social democratic progress in Vienna, the political situation in Austria was becoming increasingly volatile, and Neurath was forced to emigrate as the Austro-Fascists came to power in 1934. He fled to The Hague via Moscow, eventually landing in Britain in 1940. After being interned on the Isle of Man, Neurath was able to settle in Oxford, where he lectured at All Souls College. On November 27, 1945, Neurath wrote what was to be his last letter to Josef Frank, just weeks before his sudden death from a heart attack. He was very excited to share the news that he had just been invited to be a ‘Consultant for Human Happiness’ in a place called
Stowlawn Estate, Bilston © Sabrina Rahman Visitors at the official opening of the Werkbundsiedlung, 4 June 1932. From the exhibition catalogue Werkbundsiedlung Wien 1932: Ein Manifest des Neuen Wohnens (Wien Museum, 2012) p. 248
Bilston; and he expressed his desire for Frank to come to England and embark on an enterprise in the Black Country that would be similar in spirit to what they had accomplished with the Werkbundsiedlung in Vienna. Bilston provided a unique opportunity to apply the tenets of Viennese social housing to a new context. In the 1930s, local authorities started planning major changes in social housing development, and they were keen to ensure that residents would be able to make the most out of their new homes, so that these would not turn into the postindustrial slums they were intended to replace. This was a situation not unlike that in Vienna following the First World
War – Neurath, given his groundbreaking work with municipal housing and the settlers’ movement, would have been an exceptionally suitable candidate to guide this programme. In November 1945, Dr Robert Abbott, Chairman of the West Midlands Development and Reconstruction Committee, commissioned Neurath to organise an exhibition on ‘housing and happiness’ and to be a consultant on issues of health education and rehousing. Neurath’s death on 22 December 1945 meant that his activities in Bilston could never be fully realised; nevertheless, his ideas on ‘housing and happiness’ made their mark on the town and paved the way for future projects. Neurath’s widow
Marie curated a mobile ‘happiness’ exhibition in a shop in Bilston, known as the Bilston 1946 Town Planning Exhibition or the Bilston Venture; and Ella Briggs, who had worked closely with Neurath in 1920s Vienna, became one of the main architects of the Stowlawn Estate (1947) in Bilston. From February – April 2015, Bilston Craft Gallery will be hosting a major exhibition on Neurath’s plans for ‘Happiness’ in Bilston, the legacy of Viennese social housing in Britain, and what the intersection of urban regeneration, architecture, craft, and wellbeing means for us today. A wide range of events for the local community and international visitors alike will accompany this exciting exhibition. Art & Heritage 23
Every Family Has A History
By Sathnam Sanghera I first visited Wolverhampton Archives when I was researching my first book, a family memoir which would eventually be entitled The Boy with The Topknot. I wanted to find out what life was like in the Black Country when my parents arrived as Punjabi immigrants in 1968 and as I walked in I noticed a poster advertising a “family history course” with the tagline – “every family has a history and we’ve got a bit of yours”. However, I wasn’t feeling optimistic. Trying to discover the basics of my family history had proved an onerous task. Punjabi society is fundamentally oral, there is little written evidence, no culture of documenting history and as I joked in the book, Punjabi genealogy is
Art & Heritage
a futile business: no amount of tapping names of relatives into census-return websites, travelling to places of historical significance at visually striking times of year, was going to fill in the gaps. The most a British Punjabi genealogist can hope for is that after months of research, he will discover a small parchment helpfully informing them that his father’s father was a farmer, that his father’s father was a farmer, and that his father’s father was a farmer too.
Some people are hostile. Some, you find yourself noticing with gratitude, are friendly… An Englishman bumped into me. He didn’t apologize. But two other white people, a man and a woman, hovered to help me pick up scattered parcels. White people were kindly but reserved. Service felt slower... in the seven short hours I spent as one, I found enough evidence of prejudice from my English compatriots to realize than an Indian girl’s lot isn’t an entirely pleasant one.’
However, as I took a seat between two amateur genealogists, I was surprised to discover a file of newspaper cuttings which immediately gave a sense of what life must have been for my mum when she arrived, aged 18, in Wolverhampton. The most striking item was a piece published in the Express & Star around the time of her arrival, in which a white female reporter called Valerie James had, in a quaint journalistic experiment that even the Daily Mail would balk at today, blackened herself up, donned a sari and walked around town to describe what it was like to be an Asian woman in the Black Country.
The exercise may not have been very politically correct, but I found it touching and illuminating. I then discovered two relevant stories from The Times in another file for the date of my parents’ wedding: one on the foreign pages about hundreds of Sikhs demonstrating outside the British High Commission in New Delhi to express their solidarity with Mr Sohan Singh Jolly, president in Britain of the Akali Dal, the Sikh organization, who threatened to burn himself to death unless Wolverhampton Transport Committee lifted its ban on bus crews wearing beards and turbans, and another about twenty-eight English parents in Powell’s constituency of Wolverhampton South West, who were considering a plan to educate their children at home instead of in classes at local schools where the children were ‘outnumbered by immigrants’.
It read: ‘A small boy whistles derisively and laughs as you pass him in an empty street… a man turns curiously when he sees you climb into a taxi… At a bus stop four girls walk abreast down the pavement towards you. Chattering, they surround you for a moment… Workmen who call out to every female between the ages of fifteen and fifty-five are silent... Most people are shyly polite.
Indeed, it slowly became apparent in the following months and years of using the archives that Wolverhampton was rather famous in the sixties and seventies, as it witnessed a
Opposite: Sathnam Sanghera Below: Front cover of Marriage Material Right: Cornershop © John Angerson
multicultural revolution, with diverse ethnic groups moving into the area at such a pace that it generated not only national, but international interest. As one of the first areas in Britain to experience mass immigration, and with Enoch Powell as the local MP, Wolverhampton became for many people a bellwether on the issue of race – Britain’s equivalent of Harlem, a town at crisis point, the first British city to fall victim to the race wars raging on the other side of the Atlantic. Gradually, I went from not having enough information, to having perhaps too much information. I discovered that 9th December 1969 saw the national broadcast of Strangers in Town, a documentary by Philip Donnellan about Wolverhampton. In July 1968 Granada
World in Action looked at immigrant rehousing in Wolverhampton, probing the council’s housing policy. Just days before the broadcast the parliamentary Select Committee of Race Relations and Immigration, with Mr Arthur Bottomley in chair, met in the Town Hall. Most memorably, I found a feature The Observer published in 1968 about racial tension in town, a few weeks after Enoch Powell made his Rivers of Blood speech. The headline screamed “Town that has lost its reason”, and the racial abuse it quoted from white locals, speaking to a reporter in a “coloured area of Wolverhampton known to the locals as Wog Alley” was extraordinary. They are violent, they take our jobs, they take our houses, they breed like rabbits, they don’t want to mix, Enoch was right,
the stink is enough to blind you, they’re taking us over, they want their teeth kicking in, “you go into the park and you’ll see that many turbans it looks like a field of bloody daisies”. In some ways, discovering the extent of the racism was upsetting. But it also made me realise that Wolverhampton was decades ahead when it came to the vital issues of multiculturalism and integration. I probably ended up doing too much research and used only a fraction in my memoir. But it remained with me, and the period ended up providing the setting for my second book, Marriage Material: A Novel. My hope is that it revives an interest in Wolverhampton’s postwar history, in the way that Wolverhampton Archives revived it for me.
