From immersive examinations of British class and identity to an exploration of how faces and human figures have been captured by artists throughout the years, check out some of the best exhibitions to catch in Birmingham this summer.

Image credit: Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum

Makers and Machines | Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum | Open now

Birmingham Science Museum’s latest exhibition delves into the long history of coding, accompanied by incredible stories of local people, both past and present, who use coding in their work.

Makers and Machines also explores the implications of new technologies like AI, challenging visitors to uncover three object labels that have been written by an AI chatbot rather than a human.

Rare objects on display include the HEC computer, one of the oldest surviving electronic computers in the world, along with an array of digital and analogue devices and classic game designs.

Millennium Point, Curzon St, Birmingham B4 7XG
Rue Britannia | Ikon | Open now

Ikon hosts the first major solo exhibition by British artist Dion Kitson. An ambitious off-site commission, Kitson’s Rue Britannia dissects British class and identity, and is inspired by the artist’s experience of growing up in Dudley.

Visitors are invited into the architectural installation Council House of Kitson (2024), which recreates both the façade and interior of his father’s house, while Ode to Rubbish Mountain (2022) is a miniature recreation of the infamous landfill pile that was removed from Brierley Hill in the Black Country in 2016 following a five-year local battle.

Elsewhere, visitors can play on a functional pool table, a nod to the British pub staple, take in a series of prints created from scratched bus stop windows, and much more.

Brindleyplace, 1 Brindley Pl, Oozells Sq, Birmingham B1 2HS
Figures and Faces | RBSA | Opens Thu 25 Jul

Featuring selected works from the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists collection, Figures and Faces examines the shifts in approach to how human anatomy is represented in art throughout the last 200 years.

The exhibition offers fascinating insights into the cultural life of Birmingham via fine drawings, paintings and sculpture from the Georgian period through to the present day.

RBSA Gallery, 4 Brook Street , Birmingham, West Midlands B3 1SA
Love is Real, and it’s Inside Of My Computer | Grand Union | Open until Sat 3 Aug

Babeworld’s biggest exhibition to date sees the group work in collaboration with sound artist utopian_realism for a project that reflects on the permanent need within the arts to have new and innovative ideas.

Told through the eyes of a neurodivergent coded character, Love is Real, and it’s Inside Of My Computer plays on the structures of the traditional gallery and art industry, inviting viewers to question we define what is considered ’new’ and ‘exciting’.

By blending immersive design, pop-culture-infused soundscape, anime-inspired moving images, and embedded access, the collection utilises gaming and internet cultural references as entry points, offering new perspectives on neurodivergence as a creative process and investigating the impact of gallery expectations on mental health.

Minerva Works, 158 Fazeley St, Birmingham B5 5RS
Benjamin Zephaniah – The Brighter Flame | City centre | Opens Fri 5 Jul

A special exhibition celebrating the life of Birmingham poet, author, actor and activist, Professor Benjamin Zephaniah, is set to take place across the city centre this summer.

The free, multi-site outdoor exhibition, Benjamin Zephaniah – The Brighter Flame will run between Fri 5 Jul – Wed 31 Jul, and will feature more than 20 specially-curated artworks in Victoria Square.

The collection, which has received the support of the Zephaniah family, will also feature flags designed in his memory flying on Colmore Row, while a Q&A with David Springer, Zephaniah’s brother, will take place at The Exchange on Broad Street.

Victoria Square & Colmore Row
Words:
Bradley Lengden
Published on:
Sun 14 Jul 2024