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Posted on Fri 24 Feb 2023
The Midlands has a wealth of art galleries and museums hosting a range of fantastic exhibitions - both permanent and temporary. Here's a selection of what's showing across the region.
INCARCERATED: CONTEMPORARY ARTS FORM THE VICTORIAN PRISION
Aiming to prompt conversations about living and working conditions in historical institutions, Incarcerated brings together photography by Andy Aitchison with drawing, sculpture, crafts and writing by inmates of prisons which were built nearly 200 years ago.
The exhibition is being presented by the Universities of Birmingham and Bath, in partnership with the Howard League for Penal Reform.
Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), Birmingham, until Sunday 18 February
WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
“We are facing urgent biodiversity and climate crises, and photography is a powerful catalyst for change.”
So says Dr Doug Gurr, director of the Natural History Museum, which has developed and produced this year’s Wildlife Photographer Of The Year competition.
“The exhibition reveals some of nature’s most wondrous sights,” adds Dr Gurr, “whilst also offering hope and achievable actions that visitors can take to help protect the natural world.”
The hugely prestigious show - visiting the Herbert as part of an extensive tour - features a host of awe-inspiring images capturing fascinating animal behaviour and breathtaking landscapes.
Shrewsbury Musuem & Art Gallery, until Sunday 18 February; Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, until Monday 1 April
Image: The Catwalk - Shashwat Harish (Kenya)
This new exhibition aims to find links between sculpture’s past, present and future. Featuring work by some of the most important artists from the last century, the show also considers the discipline’s physical relationship to space, and how it embodies lived experiences, notions of place and cultural significance.
Anthony Caro, Richard Deacon, Mona Hatoum, Sarah Lucas and Rachel Whiteread are among the established and upcoming artists whose work is included in the exhibition.
Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, until Sunday 10 March
POP ART & POTTERY
Using Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s impressive Pop Art collection as an anchoring point, this free exhibition presents a wide selection of work by contemporary ceramic artists who use everyday objects as their canvas for pop-culture references.
Special-edition dinner plates, tea services, vases and mugs are among the items on show. Many of the included objects come from private collections and are here being displayed in public for the very first time.
A number of works from the city’s Pop Art collection have also been made available to view alongside the exhibition.
Wolverhampton Art Gallery, until Sunday 7 April
EXODUS CROOKS: EPIPHANY (TEMPORAIRE)
Exodus Crooks’ art practice centres on the relationship with self and contemplates the role that religion and spirituality play in a journey to enlightenment.
The Midlands-based British-Jamaican artist’s Ikon exhibition features sculpture, film, text and sculptural installation.
Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, until Sunday 21 April
FRESH AIR FOR THE POTTERIES
Fresh Air For The Potteries marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of William Blake, whose reputation as a photographer is mainly built around the popularity of his ‘Smokies’ - photos that depicted the Potteries’ industrial landscape of bottle ovens and chimneys.
Blake also travelled throughout the region, taking photographs of the towns and villages he visited. In so doing, he built up a visual record of north Staffordshire during the early 20th century.
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, until Sunday 5 May
This thought-provoking British Museum touring exhibition features artwork produced by some of the most promising up-and-coming names in the field of contemporary drawing, displayed alongside a selection of works by celebrated artists including Mary Delany, Edouard Manet, Barbara Hepworth, Andy Warhol and Yinka Shonibare.
The exhibition showcases a wide range of techniques and practices, with artists showing how drawing - often considered a quiet or private medium - can be used to challenge social norms, explore identity and protest injustice.
Wolverhampton Art Gallery,until Thursday 16 May
Image: Sin Wai Kin - what have you gained along the way 2017 (detail)
QUILT ART: MATERIAL EVIDENCE
The ‘adventurous spirit and rich heritage’ of women who make art through stitching is celebrated in this new exhibition, which features work by current and former members of pan-European group Quilt Art.