Art & Heritage 25
EXPOSED ThE BODy in ArT
frOm DürEr TO frEuD 22 nOvEmBEr 2013 – 21 APril 2014
Lily Cole by Gillian Wearing, 2009 © the artist, courtesy Counter Editions and Maureen Paley, London/Photo © Birmingham Museums Trust
An exhibition of work from the fine art collections at Birmingham Museums, exploring artistic responses to the human body.
www.theherbert.org Adults £4 Friends of Birmingham Museums £2 18 Under FREE 26 &Art & Heritage
The exhibition is organised in partnership with Birmingham Museums and supported by funding from Arts Council England.
POP ART AT WOLVERHAMPTON Brendan Flynn, senior curator of art at Wolverhampton Art Gallery for over 20 years, and a 2013 Monument Fellow, looks back at the history of the Pop Art collection at the Art Gallery.
“Little more than a rainy-day rendezvous for OAPs and teenage sweethearts.” was how the Wolverhampton Chronicle described the Art Gallery before the appointment of David Rodgers as Curator in 1969. His arrival signalled the beginnings of the regeneration of a museum service which, in common with many other provincial local authority museums, was in serious decline. The lack of staff, resources and professional leadership were reflected in waning visitor figures and public apathy. Rodgers was appointed to modernise and reinvigorate the service which now included Bilston Art Gallery and Museum, taken over by Wolverhampton Borough Council in 1967. Although he was only 27 years of age and relatively inexperienced in museum management, he had an instinctive understanding of what was required of him and how to achieve it. He wanted to
cultivate a regional and eventually a national identity for the service – a speciality that set it apart from others. To this end, he introduced new collecting and exhibitions policies coupled with an upgrading of the permanent displays, exhibition spaces and stores and the recruitment of qualified staff. The gallery would specialise in British and American Pop Art and contemporary figurative art and Photo-realism. The exhibition programme would complement this with one-person and group shows of contemporary art but also a range of exhibitions designed to attract new, family audiences. These were based upon the existing decorative arts collections centred on accessible themes: “Here’s a Health to their Majesties” (Royal Commemorative souvenirs); “One for the Pot” (Tea drinking through the ages opened by Noddy the PG Tips chimpanzee) and
“Roll out the Barrel” (The social history of drinking in Britain). The exhibitions were meticulously researched with loans from national and private collections, well presented and publicised. The media coverage was instrumental in attracting new audiences and increasing awareness of the gallery which reached the final of the Museum of the Year Award in 1974. The Pop Art collecting policy however aroused a storm of controversy in the local and national press. It began quietly enough in 1972 with the acquisition of Jacqueline (1964), a screen print on canvas by Andy Warhol for £1,600. The purchase accounted for nearly all of the acquisition budget of £2,000 per annum for the entire service. Luckily, the collection already included the ICA print portfolio published by Kelpra Press in 1964 featuring Pop Art graphics by Peter Art & Heritage 27
Blake, Joe Tilson, David Hockney, Richard Hamilton and others. It provided an excellent context for new acquisitions. Adonis in Y-Fronts (1963) by Richard Hamilton provoked a hostile response in the local papers with headlines like “Gallery bids for pants picture.” Letters from angry ratepayers followed imploring the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, to intervene to forbid the purchase. The collection became a political issue with the controlling Labour group pilloried by Conservative spokesmen whose comments on proposed acquisitions regularly made the front pages. To enable more ambitious purchases Rodgers sought permission to carry over unspent
Art & Heritage
funding. By saving for three years he was able to buy, with the aid of grants, Purist Painting with Bottles (1975) by Roy Lichtenstein. The only painting by the artist in a British public collection outside London, it immediately improved the status and reputation of the gallery. The purchase of Cigarette Pack (1959) by Peter Blake was accompanied by unprecedented media hostility. The Daily Mail, Mirror and Express all covered the story: Fury over £1,800 fag packet “Art” raged the Daily Star; “Art is such a Drag” opined the Express. “We are being conned.” said local councillor Patricia Bradley. The committee continued to support Rodgers throughout though it must
have required steady nerves all round and a real conviction that what he was doing was right. Unstinting support also came from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund whose advisors understood what Rodgers was trying to achieve. The negative publicity of course had a positive outcome, drawing more public attention to the gallery, greatly increasing its national profile and trebling visitor figures. By the late 1970s, the best examples of Pop Art were virtually beyond the reach of the gallery. The most Rodgers ever had to spend was £5,000 per annum but he was able to develop the collection by purchasing artist’s multiples. These were small sculptures
Far left: Andy Warhol, Jacqueline (1964) © Andy Warhol Estate, DACS, London, 2012 Left: Richard Hamilton, Adonis in Y-Fronts (1963) © Artist’s Estate Top: Roy Lichtenstein, Purist Painting with Bottles (1975) © Artist’s Estate
or two dimensional works produced in editions for sale at affordable prices for private collectors or institutions with limited funds. The massive PVC Banner (1968) by Richard Lindner and the plexiglass Pop Singer (1970) by Larry Rivers were striking additions later followed by multiples by Allen Jones and George Segal. Graphics also proved great value for money. James Rosenquist’s spectacular 24 foot long lithograph F-111 (1974) was a visually stunning centrepiece for the collection.
face of bitter opposition. His passion for art was infectious and he gained the confidence of artists, local politicians, and the visiting public. When he was appointed Director of Exeter Museums in 1981, he had transformed the Wolverhampton museum service and left behind a great cultural asset for the city. He died in 1999. His successors have continued his good work and the reputation of the service and its collections have gone from strength to strength.
It was strength of character, professionalism and an irrepressible sense of humour that enabled David Rodgers to establish the collection with very limited resources and often in the
A Big Bang: The Origins of the Pop Art Collection Part 1 can be seen at Wolverhampton Art Gallery until 21 June 2014.
Art & Heritage 29
Bentley Bridge Sculpture Trail Takes Shape By Sophie Heath, curator at Bilston Craft Gallery. Wednesfield, known to its inhabitants as ‘the Village’, is one of the many local centres in Wolverhampton that maintains a strong sense of heritage and identity. WAVE’s team at Bilston Craft Gallery has been working with local people to capture the unique character of Wednesfield and its residents in an artwork trail that will connect the modern Bentley Bridge retail park with the area’s historic high street. The project has been made possible by the generous contribution of Bentley Bridge’s owners Axa to enable a work of public art in Wednesfield and the service has worked closely with the Wednesfield and Fallings Park Local Neighbourhood Partnership and many residents and stakeholders to maximise local involvement in this opportunity, with over 850 people engaged to date. At the November 2012 Wednesfield Christmas Lights Switch-On, a group of volunteers and local partners, together with arts consultancy Blue and White Creative, spoke to over 350 people on Wednesfield High Street about what was most important to them about their area. The High Street and Market itself emerged as a key location that symbolised the proud past and the present of ‘the Village’ and was part of the fabric of people’s daily lives. It also 30
Art & Heritage
highlighted a current dilemma faced by Wednesfield – the Bentley Bridge retail park is extremely successful and brings a great many people to the area but it is not well-connected to the rest of the Village centre although they are within sight of one another and just a few minutes’ walk. The event consultation was followed up with feedback from a number of local community groups and this informed the artist’s brief that Bilston Craft Gallery prepared for the project – to create an artwork that connected Bentley Bridge with the historic heart of Wednesfield and brought distinctive local character to the townscape. Through a competitive application process local arts partnership Planet Art www.planetartsculpture.co.uk/ was appointed. The artists conducted hands-on creative workshops with over 400 people in Wednesfield including community groups and many primary and secondary school students. Together they explored the theme of Wednesfield and its identity coming up with a wealth of ideas which were linked by the common thread that it was the people of Wednesfield that really made the area’s character and the experience of living there. This sense of community and ordinary folk became the inspiration for the trail of artworks designed by Planet Art that will mark out the pedestrian route from Bentley Bridge to the High Street.
