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New Art West Midlands Interim Website Live

Turning Point West Midlands has now changed to New Art West Midlands.

The new New Art West Midlands interim website is now live and this site will no longer be updated. 

Please see www.newartwestmidlands.co.uk for information on our new team, identity, exhibitions and opportunities. 

Our full website will relaunch at the above address in February 2017. 


Lessons in Physics Conference, Friday 18 November, mac Birmingham

What the work of art looks like isn’t too important. It has to look like something if it has physical form … it must begin with an idea. It is the process of conception and realisation with which the artist is concerned …[Sol LeWitt / Artforum, June, 1967]

Following on from the 2013 conference Lessons in Geography, this is the second in a series of “lessons”. Concerned with the way matter and movement can inform ideas and understanding, Lessons in Physics looks at how material and the physical act is utilised by artists as a vehicle for expression. It examines the properties of the physicality of art in the broadest sense, and the nature of processes that are affected by the determining factors of time and space, energy and force.

Here artists, writers, performers and commentators discuss the complex space between the physical and hypothetical realms within creative practice. The processes and manifestations of artistic endeavour are central to the debate, with an examination of qualitative differences and dependencies between the intangible idea, theory or concept and the material object or performance created.

Lessons in Physics is coproduced by mac birmingham and The University of Derby. The conference organisers are Craig Ashley and Vered Lahav.

Contributors include:

Camilla Brown Curator, writer and lecturer | Johnny Golding Research Professor in Philosophy and Fine Art at Birmingham School of Art, and Director of the International Centre for Contemporary Art Research, Birmingham City University | Mary Griffiths Artist and senior curator in modern and contemporary art at the Whitworth, Manchester | Jitish Kallat Artist and curator of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014 | Peter Kennard Artist and senior lecturer in Photography, Art and the Public Domain at the Royal College of Arts, London | Gemma Marmalade Artist and academic | Carl Robinson Artist and academic | Edwin Zwakman Artist and academic

10am - 5pm | Tickets £15 (£12) Students £8 

Image: Copyright Jitish Kallat, Wind Study (the hour of the day of the month of the season), 2015, burnt adhesive and graphite on Arches paper, Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris/Bruxelles, 170 x114 cm


Curators’ Network Event, Thursday 24 November 2016, 2-4pm, mac Birmingham

An opportunity to get together to see Peter Kennard’s fantastic exhibition Off Message in the company of the artist and curators Craig Ashley and Jessica Litherland. Craig, formerly Visual Arts Producer at mac, is now Director of New Art West Midlands whilst Jessica is the new Visual Arts Producer at mac.  Both have been instrumental in the realisation of the exhibition.

Peter Kennard is widely regarded as one of Britain’s most important political artists. With a practice spanning almost fifty years, his distinctive photomontages have been published extensively in newspapers and magazines, and deployed on placards and banners by activist groups and organisations throughout the UK. His images for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), including Broken Missile, are among his best known, while collaborations with other artists including Cat Phillipps and Banksy reflect a persisting relevance and currency in his work. Off Message is a retrospective exhibition bringing together a collection of the artist’s work made between 1968 and 2016.

Following the tour, we will have the chance to get together over light refreshments to look at the role and development of the Curators’ Network.

All curators and aspiring curators are welcome.

Please book your free place by contacting Deborah Robinson on deborah.robinson@walsall.gov.uk

Image: Peter Kennard, Off Message, mac Birmingham. Photograph by David Rowan


Turning Point is Changing: New Art West Midlands Re-Launch, Thursday 10 November, 6-9pm

Join us at Coventry Artspace, Floor 11, Eaton House, Coventry, to celebrate the re-launch of New Art West Midlands.

With a new team and a new direction, the region’s Contemporary Visual Arts Network (formerly Turning Point West Midlands) is re-branding to become New Art West Midlands – a name and identity that better reflects our progressive role in developing and promoting contemporary visual arts across the West Midlands. This will be an opportunity to find out more about the new team, our programme and upcoming plans, and to find out more about the 2017 New Art West Midlands graduate exhibitions.