Inspired by the life and work of the late Mary Fogg - a founder member of the group and a pioneer in the field of textile art - the show sees each featured artist take a unique approach to Mary’s legacy, presenting cutting-edge work which aims ‘to transcend people’s ideas of what quilting can do’.
The exhibition is accompanied by a book featuring the included artworks and giving an insight into the working processes of each artist.
Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), Birmingham, until Monday 27 May
CARBONIFEROUS MONSTERS: 100 MILLION YEARS BEFORE THE DINOSAURS
This sure-to-be-popular exhibition is being promoted as ‘a must-see for prehistoric monster fans of all ages’. Visitors to the show will get to meet a host of bizarre and ferocious monsters, some of which had even larger teeth than the Tyrannosaurus Rex!
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, until Sunday 2 June
THE WORLD THAT BELONGS TO US
Autobiography and activism come together in this multimedia exhibition showcasing painting, photography, film, animation, wall drawing and site-specific installation.
Featuring work by intergenerational artists from the South Asian diasporas of the UK, US and Canada, the show aims to stimulate conversations around a wide range of subjects, from community and belonging, to migrant and diasporic storytelling and queer & feminist world-building.
New Art Gallery, Walsall, until Sunday 9 June
CONTEMPORARY PÂTE DE VERRE: THE MATERIAL OF TIME
This unique exhibition of internationally acclaimed Pâte de Verre glass artists is the result of a collaboration between Stourbridge Glass Museum and the Contemporary Pâte de Verre Association. The Association works to support new investigations into Pâte de Verre and what the 5,000-year-old glass technique can do ‘in sculpture and new narratives for our rapidly changing world’.
The show is based on the same-named 2022 book The Material Of Time by Dr Max Stewart and Tone Orvik.
Stourbridge Glass Museum, until Sunday 23 June
DAME LAURA KNIGHT
The first female artist ever to be welcomed into the Royal Academy, Dame Laura Knight felt a profound love for Worcestershire and the Malvern Hills. Indeed, her emotional connection to the area provided her with a great deal of artistic inspiration during the later years of her life.
Curated by Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum, this brand-new exhibition, titled I Paint Today, pays homage not only to the artist herself but also to her relationship with the local countryside.
The show features works from the Worcester City collection alongside loans from regional and national collections, including Tate.
Worcester City Art Gallery, until Sunday 30 June
Birmingham’s impressive collection of Pre-Raphaelite art here goes on display in the city for the first time in more than five years.
Taking the subtitle ‘From The Pre-Raphaelites To The Arts & Crafts Movement’, Victorian Radicals features vibrant paintings and exquisite drawings presented alongside jewellery, glass, textiles and metalwork. The show provides visitors with the chance to discover the story of the Pre-Raphaelites - Britain’s first modern art movement - and learn about their influence on artists and makers well into the 20th century.
The Gas Hall, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, until Wednesday 10 July
PAYING RESPECTS: MONEY AND MORTALITY
Having been struck in tribute to emperors, monarchs and leaders - and also used in many of the rituals and routines that mark the passage from life to the afterlife - coins of historical significance are invariably accompanied by some fascinating stories.
That’s certainly true of the examples on show in this ongoing Barber display. The exhibition draws from a superlative collection that features caches of Byzantine, Trapezuntine and Sasanian currency, as well as significant holdings of Roman and medieval coins.
Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, until spring 2024
DIPPY IN COVENTRY: THE NATION'S FAVOURITE DINOSAUR
The Natural History Museum’s iconic Diplodocus cast - life-size, made of plaster-of-paris, and affectionately referred to as Dippy - has taken up residence in Coventry for an initial period of three years.
Diplodocus carnegii, to give it its official name, lived during the Late Jurassic period, somewhere between 155 and 145 million years ago. Huge, plant-eating dinosaurs with long, whip-like tails, they grew to about 25 metres in length and are believed to have weighed around 15 tonnes, making them three tonnes heavier than a London double-decker bus.
Dippy first arrived in London in 1905 and recently visited Birmingham as part of an eight-city tour that attracted a record-breaking two million visitors.
Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, until Tues 21 February 2026
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