The sculpture trail will comprise five artworks starting in the Bentley Bridge precinct itself with a group of shoppers realised in cast iron on a granite plinth. The proportions of the artwork will be modest so that people will meet and interact with the figures as they go about their errands on foot. Four of the five artworks follow this model with two figures reading outside the Library, people waiting at the bus-stop on Rookery Street, and a market stall at the beginning of the High Street. The fifth work will be a larger statement – a ‘Wayfinder’ structure which will stand about 25 feet (7.62 metres) high at the boundary of the retail park. This column will signpost people to key locations in Wednesfield – the Village, the Library, and the canal as well as Bentley Bridge. The sculpture’s arms will feature figures to tie in with the trail as a whole. Planet Art is currently working on the detailed design and fabrication of the artworks which are expected to be installed in Spring 2014. In keeping with the local nature of the whole project the works will be cast at a local foundry, Purbright Castings in Willenhall. For more information about the project and to stay in touch with its progress please go to www.wv11.co.uk/art/
1 Sketch designs for bus stop, shoppers, and Wayfinder structure 2 Factory workers pour hot metal into the moulds © Wolverhampton City Council 3 Artist Julie Edwards with the original plaster figure and the resulting cast, which will now be welded and refined © Wolverhampton City Council 4 Artist Ron Thompson with one of the cast figures © Wolverhampton City Council
4 Art & Heritage 31
People. Landscape. Rachel Lambourne, community engagement officer for Black Country Echoes, talks about this two-year, Arts Council England funded project and the community engagement programme associated with this celebration of the industrial heritage of the Black Country across the boroughs of Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley. The story of the Black Country begins with the people who founded its communities, shaped its landscapes and worked in its industries. One of the main focuses of the Black Country Echoes project is to engage with employees from Black Country industries big and small, past, present and future. The history and heritage of some of our former workplaces will be lost unless we actively collect them and find a way not only to conserve them for generations to come, but also to present them for all to see. One of the ways we can preserve this information is by talking to the people who used to work in industry here. Over the course of the next few months, we will be interviewing and recording people talking about their working lives in industry. Through their stories we will help them to present to the public an important part of the heritage of UK manufacturing. The Black Country Industries’ tale is an on-going one, as the region continues to be a centre for manufacturing in the UK. 32
Art & Heritage
Current manufacturers will also be contributing to our project by talking to us and showing us how working in manufacturing has changed over the decades. We hope to persuade some of them to follow the example of Banks’s Brewery in Wolverhampton, and open their doors to the public during Heritage Open Days this September. What better way to understand what it is like to work in an industrial setting than to visit for yourself and experience first-hand the work that results in the everyday items and structures we take for granted, but could not live without? The future of our industries depends upon the generations of young people who are learning the skills to continue and to carry manufacturing forward. Through engaging with the pupils of Wednesfield High School, former employees from Boulton Paul have been passing on not only their metalworking skills, but also their personal histories and the pride they took from designing and building some of the aircraft that helped us win the
Plowden and Thompson Ltd in Stourbridge © Black Country Echoes
war. Some of them started as apprentices and have been practising their trade for over 70 years. By encouraging and training pupils and students to record oral histories, the Black Country Echoes project will help them to preserve the knowledge and history of our hard working ancestors. If a passion for design and manufacturing is to endure in the region, this is a great way to spark that interest and inspire our children to follow in the footsteps of some of the regions greatest industrialists. The physical landscape of the Black Country has been sculpted and changed by the industries that are built up, demolished or preserved in the region. We are working in collaboration with university and college photography students and project volunteers to capture some of the evolving physical landscapes linked to the region’s industrial heritage. Whilst landmarks such as the Elisabeth blast furnace, ‘Big Lizzie’, in Bilston have disappeared, others such as the Glass Cone Red
Former employees from Boulton Paul Aircraft Ltd with pupils at Wednesfield High School © Black Country Echoes
House in Dudley have been preserved. New communities have taken over repurposed buildings such as the Sikh Gurdwaras in Darlaston and Oldbury. We will be taking a closer look at how industry brought diversity into our communities by recruiting workers from overseas. Many of them became the founders of our black and minority ethnic communities who found new homes and planted their roots firmly in the Black Country. Through our community engagement programme we will be encouraging communities using repurposed buildings to look not only at the heritage of the buildings they meet in, but also their own and their families’ histories. A focused and informative program of workshops will be offered to help all our community groups record and present their stories to the wider community. Many Black Country communities developed around employers who often set up schools, social clubs and events for their workers. Husbands and wives
The Gurdwara in Oldbury © Black Country Echoes
often met each other through work and their children grew up together, going on holidays during the factories fortnights. Older family members facilitated the younger generations’ way into work through their close-knit network of colleagues. They formed sports teams, knitting circles, gardening clubs and other social groups. Whilst many of those workplaces have disappeared and the communities they employed are often scattered, the friendships and bonds to each other and to the landscape endure.
Crabtree football team (known as the Lincoln Rovers) in 1993 © The Crabtree Society
the Black Country through the art of speaking, photography, painting, singing, dancing and various other forms. The community engagement programme will showcase the work created by the groups we engage with during the Black Country Echoes Festival in autumn 2014. www.blackcountryechoes.org.uk Email: BCEchoes@wolverhampton.gov.uk Twitter @BCMuseums #BCEchoes
New exhibitions and artistic creations will be produced as a result of the groups coming together to celebrate their industrial heritage and to raise awareness of the communities that once centred on industry. During our group discussions and interviews a sense of what the Black Country entails and what makes a person truly Black Country is emerging. We are exploring the characteristics that make the region unique. Drawing inspiration from this rich cultural heritage we will celebrate Art & Heritage 33
The People Behind The Portraits In November, Indian performance artist Nikhil Chopra transformed himself into a Victorian portrait artist at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and, over the course of three days, created a new work exploring cultural connections and historical backgrounds of the people who live in the city today. Rebecca Morris watched the 18-hour performance, which was commissioned by Meadow Arts.
Nikhil Chopra, Space Oddity, 18 hour performance, 2013. Photo: Stefan Handy, Costumes: Loise Braganza. A Meadow Arts commission in collaboration with Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Portrait images ÂŠ Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
Art & Heritage
Chopra’s dapper appearance matches the surroundings in the Victorian Gallery. His dark hair is closely cropped with a neat moustache and he is wearing a long Victorian frock coat, complemented by a crisp white shirt, burgundy waistcoat, a green spotted cravat and a black bowler hat. An Indian Dhoti is assembled into regulation black trousers. A portrait from the collection, An Egyptian Beauty by Thomas Pelham (1860-92), hangs on the wall as inspiration for what is to come and assembled in the centre of the gallery on a slightly raised platform there is an antique chair, table and tea service on a carpet from Bantock House Museum amid purple and gold Indian silk fabrics from India. At the side of the gallery, piles of charcoal sticks in a variety of sizes lie in bundles along with several brown paper packages tied up with string. Observed by an audience of art lovers and interested bystanders, Chopra works in silence, communicating only with the people from the audience he selects as sitters and serving them with tea and biscuits from the antique tea service. They either sit or stand by the chair, whose presence is reflected in every portrait.
