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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Part 2: Art Gallery Ramblings

This piece was created and completed in a day by the talented Birmingham artist 'Sweaty Eskimo'.  It celebrates the cities culture and heritage.

Maybe I should explain the title of my last blog post?  'La de dah... I'm a lady'.  Sitting in the Edwardian Tea Rooms at The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, gave me delusions of grandeur and instantly made me think of this character, Emily Howard.
I am actually not so much a fan of these shows or the sketches but the the characters are very well known here.  She frequently reminds everyone 'I'm a lady'.  I really need to do some research because I know the Birmingham Guild of Knitters and Crocheters used to meet once a month in the Tea Rooms for their 'Knitter Knatter'.  Crochet and delusions of grandeur is my kind of day.
   I am really pleased reading comments under my last post that I am tempting some of you to possibly visit Birmingham.  You could read my Blog Posts with a Brummie accent and you would get some idea of how I sound.  I do not have a strong Brummie accent, but if I stray from the Midlands people ask if I am a Brummie.  There are regional accents and dialects within the Midlands, in the Midlands I would not be classed as having a Brummie accent.  We all speak English, but you have trouble understanding some of the regional twangs.  From town to town the accent and dialects differ.  
There are some great videos on Youtube with examples of 'Black Country' dialect and accent.  I don't want to bore you, if you are interested you can find them for yourself.  The above video is a little old, the city is in the middle of some pretty big changes/improvements to the infrastructure.  The main streets and squares in Birmingham I think are very clean for a big city.  Obviously all major cities across the globe have social problems.  Birmingham is beautifully multi-cultural.  Last year I went to the city unknowingly on the day of a large, contentious demonstration by the British National Party.  (I don't want to get political but personally I think the least said about them the better).  I was in awe of how the Police managed the demonstration, the whole city seemed to be covered and it went off fairly peacefully.  I am sure Birmingham is a safe as anywhere else.  It is a very cultural place, great theatres, music halls, music heritage, bars and restaurants.  
   I wanted to share and ask you about some of the 'art' that I saw.  I did ask which bits I could photograph, I don't like getting told off especially in public places!
Photographing paintings in a hurry is a bit rubbish, but you get the idea.  This is my favourite painting ever.  'The Blind Girl' by John Everett Millais (1856).  I think everything about this painting is beautiful.  (Sorry the photograph does not do the painting justice at all). 
Looking at paintings by Lowry, remind me of this song released in 1977 in his memory.  The song got to number 1, in the UK and I remember singing along to it as a child.  (A small child, I would hasten to add)!
I like paintings that tell stories.  I can cope with some 'Modern Art'.  I like photography, patterns, colour, texture and geometric art.  I just don't understand this:
or this;
or this one.
I do not know the name of the artists for these pieces and I am worried I could cause offence with my ignorance, but come on now?  What makes these masterpieces?  Then you question the very basics, what is art?  I think it would be quite funny to have a little hidden camera behind these pieces to capture people's puzzled expressions and to hear their opinions.  I know my face must be a picture when I am standing in front of these trying to work them out.  On the optimistic side, I am pretty sure I could churn out 'art' like this myself!  Just a few splodges and squiggles... Bob's your uncle.  The first time I took my youngest son to the gallery he stood in front of these and loudly exclaimed 'These are rubbish'! The makings of an art critic.  The stupid thing is...since Saturday, I have been thinking about and pondering about these pieces and I think in spite of myself they may be growing on me.  I am glad I photographed these to look at in the comfort of my own home.
    Two of the temporary exhibitions you could not photograph.  'True to Life?'  New Photography from the Middle East, was fascinating and very moving, the portrayal of modern Middle Eastern women particularly struck a chord with me.
Hassan Hajjjaj, Saida in Green 2000
"The joyful. fashion conscious Moroccan woman in this image strikes a pose like models in magazines such as Elle or Vogue.  Hajjaj presents her wearing traditional dress but in versions that are emblazoned with symbols of western culture.
More broadly his images in their sculptural frames are a fusion of Arabic and Western worlds that challenge our perceptions of Morocco and the women who live there."

  Then the exhibition 'Symmetry in Sculpture' by Zarah Hussain is amazing. 
Search on Google images for 'Zarah Hussain' and you will get a kaleidoscopic feast for the eyes.  I would really like to play with yarn and crochet to explore Zarah Hussain's work.  I am adding 'Geometric Crochet' to my list of things to do.  A Zarah Hussain inspired Bedspread or wall hanging would be awesome.  I maybe 112 years old,  before I completed it though.
Thank you as always for reading.  Well done if you made it to the end of the post.  Life resumes as normal again round these parts for a while. The delusions of grandeur bubble has burst, it was a lovely bit of escapism though.  I will be back to writing about 'normal' stuff like 'crochet fungi' soon.  xxx


  1. Wow, this gallery looks amazing! As an East Midlander, I cant say that I have visited Birmingham except for work (conferences, training and the like) but this certainly does tempt me to travel beyond Nuneaton!! We tend to go north and visit Manchester (which also has wonderful galleries and you can see a lot of Lowry works of course).

    The Zahra Hussain exhibition particularly interests me, the pattern she is making reminds me so much of the tiling in the Alhambra in Granada (possibly my favourite place on earth).

    Have a lovely week, Helenxx

    1. I have never been to Manchester, I would not know where to start? For a tiny country we sure have lots to discover and see. :) xx

  2. Oh so beautiful
    Thank you for sharing xx

  3. I really enjoyed this post and sat listening to 'Matchstalk men and matchsalk cats and dogs' whilst reading your thoughts. Brought back a few memories - I used to love this song when it was in the charts although I was a little older than you were!! I know where you're coming from with 'modern art'. I struggle with some of them, although I wonder sometimes whether it is quite deceiving. If you think about dressmaking for instance, to produce a simple and stunning dress, requires far more skill and quality materials than one with multiple layers of fabric and colourful patterns. Perhaps it's the same with paintings - those that appear simple require a special skill to create? Just a thought!! :D

    1. Do you know those three paintings that I scoffed at, I can't wait to see again now. They have really fixed in my mind. I am actually starting to like the black and white one the most and that is the one I hated. I actually like all three. I wish I could remember what the information said. I can see how each one is very 'clever' for want of a better word. I should ask someone in the gallery to explain to me, it would probably go in one ear and out the next. It is a shame I can't even remember what they are called and who they are by. When you make a textiles analogy like dressmaking, yes I can see what you mean. Thanks for that. (I can't sew either). ;)

  4. Lucy, I thoroughly enjoyed this post! I enjoyed watching the Brummie video and pictured it being you making jokes. Did you ever frame my watercolor of your tor that I painted for you? Hope so! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  5. Ain't art a funny thing lol but must say I enjoyed your post here Lucy.....we have a daughter currently in Sterling (scotland) and
    she has been intrigued by all the different accents throughout the UK ☺☺ Oh and they love her aussie way too lol

  6. The Blind Girl is so beautiful. Oh! Mum is terrible when she sees any "Modern Art" she states very loudly what she thinks of it! Her opinion is much the same as youngest sons ^_^ xox


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