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Birmingham, the geographic heart of the UK, is home to a wide range of artists from every discipline who have plenty of galleries and spaces to showcase their work. Here’s a selection of some of the minds creating new and challenging art in the city.
Like a Warhol of the 21st century, Birmingham-based New Media artist Antonio Roberts deconstructs pop iconography with a focus ‘on the errors and glitches generated by digital technology’. Exploring the themes of copyright in the digital age, public ownership of brands and ‘free culture’, Roberts’ curated NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED at Phoenix Art Centre in Leicester in April-May 2017, featuring many international works in a similar vein the Roberts’ own. With a CV that includes a visual ident for MTV, organising the first GLI.TC/H UK festival here in Birmingham and lecturing in Motion Graphics, Roberts is indisputably an expert of his craft.
Idiosinkratic, AKA Jamie Crawford, is a medicine student at University of Birmingham, but we’re more interested in his illustrations. Perhaps drawing on his knowledge of anatomy, Crawford’s work is predominantly monochrome portraits of famous faces, only with mechanical cyborg jawbones. The work seems to capture the distinguishing features that make the subjects iconic while throwing them headfirst into the uncanny valley by making them artificial and incomplete. As well as the portraits, Crawford has also produced promotional artwork for Birmingham musicians, venues and events.
Having graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1984, Ian Andrews is perhaps the most qualified artist in this list. In both his teaching and his work, the philosophical focus is on ‘drawing as an activity that shows most directly the workings of the mind’ and as such, his work is often abstract, immersive and deeply personal. In October 2016, Andrews’ Neither Here Nor There exhibition ran at Birmingham’s Centrala Art Gallery and showcased ‘haphazard ‘bricolage’ installations reflecting how the mind processes information in relation to art.
Lewes Herriot is a guitarist for Birmingham band Johnny Foreigner and uses his artistic powers to create pieces for the band and has a client list including BBC Radio 4, Alcopop! Records and 65daysofstatic. His personal work ranges from fantasy style illustration, psychedelic dreamscapes and prog rock comic book art. If you’re in Birmingham City Centre, you don’t have to walk very far to see one of Herriot’s posters for an event by local music promoters This Is Tmrw.
Birmingham has a reputation going back hundreds of years for innovative, quality jewellery and the Jewellery Quarter remains one of Birmingham’s most creative and historic areas. The tradition of jewelling is kept alive by young designers like Abbie Gaiger who uses lasers to cut angular, modernist pieces. Gaiger is Artist in Residence at Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery, where new artists learn the craft so that the Jewellery Quarter can continue to live up to its name.