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A new initiative funded by the Arts Council England, Birmingham City Council and Business Link West Midlands launches tonight to support and promote creative talent in Birmingham. Entitled the "The Art of Ideas", the project, consisting of talks, guided tours, an artists' project, a cultural art map of Birmingham, essays about the arts in Birmingham which we will publish on Saatchi Online's Magazine, aims to explore the place of art and creativity in shaping the West Midlands. All the events are free.


Tuesday 8th April
"Culture & Identity - The Role of Place in Shaping the Arts"
6.30-8pm, IMI Suite, Birmingham Hippodrome
Speakers include:
James Yarker, Director of critically acclaimed Birmingham theatre company Stan's Cafe
Author Catherine O'Flynn, who won the First Novel Prize at this year's Costa Book Awards
Sam Jacob from award-winning architecture practice FAT (Fashion Architecture Taste)


Wednesday 9th April
"Why Should We Care About Creativity in the West Midlands?"
6.30-8pm, IMI Suite, Birmingham Hippodrome
Speakers include:
Award winning jazz alto saxophonist and rapper Soweto Kinch whose second album A Life in the Day of B19 documented the lives of three inner-city Birmingham men.
Creative Director of TwoFour / Former controller of BBC3, Stuart Murphy
Artist Gavin Wade
Writer / Curator Matt Price


Thursday 10th April
'Future of Sound' Birmingham Showcase
7-10pm, Birmingham & Midland Institute, John Lee Theatre
Convened by former Human League front man Martyn Ware and curated by, Brian Duffy and Lewis Sykes, Director of Cybersonica and featuring Dreams of Tall Buildings, Juneau Projects, Modified Toy Orchestra, The Sancho Plan, and Soweto Kinch.


Tomorrow Saatchi Online's Magazine will run the first of two essays exploring artistic practice and identity in Birmingham and the West Midlands. The essays, written by Catherine O'Flynn and Matt Price, address Birmingham's distinct identity and recent market developments in the region for the visual arts, respectively.

In addition to this series of talks and the essays, a limited edition art map of Birmingham has been produced in association with artupdate.com.

For the Artists' Projects, West Midland Photographers Ravi Deepres, Chris Keenan, and David Rowan were commissioned to photograph artists and art collectives based in the West Midlands in their studios. The artists photographed were Jane Anderson, Ayling & Conroy, Simon & Tom Bloor, Pogus Caesar, Mona Casey, Faye Claridge, Juneau Projects, Kate Pemberton, Liz Rowe, and David Thomas. These photographs will be exhibited at the IMI Suite during the talks, as well as being printed on the reverse of the art map.


THE ARTISTS


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Jane Anderson by David Rowen

Jane Anderson
Born Birmingham, England, 1972. Lives and works in Birmingham.
Jane Anderson is a multidisciplinary artist who uses paint, pencil and digital-based media to explore themes around identity. People are her main inspiration. Their interaction, emotions, behaviour, and body language are a constant source of information and provide a foundation to her work. Anderson has shown work at the Birmingham Open (2007) and New Art Birmingham, 2007. In 2006, she was selected by Channel 4 to exhibit at the IDEASFACTORY at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK. In February 2008, she created a large-scale commission for Crosby Lend Lease - designed to mark the link between i-Land and the famous Flat Iron building in New York. www.jane-anderson.co.uk





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Ayling & Conroy by David Rowen

Ayling & Conroy
Bruce Guy Ayling, Brighton, England, 1982; Hannah Conroy, Leicester, England, 1981. Both live and work in Birmingham.
Ayling & Conroy are a collaborative pair who produce artworks and co-curate Trade Gallery. They produce colour-saturated paintings, sculptures and performative installations that reconfigure familiar images and objects from popular culture. Ayling & Conroy's work explores the context in which artworks are created and experienced. They are interested in making work that entertains and involves different forms of audience engagement. Recent exhibitions include; Ayling & Conroy, Gallery Casa Matei, Cluj-Napoca, Romania; Ayling & Conroy, City Gallery Leicester, UK; When Men and Mountains Meet, Gallery 01, Zagreb, Croatia; Eyesore Sundae, Spectacle Gallery, Birmingham, UK.
www.aylingandconroy.net





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Simon Tom Bloor by Ravi Deepres

