The Museums and Galleries Month 2008 Art Bus logo
Event Report: Tom Powell hops on a bus round Birmingham to get an evening’s cultural entertainment.
Museum and Galleries Month 2008 took to the road as Birmingham’s locals hopped on board the Art Bus and were treated to a selection of the city’s most spectacular pieces of art.
Portraits on show at the RBSA, which dates from 1807, making it one of the oldest art societies in Britain. © Tom Powell/Culture24
Despite the weather, people of all ages turned out on May 28 for an evening of high culture to celebrate the Second City’s diverse range of museums and galleries. The bus ferried passengers between the Royal Birmingham Society of Art, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and the Ikon Gallery for a night of fantastic exhibitions highlighting culture from the twelfth century right up to the present day.
The evening began at the Royal Birmingham Society of Art with a wide range of decorative and fine arts on show.
A selection of silverware and jewellery from exhibitors Grant Braithwaite and Emma Kinnell really caught the eye; Gerry Unsworth’s collection of sculptures inspired by hill walking also attracted a lot of attention from visitors. Further into the gallery the venues’ permanent collection of over four hundred works includes drawings, paintings, prints and ceramics.
Sculpture at the Ikon Gallery © Tom Powell/Culture24
The next stop on the bus tour was the Barber Institute of Fine Arts for a look at an outstanding collection from the twelfth to the twentieth century. Expert Maureen Harrison led the Art Bus passengers through the galleries, pointing out some of the venues’ greatest attractions, ranging from Simone Martini’s ‘St. John the Evangelist’ to Cosimo’s recently restored ‘The Adoration of the Child Jesus’.
Hidden amongst the wall-to-wall paintings is one of Europe's finest collections of Byzantine coins. Fifteen thousand coins from Philip Whitting and Geoffrey Haines, two distinguished collectors and numismatists, completed a unique collection of artefacts.
The Ikon Gallery, Birmingham © Tom Powell/Culture24
Thoroughly refreshed with wine (or juice for the younger visitors) the group left the historic Barber Institute as the bus carried passengers back into the modern day and made a final stop at the Ikon Gallery.
‘Impressions from the Interior’ features two Swiss artists, Andres Lutz and Anders Guggisberg; in one part, a group of small clay figures appear to be pushing the gallery wall around on its axis.
Lutz and Guggisberg’s ‘Rifles’ installation, an illusion of a gun maker’s workshop, wowed the Art Bus passengers and provided a spectacular end to an extraordinary evening.
Clay figures by Andres Lutz and Anders Guggisberg, at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham. © Tom Powell/Culture24
Joyce Gardner, 81, from Streetly was among those delighted by the evening’s events. “I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. There was a really nice mix of artefacts to view and it was all organised perfectly. I would definitely do it again.”
For those who missed the bus on this occasion there is still a chance to view the exhibitions. The Lutz and Guggisberg exhibition at the Ikon is on show until July 20, the Silverware at the RBSA is on show until June 20 whilst the Barber Institute collection is permanently open every day until 5pm.
Tom Powell is our Renaissance West Midlands arts writer, reporting on MGM 2008 events all over the region for the whole month of May. Renaissance is the groundbreaking initiative to transform England's regional museums, led by MLA, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.