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Sipping prosecco and pimms, indulging on fluffy iced cupcakes, and posing for photographs whilst standing in a room of admirable art isn’t my usual Thursday evening, but I could certainly get used to it. The launch party of Art in the Heart kicked off last week in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and I enjoyed it that much that I am now inspired to see all of their exhibitions that will be on display this summer.

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Art in the Heart is celebrating the region’s world class art collections, across 23 leading West Midlands cultural attractions. In Birmingham venues include the IKON, the planetarium at Thinktank and RBSA Gallery in St Paul’s Square. The Discovery Season Festival at the Library of Birmingham is also part of Art in the Heart, along with Reference Works, a photography exhibition in the new library’s gallery. Other exhibitions have work on display by famous artists such as Rembrandt and Damien Hirst, and my personal favourite; Quentin Blake. You have to have a high regard for the man who brought the BFG to life.

The launch party opened with George Catlin’s American Indian portraits, on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery until the 13th October. Catlin was a 19th Century American artist who followed Native American tribes and painted their portraits. The most interesting thing for me was that he wasn’t just an incredible artist, but he was also a writer and a performer. He even visited the UK with his portraits to tell his tale, touring the country and performing dances and re-enactments to support his art work.

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George Catlin, Indian Portraits

For the 1800s, he was a well travelled man, and from the things to read in the art gallery, also that of a socialite: He spent a lot of time around Birmingham, visiting the newly restored Shakespeare Memorial room, housed in the new Library of Birmingham, meeting with Mr Cadbury, a stop at the then button factory at Snowhill, and he even partied with a local novelist in her home on Bennett’s Hill. Quite the lifestyle really, almost as glamorous as me attending an arts launch party.

Do try to check at least one of the exhibitions out, if Indian portraits aren’t for you, then there most definitely will still be something to intrigue on the impressive list of what’s on. Aside from Quentin Blake, I shall be gracing my presence at the Stratford upon Avon Poetry Festival based at Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

To find out more information on the many events and exciting exhibits, go to:

http://www.artintheheart.org.uk

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And we’re off.

The summer school of production for our Discovery Season Festival Brochure kicked off with a bang today. A massive bang. A large gold box full of books kind of bang. Feeling very important, with our notebooks, cameras and name badges, the Birmingham 2022 team headed off to the Library of Birmingham this morning for a preview of the brilliance that is to come.

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Caitlin Griffiths of Capsule kindly showed us around the building, and boy is Birmingham in for a treat. All still a bit hush hush for now with the exciting things that are happening on the inside, but what’s the harm in talking about the outside?

My biggest joy of driving into work right now is the moment when you twirl around Spaghetti Junction, off the M6 and you have that first view of Birmingham soil, and its skyline. Now with the newest addition being the Library, I am looking forward to it becoming as iconic as the other buildings around Brum such as the Bull and Selfridges. Soon enough the Library will be that image that people think of when they think of Birmingham.

For a building that resembles a large square box, it is actually a lot taller than you would think, and the views are absolutely amazing. As in, like really breathtaking. I had never seen Birmingham look so good. As we were standing out on the terrace today, sunning ourselves on the wooden bench areas, amongst the flowers and the panoramic city views, I felt like I had paid to be at the top of the Empire State Building, but getting more value for money. Obviously there are no rushes of people (yet) but the terraces are an attraction in itself. Yes plural. One at the front, and one at the back. Just so you can view every inch of Brumminess.

We did spend some time in the Library, looking at what goes where, and talking about the art pieces that are going to be featured. So far it is all looking and sounding every bit of wonderful and I cannot wait for the doors to open on the 3rd September.

This also panics me a little, we have to go off and write about everything we saw today. Only for a few people. Only 70,000 copies are being printed. Just a few.
This afternoon consisted of a bit of a plan and deciding who is writing/designing/drawing what for the brochure. And who is talking/interviewing/chasing who. So we are all prepared(ish) and ready to go. Bring on the Production Summer School.

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Words and Photography By Abbey Duckett.

In my last blog post I mentioned how I miss the pen. Sliding a finger along screens and electronic gadgets seems to have replaced the old pen to paper, yet I have found a little gem in Birmingham that celebrates the good old fashioned pen.

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Tom Hunter has been commissioned by GRAIN Library of Birmingham to produce an exhibition that showcases his photography of Birmingham. The project is called FINDINGS and features photographs of 50 places across Birmingham’s Colmore Business District and the Jewellery Quarter.

One of his photographs features THE PEN MUSEUM

THE PEN MUSEUM is a former pen factory turned museum where you can learn the history of pen making. Steel being a famous industry of Birmingham; the museum promotes the legacy of the steel pen trade.
The museum is situated in the Jewellery Quarter in an architecturally appealing Grade II Listed Building, partly why I assume Hunter chose to photograph it.
The volunteer lead museum boasts a large collection of objects and activities relating to the Steel pen trades and the history of writing, including machinery, museum trails and a Victorian School room. There is even the opportunity for visitors to make their own nib.
The museum is the only one of its kind in the UK and is free to explore so do try to check it out.

http://www.thepenroom.co.uk

The Pen Museum

The Pen Museum

You can have a look at the Pen Museum photograph on Church Street Square, in the Colmore Business District.

FINDINGS also features many other buildings around Birmingham; from St Chads Cathedral, to Jekyll and Hyde bar, to Yorks Bakery Cafe. What’s more it is displayed in an out of the ordinary fashion: temporary partitions or ‘units’ have been placed around St Paul’s Square and Church Street Square presenting the images, giving the passerby the opportunity to freely explore the photographs.

And if they weren’t awe-inspiring enough; all of the photographs were produced using a pinhole camera. I don’t know much about photography myself, and for the like-wise out there: pinhole cameras are a simple square wooden box without a lens or a shutter. The box has a small hole in it that allows the light in to capture the image on a film held inside. Going back to the early days of photography, yet the results are anything but dated.

Hunter has said that his photographs are ‘monuments to this industrial past’ and show a journey through Birmingham’s industrial heritage. I personally love that this exhibition represents the working life of Birmingham; then and now. It highlights the local businesses, the varied cultures of Birmingham, and even shows the speckled mix of old and new architecture amidst the city.

You are invited to make your own journey of discovery; it’s only around until the 19th July so catch it before it goes.

FIndings exhibition at St Paul's Square

FIndings exhibition at St Paul’s Square

For more information, visit the Findings website:
http://www.findingsbirmingham.co.uk/findingsviewpoint

Or find the exhibition at:

Church Street Square
Colmore Business District
Birmingham
B3 2NP

St Paul’s Square
Birmingham
B3 1QZ

Written By Abbey Duckett.

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As we are developing ideas for our time capsule, and thinking about what Birmingham will be like in 2022, I thought about presenting my ideas of the future via a Twitter page.

The above shows my development in creating my twitter page,  and my first draft.

 I thought it would look better hand drawn rather than digitally produced to continue with the theme that we discussed… future trends may include reverting back to basics. I want the piece to look vintagey and old, stripped back and raw. I think it shows more individuality which can often be pushed aside with social networking.

This also leads me to think: will Twitter even be here in 2022? Will social networking even be here in 2022? The form of communication that has boomed in the last few years may have developed so much further that we won’t even remember it in ten years time. Maybe we will be laughing at it the way we now laugh at dial-up internet and landline phones: “The good old days.”

I personally hope that we go the opposite end of the spectrum and slip back into the traditional way of writing a good old letter. So much more thought goes into those things, and are much more personal and private than a public facebook status intended for hundreds to see and ‘like’. I miss pen and paper.

Written By Abbey Duckett.