Updated: Apr 3
There are lots of great quality artists to be found in the West Midlands! I was spoiled when I lived in the London area, so on relocating to a more rural location in the West Midlands I encountered a quite different kind of art scene. Where an artist working near the capital has easy access to a plethora of major art collections and an establishment viewpoint, both which might influence their work, plus an abundance of high end opportunities for exposure and sales of their art, these things are not so easily accessed in the West Midlands. Where all things artistic are an integral, celebrated and desirable part of the rich culture of the Big Smoke, unfortunately less gravitas is afforded to the arts in the West Midlands.
But that doesn't mean it's going to stop us!!
Since I have been living and working in the West Midlands I have had the pleasure of getting to know a large number of determined and talented makers which shows that there is a thriving art culture in the region despite it being a bit more tricky to get along. I have picked out a few of my favourites so that if you too live in or are visiting the region you can find us all here, doing our thing!
Firstly a "big-up" to my chums in the studios at The Red House Glass Cone in Stourbridge who valiantly persevere in the face of adversity and have established fabulous creative businesses using their diverse talents. This is a particularly great place to check out if you are looking to have a go at making yourself, with lots of craft activities to choose from in multiple studios. Why not try Glass Quarter Designs who offer a huge choice, from fused glass to mosaic or Saz's Ceramics who provide parties and general jolliness! If that's not enough to keep you busy, you can also find the Ruskin Glass Centre studios just up the road!
Map of Lovely Things - Charlotte Hughes-Martin
Next up I'd like to draw your attention to award winning "extreme" plein air painter David "DJ" Johnson who is a largely self taught painter and achieves amazing detail and realism in his work. David showed his paintings in my Bridgnorth gallery not long after becoming a full time artist and has gone on to achieve amazing things! Read an interview with him here.
DJ painting at a high altitude.
Not technically the West Midlands but a stone's throw away is a place that I hang out in a lot - MAC Birmingham (Midlands Art Centre), which often runs an Arts Market and attracts some of the regions finest makers. There you will find the likes of Jill Pargeter who hand prints and sews unique folk art inspired textiles and graphic designer turned watercolourist Ken Hurd.
Image - Karoline Rerrie
There is a growing mixed media movement in the West Midlands perhaps because resources for the arts are not so readily available. It makes sense to use alternative materials that are to hand to in order to create your art and this is exactly how I gravitated towards collage and paper mache as a medium. Two of the best mixed media artists in the region are Caris Jackson who creates figurative photomontage with a vintage, kitsch and nostalgic flavour and Belinda Longsden who's inventive and eclectic work can incorporate anything from junk shop finds to historical figures.
Change of Heart - Belinda Maria Longsden
This selection of artists is just scratching the surface of the talent tucked away here and there in the West Midlands and I will add more makers as I go along!