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” [accessed 4/3/14]


Handwritten Reflective Journal [Electronic version]

4.2.14 (Part One)

This was when I really began to “plunge.” I looked at a couple of uninspiring journals on research as a story or narrative and then I researched different art groups in Birmingham to find an internship. I had left it a bit late to look for an internship. It got to the point where, I’ll admit, I was stressed out. Other people in my class already had internships with really cool companies so I increased my search. I researched and visited Art galleries. I queried events on the phone just so I could talk to administrators who might know about internships. I had Afternoon Tea and a tour at the Ikon Gallery and went to a lecture at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. I emailed New Art Gallery, Walsall, Guthrie and Ghani and Craftspace. I called Kaos Arts who then gave me the number for Friction Arts. I had not realised that before I started my little campaign to get an internship, I was nervous to pick up the phone to any organisations. I used to be an administrator in France and spoke to many different people, daily, in French and English. I was a bit embarrassed that I was so out of practice. So it definitely shook the cobwebs away. At least being able to say, “I’m studying Arts and Project Management at BCU” gave more onus to my enquiries. I have found, though, that having a one-to-one chat over the phone can get you more answers or lines of inquiry than just sending an email or a tweet. After a chat with some students on my course I realised how useful Twitter could be to my search.

I learned what the @ sign means (!) and started hash tagging everything that moved. I tweeted Birmingham Storytelling Café, I tweeted events I’d seen or attended at Ort Gallery and Café, I tweeted, Arts-wise, about where I’d been and where I was going. This all gave me a great excuse to see all the Arts in Birmingham. Not that I needed an excuse but I didn’t mind going on my own if I had to do it for University, no that that ever stopped me. In fact, some of the people on my course went to events I put into a BCU Masters Facebook Group I started up. I started going to an art class at the Ort. I still go there and the tea only costs 50p! The community vibe is great and it’s just the sort of Arts venue I love and I could imagine putting events on at that venue. (In retrospect I have now helped to organise an event there).

After a while I got some responses to inquiry emails; filled out some application forms, replied to some tweets and attended a networking event for the Arts at the Library of Birmingham. Although I had wanted to apply for a paid internship at The Rep and other opportunities at Sampad and Craftspace I had already agreed to work with two enthusiastic organisations by that week. I met with the Traditional Arts Team in Kings Heath to discuss opportunities. In the same week Zoe Renilson, Head of Education at New Art Gallery, Walsall, got in touch with me about an application so we met at the gallery. Both of these meetings had started with a vague notion that they might be able to give me a little bit of work experience which slowly, during the meeting, became “oh well, actually you could do this and this and this.” This was brilliant. The New Art Gallery, Walsall would allow me to develop my interests in Education, Events Management and working with children. The Traditional Arts Team is developing my performance skills as a Storyteller and both have this great idea of community and what their organisation should be for their community, be that the Traditional Arts community or the social community around Walsall. I am slowly realising the importance of the Arts involving people and encouraging the idea of having fun while you’re living and how not everything is about money. Finance is important and, with government cuts, an issue which can’t be avoided but the organisations’ creative missions are the main goal.

@BhamStory Twitter page
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