The evening includes music and an exhibition of work from artists and spaces from around the region organised by the Office for Art, Design and Technology. Artists include:

James Lomax is an artist based at Studio Capri in Birmingham. He has recently relocated from London and in 2014 was recipient of the Sky Academy Arts Scholarship.

Anna Francis is an artist based at Airspace in Stoke-on-Trent. She is course leader on the BA Fine Art Course and is an Associate Professor in Fine Art and Social Practice at Staffordshire University.

Amelia Crouch is an artist based in West Yorkshire. She was recently commissioned by Coventry Artspace Partnerships as part of their City Arcadia Festival. 

TNT is a collaborative duo comprised of Christopher Hodson and Nicole Mortiboys. They are based in Broadwell and Worcester respectively and have shown across the West Midlands. 

Matthew Macaulay is a painter based in Coventry. He is director of Pluspace and is currently undertaking a PhD at Coventry University.

Drinks provided by Twisted Barrel Brewery. All welcome.

Thursday 10 November, 6-9pm. Floor 11, Eaton House, Coventry.

(Image: Amelia Crouch, Tomorrow belongs to nobody) 



Away Day: The New Art Gallery Walsall, Saturday 5 November, 2-4pm

As part of our new season of Artist and Curator Development activity, we are programming a series of Away Day visits to galleries, studios and other visual arts venues both within the region and beyond. These are designed to explore artist-led activity, to profile the work of artists within the West Midlands and other regions and to create networking opportunities. The first of our visits is to The New Art Gallery Walsall.

The visit will involve a tour of The New Art Gallery (including behind the scenes) by Head of Exhibitions, Deborah Robinson and an opportunity to meet exhibiting artists Oliver Jones (his solo exhibition Divine is on display on the 4th floor until 20 November) and Chloe Ashley, the gallery's current artist in residence. Exhibitions and Artists’ Projects Curator Zoë Lippett will also introduce the Gallery’s Studio programme. To be followed by tea and coffee.

For more information about The New Art Gallery and its current and forthcoming programme click here.

Please meet at 2pm in the 4th floor Exhibition Gallery, Saturday 5 November.

Everyone is welcome.

To book a free place, please contact Anneka French on anneka.french@bcu.ac.uk


(Image: Chloe Ashley, Artist Studio-Work In Progress, Silver Gelatin Photographs, Exposed Photography Paper, Walnut, Leather, Pine The Building as Material, The New Art Gallery Walsall, 2016)





Frieze // The tale in which we find ourselves Augmenting by Frederick Hubble

Frieze// The tale in which we find ourselves Augmenting our way around the open market archipelago of artists, merchants and a bobble clad woman.

After having been invited to Frieze to compose a piece of writing about my experiences there and pinpointing some of the artists I found particularly engaging, I found myself in a perplexed state of knowing where to start. There is so much, an amalgamation of booths searching for buyers as well as doing their best not to allow the art to become a fetishised commodity. Having recently been introduced to the Augment app by a friend and fellow artist Emily Sparkes, I’d had much fun projecting deer into the toilet and conjuring a Rodin sculpture onto the coffee table.

I thought the best way to approach the temporal nature of Frieze would be the vessel of my phone. So much of the Frieze experience to those who do not attend is funneled through magazine reviews or via Instagram, an inhabiting of the space through adding to it, with Augment, seemed like a suitable approach to grasping Frieze.

Through creating virtual collages with Augment, Frieze becomes a place of potential creativity; it wasn’t so much a journey to be stirred by the art on show as much as it becomes an opportunity to do the stirring. Frieze itself feels a lot like an act of distancing, whether it is because everything there seems reasonably unattainable to a recent MA graduate or perhaps it is here we see the synapses where connections are made, all islands singing their own tunes to each other and to us.

Bringing forth a giant Rhinoceros into an installation can become an amicable croak amid the siren song of Frieze. A moment of iconoclastic joy within the spectacle, made all the more temporary by existing on the plasma canvas of the phone screen, nothing is added in reality, only temporally. 

