Municipal Bank, Broad Street, Birmingham.
14th – 17th March 2013

An RIBA event, curated by Charlie Levine / TROVE
in association with Aedas Presents, BAA and BCC.

Thrift Radiates Happiness is the first contemporary arts exhibition ever to be held at the Municipal Bank in central Birmingham, UK.  This exhibition presents works based on the British class system, the ever-present UK recession and investment in art and the world economy.

With the main foyer space hosting a specifically commissioned sound piece by Elly Clarke, the offices off this central entrance will house pieces of work by Tom Crawford, Caitlin Griffiths, Ellie Harrison and Nicole Wilson, all of whom work with and present works based on commerce, current economical issues, up-cycling objects and investment.

For the second part of this exhibition audience members will be invited to 'invest' £2 for which they will be given a number to a safety deposit box, within which will be a limited edition print by one of the contributing artists.  Their £2 investment immediately rising and resulting in an original piece of artwork made for the exhibition by artists and architects. 

Charlie Levine
 
The Library of Birmingham holds one of the UK's national collections of photography. The collection comprises some 3.5 million items ranging from daguerreotypes made at the dawn of the photographic era to digital works made by leading contemporary photographers. The Library of Birmingham, supported by Arts Council England and working in collaboration with local, national and international partners is creating a hub and network for photography and photographers. This new project, called GRAIN, will include research and development projects and a range of ambitious high quality opportunities all aimed to strengthen and sustain photography in the region. The Library of Birmingham is one of the most exciting new developments Birmingham's cultural landscape and the photography hub will make it a national and international centre for photography.
 
Picture
There is clearly a demand for more Arts & Architecture Events in our City

As ‘Aedas Presents’ celebrates a successful 18 month term, (including an Arts & Business Cultural Champion Award!) I wanted to examine the impact that this region-wide arts and business initiative has had on local emerging artists and look at what the future holds for this programme that has gained significant momentum in the city within a very short space of time.


‘Aedas Presents’ has enabled the work of more than 30 artists from West Midlands’ universities and colleges to be showcased to over 2000 of Birmingham’s business and arts community at its Colmore Plaza home.

 
Aedas Presents is the brainchild of myself as Marketing Coordinator at global architectural practice Aedas and independent curator Charlie Levine.  Key supporters include the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design at University College Birmingham, the Birmingham Library and the Royal Institute of British Architects.

It was founded to support and showcase the work of emerging artists, students and graduates from local universities and colleges and to help them get on the first rung on the career ladder.  Aedas is a progressive practice dedicated to design excellence, sustainability and providing solutions for the built environment that benefit communities from around the world.

This ethos remains very much the way forward for the built environment and Aedas wanted to help invest in its future.  One way of doing this was to find a way to engage with young up and coming talented designers and provide them with an opportunity to showcase their work.  Helping them to climb that first rung of the design ladder will enable them to be seen and heard in what is a highly competitive work environment.

At the time of the idea’s inception we had recently moved into our new regional office home, Colmore Plaza.  With floor to ceiling glazing and an active frontage to the building this huge atrium was simply ideal to hold the types of showcase events we had in mind.

There is clearly a demand for this type of city centre showcase venue as we have already received an overwhelming expression of interest from a number of art quarters which means that we have showcased exhibitions beyond our initial one year goal.  It’s a great achievement and we look forward to continuing the Aedas Presents brand – in this hugely anticipated event, Thrift Radiates Happiness.

Kate Eagle

thriftradiateshappiness@yahoo.com

@AedasPresents

 
Today we found out that we had been successful in getting a grant for the arts from Arts Council West Midlands.  Without this funding we would have been unable to realise the project and pay the artists! 

We are all very excited and celebrated over breakfast.

Charlie Levine
 
The Birmingham Architectural Association (BAA) aims to bring together the local architectural community – practitioners, academics and students, through organising an annual lecture series and other events to generate debate and discussion on current issues and future trends.

All of our events are open to the general public.

The BAA seeks to celebrate and promote excellent architecture within Birmingham and the West Midlands region.

The BAA was formed in 1874 and is the Birmingham branch of the RIBA West Midlands regional office.
 
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

The Royal Institute of British Architects champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members. We provide the standards, training, support and recognition that put our members – in the UK and overseas – at the peak of their profession.

With government, we work to improve the design quality of public buildings, new homes and new communities.

We also hold one of the largest and most important collections of architectural drawings, photographs and archives| in the world, and stage talks, exhibitions, events| and awards| (including the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize) that help people see their surroundings in a completely new way.

 
Aedas, a leading international design practice, offers services in architecture, interior design, master planning, landscape, urban design and building consultancy within Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.

