Artists see Birmingham in a way us mere mortals never can… they pick out unusual angles, hidden corners, and add their own riotous palettes and bold brushstrokes to create new perspectives on familiar scenes.
A trip into town from rural Herefordshire yielded these stunning works by Johnny Armstrong, who at 77 is still producing vibrant and vivid paintings inspired by his travels.
He described for ART BLOG the experience of visiting Birmingham, and how the Prize works were created…
‘Winter sun central’
Some months ago I discovered the New Street station complex, and subsequently the Bull Ring and Grand Central.
I normally live a quiet life in a village near Hereford, and being a 77-year-old the enormous hustle and bustle of Birmingham came as a pleasant surprise…….did I say pleasant ? Well, to an artist feeding off visual stimulation it was exciting, and still is, particularly over the Christmas period, when the lights were bright, and the hustle was intense.
Some of my subsequent work has gradually focused on other moods.
Winter sun central is quite subdued, silhouettes indistinct, the entrance structure deliberately floppy and unstructural, hopefully capturing perhaps a kind of exhausted feel after all that rushing about. Or possibly some calm before yet another day of mayhem.
‘Shop greys black and red’
Similarly ‘ Shop greys’ is hardly wild, more a kind of blending in everything together, the various levels, the patchwork of shoppers, the changes in size and the decorations all kind of flattening out on the paper.
So maybe I’ll work backwards, from the subdued to the frenetic, or maybe I’m just naturally a bit on the tired side. Whatever it is I try to keep working, inclined towards abstraction, with a brooding frame of mind, and a wandering spirit.
Our Prize Exhibition this year features a wealth of art inspired by our city, and indeed city living around the world. Visit soon! You may find you want a little piece of Birmingham to take home…
Visit the Prize Exhibition
These works are on show as part of the Prize Exhibition which runs until 23 June. The RBSA stages the show every year, providing an opportunity for some of the most sought-after artists to show their artwork alongside emerging new talent.
With a top prize of £1,000 competition is fierce! Artworks range across jewellery, ceramics, textiles, drawing, painting, and printmaking.
Many works are for sale.
Our Gallery staff will be happy to help you with any queries on your visit to the RBSA.