Objects bump their way into the tent, summoning children’s playgrounds and celestial bodies into space. Augmented planets play with Olafur Eliasson and a disembodied model goat sits next to a twice-removed cousin in one of Damien Hirst’s boxes. The mundane has its day among nineties favourites.

Jon Rafman’s Trans Dimensional Serpent offers a direct mainline into virtual reality, allowing the viewer to inhabit the space of Frieze within an altered reality. The queue for the installation seems to reflect this desire of escape to inhabit a space beyond the real, or in turn something adjacent to it. The hunger for new media is in no short supply, a new generational understanding of how ideas collide, the glitch, the fetish for failures.

Augmenting Frieze became a chance to explore these notions, the naff and the poignant going hand in hand, in a festival looking back as it looks forward, occupying some space between feeling and being consumed. 

A group of 10 artists from Staffordshire, Birmingham and the Black Country were nominated to attend Frieze London 2016 with the support of New Art West Midlands' Artist and Curator Professional Development Programme. Those selected are all alumni of the New Art West Midlands graduate exhibitions. This text is the second in a series of reflections on their individual experiences of Frieze. 


Frieze London 2016: A Review by Adam Grüning

“And then there are the marquees, which you return to again and again, which signal an event but don’t carry any information.”

It’s as though Liam Gillick is speaking directly to me, rather than Philippe Parreno, as I read their interview in my free copy of Frieze Week on the train back to Stoke. “They’re totally meaningless objects that occupy a nice space between the floor and the ceiling, a place where you don’t usually see art,” Parreno jumps in and continues, oscillating a light on my feelings towards the white giant I’ve left residing in Regents Park, even if Parreno’s marquees are very different to Frieze’s.

The article, discussing both artists’ latest venture together, forms part of an internal monologue that happens to me every year around this time, usually two weeks before Frieze opens and two minutes after I leave, having given in and attended: should I go next year? Do I value this experience as an artist? Standing in line for my lunch alongside a French mime artist and a man wearing an outfit costing more than my annual income was an experience I found weirdly valuable. But between the mass of quinoa, flaxseed and kale salads, freshly pressed smoothies and metabolism-boosting cayenne shots strutting back to gallerists desks in stylish paper bags, there was something overly McDonalds that lingered around the event in the tent. It was that ‘Big Mac blues’ feeling, a short moment of enjoyment followed by a slightly dirty, guilty conscience, trying to justify it was good for you because that portion of lettuce counts towards your five a day. Or maybe that’s just me.

It’s not that Frieze London left a bad taste this year, it didn’t, by now you know what to expect at these things; there was some good work on display by some great artists: Francis Upritchard, Katie Paterson and Marvin Gaye Chetwynd to name a few of my favourites on show. However, this is always paralleled with art that you feel was made especially for ‘power’ art fairs like this; a big name, a big gallery, something to match the décor or to talk about at the next dinner party. I often find the crowds more interesting than some of the art. It still manages to give a sense of what the market is buying though, even if it’s a market that you feel cares less about art and more about investments. The work becomes a material, a product, and as gallerists (or fancy shop keepers in this case) are only interested in talking to buyers, a purely opening night phenomena, your access to an artwork’s inner workings or why a collection of artists have been intentionally shown together is limited. Context seems irrelevant here, and as art is about context, pick and mix exhibitors rarely get it right.

In general, the most successful galleries were the ones who chose to remove as much of the trade fair element from their stands as possible, leaving the best of the gallery storeroom at home and creating exhibition-like spaces. None were more successfully than Project 88 with the work of Neha Choksi on display. Her insight into materiality linked with sublime experience was my undoubted highlight of the fair.