Aedas Presents’ has enabled the work of more than 30 artists from West Midlands’ universities and colleges to be showcased to over 2000 of Birmingham’s business and arts community at its Colmore Plaza home.

Aedas Presents is the brainchild of global architectural practice Aedas and independent curator Charlie Levine.  Key supporters include the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design at University College Birmingham, the Birmingham Library and the Royal Institute of British Architects.

It was founded to support and showcase the work of emerging artists, students and graduates from local universities and colleges and to help them get on the first rung on the career ladder. 

 
Charlie Levine, Director, TROVE

Charlie Levine has been an independent curator and art critic since 2005.

TROVE is an independent contemporary art gallery based in Birmingham, UK.  Over the past three years, since its launch in October 2009, TROVE have worked with 146 local, national and international artists that have created, exhibited and performed as part of TROVEs programme.  

TROVE have realised over 36 shows (we aim for one per month) in the wonderful TROVE home, the Old Science Museum, and in offsite projects, with venues including Curzon Street Station, mac birmingham, Edible Eastside, DownStairs Gallery, FarGo, The Burlington Fine Art Club, Coexist and ARC.

TROVE is an independent art gallery who have worked with Aedas Presents, Fierce Festival, Hereford Photography Festival, Hedge Enquiry, Minnie Weisz Studio, Museum of Lost Heritage, The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Birmingham Architects Association (BAA), Birmingham City Council, Clarke Gallery, Birmingham City University and Crowd 6.

 
Realising Thrift Radiates Happiness takes a huge team of people and many partnerships.  The core team leading the project, however, is made up of 6 people.  We are:

Kate Eagle - Marketing Manager, Aedas and Director, Aedas Presents
Amy Kirkham - Project Assistant, Thrift Radiates Happiness
Charlie Levine - Independent Curator and Critic, Director, TROVE
Kerry-Ann O'Neill - Director, Birmingham Architects Association
Gavin Orton - Regional Chair, RIBA West Midlands
Carina Schneider - Events and Communications Co-ordinator, RIBA West Midlands
 
Thrift Radiates Happiness is an exhibition that sits either side of a full stop.  It arrives at the end of the Arts Council Funding Aedas Presents was granted in 2010 and the end of the use Aedas’ Birmingham office space in 2012.  

It is, however, also the beginning of something new.  Thrift Radiates Happiness builds on the arts and architecture relationship bridged by Aedas Presents. 

Aedas Presents was founded by Kate Eagle, marketing manager for Aedas West Midlands, and Director of TROVE, curator Charlie Levine in 2010.  Its original aim was to bring exciting emerging artists into a corporate space, offer first solo show opportunities and challenge Aedas’ audience, visitors and employees with something new.  Aedas Presents combined both business and art world, with audiences growing for each exhibition.

With their last show in the Birmingham Aedas office in May 2012, Kate and Charlie began to consider other options for their partnership, and wondered how they could build on the success of the Aedas Presents original 18-month programme.   It was over a glass of wine one lunchtime that Charlie spoke to Kate about the possibilities of using the Municipal Bank in 2013 for an exhibition.  Knowing, though, that without proper funding and partnerships, the building could never be opened up and programmed to its full potential, Kate instantly suggested that it become a TROVE / Aedas Presents project.

It was through this already established and respected partnership that additional project partners came on board.  It started with Gavin Orton, then the Director of the Birmingham Architects Association, followed by Carina Schenider and Matt Dobson at the RIBA West Midlands, and finally the Library of Birmingham archives. 

It is through these partnerships, conversations and skill sharing that Thrift Radiates Happiness has come about.  Its overall aims are to present high quality, accessible art in an amazing surrounding.  Both the art and architecture will compliment each other, and all partners will be given the opportunity to use the building for their own audiences as well as open the building up to the public, passer by, art and architect enthusiasts as well as local historians and general interested parties.

Thrift Radiates Happiness aims to be a platform for future projects.  Not necessarily in the Municipal Bank, but rather between associates, partners and helpers on the project.  Thrift Radiates Happiness will open up communication and marketing channels, its potential for future collaborations and crossover projects is huge, with new conversations already happening between the partners for future activity in the West Midlands.

This project highlights the need for cross-disciplinary conversation.  Art and architecture meeting in this type of activity is beneficial to all parties.  Business and the creative industries helping each other out is integral to their survival.  It is fitting that this exhibition takes place in a bank.  Cash, funding, the recession and commerce are the themes found within the art exhibition that will take place.  But they are also highlighted in the partnerships, some of which have offered monetary support, others advisory support and all offering enthusiasm for the project.  Just knowing everyone involved is passionate about the building, the exhibition and each other, can only lead to exciting future projects, conversations and alternative models for producing arts and creative industry activity in the region.

Charlie Levine