getting better with every drawing. Maybe the chair is Wolverhampton, mimicking life with the sitters staying for a while, their portraits leaving a trace, a mark, before they go.” By the end of day one, charcoal drawings have started to line the walls and the floor of the gallery is covered in dust. “The medium of charcoal is quite gratifying,” continues Chopra. “I don’t have the problem a tattoo artist encounters – I can draw, erase, draw, erase. It’s a calming process. Charcoal is a friend and I’m not afraid of it. It’s a medium I’ve always used and I enjoy its blackness, fragility and simplicity, and its relationship to the elements such as fire and earth, and what the dust does to a space, making it transient and ephemeral.” Halfway through day two of the performance, Chopra starts to change his appearance and shaves off his moustache and closely cropped hair. It’s a foretaste of his final transformation on day three when, after finishing the final portrait, Chopra carefully applies striking make up that David Bowie himself would have been proud to don in 1969 and starts to open the brown paper packages. Long black gloves, silver slippers, a necklace and earrings emerge from the wrappings and Chopra discards his Victorian frock coat and garments and converts his Dhoti into a stunning, long black dress, a bespoke design by Loise Braganza.
The event, entitled Space Oddity, has been inspired by the Art Gallery’s collection of Indian artefacts and eight people who have come from other parts of the world to live in Wolverhampton. “The landscape is a Space Oddity and it is an imagined place – a place that could be anywhere,” explains Chopra. “The words Placing the bowler hat at a jaunty angle allude to the strangeness of a place and on his now smooth head, Chopra applies it’s an oddity to find all these sitters in the the finishing touches to his portraits landscape, juxtaposing their reality with a adding a landscape and skyline before fantasy that isn’t here. The title is familiar sitting in the chair in the centre of the to most people as a 1969 song by British gallery and gazing intensely at the Glam Rock icon David Bowie and it was audience, moving slowly from person to a time in British history of rock and roll, person. On the dot of 4pm, he leaves women’s rights, the empowerment of and all that is left is a gallery lined with the working class, booming Western portraits and remnants of charcoal. economies and migrants in their 100,000s arriving from the ex-colonies “I’m happy with the way it went,” to cities like Wolverhampton.” concludes Nikhil. “I’ve always been very afraid of drawing people but the “The chair appears in each portrait and performance is always about fear and it has a personality of its own. I felt I overcoming it. This performance was also understood it better towards the end of about interacting with people. It’s been the performance and it’s an endless very direct with the audience becoming process of discovery and evolution, the subject of the work.”
Day One Thursday 10am – Shaun McDermott Shaun was born and grew up in Zululand, living for a time in Johannesburg before coming to Wolverhampton 16 years ago. He moved to the Black Country because he wanted to be at the heart of industry. The shirt he was wearing for the sitting was the one he wore on the day he left South Africa. “I think my portrait looks good and I’m looking forward to showing my kids. They don’t know about it yet and I will bring them along to see it.” 11.50am – Shazia Bano-Shah Shazia was born in Wolverhampton but her grandparents were from Kashmir. She is a third year art student at Newman University and would like to teach art. “It was an amazing experience. The gallery was really busy and I was shaking when I walked in. I think my portrait looks like me and it was amazing to watch and be a part of his work.” Nikhil Chopra: “Such a strong, pretty face but I struggled with the proportions quite a bit. But that’s why it’s a performance – it’s not my studio and we’re not looking at them as just drawings.” 2pm – Jaswinder Singh Chaggar Jaswinder is a board member on the Wolverhampton Interfaith and Regeneration Network (WIFRN) and has lived in Wolverhampton for 47 years. Born in Africa in 1953, he lived in India before coming to the UK on 6 January 1966. “When I arrived, I was wearing shorts and it was cold – I’d only seen snow on tv! But I also had my first taste of fish and chips and they went down very well and were delicious. I think my portrait is a very good likeness and he’s captured my essence. Art & Heritage 35
It’s an interpretation of what he sees and I think he’s very mature in what he’s captured; he’s very young!” Nikhil Chopra: “I loved drawing Jaswinder. He was always going to be the star of the group. His face shows an awareness of his presence and pride in his own identity.”
Day TWO FRIDAY 10am – Namita Parekh Namita works for Wolverhampton City Council. She was born in East Africa but is of Indian origin. “We came to the UK in August 1972 when I was 12 years old. My family had been expelled from Uganda (along with 50,000 other Asians) and I remember it being a very traumatic time. We had to leave practically everything behind, even our treasured family photographs. We moved to Wolverhampton in 1985 and it’s been home ever since.” “For my portrait I made a conscious decision to wear something traditional so I dressed in a red salwar, an orange khameez top and a red scarf. I think the result is excellent. It looks like me but the test is going to be my family. I haven’t told them yet and I’m going to bring them to the gallery and see if they spot it!” 12pm – Sharam Gill Sharam is a singer, song-writer with a passion for the arts and travelling. He is writing a novel set in Wolverhampton in 1968 and his family has lived in Penn Fields, Wolverhampton since 1964. “I was born in North Borneo. My father was an officer in the British Army who was young and adventurous, and gave up a comfortable life to come to England. At first we lived in Banbury and then came to Bilston.” “In my portrait, I am standing. The physical side was ok and Nikhil was 36
Art & Heritage
very good about me taking breaks and putting me at my ease. Having your portrait done is a bit daunting. You have a self-image in your head but a portrait is how other people see you. I was thrilled about Nikhil involving me in his project and I like my guitar featuring in the portrait too. It’s an important part of my work and my dad bought it for me when I was in my teens. My guitar has always been with me on my adventures and it lends continuity to my life.” Nikhil Chopra: “I enjoyed drawing Sharam who stood for his portrait. I wanted to draw one person standing and he was the perfect person to have standing – a tall, elegant man. As an artist himself, his presence is large.” 2.30pm – Ray Chuhan Ray has lived in Bilston for 30 years and has worked at Wolverhampton Art Gallery for over four years. “My dad came from India in the late 1950s/early 1960s to work in the factories and furnaces in the Wednesbury and Bilston areas. Sitting for my portrait was a brilliant experience, really relaxing. I think my portrait is better than a photograph and I could have it as my passport photograph!”
this year. My portrait is very good and I like it but I don’t think it looks like me. It’s interesting to see how other people see me.” 12pm – Diana Spoge Diana is from Latvia and arrived in Wolverhampton four months ago. “I came to study at the University of Wolverhampton and am in my first year studying broadcasting and journalism. I’m from a small village called Iecava and I wanted to experience something new so I decided to study in Wolverhampton. The people here are nice and welcoming. I’m interested in art and saw information about Nikhil Chopra’s performance on Facebook. While he was drawing me, I enjoyed people looking at me and felt comfortable. I think the finished result is nice and it looks like me.” Nikhil Chopra: “My favourite portrait – it’s always the last one you do. This one is more slight than the others and I was able to do what I wanted.”
Day THREE SATURDAY 10am – Marta Dragan Marta has lived in Tettenhall, Wolverhampton for the last seven years. Her family is from Poland. “Originally, I came to Wolverhampton for a couple of months but I just grew into the place. I’m an artist and had spent five years studying at Bydgoszcz national school of design in Poland. I am now studying fine art at the University of Wolverhampton. I do oil paintings mostly and one of my works featured in the Wolverhampton Society of Artists exhibition at the Art Gallery
Space Oddity will be on show at Wolverhampton Art Gallery until 5 April 2014. The exhibition is part of Shakti, a collaboration between Meadow Arts and Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
A West Midlands based photography artist and recent post-graduate of the University of Wolverhampton, Justyna Ptak’s work came to the attention of Wolverhampton Art Gallery when she won the 2012 West Midlands Open ‘best in show’ prize. Now an exhibitor at the Art Gallery in her own right, Art & Heritage talks to Justyna about her work and inspirations.
