Thrift Radiates Happiness Launch

Thursday 14th March saw the long awaited launch night of Thrift Radiates Happiness at the Municipal Bank in Birmingham. We first talked about this back in January but now it is here I wanted to give you a sneak peek of what’s going on inside in the hope that you pay a visit and ‘invest’.


It’s hard to believe that such a beautiful building has stood empty for so long; watching people exploring and soaking up the atmosphere was really great. The main foyer hosts a specifically commissioned sound piece by Elly Clarke. From here you can sit and listen to the audio which is a collection of interviews recorded with former employees of the bank. They give you an insight into the stories, history and personality of the bank.


The offices off the main foyer house four further pieces, all based on commerce, current economical issues, up-cycling objects and investment, by Tom Crawford, Caitlin Griffiths, Nicole Wilson and Library of Birmingham Archives.

One of my favourite pieces of the exhibition was The National Debt Project by Nicole Wilson. Wilson finds at least one penny a day on the streets of America and since August 2009 has sent her found change via certified mail to the Bureau of the Public Debt. The exhibition is made up of a selection of her correspondences, all of which are copied to President Barack Obama, with pennys taped to them and a story of where she found her pennys that day!

TRH_Nicole Wilson

Next to the offices is a small table with a stack of postcards asking visitors to draw or describe what they wish for the Municipal Bank. Some of the suggestions that caught my eye were an ice rink, a non commercial space for exhibitions, performances and events and also an Arts Bank of Birmingham.

TRH_I wish this was

What would you wish for the Municipal Bank?

The basement of the bank houses an installation by Ellie Harrison titled History of the Financial Crises that re-enacts the history of the crises over the last century. The frenzied moments of crisis are relived, in chronological order, using popcorn and popcorn machines. Also down in the basement you will be asked if you would like to ‘invest’ £2. This gives you a personal number that corresponds to a safety deposit box inside the vaults where you will find a limited exhibition print by one of the contributing artists. Being able to walk around the vault, look at the safety deposit boxes AND walk away with a limited exhibition print is well worth the £2 investment!



The event is curated by Charlie Levine / TROVE in associate with Aedas Presents, Birmingham Architects Association and Birmingham City Council/Library of Birmingham. It is open 12 – 5pm from Friday 15th March to Sunday 17th March and is free entry.

The aims of Thrift Radiates Happiness are

“to present high quality, accessible art in an amazing surrounding…to be a platform for future projects”

I hope this is the first of many Thrift Radiates Happiness exhibitions.