Frieze, like every city it visits, is inextricably linked with that city, in name, geography and ultimately its philosophy, and that could be part of Frieze London’s problem; it’s so what London has become. Not that London is bad, it’s not, it’s a great city but when combined with Frieze, and its questionable ‘how much tax do these buyers avoid?’ clientele, it becomes a kind of symbol of distasteful wealth. It sells a lie and an unintentional irony of artistic mutton dressed as lamb.
The return to the nineties this year at Frieze saw some iconic work, Wolfgang Tillmans (always great to see, and my second highlight of the fair), Carsten Höller, Richard Billingham and more, some having more relevance than others in 2016. However, with a few exceptions, it felt predominantly like an attempted Spice Girls reunion for a corporate event, only without Mel B and with Geri being replaced by Hyacinth Bouquet – a kind of rehash, with a ‘let’s forget about that YBA business, who knew there were other artists we could make money out of from back then?’ feel about it all.

I think what bothers me most is that everyone seems happy to go along with the game and that the fair often looks within its own circles for guidance rather than outwards. Organisations such as Frieze need fresh blood to keep their wheels greased, yet the fair seems to promote a type of propaganda, whether consciously or unconsciously, of how artistic success should be, that ultimately hurts the grassroots of art making and encourages a divide. Gregor Muir, executive director of the ICA spoke out two weeks before Frieze claiming “Contemporary art is struggling to address real events in the art world right now” which illustrates that this isn’t exclusive to Frieze, it’s a systematic divide. People of influence seem unable to see an art world outside of institutes and of work that isn’t highly priced, or even priced at all, until it’s pointed out to them.

Maybe my angst is being indirectly pointed at Frieze, any chance to see a Caulfield or a Turk in person is always worthwhile. Maybe I don’t realise I’m holding my viewfinder over a much larger picture of recent times where world wide political systems have shown their crooked workings and division is winning word of the year. It’s not that I want to be critical of Frieze, I’m certainly not of the artists and galleries that exhibit there; if I could sell at Frieze then I probably would! The opportunity that Frieze opens up to galleries allows them to stay afloat in a highly competitive lions’ den, and more galleries means more opportunities for artists and arts employment. Frieze Projects and the array of insightful artist talks they provide do redeem it somewhat, but do I have to feel as though I’m selling my soul when I visit?

Something needs to change. The people buying into these fairs (either intellectually or financially) will get bored of this same format. Even if visitor numbers still continue to increase year on year, like any profitable business its main interest is in who’s buying and how to keep them buying. In this scenario there’s an overwhelming sense of the system in the driving seat and that’s what I can’t get past. Art has always held truths within it and this event takes that away. Art drives art, process leads to work which leads to process, but something beautiful feels as though it is being corrupted here. I may put forward a proposal to Frieze next year. I will take guided tours around the fair in a gondola, dressed as a Venetian gondolier, as my latest work, hoping that in trying to convince art tourists they are at the Venice Biennale they will see Frieze, by contrast, for what it actually is: a commercial enterprise, full fat Big Mac consumerism being masked as a cultural beacon.


A group of 10 artists from Staffordshire, Birmingham and the Black Country were nominated to attend Frieze London 2016 with the support of New Art West Midlands' Artist and Curator Professional Development Programme. Those selected are all alumni of the New Art West Midlands graduate exhibitions. This text is the first in a series of reflections on their individual experiences of Frieze.


Artist and Curator Professional Development Programme: Micro Bursaries

The micro bursaries scheme has proven very popular and applications are currently temporarily closed for the remainder of this year. Applications will reopen on 2 January 2017.

We are offering artists, curators and writers living in the West Midlands the opportunity to apply for micro bursaries towards artistic and professional development. Bursaries of up to £250 will be available towards the costs of, for example, research visits, attendance at exhibitions and conferences, travel and accommodation.

If you would like to apply for a micro bursary, please send an application to Anneka French at anneka.french@bcu.ac.uk You should send your CV and a summary of no more than 300 words outlining what you plan to do, where it is, and how you feel it would help to support and develop your practice. Please also submit 3 images of your work, your website address and an itemised budget for your proposed activity.

The deadline for applications is rolling. We will respond within 1 month so please ensure your application is sent in good time.

(Image: Preston Street Union working with Emily Warner, part of Trevor Pitt residency at Spacex, 2015. Photograph Rob Darch)