Q&A Justyna Ptak What are you working on at present? “The focus of my current photographic practice is the banal and the mundane, which represents a vital part of our existence that is easily passed over – abandoned ‘non-moments’, which are the core foundation of our realities. I’m currently working with a Birmingham based photographer Richard Southall in a commercial setting and completing new work for my exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery.” What inspires your work? “When I was a teenager my dad introduced me to black and white film processing and printing, which allowed me to experiment with the medium of photography and find my place within it. I get inspiration mainly from two areas: visiting galleries and looking at artwork in situ, as well as contextualisation of the work by reading theoretical writings on art practices. The advantage of critical literatures is that they shape your mind-set and make you aware of general concepts and influences.” Who is your biggest influence? “Theoretically, my practice draws on the legacy of conceptualism and minimalism, as well as artists and writers such as Jan Dibbets, Uta Barth, William Eggleston, Victor Burgin, Mark Augé, and Roland Barthes, amongst many more. My favourite work is Kris Martin’s Miroir Claude, seen at the Frieze Art Fair in 2012. The simplicity and effortlessness make this piece very surprising and relatable, while the scale of it is very overwhelming and prodigious. This mixture puts the viewer in the middle of their own surroundings, as well creating an artificial space where those elements can be studied against each other. William Eggleston and his complex
photography of the American South is also a favourite of mine. Concentrating on the banal and the everyday, Eggleston is not interested in documentary photography, instead capturing ‘life today’. He is also considered to be a pioneer in introducing colour photography into fine art.” What makes a great picture/ photograph? “I strongly believe that it is formal qualities of work that give photography its significance, a fundamental understanding of light and composition. Relying on those formal qualities can push the work further towards abstraction, bearing in mind that abstraction is not necessarily about not being figurative, but about a distance created between the viewer and the producer (David Ryan). In my opinion, that distance allows the viewer to be able to relate to the work on a more personal level, and find out where the viewer belongs in the set of artist-work-audience.”
Which photograph do you wish you’d taken and why? “I would have loved to be involved with photographing the old Birmingham Library. The connection between the building, the history of photography and its immense influence over the years is of great importance to West Midlands, as well as the history of British photography.” What do you know now that you wish you’d known as a student? “As Henri Cartier-Bresson said ‘Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst’.”
What advice would you give to someone who wants to study photography/art? “I graduated from BA Photography in 2010 and recently completed an MA in Fine Art. Unfortunately, we live in times when art If you could collaborate with any person education does not guarantee you a job. So to anybody who wants to study art or from any point in time, who would you photography I would say that it has to be choose and why? for themselves, it has to be out of “John Szarkowski, curator of photography passion. If you believe in what you’re at Museum of Modern Art in New York. doing, if you’re motivated and work hard, He was responsible for the evolution of opportunities and prospects will follow.” photography into a finer art form. In 1965, he curated Eggleston’s exhibition, which was truly ground breaking because Justyna Ptak’s exhibition at it was the first exhibition of colour Wolverhampton Art Gallery runs from photography in an established museum 19 April – 12 July 2014. For more setting. At that time, colour photography information about her work, please visit was associated with advertising and www.justynaptak.com amateur photography, and thought not suitable for fine art. Being involved in that would have meant being involved in something all contemporary photography artists now draw upon.” Art & Heritage 37
WAVE First World War Commemorations By Claire Whitbread, collections officer at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. 2014 marks the Centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, one of the most significant events in modern history, and is the start of four years of global commemoration and reflection spearheaded by the Imperial War Museum in London. The Centenary presents us with an opportunity to look back on how the War impacted upon people everywhere and how such a great tragedy shaped the world in which we live. The First World War Centenary Partnership has been an important way of highlighting the shared heritage of the First World War and to bring the patchwork of experiences and responses together in an enriched exploration of the War. As part of that partnership, WAVE will be exploring the War from different angles across all our sites. Wolverhampton Art Gallery will be exploring the artistic responses to war. Art has a big role to play in how we understand the First World War, from recording events to documenting personal responses to and struggles to come to terms with the widespread loss and devastation that the Great War 38
Art & Heritage
wrought. In 2014, the Art Gallery is intending to exhibit work by Brian Yale, a Black Country artist who was interested on the impact of man on the landscape. His work on First World War battlefields illustrates how enduring the physical scars of the War have been, but also how important a role the landscape has played in modern attempts to understand the War. The destroyed landscape of northern France and Belgium draw thousands of visitors each year who are looking for a way to connect with the experience of soldiers. Bilston Craft Gallery is looking at the war from the experience of local factory workers involved in the war effort. The exhibition will highlight the plight of local people in wartime and the crucial role that factories and female munitions workers played as part of the local and national war effort. Examples of the types of munitions and equipment made by the local factories are being sought for display, to be juxtaposed by archival material and poetry that highlight the emotional impact that the war would have had on local residents. Alongside these remnants of the First World War, contemporary craft items that explore the theme of conflict and highlight the continuing role of the creative arts in responding to and trying to understand conflict, will be displayed.
Bantock House Museum is exploring the theme of communication, reflecting Bantock Houseâ€™s role as the Intelligence and Communication Centre for the local region during the Second World War. Using letters and diaries from the City Archives, the exhibition will explore different elements of letters written during the First World War. Objects will be selected from Wolverhamptonâ€™s collection and relevant items loaned from local collectors in order to highlight the kind of preoccupations that the letters bring to light. Thoughts and memories of everyday life back home were recorded in letters sent to mothers, wives and sweethearts by young soldiers far away. These poignant words will be
WOLVERHAMPTON CITY ARCHIVES WWW.WOLVERHAMPTONART.ORG.UK
contextualised and brought to life by being presented next to objects that are symbolic of their thoughts and hopes. As 2014 is also the 10th anniversary of Bantock House’s successful 1940s weekend, it will be made bigger and better than ever and will feature First World War re-enactors in recognition of the Centenary. Wolverhampton City Archives is busy using their wonderful resources to research a number of different aspects of the First World War and its impact on Wolverhampton. They intend to display the results of their research thematically over the course of the Centenary and will no doubt include an exciting display on their white feather letter. White feather letters were anonymous letters, which were sent with a white feather to conscientious objectors as a mark of disapproval. This was at a time when patriotic fervour was sweeping the land and young men were expected to accept the call to arms. As they were intended to shame the recipient they were not normally kept and the Archives is very fortunate to hold such a rare artefact of the First World War.
MOLINEUX HOTEL BUILDING, WHITMORE HILL, WOLVERHAMPTON, WV1 1SF 01902 552480 OPEN TUE, THU & FRI 10AM – 5PM,WED 10AM – 7PM, SAT 10AM – 1PM, SUN & MON CLOSED Supported using public funding by Arts Council England and by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund
SCHOOL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES 2014
Images clockwise from top left © Wolverhampton Art Gallery This victory medal was awarded to Private H Bagnall, S Staffordshire, to commemorate The Great War for Civilisation 1914-1919, now more commonly known as the First World War Wolverhampton City Archives is fortunate to hold a rare white feather letter sent to non-combatants during the war Decorative postcards were sent between home and the front line and were generally hand embroidered on strips of silk mesh The Mills Bomb Hand Grenade was introduced in 1915 and more than 70 million of them were thrown in the First World War
Learning outside the classroom gives children the confidence to explore their surroundings and broadens their understanding of people and the world around them. Our learning sessions stimulate imagination, creativity, problem-solving, communication and critical thinking skills, which help children and young people in everyday life as well as in their studies. Order a copy of our school visit guide 2013-14 and find out more about the learning programmes offered by WAVE, the museums, galleries and archives of Wolverhampton, including our Service Level Agreement (SLA), which is tailored to the needs of nursery, primary and secondary schools.
