Walsall Gallery Tour
On March 21st 2013 the MPW Birmingham art and design students set off to visit the New Walsall Art Gallery. With the gallery boasting the contemporary installations of Polly Morgan and masterpieces by painters such as Claude Monet and Lucien Freud, everyone was excited at the prospect of seeing modern art firsthand.
In addition the gallery’s collection, Damien Hirst and Jochem Hendricks had temporary exhibitions within the gallery. The room containing Hirst’s work displayed a variety of pieces including his pieces
‘Away from the Flock’, ‘Beautiful C’ and ‘Trinity – Pharmacology, Physiology, Pathology’. Hirst became famous in the 1990’s for presenting dead animals in a formaldehyde solution. ‘Away from the Flock’ is an example of this type of work in which a dead sheep is put before the audience in a glass box. Is Hirst celebrating this humble creature who has kept us warm and fed for centuries or does Hirst’s title link to the term “to leave the flock” which refers to leaving behind the protection of the church. Either way, Hirst never fails to provoke thought and multiple interpretations of his work.
Jochem Hendricks work really caught the imagination of our students. His pieces are not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye but also have highly interesting back stories. His sculpture ‘Left Defender’s Right Leg’ looks like a normal diamond resting on black cushion. After further investigation our students discovered that the diamond was formed from the bone of an ex footballers leg. The footballer’s leg was apparently amputated due to a smoking related disease, so Hendricks stuffed the cushion with tobacco. Another work by the artist was titled ‘Light [Eye Drawing]’ which was the drawn by the artist using only his eyes and an array of sensors.
Having only spent part of the day in Walsall, on our return journey to the college we dropped into the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The gallery is famous for its Pre-Raphaelite collection and contains John Everett Millais’s ‘Blind Girl’. The piece depicts two sisters, one of which is a blind organ player. They appear to be travelling to the town of Winchelsea which can be seen in the background. Like most pieces of art, the painting has been interpreted in many ways. Our students concluded that the pieces main theme was the senses as the sisters sit in a landscape drenched in colour only one of them can enjoy. The other girl sits with her trusted organ which she can enjoy as much as her sister, if not more.