Playback (pictured) at The mac, Birmingham
Drag queens, super-heroes, job centres, zombies, talking goldfish and radioactive snails, this interactive short film based exhibition allows the viewer to choose films spanning a variety of stories from teenage love to dance choreography and quirky animated treats. Playback showcases the talent of over 200 young filmmakers from across the country many of the films were shot in or around Birmingham and are set to tour the country in partnership with Channel 4 Random Acts. Catch this display of innovative, young artists's work locally until the end of Jan.
Sun 7th Jan – Wed 24th Jan. The mac Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, B12 9QH. 11am-5pm Tues-Sun. Free.
BLUE POWER at Ort Gallery
Caribbean artist Karen McLean's work explores colonialism and the notions of displacement as well as looking at religion and spirituality as methods of protection. Hailing from the Caribbean and having relocated to the UK, McLean specialises in gorgeous installations that carry strong messages of displacement and the histories of both the colonised and the colonisers. Thought-provoking and immersive, there will be an artist talk on Wed 21 Feb 6pm-9pm.
Thu 18 Jan – Sat 3 Mar. Ort Gallery, 500-504 Moseley Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham, B12 9AH. Tues – Sat 12pm-5pm. Free. www.ortgallery.co.uk
Rationed at The Vittoria Street Gallery
Trinkets, hand-me-downs & diaries offer and enticing peek into the intimate workings of past lives as Jo Pond draws on evocative World War 2 artefacts to craft her own heirlooms into her new line of jewellery. Drawing on the notion of heritage and re-told stories, Pond uses materials such as domestic homewares like biscuit and medicine tins. Pond’s jewellery grapples with themes of gender – whilst shedding light on the female experiences during the war she will also be creating new narratives as a 21st century woman. Artist talk on Wed 10th Jan, booking essential.
Mon 8 Jan – Fri 16 Feb. School of Jewellery, Birmingham City University, 82-86 Vittoria Street, Birmingham, B1 3PA. Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, not open weekends. Free.
Poetry Jam with Beatfreeks
Birmingham's ever-reliable open mic style poetry event featuring the best in underground, literary talent in a welcoming atmosphere encouraging a liberating freedom of expression and honest communication. This event really is a city gem, with performers ranging from the hilarious to the highly emotional. The event is not restricted and all forms of spoken word are welcomed from the more traditional to rawer forms like rap and experimental work.
Thu 4 Jan. 2000 Degrees Coffee Shop, Colmore Row, Birmingham, B3 2BH. Free.
Pride and Persecution at The Barber Institute
Not a brand new exhibition, but with the hangover from the festive period's frantic rush still in full-swing, now is a good time to catch this exhibitions before it's gone. ‘Pride and Persecution’ is an exquisite show featuring the work ‘Wrath of Ahasuerus’ by the Dutch master Jan Steen. Paying homage to the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, the Barber’s current exhibition features work which is as exquisite as it is educational. A contemporary of the Dutch greats Van Dyck, Rembrandt and Vermeer Steen's work offers exquisite attentions to detail in large scale, theatrical scenes.
Until Sun 21 Jan 2018. Lady Barber Gallery, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, B15 2TS. Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 11am-5pm. Free. www.barber.org.uk
JMW Turner and contemporary art practices at The New Art Gallery Walsall
The New Art Gallery Walsall is an absolute gem, hosting a large collection of stunning works. Amongst its numerous exhibitions is a current show featuring works from and inspired by JMW Turner. Aside from Turner's exquisite paintings, the other works on display feature contemporary responses to his work. Whether that be through a gorgeous large-scale projection which displays a rugged seascape, or through modern pieces coming to life on digital photo frames, this exhibition has a mix of art which is brilliantly combined to show the influence of the old on the new. A beautiful, creative respite from the bleak mid-winter outside, the exhibition ends mid-January.
Ends Sun 14th Jan. Floor 3, The New Art Gallery Walsall, Gallery Square, Walsall, WS2 8LG. Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-4pm, not open Mon. Free.
Coming Out – Sexuality, Gender & Identity at The BMAG
Featuring works by the art super-giants Andy Warhol, Sarah Lucas and Francis Bacon to name a few, this ground-breaking new exhibition will be opening its doors with a public launch in partnership with SHOUT festival that promises life drawing with a drag queen, performance art and activities. Marking 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales and putting LGBT+ stories in the spotlight, the BMAG’s new exhibition also offers a rare glimpse of Grayson Perry’s ‘Claire’s Coming Out Dress’. Events linked to the event include soap carving, rainbow storytelling, tours and drag make-up art.
Sat 2 Dec – Sat 15 Apr 2018, Mon – Thu, Sat & Sun 10am-5pm, Fri 10.30am-5pm. Free www.birminghammuseums.org.uk
Exile and incarceration at IKON gallery
Two new, starkly contrasting exhibitions from Thomas Bock and Edmund Clarke launch this month at the magnificent IKON. Thomas Bock’s work centres around his time spent in exile to Australia and reflects a subtle insight into our colonial past through his depiction of the Aboriginal people. Clarke’s exhibition takes inspiration from his time as artist in residence at HMP Grendan – a therapeutic prison where prisoners are required to take responsibility for their offence. Whilst not a victim of incarceration like Bock, Clarke’s work is heavily inspired by the lives of those around him an his work grapples with the themes of censorship, security and control.
Wed 6 Dec – Sun 11 Mar. 1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2HS. Open Tues-Sun 11am-5pm, closed Mon. Free. www.ikon-gallery.org