WWW.WOLVERHAMPTONART.ORG.UK/LEARNING 01902 552033 | firstname.lastname@example.org Supported using public funding by Arts Council England
Art & Heritage 39
ARCHIVIST’S CORNER Karen Davies, cataloguing archivist at Wolverhampton City Archives, looks back at the Beatties department store in Wolverhampton. Beatties advertisement on back of leaflet advertising an exhibition to mark the centenary of Wolverhampton as a Borough in 1948 © Wolverhampton Archives
Beattie family around the 1870s © Wolverhampton Archives
In 1877, the business known as The Victoria Drapery Supply Stores at 77, Victoria Street, Wolverhampton, was founded by local draper and businessman James Beattie (18521934). By 1895, the company employed a staff of 40 and had an annual turnover of £30,000. Twice in its lifetime the building was demolished and rebuilt, the first time following a catastrophic fire in 1896 and the second in 1912. During the early 1920s, the company adopted limited liability and became James Beattie Ltd. The store’s frontage in Victoria Street was also completely re-modelled in this decade, extended in the 1930s and re-modelled again in the 1950s. In 1954, the company offered the sale of shares to the public making it a Public Limited Company and the 40
Art & Heritage
Beatties ladies’ fashions sales leaflet giving advice to women on how to dress to please a man in 1963 © Wolverhampton Archives
company name changed to James Beattie Plc. Since its founding, the store went on to become famous for selling high quality merchandise and providing excellent customer service unsurpassed by any other retail department store in Wolverhampton. To many people of Wolverhampton and beyond, it really was “a better place to shop”. In July 2013, Wolverhampton City Archives acquired a huge number of accounts ledgers, minutes of meetings, posters, menus, invitations, magazines, newsletters, sales leaflets and photographs relating to Beatties from the 1870s to the 21st century. The collection, now currently being catalogued, ranges from price lists for ladies’ mantles (capes) in the 1890s to advice for women on how to dress for a man in the 1960s giving a
Beatties price list for skirts and mantles 1896-7 © Wolverhampton Archives
fascinating insight into the social attitudes prevalent over a hundred plus years of trading. This acquisition is not only an important addition to the collection but also highlights an important part of Wolverhampton’s retail history and the City Archives will be highlighting and celebrating this recent acquisition with an exhibition of items from the collection. There will also be the chance to enter a raffle to win a large Beattie bear. All proceeds will go to Compton Hospice, Beatties’ favoured charity. A Better Place To Shop: The Story of Beatties exhibition at Wolverhampton City Archives runs from 4 January – 29 March 2014.
Humphrey Ocean, Lord Volvo and his Estate (1982) © Wolverhampton Art Gallery
From the Collection… Humphrey Ocean’s Lord Volvo and his Estate Humphrey Ocean’s Lord Volvo and his Estate was recently chosen by public vote to feature in Art Everywhere, a national project to turn billboards and poster sites into a nationwide art gallery featuring the country’s favourite artworks.
The gang leader stands in the foreground pointing at us; he wears a black suit and check shirt. The painting’s title and format subvert the tradition of eighteenth century full length portraits in landscape.
Humphrey Ocean is a contemporary British painter who has painted portraits of Paul McCartney, the poet Philip Larkin and the politician Tony Benn. He is a Royal Academician, born in Sussex in 1951. While best known for his approach to portraiture that captures his interpretation of the person rather than their likeness, Ocean is also interested in capturing life in South London.
Traditionally, the main figure in the portrait would be the landowner and he would be depicted with a horse, attendants or his family. Here the ‘estate’ is a council estate in Peckham with a gang of youths shown loitering beside an old Volvo station wagon. The ‘Lord’ warns us off with a glassyeyed stare. But our preconceptions are further subverted as the gang are all art students and the gang leader is a poet. The picture is a window into the early 1980s with every detail of costume carefully recorded for
Lord Volvo and his Estate is an oil painting showing a gang of youths loitering around a Volvo station wagon.
posterity. The border is made of postage stamps, each one a tiny portrait franked with its date fixing it in time. The painting is a prime example of Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s contemporary art collection and its commitment to art that is relevant, political and challenging. Lord Volvo and his Estate won the National Portrait Gallery’s annual Portrait Prize in 1982, and was purchased by the Art Gallery in 1996 with assistance from the Museums & Galleries Commission/ Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and The Pilgrim Trust.
Art & Heritage 41
Learning at WAVE
Marie Cooper, learning and community engagement officer, puts WAVE’s learning and education programme in the spotlight.
subjects including literacy and English, numeracy and maths, science, design, and citizenship as well, as artists have always drawn their inspiration from many different subjects. After all, many great artists throughout history have been polymaths; gifted at sciences, maths, engineering, philosophy and writing, as well as creating art.
The WAVE Learning Team benefits from staff with expertise in areas including fine art, literature, history, design and education. We offer a collective experience of working in gallery, museum, education and training roles of over 50 years! Such expertise and experience enables us to deliver a diverse range of interesting and inspiring facilitated sessions designed for children and adults of all ages and abilities: school pupils, college and university students, and community and adult groups.
Facilitated sessions for pupils and teachers at WAVE venues are packed with opportunities for interactive, creative, memorable and inspirational learning. Children and adults alike enjoy exploring our collections, hearing the stories behind the artworks and artefacts and trying out some creative ideas of their own. We receive 100% positive feedback on our sessions and find schools and groups make repeat visits, confident in the knowledge that a visit will be a great success and inspire young and old alike in the months and years to come.
National Curriculum and Cross-Curricular Set Sessions In 2013, we designed a new series of school workshops ready for the National Curriculum in 2014. Our key focus will continue to be on art, craft, and history, but within our collections are fantastic opportunities to cover many different 42
Art & Heritage
Resources WAVE venues include: Bantock House Museum, Bilston Craft Gallery, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Wolverhampton City Archives.
