Category Archives: Birmingham

Done and dusted in Birmingham

#Letter365 No233 gets posted in Birmingham
No233 gets posted in Birmingham

Today’s piece was created in the Waterhall Gallery in Birmingham. Nice quiet space where the current selection of pieces from the city’s collection is themed round still life. It has a nice series of Jim Dine screenprint/collages in there. I popped into the Gas Hall afterwards to have a look at the West Midlands Open which I found massively disappointing. I cannot believe that our second city and the surrounding area could not produce some more exciting or interesting pieces. It mostly seemed a little dull, staid and derivative. Most of it would not have seemed out of place in a show from the Seventies. I place the blame on the curation and it really wasn’t displayed or lit to bring out its best. There was only one piece I thought I might like to have on my wall and three others that I thought had interesting aspects. There were quite a few well executed pieces and some superficially attractive stuff but nothing to stretch or stimulate.

A piece of music that has stretched and stimulated me for 40 years is Jefferson Airplane’s “Won’t you try / Saturday afternoon” – this version is from Woodstock

A very interesting process

#Letter365 No149 gets posted in Birmingham
No149 goes in the post in Birmingham

Today’s piece was very interesting for me and apart from being hugely enjoyable for me it gave me a huge sense of confidence; a sense that I could work in a whole range of untapped and untried ways. I still feel quite excited about it. I had prepared and taken some materials with me with a specific idea in mind following on from the work I did in Bath the other day. The idea was very different from Bath in some fundamental ways but shared some features. Specifically, I had chosen different materials. As it turned out I was inspired by some aspects of Birmingham as a cultural centre and the whole thing took shape in my mind very quickly and very differently to the plan. Fortunately it worked really well, though it took rather longer than usual to create. I did have back up materials, but wouldn’t have been able to create the original idea without buying some more stuff and putting more money in the parking machine or abandoning the idea of creating it till I got back home or the studio!

It’s all Bs! Bradpole, Bridport, Birmingham, Bath! Have I created a #Letter365 anywhere else yet? Maybe I should just do work in places starting with B?

Seal on the back of #Letter365 No149
Seal on the back of No149

The inspiration of other artists – stealing a bit!

#Letter365 No107 on the wall of the Floozie's Jacuzzi
No107 on the wall of the Floozie’s Jacuzzi

Today’s piece was created and posted in Birmingham (although the printed elements of the envelope were prepared yesterday in advance) and the picture above was taken in Victoria Square on the wall of the pool where some words from Burnt Norton, one of the Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot are carved:

And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.

But at present the cloud has permanently passed as the pool is drained and the fountains stilled presumably for maintenance:

To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete

So there is a little touch of inspiration from Eliot and the light-hearted Brummie love of its public art. My picture of the Floozie says it all:

Floozie in the Jacuzzi with seagull and bird dropping
Floozie in the Jacuzzi with seagull and bird dropping

And of course behind and below the Floozie is Gormley’s Iron Man, a little of its magic rubbed off on me I hope, and round the corner is the Museum & Art Gallery with its great collection of Pre-Raphaelites amongst much else, though sadly I don’t think there are any Rauschenbergs there. And, of course, the stunning new library is not far away. I have been reading about Rauschenberg and looking at his work a lot recently. I think if I had become familiar with his work in the late 60s I might have studied painting rather than sculpture or perhaps I might have had the courage to be bolder in my sculpture. It is only today that I am really beginning to understand the very radical nature of his work and the interesting questions he has been asking through his career. His Erased de Kooning Drawing for example is intriguingly complex. Rubbing out Iron Man or TS Eliot is a little more difficult!

When I came to post No107 I was surprised to find the letter boxes at the Post Office had been painted white with no helpful patterns to educate you in how to post a letter.

#Letter365 No107 gets posted in Birmingham
No107 gets posted in Birmingham

And someone (is there anybody out there?) is bound to want to see the back of the envelope:

Back of No107
Back of No107

Birmingham hosts creation of No51

#Letter365 No51 displaying its custom Library of Birmingham with the iconic buidling itself as a backdrop
No51 displaying its custom Library of Birmingham with the iconic building itself as a backdrop

I made the decision long ago that I would not try to use sealing wax when I am away from home. Last time i was in Birmingham I used some spotty tape as a seal, I believe, but I forgot to take anything with me this time so created this custom seal. It was windy in the city today and a gust bent the letter at the moment  I clicked!

#Letter365 No51 goes in the box in Birmingham
No51 goes in the box in Birmingham

I posted it in the box near to Gormley’s “Iron Man”. The box has a helpful picture of a hand and a letter. I was unable to replicate this with my letter as I was unable to get the envelope to stick to my hand long enough to get it in the box and soon gave up as it began to rain. Also I wanted to pop in and take a look at Grayson Perry’s tapestries as it would be my last opportunity to see them. They were quite entertaining, amusing and in places very beautiful but I’m not sure if I would feel the same if I hadn’t seen the TV programmes.

#Letter365 goes to Birmingham

#Letter365 in Birmingham with the Town Hall behind Iron Man
#Letter365 in Birmingham with the Town Hall behind Iron Man

#Letter365 did a tour of Birmingham today.  Here the picture shows No8 with Antony Gormley’s Iron Man behind with Birmingham’s beautifully restored Town Hall as a backdrop.

Today’s piece was a challenge for me. Last night I realised that I had forgotten to take the materials I wanted so changed to plan B until I realised I hadn’t got the makings of that second idea. It turned out well in the end and was something totally new to me in one way!

For those falling in love with the post boxes here’s a picture of a modern Birmingham facility:

#Letter365 No9 catches the 1pm post in Birmingham
No9 catches the 1pm post in Birmingham