Simon & Tom Bloor
Both born Birmingham, England 1973. Live and work in Birmingham.
Simon and Tom Bloor use a variety of media, making projects that develop from research into a range of subject matter including historic documents, 20th Century architecture & design and contemporary popular culture. They also collaborate with Gavin Wade on their ongoing Kiosk project, reworking kiosks originally designed by Berthold Lubetkin for Dudley Zoo in 1937. Past solo shows include The Ballad of Gunpowder Joe, 2007, MOT International, London, UK; Kiosk7: OudWestKiosk (With Gavin Wade), 2007, SMART Project Space, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Modes of Civic Life, 2006, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, UK, and The wide world is all about you, 2006, Ikon Gallery (offsite), Birmingham, UK. Past group shows include Wrong Time, Wrong Place, 2007, TENT, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Thin Cities, 2007, Platform for Art, London, UK, and Romantic Detachment, 2004, Grizedale Arts & PS1/MOMA, New York, US. They are represented by MOT International, London. www.simonandtombloor.co.uk





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Pogus Ceasar by Ravi Deepres

Pogus Caesar
Born St Kitts, West Indies, 1953. Lives and works in Birmingham.
Pogus Caesar is best known for his black and white photography shot using 35mm auto focus cameras. He has documented many aspects of his hometown Birmingham, including the infamous Handsworth riots, the redevelopment of Bull Ring and tornado that devastated the city in 2005. Recent exhibitions include Handsworth Riots - Twenty Summers On, 2005, The Drum, Birmingham, UK; Seeing Slavery, 2007, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent, UK. In 2008, the Wolverhampton Art Gallery will host That Beautiful Thing - a photographic retrospective of Caesar's work covering the past 20 years.
www.oomgallery.net





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Mona Casey by Chris Keenan

Mona Casey
Born Clonmel, Ireland, 1970. Lives and works in Birmingham.
Mona Casey is an artist and curator who lives in Birmingham and works both individually and collaboratively. She is a lecturer at Birmingham Institute of Art & Design and co-founder of Colony - an artist's run space. Casey makes multi-media and installation art and explores ideas around the reproduction and disposability of art-works through photography, television, and the media. Recent shows include, Heavier than a coffin on your Shoulder, The Agency, London (Casey & McAree), UK; Zoo Art Fair 2007, The Royal Academy, London, UK; Mise en Scene, MAMA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Misdemeanours and regurgitations, Colony, Birmingham, UK; Citric CONTEMPORARY, Brescia, Italy.
www.colonygallery.co.uk





ABFayeClaridgebyChrisKeenan.jpg
Faye Claridge by Chris Keenan

Faye Claridge
Born Birmingham, England, 1976. Lives and works in Birmingham.
Faye Claridge is an interdisciplinary artist who frequently works site-specifically, often using lens-based media and installation to research the preservation and interpretation of experience. She has worked closely with a number of heritage sites and museums and was shortlisted for the internationally recognised Alchemy project at Manchester Museum. As a writer and supporter of artist-led culture, Claridge is co-founder of Periscope project space, a commissioning editor for Midwest artists' website, a visiting lecturer in Photography & Fine Art, and a video journalist for the BBC. She has had seven solo shows and her group exhibitions in the UK include numerous shows in London, Cardiff, Bath, Norwich and Birmingham. She has also worked internationally with exhibitions in Greece and France and a residency in the Czech Republic. www.fayeclaridge.co.uk





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Juneau Projects by Ravi Deepres

Juneau Projects
Ben Sadler, Birmingham, England, 1977; Philip Duckworth, Iserlohn, Germany, 1976. Both live and work in Birmingham.
Juneau Projects is a collaborative practice formed in 2001 by Ben Sadler and Philip Duckworth. Their work encompasses video, animation, installation, sculpture, and painting, featuring an array of natural imagery that seeks to express how we think and feel about nature in the 21st Century. Their work engages with people and folk histories, bringing together music and found imagery in new interactive combinations. Recent live work includes musical performances. Their first solo exhibition took place at the Showroom, London in 2004, followed by exhibitions at FA Projects, London. A longstanding relationship with Grizedale Arts, Cumbria has led to projects in the UK, US, and Japan. They were also included in the British Art Show 6 organised by the Hayward Gallery in 2005. Their exhibition The Black Moss was initiated by the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK and toured throughout 2006/07 to Wysing Arts, Cambridge, UK; Model Arts, Sligo, UK; FACT, Liverpool, UK; and Glyn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, Ireland. They are currently developing a new work for the Art Now Sculpture Court at Tate Britain, London, UK, which will open in June 2008. www.juneaurecords.co.uk





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Kate Pemberton by David Rowen

