As part of a three year partnership with the Arts Council Collection, Birmingham Museums Trust’s new summer exhibition presents a playful and surreal experience which encourages visitors to look at everyday objects in new and imaginative ways.
Opening on 9th June 2018 at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, The Everyday and Extraordinary will explore the potential of everyday objects to be transformed into artworks of wonder.
Visitors to Birmingham Museums will find themselves in a Wunderkammer (a room of wonder) in the heart of Birmingham’s city centre. Entering the exhibition, visitors will become immersed in a gallery space where objects climb the walls, large sculptures fill the gallery floor and vibrantly coloured walls dazzle against a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ style installation.
From an umbrella fashioned into a crow to over one hundred plastic objects arranged in the colours of a rainbow, this vibrant and visually immersive exhibition will feature over 70 artworks by internationally renowned artists – many of whose work will be presented in Birmingham for the first time. In an increasingly digital age, this exhibition celebrates the material and handmade, looking at how artists have transformed everyday objects in their art. Surrealism used found objects to evoke humour and satire, and Pop Art famously directly appropriated items from popular culture. These artistic movements have continued to inspire contemporary artists today, influencing the concept behind The Everyday and Extraordinary.
Artists based in Birmingham will feature, including Chris Clinton, whose paper-coil dartboard artworks ‘Spiderman’ and ‘Nascar #29 Kevin Hardwick’ entered the internationally renowned Arts Council Collection in 2013. New work by Birmingham-based artist Kurt Hickson will also be showcased in this major exhibition.
The playful and vibrant nature of the exhibition can be found rooted in the curious brilliance of the contemporary artworks on display.
Tony Cragg’s vivid yet delicate New Stones, Newton’s Tones is a rainbow-toned artwork made up of everyday objects collected by Cragg in just a few hours in May 1978. Set out in a rectangular format, the objects are meticulously placed on the floor by hand and shimmer like a rainbow. Hinting that discarded objects have beauty, this unique and playful artwork makes a statement that endless manmade production of objects is not unlike nature’s reproduction.
Also featured in the exhibition is Yoko Ono’s All White Chess Set. The all-white chess board is accompanied by white chess pieces, which results in players being unable to remember where their pieces reside on the set as the game unfolds. This transformation of the everyday makes a statement about Ono’s anti-war beliefs: instead of players being opponents, they must work together to achieve peace.
A large-scale striking artwork that will be on display is Hew Locke’s ‘Jungle Queen II’ on loan to Birmingham for the first time from The New Art Gallery Walsall. Hew Locke describes his artistic practice as ‘painting with objects’ and he uses found objects in his artwork to interrogate resonant themes such as the ideas of power, wealth, culture and identity, and what they mean to him.
In ‘Jungle Queen II’ Locke uses a dense amalgamation of colourful everyday objects, ranging from children’s toys, to cake decorations to create a recognisable silhouette of Queen Elizabeth. Using cheaply sourced and readily available items, Locke’s work combines humour with a serious critique to question British colonisation, capital wealth and consumption.
Bright colours and the richness of artworks will create an inspiring family-friendly environment for all ages to enjoy and explore. Alongside the exhibition, there will be an innovative and experimental learning programme where families can get practically involved with the processes of creating artworks and transforming everyday objects.
Launching the exhibition on Saturday 9th June, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery has teamed up with Town Hall Symphony Hall to present a music concert with a difference – The Extraordinary Band of Brum.
Inspired by the exhibition families can get crafty and use recycled objects to make musical instruments, with the chance to perform in the Round Room. More details here birminghammuseums.org.uk/bmag/whats-on/the-extraordinary-band-of-brum.
Zelina Garland-Rowan, Curatorial & Exhibitions Manager at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “In 2018 the digital world is all-consuming. Our everyday lives have forever been altered by access to an online expanse of data and information which can have both positive and negative effects. This exhibition celebrates the physicality of our everyday world through the extraordinary eyes of artists. The objects we might overlook, forget or use as part of our daily routine can be a source of inspiration or intrigue for artists who can help us all to see the world in extraordinary ways.
“The Everyday and Extraordinary celebrates artistic creativity in all its skill, wonder and imagination. Art historically relevant, timely and ambitious, this exhibition is a must-see summer exhibition for all.”
Jill Constantine, Director of the Arts Council Collection, said: "This exhibition draws on a wide range of work in the Arts Council Collection where artists have literally used everyday objects and transformed them into the extraordinary with unexpected results. This exhibition will give everyone something to contemplate and enjoy and we're delighted to be working with Birmingham Museums Trust on this clever inventive show".
The Everyday and Extraordinary has been conceived by Birmingham Museums Trust as part of the Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme 2016-19. The exhibition will tour to the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, where it will be on display from September 28th 2018 to January 6th 2019.
For more details visit birminghammuseums.org.uk/bmag/whats-on/the-everyday-and-extraordinary.