Art inspired by the city is the focus of the latest RBSA exhibition, which runs until September 30.
Metropolis, sponsored by Maguire Jackson, features 98 works which will take you from Birmingham to New York, via Hanoi, London, Los Angeles and Venice.
You’ll recognise plenty of local scenes, but the emphasis is as much on exploration and discovery as it is on reflecting back at us what we think we already know.
Metropolis doesn’t hold back in its depictions of modern life – there are urban estates and high rise blocks, scenes of homelessness and graffiti, glittering skyscrapers, protests and riots.
Daily life is captured in city dwellers going about their routines and both physical and imagined spaces are reflected, sometimes literally, in close attention to the architecture of our cities.
ART BLOG asked artists to share the inspiration behind the works in Metropolis. Here are the first responses in a series running throughout the exhibition…
I take a lot of photographs of buildings and I love reflections. The photographs show patterns and abstractions created by light reflected onto the glass windows, making the buildings seem like huge sculptures.
No human habitation is visible; they look empty, and working in glass seems the ideal way to show the transparency of high-rise buildings – these are by the Tate Modern.
I screen-printed some details of my photographs onto the glass in multiple layers which were then fused together.
Now they really are a synthesis of what a modern city looks like, devoid of obvious life, a fragile, lonely ‘glass metropolis’.
Teresa Chlapowski ‘Glass Metropolis’
When I was about 11-years-old, I came across a movie named Star Wars, A New Hope. It blew my pre-teenage mind.
For me, the stars of that movie were two droids: the tubby R2D2 and the exquisitely golden C3PO.
The more I was drawn in by the Star Wars ‘movie event’, the more I realised that it drew inferences and influences from the whole world of cinema and storytelling at large.
Later, I came across the film Metropolis. I was spellbound by this amazingly advanced attempt to portray a real-life android.
Truly, Metropolis was a revolutionary movie in so many ways. I saw the film for the first time in my late teens and was transfixed by the relevance it had to our then very unsettled sociopolitical situation.
Tim Osborne, ‘Maria der Roboten’
I saw a few small bright blue tents erected at a canal side in winter – temporary homes for homeless people. In the distance behind the tents stood blocks of flats with electricity, white goods and appliances. The following week the tents had gone.
The scene stayed with me, and a few weeks later I had another look at the sketch that I’d done and the photos I’d taken.
Back in the studio I painted my image (with instant coffee and a Chinese brush) onto aluminium plate, covered it with etching ground, baked it, immersed the cooled plate in warm water and rubbed the surface with my fingers.
Like magic the image appeared.
The next stage was to etch the plate in a tray of copper sulphate saline solution. I then stripped off the ground and printed my etching on my etching press.
It was the contrast between the two types of dwellings and the inequalities represented that made an impression on me.
Linda Nevill ‘Homed and Homeless’
Many of the works featured in Metropolis are for sale, and the paintings, sculptures and textiles on show represent a unique contemporary take on urban living.
Metropolis Screening: Friday 8 September 2017, 5.30 pm to 9pm
A poetry workshop with Mandy Ross also takes place at the Metropolis exhibition, 2-4pm on Monday 18 September. To book your free place, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by Saturday 16 September.
Metropolis: Sponsored by Maguire Jackson
“Birmingham’s continuing rejuvenation is helping our art and culture thrive, and we are delighted to be supporting this important exhibition.
‘We are always seeking to champion Birmingham’s art scene. The city centre population is increasingly culturally aware, and we certainly encourage all the residents we deal with to buy original art for their homes.
‘The RBSA is a treasure trove of artist-led creative output, and it really is at the heart of the city’s arts scene. We’re looking forward to supporting the RBSA throughout the Metropolis exhibition and hope to collaborate with them for many more years to come.’