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Art in the Black Country

The Milky in June

If you are following my blog posts this week, you’ll know I’m having an art week. The region of England where I live, isn’t well known for art. It could be, but someone has to lead a new art movement. I don’t really think the local galleries will provide leadership, they don’t rate the local artists very highly. The great artists come from London, Paris, Vienna, Rome and New York, not Walsall.

Not long ago the New Art Gallery at Walsall was reported to be spending a quarter of a million trying to attract the Turner prize to the gallery in 2015. It might have been better to do an open art exhibition and start our own prize. Why look to the Tate for leadership or inspiration?

They are talking about making the Public at West Bromwich into a sixth form college; it’s seen as a monumental failure. They have the same problem, too much sucking up to the Tate and anything trendy. They do a summer exhibition and invite contributions from local artists (across the region). That is a step in the right direction, but needs publicising more and made a open exhibition for the people of Sandwell or even the Black Country. There could be exhibitions across the Black Country if the other galleries, art groups and artists got involved. The University of Wolverhampton could get involved too and provide some leadership and inspiration.

I need a service that will print and frame my photos. I know there are lots advertising on the internet, but there must be a local one? That’s what we need from councils, art galleries and local business; a think local campaign. Maybe we could have homes for local people, jobs for local people, money for local business and art for local people? People have always come here looking for work. When I was in the supermarket last week, it was like the United Nations; people speaking lots of different languages. It’s good to have multicultural influences, but isn’t it getting a little crowded now? There is traffic chaos on the roads. I know that is partly because the councils keep slowing cars to a crawl, but the number of cars is a problem too. The number of people chasing each job is a problem as well. I think we could be multicultural enough, let the next wave of migrants settle in Chipping Norton.

If art in the Black Country is to thrive, we need to look around us. I take lots of photos and people all over the world admire them and want to visit. Local people call it a sh*thole! Maybe we could take more pride in the appearance of our towns and cities? A little Art Deco in our town centres to make them more attractive would help. Perhaps instead of putting more traffic humps on our roads the councils could just make the pavements tidy and fill in the potholes? We need recognise that our parks and nature reserves are important. We need to recognise that the Victorian buildings are important and more important than the ‘iconic’ buildings favoured by people who don’t even live here.

What do you think. Do we need more ‘iconic’ buildings’? Do we really need the Turner prize here in the Black Country? Do we need art that includes  sheep pickled  in formaldehyde? Do we need to keep throwing money at the people from the South of England? Can we lead for a change instead of following like  sheep? Please have your say in the comments box.

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  1. Pingback: » Black Country Art review A Zillion Ideas…

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