History comes alive at Bantock House Museum. Pupils can experience what it was like living and working in Victorian and Edwardian times. Interactive sessions where pupils can handle historical objects and learn about the practicalities of daily life, promote a real awareness of the past. Our discovery sessions, History Detectives, doll and toy workshops, and The 1940s Experience, encourage pupils to work in teams to investigate and explore their surroundings. They can also make shadow puppets, peg dolls and rag rugs! The house is also surrounded by formal gardens and beautiful parkland. At Bilston Craft Gallery, the fascinating displays of historic industrial manufacture and contemporary craft objects in the Craftsense gallery enable pupils to explore themes of ‘Then and Now’ and learn about the rich local heritage of making in the Black Country. Concepts in art and design can be explored for a wide range of ages through our changing exhibitions and our unique handling resource of craft items – Craftbox (available for facilitated sessions only). For nursery and reception groups Craftplay at Bilston is a unique creative learning resource space with a specialist
With thanks to the teachers and pupils of Lanesfield Primary School. © Wolverhampton City Council
team that provides rich engagement and discovery in the Gallery for this age group. Wolverhampton Art Gallery displays are ideal for interactive sessions for primary and special educational needs (SEN) pupils, who can enjoy learning through a multi-sensory experience. They can dress up in period clothing and touch and handle art works and museum objects. Our Pop Art collection is the biggest collection outside London, and with our Northern Ireland collection, is great for discussing social and historical issues with secondary pupils and for encouraging pupils to be imaginative and experimental when creating their work. A sample of our new sessions include: People and Portraits, Landscapes and Nature, Maths in Art, Then and Now. Pupils of all ages can learn about the fascinating history of our city at Wolverhampton City Archives from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day. They learn how to research and interpret the past and how to handle old and valuable documents with care. Some of the topics we cover include The Victorians, The Suffragettes, Work, Industry and Manufacture, Black and
Asian Histories, and The First and Second World War. Sessions cost from just £1.50 or local schools can sign up to our SLA offer. We can also work on longer term and more in-depth projects with schools and colleges and welcome new ideas from teachers, educators and community groups. Outreach and Community Engagement We deliver sessions on an outreach basis in schools and with community groups across Wolverhampton. These sessions reflect National Curriculum objectives or are sometimes one-offs and special projects such as 2012’s giant beanstalk for the Grand heatre’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk or activities and events for Parliament Week held in November each year. Outreach is a great way of bringing art, heritage and culture straight into the classroom or community setting.
particular focus on careers within arts and heritage. This session has been particularly popular with Fine Art undergraduates and leisure and tourism students. Get in touch If you want to find out more, book a visit, order a copy of our School Visits Guide 2013-14, or share your ideas, please contact the learning team. We will be happy to discuss your requirements and assist with particular questions or concerns. Telephone: 01902 552033 Email: wavelearning@ wolverhampton.gov.uk www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk/ learning
Careers Of particular interest to university, college, and those employed within careers advice, we offer a session on careers within the arts, with a Art & Heritage 43
Small jointed teddy bear Teddy bears make lovely presents for friends and family and the Children’s Nursery at Bantock House Museum is home to several traditional, much-loved teddy bears. Marie Cooper, learning and community engagement officer at WAVE, explains how to make a teddy bear. This small teddy bear is 75mm (3 inches) tall and is fairly simple and quick to make.
Instructions 1 Pattern. Cut out the pattern pieces. 2 Arms and legs. Using strong thread, make the bear’s arms using the arm pieces and the paw pads. Make up the legs using the leg pieces and the foot pads, then turn and stuff the two arms and legs. Close the seams. 3 Ears. Fold each ear piece in half, fur side inwards. Over sew and backstitch around each curved edge, cut the straight line along the base of the ear, turn it right side out so the fur is on the outside and then over sew the base edges. 4 Head and Body. Make up the head and body. Sew the ears onto the head. 5 When the head is complete with joint (if using) and stuffing, attach the eyes.
You will need 250mm x 250mm (10 x 10 inches) of fine but strong fake fur fabric of your choice 7mm fibreboard joint (1 x ¼ inch) (alternatively, you can just stitch the head onto the body) 2mm (2 x 1/16 inch) black beads for eyes 91cms (1 yard) of black nose thread 25g (1 oz) of kapok stuffing 50mm x 50mm (2 x 2 inches) contrast material for paw pads and foot pads A small piece of black felt for the nose template
6 Eyes. Thread a needle with a double thickness of ordinary sewing cotton. Insert the needle at the back of the head. Bring out the needle at the point where the eye is to be. Pass the needle through the bead. Pass the needle through the bead. Reinsert the needle into the same hole and repeat for the other eye. 7 Attach the head to the body with the joint (if using) or stitch it firmly to the body using the strong thread. 8 Assembly. To make a thread joint, pass a large darning needle with double thread through one arm. Reinsert the needle through the first arm. Pass the needle through the body. Thread the second arm on to the needle. Reinsert the needle into the second arm and back through the body. Remove the needle and knot the thread ends under the arm. 9 Attach the legs in the same manner as the arms. 10 Nose and mouth. Attach the nose template and embroider the nose and mouth using the black thread.
1 reel of extra strong thread Bantock House Museum holds traditional teddy bear making workshops. For further details about forthcoming workshops, please telephone 01902 552038. 44
Art & Heritage
ARM CUT 2 WITH 1 REVERSED
leave open for turning
LEG CUT 2
leave o for tu pen rning
PAW PAD CUT 2 WITH 1 REVERSED
HEAD CUT 2 WITH 1 REVERSED
HEAD GUSSET CUT 1 EAR
leave open for turn ing
CUT 1 FROM FELT
Head joint position
CUT 2 WITH 1 REVERSED
FOOT PAD CUT 2 WITH 1 REVERSED
TIP – To make a bigger bear, you could enlarge the pattern on a photocopier.
Art & Heritage 45
Visual Arts in the Black Country
together at Studio Prints, an editioning workshop founded by Dorothea in 1968. Here they collaborated with many Modern British Artists, including Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach. The couple were also skilled artists in their own right and masters in the medium of mezzotint, winning many international prizes for their work. This exhibition acts as a retrospective, exhibiting the couple’s work together for the first time in a public gallery.
Angus Fairhurst as well as favourites such as the portrait of Sergeant Major William Purvis and Peter Calleson’s Dead Angels. www.thenewartgallerywalsall.org.uk Image: Garman Ryan Collection, The New Art Gallery Walsall, Photo: Craig Holmes photography.
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
www.thenewartgallerywalsall.org.uk Image: Marc Balakjian, Elegy for a Forgotten Day, mezzotint, Courtesy of the artist.
The New Art Gallery Walsall Wightwick Manor Morris & Co. Exhibition ‘Creating an Impression’ 1 April 2013 – end of February 2014 A Big Bang: The Origins of the Pop Art Collection Part 1
Held in the Malthouse, this Morris & Co. exhibition showcases the prints and design techniques of the 2013 collection, Archive 2 Prints and Wallpapers.
8 December 2013 – 21 June 2014
The New Art Gallery Walsall
Dorothea Wight and Marc Balakjian 16 November 2013 – 2 March 2014 Dorothea Wight and Marc Balakjian were at the forefront of British printmaking for 40 years, working
Art & Heritage
Back to Front: 40 Permanent Collection Gems 16 November 2013 – 16 November 2014 Forty works reflecting the 40th Anniversary of the opening of the Garman Ryan Collection. The Garman Ryan Collection was gifted to the people of Walsall by Lady Kathleen Epstein, and first went on display in July 1974 on the first floor reference room of Walsall Library. In line with Kathleen’s wishes the works are displayed in themed rooms, and the interventions complement these themes. There is a diverse range of work on display from a collage made by Dean Kelland following his Artist Residency at the Gallery in 2013 to a new sculpture acquisition by Damien Hirst’s fellow YBA
The first of a two-part display exploring how and why art works by some of the biggest names in Pop Art including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Hamilton and Pauline Boty, found a home at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. This exhibition features some of the earliest Pop works acquired for the Art Gallery and tells the story behind the collection, which began in the midsixties with the purchase of the ICA print portfolio printed which featured work by Derek Boshier, Peter Philips, Bridget Riley, Peter Blake, Patrick Caulfield and other contemporary artists of the time. www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk Image: Tim Mara, Five Screen Prints, 1973, collection of WAVE Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Bilston Craft Gallery
Wightwick Manor The Art of Embroidery 1 April – 20 July 2014
Raw Craft: Fine Thinking in Contemporary Furniture 1 February – 29 March 2014 Raw Craft presents imaginative contemporary furniture by seven designers that is characterised by careful use of materials and a problem-solving approach to making. The design of these works addresses current issues such as furniture for multi-functional living spaces, lack of storage space and economic use of resources. There is a clear emphasis on modest and sparing use of materials – Seongyong Lee’s lightweight and strong Plytube furniture is created from ply strips wrapped into tubes inspired by the model of cardboard tubing, while Fabien Capello’s Christmas Tree series uses recycled trees from the annual glut to create rustic but quirky side tables and stools.
