My kind of Art

I left a tutorial at the fancypants uni building that is Parkside@BCU. I say it’s fancypants but the real attraction was a luscious expanse of lawn and the buzz of happy students playing football and skateboarding in the sunshine.

I was curious about a small, free Thinktank garden there. From afar it just looked fun. There was a giant marble run! I saw a kid having a go and I thought, “I want to play!” For about 25 minutes I was engaged with playing with the machines and discovering what they did. This random child took it upon himself to instruct me on how to use the equipment. It was all water and dynamos (not sure on the spelling of that one tbh).

Balancing balls @BCU
Balancing balls @BCU

Marble run @BCU
Marble run @BCU

A group of students were using the water-squirter to splash passers-by so I was deliriously happy when I left the garden to walk past where they had been squirting and I walked just out of range. I did what any self-respecting child would do: stuck my tongue out at them and flapped my hands at the sides my head and jumped about *insert evil laugh here*

The sun does make the day shine brighter 🙂

New Art Gallery Walsall profile

The construction of New Art Gallery Walsall was completed in 2000. It was designed by architects Caruso St. John. Stephen Snoddy is the current Director of the gallery which houses the Garman-Ryan collection. This is the collection of Sally Ryan and Kathleen Garman (Lady Epstein), which was donated in 1973. It contains pieces by Theodore Garman, Turner, Jacob Epstein, Monet and Van Gogh amongst others.

The New Art Gallery Walsall has stunning architecture with a beautiful view of the canal. It comprises 4 floors with beautiful wood panelling and a great mix of sculpture, installation, drawings, illustration, paintings and mixed media artworks. The current installations (by Chiharu Shiota) take over and play with the massive spaces in the gallery whilst one of those by Chris Clinton is slowly degrading, giving an extra element to his piece.

New Art Gallery Walsall is now funded by Arts Council England and Walsall Council. It focuses on the community and, especially in the Education department, engaging all audiences in gallery events etc. Although refurbishments were taking place, in February, effort was made to ensure visitors could still enjoy free Half-Term activities in the foyer of the gallery.

Practical elements – The gallery has a well-stocked book and gift-shop, great big toilets, it’s buggy-friendly and has lifts so access for disabled visitors is brilliant. There is a small library which has computers and a great range of Art journals for anyone doing research there. There is good access to the gallery by Foot, Canal, Train, Car and Bus. There’s also a Costa for when you are ready to chat about the art over lunch or simply want somewhere to rest your feet.

Artistic elements – The gallery is a very buzzing place with events, comedy workshops, exhibitions, digital media and an engaging family gallery (open as of 5th March 2014). The current exhibitions and installations are… 40 years of the Garman-Ryan collection (with images chosen by the Front of House Team), Installations by Chiharu Shiota and Chris Clinton, the Family Discovery gallery and weekly events from the Education Programme.

New Art Gallery Walsall also has links with BIAD and the Artist Teacher Scheme. Here is some information from the BIAD website discussing how Artist-Teachers are supported in different galleries in Birmingham as part of the Artist Teacher Scheme.

BIAD logo

The Artist Teacher Scheme (ATS) is a professional development programme for art teachers and educators. Our strap line is ‘professional development that makes space for you’ and the course is based around the premise that allowing art educators time away from the pressures of work to explore contemporary issues in art and design with like-minded people is a good thing. The long-term aim of the programme is to help you as an art teacher or educator reconnect with your practice and re-energise your teaching. This is facilitated by input from academic staff at the School of Art, education specialists at our partner galleries, The New Art Gallery Walsall and Ikon, and invited guests who may be artists, teachers or curators.[1]


[1] BIAD Website: “Artist-Teacher Scheme” http://www.bcu.ac.uk/biad/courses/artist-teacher-scheme [accessed 4/3/14]