It’s now the last chance to see the first of a series of displays featuring work by artists who are also staff members in the Costa cafe on the ground floor of the Gallery.
Wish Factory, by local artist Michele Harris, launched the series and is also accompanied by the unveiling of her first new work in several years on the Gallery’s Mezzanine.
We are delighted to announce that Umbilical, her new drawing, has now been acquired for The New Art Gallery’s Permanent Collection.
Michele has worked at the Gallery since 2000 both as a Gallery Assistant and Artist Educator. In August 2014 she suffered a brain haemorrhage whilst at work, which left her hospitalised for six weeks. She also temporarily lost her eyesight and endured several operations and a long rehabilitation process, until she was able to return to work at the Gallery in May 2015.
This year Michele began to make new artwork and Umbilical is her first completed new drawing. In her artist statement about the work Michele said: Umbilical, is a very significant work for me as it was the first work I completed since my brain haemorrhage. This left me blind for a while, and I didn’t know if I’d see again, let alone be able to draw. Umbilical is about my relationship with my 5 year old daughter Poppy. She has always been fascinated and comforted by my hair, especially when it is plaited. Braids often were a symbol of fertility and it seems fitting that it has become a talisman for Poppy, which induces a sense of calm and security.
Visually it became a symbol of the connection and interdependence between us that in form resembles the umbilical cord. In the drawing the braid is becoming tangled and cluttered with twigs that eventually overtake it and become a nest-like form representing nurturing protection.
A lot of the twigs and branches I used for inspiration were collected with Poppy on the school run and I made sure that the plaits I referenced were from toys like Anna and Elsa from Frozen or My Little Pony manes and tails. It represents playfulness and innocence and also the pain of accepting that had I not survived she may have had to rely on the toy plaits as a substitute.
Michele’s work explores the shadowy corners and ambiguities associated with innate elements of the human condition – hope, despair, wishing, sacrifice, bliss, the fear of living and the fear of dying. The symbols used in her work are rooted in the rich tradition of myth and superstition. Narratives form and the objects on which the works are based begin to symbolise transformations and metamorphoses from incarceration to freedom, despair to hope, life to death.
A group of A Level and GCSE students from Ockbrook School in Derbyshire took part in a hands-on art and sculpture masterclass led by expert artists at The New Art Gallery Walsall in the West Midlands.
The £21m New Art Gallery Walsall opened in February 2000 to national acclaim and was nominated for the RIBA Stirling Prize. It is home to over 1,500 sculptures, paintings and prints.
On arrival we had a 30 minute guided walk and talk around the gallery, which really helped us to get our bearings. For some of us it was the first time we’d seen masterpieces by leading artists such as Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso.
It was then a case of rolling up our sleeves and taking part in an amazing practical 3D sculpture workshop, involving casting in plaster. The workshop was an integral part of our students’ studies, encouraging discussion and rejuvenating ideas of their own art through viewing other artists’ work.
Year 12 student, Olivia Brown said: “The day itself was amazing. It was really thought-provoking, encouraging us to see past just the colours on a page. I loved the workshop and learned some new techniques that I hope to use in my own work.
“The gallery is stunning and getting to see Van Gogh’s ‘Sorrow’ drawing up close was also very exciting, as there are only two of these in the world!”
Catherine James, from the Gallery, said: “Taking students out of the classroom and into the inspiring space that we enjoy at the New Walsall Art Gallery is a great way of stimulating the creative juices.
“I hope the group from Ockbrook left with the understanding that art is for absolutely everyone to enjoy and that there is so much more to it than just looking at paintings, pictures and sculptures. Questioning art leads to discussions, which helps with confidence in public speaking.”
We’d like to say a huge thank you to the New Walsall Art Gallery for hosting us and the excellent educational workshop. Further details of the day can be found online at www.ockbrooksch.co.uk
To celebrate the 125th anniversary of our Permanent Collection in 2017 and the launch of our new online collections database we are inviting you to curate next year’s collections exhibition, which will open in March.
Two History of Art students from the University of Birmingham are now undertaking work placements with us at the Gallery to help promote this exhibition. Aelita and Jessica will be in and around the Gallery for the next few months encouraging visitors to vote for their favourite artworks, both via Ipads in the Garman Ryan galleries and in our Art Library. They will also be helping with ideas on social media to illustrate the breadth and scope of our Permanent Collection.
This is your opportunity to take ownership of the collection displays!
Voting is now open and will close at the end of January.
Alternatively you can vote via postcards available in the Gallery.
We will display the most popular works in our themed collection galleries next year.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to see your favourites on display!
Thank you to everyone who has sent messages of support over the recent weeks.
Walsall Council has been asked to make savings of £86 million over the next four years. As part of the proposals to achieve this, the Council has proposed reducing funding to The New Art Gallery Walsall to zero by 2020.
The Gallery’s core funding is currently awarded through a partnership between Walsall Council and Arts Council England, and further subsidised through grants, foundations, partnerships and commercial activity.
Further to the online survey launched as part of the public consultation, Walsall Council is inviting anyone wishing to comment upon the draft budget saving proposals to write or email directly to:
The Council have requested that the following points are addressed in any feedback:
- We ask that those who write to us tell us whose views they represent – i.e. individual, community group, stakeholder, artist, student
- Provide the proposal number commenting on. The New Art Gallery No. 36
- The overall opinion i.e. do not support/ support with concerns / amendments or fully supports
- How the saving proposal impacts on them and whether they have alternative suggestions for how this saving can be made and provide any other comments they want to make.
Feedback submitted by letter, email and the online survey https://surveys.walsall.gov.uk/s.asp?k=147741448313 will be collated via methods agreed by Chris Holliday, Head of Leisure Culture and Operations, Walsall Council.
Public consultation is now underway for the proposals put forward by Walsall Council.
The proposals concerning The New Art Gallery Walsall are outlined here:
To ‘have your say’, you can upload and complete the consultation document here:
To comment on the proposals concerning The New Art Gallery Walsall you will need to enter number ‘36’ when asked for the ‘Saving Reference Number’.
On the evening of Wednesday 26 October 2016, Cabinet approved the proposals as set out in ‘Rebalancing the Budget: Options for Consultation’ – public consultation will now take place.
To read about Walsall Council’s proposals regarding The New Art Gallery Walsall, see pages 117 – 122 http://bit.ly/2eneXec
As part of the £86 million in savings that Walsall Council have been asked to make over the next 4 years, proposals will be put forward to
Cabinet on Wednesday 26 October 2016.
Read how this could affect The New Art Gallery Walsall, here, pages 117-122 http://bit.ly/2eneXec
Congratulations to architects Caruso St John, who have been awarded the 2016 Stirling Prize for Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery, Vauxhall, London. The architects, now famed for their intuative museum and gallery designs won an international competition to build The New Art Gallery Wasall. We are very proud and priveledged to have been the architects first UK public gallery project, with our beautiful building standing the test of time, now 16 years old!
The new banner artwork has been specifically made for the Gallery’s Window Box as part of Eva Rothschild’s Alternative to Power exhibition which opens to the public from Saturday 24 September 2016 – 15 January 2017.
Eva Rothschild is one of the leading sculptors of her generation and has gained extensive international recognition for her work. She works across a range of media including steel, leather, resin, plastic and fabric and her work is often characterised by the use of unstable geometric forms. This will be Rothschild’s first solo exhibition in the Midlands and the new body of work will include a specially commissioned piece using leather, a material at the centre of Walsall’s manufacturing industry.