A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Birmingham exhibition explores body image and identity

Works from artists including Francis Bacon form part of a new experimental exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery which explores underrepresented stories of body image and identity. 

Within and Without: Body Image and the Self, open now until February 1st 2019, examines the questions, anxieties and stereotypes faced when trying to attain the ideal body we see reflected in public spaces. 

Including artworks dating from 1825 to present day, with a new photography commission created especially for the exhibition, the display explores how body image impacts on issues such as social status, gender, health, aesthetics, religion, politics and sexuality. 

Stand out works in the show include Pygmalion (1997) by Donald Rodney, which is on display for the first time since the artist’s death in 1998. Pygmalion explores the complexities of racial identities, masculinity, perfection and fame through an irreverent depiction of Michael Jackson as a moving automaton. This piece provokes a discussion about one of the exhibition’s key themes of colourism and how racial identities affect lived experiences.
One of the other main themes in the exhibition is the Male Gaze and how women are often presented as sexual objects for a male viewer. This is explored through Helen Chadwick’s Vanity (1986) which asks the observer to consider whether the artist is challenging or playing up to what is typically considered the desirable behaviour and appearance for a woman. 

I spent some time exploring the exhibition recently, and here is what I enjoyed the most...

Francis Bacon - Figures In A Landscape (1956)

This painting is a key piece in the exhibition. When looking at the oil painting, you can see that the figures are human, but are naked and distorted. It has been placed in the exhibition to recognise that for many people, body image is a struggle.

Henry Wallis - Study of a Nude Man with Club (1850-1860)

This piece from Henry Wallis has formless genitals and a smooth body, relating to those who are not represented as a particular gender.

Chila Kumari Burma - Autoportrait 28 Position in 34 years

This artist painted over 28 images of herself to create a mixed media self-portrait. In the piece, Burma explores the construction of her racial and sexual identity, by wearing various costumes that illustrates that the identities are fluid.

Wooden Dolls made in Kumming, China (1988-1990)

This piece shows a selection of handmade dolls. It was chosen to be included in the exhibition as the collection highlights a lack of diversity in commercialised and popular dolls.

This is the second prototype exhibition in the ‘Story Lab’ gallery at BMAG, which has been created with the city’s diverse individuals, communities and professionals to help define innovative new ways of understanding Birmingham’s collection of museum objects.
The specially designed ‘Story Lab’ space has been created to test new ideas and radical approaches to provide vital insight and feedback for the plans for the museum re-development. The innovative approach means that visitors have multiple ways of experiencing the exhibition and its content, including personal and academic responses to the artworks, so they can decide what they prefer. 

Within and Without: Body Image and the Self has been created alongside various groups, including Lordswood Girls School students, Birmingham LGBTQ+ Refugee Group and an over 50s group.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre Sniffs Out A Canine Star

Birmingham Repertory Theatre are looking for a dog to play the role of Toto in their Christmas production of The Wizard of Oz. 

Open Auditions will be held at The REP on Centenary Square on Saturday 25 August from 10am to 5pm. 

The role of Toto, Dorothy’s canine companion, in The Wizard of Oz is a pivotal one and The REP is looking for a new canine star to join the company over Christmas. 

The show runs from November 24 to January 13 and The REP is looking for two small dogs that have the enthusiasm and stamina to play the role over the 7-week run. 

No previous acting or stage experience is required, but good training and obedience is. 

Directed by Liam Steel, this epic stage version of the legendary MGM musical features everyone's favourite songs including Somewhere Over The Rainbow, If I Only Had A Brain and Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead. 

Liam said: “This is the perfect opportunity to find talented, local pooches to tread the boards in one of the biggest festive productions in the city. We’re not looking for ‘prima-doggas’, just raw canine talent!” 

If you think your dog has what it takes, register your interest by emailing dogauditions@birmingham-rep.co.uk and attaching a picture. All owners and dogs must be available for the open auditions on Saturday August 25 and a follow up audition on Saturday September 8, 2018.

Birmingham Heritage Week set to return

Birmingham Heritage Week is set to return to the city next month. 

From 6th to 16th September 2018, Birmingham’s rich and diverse history will be celebrated with inspiring events including walks, talks, open days and visits to hidden gems across the city. 

The city-wide festival is returning for its fourth year with 10 days of fun-filled events which will attract new tourists to the city, and allow locals a deeper insight into Birmingham’s past. Whether you want to discover more about Birmingham’s manufacturing history, find out about Birmingham’s much loved parks with the Birmingham Civic Society or travel on a narrow boat into the heart of Birmingham’s canal, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. 

Check out the wide selection of this year's highlights...
• If you are interested in architecture, then be sure not to miss St Mary’s Convent and Heritage Centre event which is being held on 14th and 15th September in Handsworth. Whilst on a guided tour through this architectural gem, you can learn more about the thrilling history behind it. 

• Celebrate 400 Years of Aston Hall and the fascinating history of this grand Jacobean mansion on 8th September for a Victorian sideshow like you’ve never seen before. Even Queen Victoria will grace the hall with her presence. 

• Additionally tours throughout the week at Aston Hall will give an insight into the women of Aston Hall, the servants who would have worked there and the story of Sir Thomas Holte who the hall was built for. 

• Learn more about Birmingham’s old faded ghost signs and hand-painted curiosities during the ‘Painted Walls Ghost Signs & Street Art Walk’ on the 8th September. Explore the streets of Deritend and Digbeth on a photo safari and urban ramble. Want to see more? Take the Jewellery Quarter route on 9th September to look for old advertising signs painted directly on the walls of historic buildings. 

• Birmingham Heritage Week is the perfect chance to visit new and interesting places. At Soho House, the home of industrialist Matthew Boulton, you can take a rooftop guided tour on 12th September, so you can explore from the cellars right up to the roof where he studied the stars. 

• Birmingham Roundhouse is serving up its first Conservation Conversation at The Distillery where celebrated local historian Professor Carl Chinn will delve into the history of the local area of Ladywood and Broad Street on 14th September. 

• Don’t miss your chance to get behind the scenes at one of the country’s largest museum stores on 16th September. Explore the store for free at the Museum Collection Centre which houses fascinating objects from Birmingham’s museum collection. Stroll down aisles of objects steeped with history, join in family fun activities, and learn how the collection is cared for. 

There’s a whole host more of engaging and exciting events taking place. Find out more about the events here.
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