Jivan Astfalck’s installation at Moor St Station at first look like hats on stands in a box. Which is what it is. But look closer and each hat has a delicate brooch attached to it the design of which has some connection to the station itself, from the shapes of the beams and windows to a picture of a cat (apparently there’s a community of feral felines living in the disused tracks). And then you notice the cast iron hat stand has the GWR logo on it.
Jivan created the piece by sitting in Moor St watching people move through it. As a German based in London who teaches at BIAD she is not a native Brummie, something she was jokingly apologetic for, but that doesn’t make her reaction to a Birmingham train station any less valid. If anything it makes it more pertinent as the city evolved around travel and trade, from the canals to the motorway network to the airport. People pass through Birmingham as much as they live here.
Jivan was particularly interested in the renovation of the station which attempts to recreate the Victorian style to an almost fanatical degree, from the light fittings to the palm trees, yet cannot help but be fake in places. It also contrasts strongly with the ubiquitous Selfridges building the empty glass cube next to it, like a functional museum exhibit. But above all a building like this is about people and how they use it. Jivan spent time just watching the different types of people, what they looked like and how they behaved as their narratives were framed by the building, which in turn informed her choice of hats and brooch designs.
The exhibition is housed in an wood and glass box in the concourse of the station which, as an original feature, blends into the surroundings until it catches you eye. It’ll be on display until June 29th.
Jivan Astfalck is a Senior Research Fellow at UCE BIAD (this is her staff page) where she directs the Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Production MA. Her installation is part of the Architectural Jewellery and Conceptual Design strand of New Generation Arts and Architecture Week