Kate Pemberton
Born Leamington, England, 1977. Lives and works in Birmingham.
As Matt Price writes: 'By means of handcrafted artworks using traditional materials such as embroidery silk and wool, Pemberton questions life lived through a cursor, examining contemporary society's perspective on the world as filtered through a monitor '. Pemberton also runs a shop, endfile - an ongoing art project and fully functioning business, which explores reoccurring questions about consumer society and the class system. Recent work has been shown at Artissima 2007, Turin, Italy, and Binary Oppositions, Citric Gallery, Brescia, Italy. Recent projects include endfile shop for Arte Fiera 2008, Bologna, Italy. www.katepemberton.com





ABLizRowebyRaviDeepres.jpg
Liz Rowe by Ravi Deepres

Liz Rowe
Born Leicester, England, 1974. Lives and works in Birmingham.
Liz Rowe works with mass-produced printed material to make collaged works and drawings with a lo-fi aesthetic. Her work explores the space between the personal and the political and looks at the way we gain control over forces outside our power. The obsessive acts of collecting, sorting, and ordering reveal a compulsion to create some kind of alternative reality, as images are cut-out and re-attached to make new spaces for the viewer to imagine. Recent projects include, Zoo Art Fair, 2007, represented by MOOT, Nottingham, Anti-Talent, 2006, curated by Gavin Wade for TEN4 Magazine, and Collage Party, 2004, curated by Paul Butler at The Geffen Centre MOCA, Los Angeles, US. She is currently working towards a solo exhibition at The New Art Gallery Walsall, UK in August 2008 and the release of an art book, Up the Nose and In the Eyes, published by James Langdon, Birmingham, UK. www.elrowe.com





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David Thomas by Chris Keenan


David Thomas
Born Derby, England, 1983. Lives and works in Birmingham.
David Thomas' work spans a range of different approaches, often making references to notions of structure and hierarchy within certain systems and social groups. David has exhibited extensively across Europe, Asia and the US, including a recent solo exhibition in Birmingham, and group exhibitions in London, Tokyo, New York, and at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, US. David is currently researching and developing an ambitious new body of work and is working towards a number of group exhibitions and a solo exhibition due to open in Prague 2008/2009. www.david-thomas.info





THE PHOTOGRAPHERS

Ravi Deepres
Born Liverpool, England, 1969. Lives and works in Birmingham.
Ravi Deepres has established an international reputation for his film, photographic and digital media work. Much of his gallery and installation artwork is motivated by themes of individual and group identity, influenced by architectural and choreographic expression. The work contains a strong sense of cultural, natural and subconscious influence. Deepres's photographic and film work has been exhibited in group and solo shows across the UK and Europe including Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, UK; Impressions Gallery, Bradford, UK; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK; Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK; The Lowry, Salford, UK, and Les Rencontres d'Arles, Arles, France. His film and photographic collaborations with globally renowned choreographers have been seen at The Edinburgh Festival and in theatres and festivals around the world including Japan, Europe, and the US.


Chris Keenan
Born Coventry, England, 1979. Lives and works in Birmingham.
Chris Keenan is a photographer and film maker working internationally on a diverse range of self initiated and commissioned projects. He is best known for his repeated trips to New Orleans, originally documenting the city's underground music scene. The effects of Hurricane Katrina led Chris revisiting in February 2006 and again in February 2007. With commissions from Southern Comfort and photographic work published in Dazed and Confused, Vice, Blowback and Fused magazines. Other projects have taken Chris to Prague in search of 60's Czech Psych Rock group Plastic People of The Universe, delving into the history and importance of a band that played a key role in the Velvet Revolution. In 2007, Chris was awarded the prestigious 4Talent award, established by Channel 4. www.primeobjective.co.uk


David Rowan
Born Irvine, Scotland, 1972. Lives and works in Birmingham.
Working with common themes - modernity, architecture and mythology - photographer David Rowan documents, experiments and works with the changing city. He is interested in aspects of cities that have come to represent dystopian failures of modern architecture. His new work Pacha Kuti: (mythologies 1945 - 2072) is 'landscape' photography depicting classified and abandoned underground environments, an investigation of the lesser-known infrastructure of the city. Work from this series won the Best in Show prize at the Birmingham Open exhibition held at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK, earlier this year. Other recent works includes Mass [future deleted], which consists of a series of images from the life-cycle of Masshouse Circus, a notorious 1960s road and subway system. David Rowan is part of the Luminous photographic group, developing and exhibiting photographic work internationally. www.davidrowan.org

'The Art of Ideas' has been organised and produced by Arts Co, a London-based art agency that develops and curates art and design exhibitions, arts projects, cultural marketing strategies and events.
Arts Co works directly with artists, designers, arts institutions, companies and collectors. For more information visit www.arts-co.com



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