Tag Archives: Eastside Projects

Christmas Art Bus

art bus

When students are asked why they choose Birmingham as home for three or four years of their life, they might say, ‘It’s a great University for my course’, ‘I hear the nightlife is fantastic!’ or ‘I want to live in a big city, experience a city lifestyle’. An aspect of Birmingham that is too often overlooked by people our age is the cultural scene, and with as well-reputed a gallery as the Barber Institute of Fine Arts situated on campus, it should be unavoidable. For those of you who might be reading this and thinking that your loan doesn’t stretch to luxuries like art gallery visits, or trips to the theatre – it’s time to put away that tired excuse, roll out of bed, and make the familiar walk to campus. The Art Bus is here to give students a well needed injection of culture.

For those of us who will be spending the next week of term summoning twenty pence pieces from the crevices of our wallets in order to buy that well-deserved Rooster House, you need only know one thing about the Art Bus – It’s free! It will cost you absolutely nothing to visit six phenomenal art galleries.

mlStarting at the student friendly time of 12.10 pm from the Barber, passengers had the privilege of visiting the MAC, the Ikon Gallery, the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Gallery, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and Eastside Projects. With a fantastically frequent bus service, we were allowed to spend as much time at each gallery as we chose. With some spectacular exhibitions on offer, we were forced to drag ourselves away in order to get to the next destination.

Highlights included the hauntingly memorable images of ‘The Unseen’ exhibition at Ikon, which focuses on the complexity of seeing, blindness, and envisaging. With images from a diverse range of artists, coming from countries as far flung as China, as well as some homegrown talent, The Unseen doesn’t fail to bring chills to the spectator. The ‘Love and Death: Victorian Paintings from Tate’ exhibition at BMAG offers visitors the chance to see works from the Tate Gallery, the centerpiece of which is Waterhouse’s ‘Lady of Shalott’. Based on Tennyson’s dark and twisted ballad, the masterpiece draws you into a macabre, and almost frightening world. For those who prefer their art to be 3D and a little different, Eastside Projects offers ‘Abstract Possible: The Birmingham Beat’. Situated in a bright, minimalist warehouse, wonderfully weird sculptures in primary colours brought the viewer an odd sense of calm, as well as offering an insight into the history of abstract art.


The curator at the Barber Institute was delighted to tell me that the Art Bus has increased dramatically in popularity, provoking their decision to introduce the tour as a day event. So, the next time the Art Bus invites you on board, I couldn’t recommend more highly that you step on. With no fare for passengers, you have nothing to lose – only a thought-provoking and highly enjoyable day to gain.

Eastside Projects

Susannah Dickey


Hooky Street Press at Eastside Projects: Seriousness and Humour in Art Writing

In the second gallery of the Eastside Projects building, hemmed in by wooden panels and abstract grey portraits, Hooky Street Press hosts a symposium upon humour and seriousness in art writing. Alternative youths sporting chunky knitwear, piercings, hair dye and dreadlocks are scattered in the audience, amongst their more sophisticated elders.

Gavin Butt begins the talk with a straightforward dissection of the humour-seriousness dilemma, using a quote from Charles Ludlam: ‘Now the whole idea of seriousness is awful to me – it sounds like something imposed from without. It doesn’t really imply gravity or profundity; it implies decorum, behaving yourself.’

Butt explains that society views ‘significant’ things through the lens of seriousness because we believe it is the only way to attribute value and prove our commitment. However, this has become so common that it now sounds more like ‘bloated pronouncements of value’ than genuine feeling. He asks whether we can separate ‘gravity and profundity’ from seriousness. Exampling Joe Brainard’s art, Paul Morrisey’s film Women in Revolt, and performance artists Kiki & Herb and David Hoyle, he demonstrates society’s confusion when faced with blended solemnity and comedy.

David Burrows proceeds with the point that ‘there’s a seriousness to humour’, recalling a performance artist who dressed as a soldier and lay ‘dead’ in the streets of Birmingham for a whole week. According to Burrows, ‘he points out the fact that the whole world is wrong’, underlining the irony of the show as criticism of war itself.

Andrew Hunt’s talk on Jacques Lacan has me utterly lost. He dons a mask that makes him look like a cartoon psychopath, and launches into a complex rant about the ‘discourse of the university and the master’. Milkshake by Kelis plays during an animated slideshow. I don’t quite know what to make of it, but the basic point I gather is that one’s unconscious desires are barred by the rules of society; a hysteric will show the ‘truth’ of these desires by denying ‘knowledge’ of culture.

An interesting but unnecessarily extravagant ‘symposium’, and appropriately enough by the end, I’m not sure whether to laugh or frown.

Danielle Bentley