May is always an exciting month for Birmingham’s cultural scene. The Flatpack Film Festival is set to return this month, showcasing the latest in exciting cinema talent. With Pride taking place at the end of the month, Recent Activity’s latest exhibition is paying homage to the LGBT+ Nightingale Club. Pack your sunscreen, May is set to be a scorcher.
A group show exploring the uncertainty of the future: On the Subject of Precarity at Grand Union
By using the uncertainty about the future as its uniting point of reference, On the Subject of Precarity is a group show featuring work by Betsy Bradley, Rafal Zajko and Gareth Proskourin Barnett. The show includes a mixture of sculpture, painting and digital pieces, which all serve as a response to materiality. The opening night will host a performance piece by Zajko which consists of an ice sculpture that will rapidly melt throughout the night. Rarely hosting group shows means that this exhibition is a break from the norm, as each artist will contribute something different and exciting in response to the theme, their surroundings, and each other. This particular exhibition is a collaboration between postgraduate students at the University of Birmingham and Grand Union. This particular collaboration is set to inject a fresh, exciting perspective into this innovative and contemporary space. Opening night will take place on Digbeth First Friday.
Fri 3 – Sat 18 May, Grand Union, 19 Minerva Works, 158 Fazeley Street, Birmingham B5 5RT, Tel: 01216439079, opening times vary. Free.
Flatpack Film Festival
Running over the course of a week, Flatpack Festival returns with an array of cultural delights on display throughout the city. The annual film festival will see a mixture of cinema screenings and art events. Where I Belong at The Mockingbird features a selection of short animated films which toy with the themes of family issues, childhood memories and friendship betrayal, whilst bento artist Mari Miyazawa will be running two workshops to show how she creates characters out of traditional Japanese lunch boxes. Greg McLeod’s Bermingham: The (Not Entirley) True Story of a Missplet City will be on show at Centrala. The BAFTA winning animator will attempt to create 1000 illustrations of Brum – the city where he spent his childhood. McLeod’s exhibition plays with our understanding of the cities history, so be on the look out for any potential misleads. Alongside this, a new film will play in the gallery which intends to document the [un]true history of the city.
Various venues throughout Birmingham. Sat 30 Apr – Mon 6 May.
An exhibition presenting the history of The Nightingale Club: The Club’s Conception (or How the Egg Was Cracked) at Recent Activity
Retracing the history of Birmingham’s The Nightingale Club, The Club’s Conception (or How the Egg Was Cracked) offers a historical look into the clubs past venues. Growing from a terraced house to a working men’s club, the history of the gale shows how the club grew amidst ongoing threats of regeneration. Set amongst the current regeneration of Brum, anxiety towards the future of the gay village is rife. The Club’s Conception shows the gale as a site that has not only adapted but has also persevered. It offers a glimpse of strength and hope for the future.
Fri 3 May – Sat 1 June, Recent Activity, 80-82 Floodgate Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 5SR, opening times vary. Free.
An evening of talks and events in response to women in art history: Barber Lates: Nocturnes: A Woman Refigured
For late evenings spent in one of Birmingham’s most prestigious galleries, ‘Barber Lates’ hosts evenings of creativity and conversation all set within the gallery. By interpreting the women who are on display throughout the Barber’s collection, Nocturnes: A Women Refigured aims to challenge how the figure of the woman has been consistently objectified and denied the status of ‘artistic genius’ throughout history. Talks will be conducted by the Gender and Feminist Research Group, the SEREDA Project and other University of Birmingham researches. Alongside these, there will also be an opportunity to create your own feminist poetry that will then be recorded onto a vinyl that can be taken away with you. There will be many stalls selling work by local female artists, so why not show your support? Tickets are free; however, they need to be booked in advance.
Tues 14 May, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TS. Tel: 0121 414 7333. 6pm-8.30pm. Free.
Catch it before it ends: Handsworth Self Portrait 40 Years on & Royal Photographic Society: International Photography Exhibition IPE 161 at the MAC
I couldn’t choose between these two photography exhibitions in this month’s column, and considering that they are both under the same roof, why not go see both? Created amongst the racial and political tension of the 1970s, photographers Derek Bishton, Brian Homer and John Reardon set up a pop-up photography studio on the street in Handsworth, Birmingham. The project served as a celebration of the people within this multicultural district. Allowing them full control of the shutter, each photograph was a self-portrait, giving each model agency over how they were presented. Handsworth Self Portrait 40 Years on is a beautiful and insightful look into the history of the people who make Birmingham so great. Alongside this, the first-floor gallery is currently hosting 100 images from this year’s International Photography Exhibition. The exhibition features work from 54 of the worlds most current photographers, so is definitely not to miss! It is also the only opportunity to view this exhibition in the Midlands before it continues on its tour, so see it whilst you can.
Handsworth Self Portrait: Sat 23 Mar – Sun 2 Jun
International Photography Exhibition: Sat 30 Mar – 12 May, both at the Midlands Arts Centre, Cannon Hill Park, Queen’s Ride, Birmingham, B12 9QH. Tel: 01214463232, opening times vary. Free.
Featured image is taken from Handsworth Self Portrait: 40 Years on, at the MAC.
Featured image credit: Stephen aka ‘Steppers’ from Handsworth Self Portrait (1979) © Bishton, Homer & Reardon, via the MAC website.
Published on: Fri 26 Apr 2019