Okay, I think I’ve stumbled on a seam of activity in Birmingham that I wasn’t aware of. This happens to me a lot, as you’d imagine, but this time I’m going to keep a record as I travel through it. Let’s see where it goes!
We start with a Flickr search for Custard Factory Birmingham as I’m ostensibly looking for a nice photo to send my mum. But as is so often the case I get distracted by a photo. This one:
The photo is by little-lil who appears to be a sticker / graffiti artist from the West Midlands. She has a MySpace page where I find all manner of cool stuff. She’s very prolific producing canvases, t-shirts, shoes and numerous art projects like this painted VW van:
And she’s taking part in a collaborative art show. Which leads me to Monsters Monsters, a 26 year old chap who appears to be from Birmingham, who had this idea for a show and spread it amongst his MySpace contacts. The result is a show in August to be held at the Studio 4 gallery in the Custard Factory. Monsters Monsters makes plush toys of, you guessed it, monsters. Here’s a gallery of his work:
A quick google of Studio 4 reveals to me that they have a blog! It was most active in May but is still going. I like the technique of posting snapshots of the pieces on display – quick and easy and giving a good sense of what the gallery is like. I’m also reminded that Studio 4 is connected to Beat 13 and the Outcrowd Collective who I see also started a blog last month. But I know about them so I’m going to backtrack a bit.
(But before I do that I’ll quickly link to an article on Ten4 about collectives which I saw on their blog for future perusal.)
little-lil links to It’s Grand Central.
Its Grand Central is a host for Midlands Local: Urban Artists, Photographers, Graphic Designers and Illustrators. The aim of this site is to showcase work to support the creative talent and assist them in receiving the appropriate recognition within the area. Its Grand Central will soon be commissioning the artists featured on this site to design a series of Limited Edition clothing.
It’s basically a portal site for a bunch of like minded artists, mainly from a graffiti background though there are photographers involved. All of them have a little portfolio section which links to their sites, mainly on MySpace. From my perspective it’s not really Birmingham-centric enough to investigate fully but it’s a neat little example of using a relatively static site to tie together a network of more active ones and potentially launch them to pastures new. I think it comes out of Coventry and spreads at least as far as Lancashire.
So I pop back to Monster Monster to see who he’s linking to and find myself a slightly torn. These skater-artists are well connected across the globe which is fantastic as they cross-polinate their ideas through different cultures, but from my perspective it’s kinda frustrating as I’m looking for the Brummies. After a few beautiful dead ends (check this shit out from LA) I hit gold with another collective.
THEM LOT is a collective formed in Birmingham. We are illustrators, photographers, monster makers, fine artists, inventors and film makers. We like to create. We are Gareth Barnett, James Bourne, Gary Bugerlips, Joanne Conlon, Andy Council, Paul Gibbs, Mark Long, Katie Mallon, Nicki McCubbing, Bob Notley, Joel Peers, Laurie Richardson Paul Roberts, David Shillinglaw, Gregory Siff and Oda Valle. Our current project focuses on the theme of CONFESSIONS.
While the Confessions show is taking place at the Custard Factory on August 15th some random clicking of their members shows them to be from all over the place. Rats! But it does get me thinking again about the blinkers this blog forces upon me. The fact that Birmingham artists reach out so much is really something to be celebrated. Gateway to the world and all that.
And so, after two hours of digging through this bewildering network I decide to call it a day. I still have to find that photo for my mum after all.