An exhibition of work by Nicola Jarvis, who learned her craft on the three-year apprenticeship scheme at the Royal School of Needlework situated in Hampton Court Palace. Informed and influenced by the designs of William Morris, Nicola has also explored the design and stitching techniques of William’s youngest daughter May Morris in order to create new drawings and stitched works for her exhibition. She has produced a range of highly detailed botanical studies alongside numerous photographs of garden birds and reworked a selection of these through thumbnail sketches and her unique brand of ‘stitch drawings’.
exhibition are Ian McKay’s quirky automata boating scenes made from British hard woods and found objects, and charming seaside scenes in textiles and ceramics by Flossy Teacake. Discover more about the British coastline and how makers are inspired by it through lots of hands-on interactives. www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk Image: Flossy Teacake, Seaside Tours © The Artist
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Bilston Craft Gallery Justyna Ptak 19 April – 12 July 2014
Beside The Sea
Image: Tomas Alonso, A-Side Tables, Photo © Nick Moss
12 April – 14 June 2014 Donkey rides and rock pooling, windbreaks and deckchairs, buckets and spades, 99’s and sandcastles… experience all that the seaside has to offer without travelling to the coast, with this fun exhibition for all the family! Beside the Sea is full of craft inspired by British beaches, life on the coast and seaside holidays. Included in the
Justyna Ptak’s photographs seek to capture the significant and the intangible in the everyday. Her images are characterised by their formal properties – light, texture and composition – as well as their technical qualities, often large format and transparent. The images are drawn from domestic, architectural and rural environments which are both sharp and hazy simultaneously. The experimental core of the work is amplified by its presentation as transparencies, affecting a viewer’s perception of the imagery and of the space in which it is displayed. Justyna is the 2012 recipient of the West Midlands Open ‘best in show’ prize, and a recent postgraduate of the University of Wolverhampton. www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk Image: © Justyna Ptak
Art & Heritage 47
Places to visit in the Black Country
BLACK COUNTRY LIVING MUSEUM DUDLEY Set over 26 acres of former industrial land, discover the story how the world’s first industrial landscape was created right here in the Black Country. With an entire village created brick-by-brick from original buildings, there’s plenty to see and do – take a ride on a tram, explore an underground mine and experience authentic sights, sounds, smells and tastes from the past, including traditional ales and ‘proper’ fish and chips cooked in beef dripping. www.bclm.co.uk Image: © Black Country Living Museum, Photographer Nick Meers
If you’re looking for a great family day out, check out what these attractions have to offer. Whether you’re a visitor or someone who has lived in the area all your life, there’s always something to discover in the Black Country.
LIGHT HOUSE MEDIA CENTRE & CINEMA WOLVERHAMPTON The Black Country’s only independent cinema, Light House Media Centre has two screens and gallery space available to hire for engaged local artists. Its cinema programme is a perfect mix of mainstream films and independent releases, as well as live broadcasts from the National Theatre and Royal Opera House. The centre’s Lock Works Café Bar opens out into the courtyard of the historic Chubb Buildings and is the setting for regular events such as vinyl nights and language cafes. www.light-house.co.uk Image: Chubb Lock Works © Light House Media Centre
RED HOUSE GLASS CONE STOURBRIDGE This 100ft high structure is the most complete example of a glass cone remaining in the whole of Europe. With only three others remaining in the UK, the Red House Glass Cone has stayed virtually unaltered in its 200 year history and is now operating as a visitor attraction providing an insight into the history and tradition of glassmaking, and a taste of what the site was like at its peak. www.redhouseglasscone.co.uk Image: © Red House Glass Cone
Art & Heritage
RUSKIN GLASS CENTRE STOURBRIDGE Ruskin Glass Centre is home to a wide array of glass crafts, from live glassblowing, respected studio glass artists, engravers, glass decorators, and glass repair specialists to the diverse yet complementary trades of furniture design, handmade soap, textiles, photography, printing and publishing. It also features a café serving high quality fresh organic snacks, meals and desserts. www.ruskinglasscentre.co.uk Image: © Ruskin Glass Centre
WALSALL LEATHER MUSEUM WALSALL This fascinating working museum, housed in a restored leather factory, celebrates how the town became Britain’s leather capital, producing some of the world’s finest saddles and leather goods. The Museum’s displays tell the stories of the Walsall leather trade and feature outstanding examples of local craftsmanship including saddles made for the Royal Family and contemporary designs. See skilled leather workers make hand-crafted goods and maybe even have a go yourself. www.walsall.gov.uk/leathermuseum
Wightwick Manor WOLVERHAMPTON
The haven of a romantic industrialist, Wightwick Manor is in every way an idyllic time capsule of Victorian nostalgia for medieval England. With its timber beams and barley-twist chimneys, gardens of wide lawns, yew hedges and roses, rich William Morris furnishings and exquisite Pre-Raphaelite paintings, the magic and warmth of the home is as enthralling and enchanting as ever. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ wightwick-manor Image: © NTPL
WOLVES MUSEUM WOLVERHAMPTON
Image: © Walsall Leather Museum
WEDNESBURY MUSEUM & ART GALLERY WEDNESBURY A purpose built Victorian Art Gallery, Wednesbury Museum & Art Gallery houses collections including fine art paintings, applied art and old toys, as well as one of the world’s largest collections of Ruskin pottery. The Museum & Art Gallery will be closed to visitors until 1 April 2014. www.sandwell.gov.uk Image: © Wednesbury Museum & Art Gallery
Learn about the history of the city’s football club and the science behind the modern game in this fantastic experience for the whole family featuring incredible pieces of rare memorabilia and artefacts. Would-be footballers can find out if they’re fit enough for the first team with interactive games and die-hard supporters can put their knowledge to the test with the Greatest fan quiz. www.wolvesmuseum.co.uk Image: © Wolves Museum
Art & Heritage 49
Just £20 for 12 months*
FROM 1 JANUARY 2014
ONLY AVAILABLE ON SUBSCRIPTION
EXCITING NEW ISSUES FOR 2014
* * * * *
4 issues Free iPad App 2 in print and 2 online Plus Feature films on Glass Manufacturing, Joseph Chamberlain, the Anglo-Saxons and Women in the West Midlands Full access to online resources at www.historywm.com Plus Download at iTunes Discounts on expert-led History West Midlands tours app store
SUBSCRIBE NOW – ONLY £20 FOR 12 MONTHS* go to www.historywm.com/subscribe History West Midlands, 3 Arrow Court, Adams Way, Springfield Business Park, Alcester B49 6PU, UK Telephone: +44 (0)1789 766 098 Cheques should be made payable to ‘West Midlands History Limited’ * UK only. For additional subscription options visit www.historywm.com
Art & Heritage
Art & Heritage 51
Art & Heritage
Published on Feb 24, 2014
News and features from Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Bilston Craft Gallery, Bantock House Museum and Wolverhampton City Archives