It has been exactly a month since Thrift Radiates Happiness closed at Birmingham's Municipal Bank, Broad St.  Here's what everyone's been up to since...

The team:

Charlie Levine, curator - is now the Lead UK Curator for online gallery, Artfetch 

Kate Eagle, project manager - won the Arts & Business Cultural Champion and Champion of Champion Awards for her work on the show, and has recently launched Platform-e Marketing Ltd.

Amy Kirkham, project assistant - will be exhibiting in her final BA Fine Art exhibition at Margaret Street School of Art from the 10th June for a week, times 10-4.

Artists:

Elly Clarke - is continuing to research and shoot participants for her ongoing and acclaimed George Richmond Portrait Project.

Ellie Harrison - the popcorn machines, 'History of the Financial Crises', have been shipped off to Japen to be part of the 'Money after Money | Credit Game' exhibition, featuring other artists including Andy Warhol, and Joseph Beuys opening on the 29th April 2013.

Sparrow+Castice - have recently been awarded an Arts Council England Grants for the Arts Award for more ambitious and touring works - congrats! 

Nicole Wilson - has just been awarded a project grant for a large performance-based mold-making project through Northwestern University called the Graduate Research Grant.  Today is day 1326 of the National Debt Crises project and the show raised $5.92 to contribute to the cause!

Mary Yacoob - will be in a group show opening at PayneShurvell's offsite space in Camden from 2nd May - 15th June.  She will be showing drawings inspired by architectural plans and geometry. 
 
Thrift Radiates Happiness doors open queue.
Image courtesy of Elly Clarke
Elly Clarke, Half Crowns and Petticoats, audio, 2013
Tom Crawford, Millwall Hammer, originally 2011, recreated for Thrift Radiates Happiness, 2013
Image courtesy Elly Clarke
Making Money: Photographs of the Royal Mint by Sir Benjamin Stone, 1898, photographs from the Library of Birmingham Archive
Sparrow+Castice for Investment Project, 2013
Mecanno for Investment Project, 2013
Julie Tsang for Investment Project, 2013
Launch night
Caitlin Griffiths, Exchange (After Tracey Emin’s ‘Interview’), video, 2013 and Account, ink and cheques, 2013
Nicole Wilson, The National Debt Project, letters, 2009 - present
Image courtesy Elly Clarke
Ellie Harrison, History of the Financial Crises, popcorn machines and popcorn, 2009
Either Mary Yacoob or Elly Clarke for Investment Project, 2013
Library of Birmingham Archive print for Investment Project, 2013
Spartacus Chetwynd for Investment Project, 2013
 
Elly & Kate installing 'Half Crowns in their Petticoats'
Sorting out Nicole's letters
Amy and Ellie testing popcorn machines
Amy rolling 'Investment' pieces
Tom installing 'Millwall Hammer' 
Caitlin installing 'Account'
 
Image: Kate Eagle, Charlie Levine and Carl Chinn

Today Charlie and Kate were on the Carl Chinn BBC WM show talking about Thrift Radiates Happiness.  Click HERE to hear it again.
 
Press release

Thrift Radiates Happiness
Arts Exposition
Launch 14th March 2013 5-8pm
Open to the public 15-17 March 2013 12-6pm
Municipal Bank Building, Broad Street, Birmingham

www.thriftradiateshappiness.com

Thrift Radiates Happiness are pleased to announce an additional partner – GRAIN.

GRAIN is a new Arts Council England funded project initiative being led by the new Library of Birmingham. , officially opening in September 2013.  Over the next two years, GRAIN working in collaboration with local, national and international partners, GRAIN will create a hub and network for photography and photographers in the West Midlands region. This new project will include research and development projects and a range of ambitious high quality opportunities all aimed to strengthen and sustain photography in the region.  

is a scheme that works with West Midlands based curators and photographers to help promote one another and the photographic opportunities in the region. 

Charlie Levine, Thrift Radiates Happiness curator, has been awarded the first of two GRAIN  Curator’s Bursarys. The Bursarys have been established to help fund ambitious curatorial projects, to support the professional development of emerging and mid-career curators during strategic points in their careers, and to provide them with opportunities to take stock, expand and feed the development of new work. 

selected as the inaugural curator for this scheme.  Based in Birmingham and London, Levine’s first GRAIN partnership is with recent graduate from Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Julie Tsang who has been invited to photograph .

Levine has invited Tsang into the Municipal Bank, a Grade II Listed heritage site in Birmingham that has been closed to the public for over 10 years.  Tsang will has been invited to make a series of architectural studies of photograph the site before the Thrift Radiates Happiness exhibition goes into the building in March 2013.

Tsang’s images will then be used by Levine in an online publication which mimics the official catalogue that accompanied the launch of the Bank back in 1917.  A copy of Thithis s catalogue is held can be found in the Library of Birmingham archives.

There is also an opportunity to ‘invest’ £2 at the exhibition, for your investment you will leave with a limited edition print by one of several artists/architects.  Tsang’s work, as well as an image from the archives, is one of those limited edition pieces.

Tsang’s photographs are beautiful and capture the slightly run down site’s former glory.  Levine says, “Julie was an obvious choice for this project, her style is formal but she can really emote through her use of light.  She is a rising star in the West Midlands art scene and we are very happy to have her, and GRAIN, as part of the Thrift Radiates Happiness project.”

The Thrift Radiates Happiness exposition is a showcase a creative programme of drawings, images, sound and light, video and music from local, national and international artists. Other artists involved in the exhibition include Elly Clarke, Tom Crawford, Caitlin Griffiths, Ellie Harrison and Nicole Wilson.

The Thrift Radiates Happiness title has been taken from an inscription found carved across a main beam within the building.  All the art projects featured will appropriately focus on finance and investment

Entry to the three day event, being held at the former Municipal Bank Building on Broad Street, Birmingham, is free. This is the first time that the Grade II listed building has been open to the public in ten years.

The event is the result of an arts and business collaboration between Birmingham based gallery TROVE, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Birmingham Architectural Association (BAA), Birmingham City Council and global architect practice Aedas.

It has been funded by The Arts Council, RIBA and Aedas. Alongside the art exhibition there will be an extensive educational programme provided by the BAA and RIBA, including a public debate, heritage tours and a student design competition. 

Visit www.thriftradiateshappiness.com

Ends

 
Nominated for the 2012 Turner Prize, Spartacus Chetwynd celebrates occasions in cultural history that exemplify extremist behaviour and belief. Her work cites instances that blur genius and madness to expose the raw zeal, aspiration, and creativity of utopian vision.  “I started making animals because you can’t have a production about this type of person without that environment.” Chetwynd explains.  Chetwynd describes her approach to art making as “unbridled enthusiasm”. For each work she strives for total immersion into the worlds of her subjects, honouring their passions and contributions with her own. This is reflected in the DIY style Chetwynd employs: her objects are handmade to illustrate how the earnest (and seemingly ridiculous) efforts of one person can have real and meaningful consequences. Chetwynd never uses prefab materials: the outfits are sewn from cloth which she dyes herself using paint and salt, and masks and other accessories are made from latex moulds or cardboard.  

“Enthusiasm makes sense to me,” Chetwynd reveals. “My work is more like comedy or carnival rather than something that is professionalised; it has a fun rebellious energy. Humour is often marginalised, it’s underestimated how hard you have to work to get or keep your ground. My performances are really gestural and are not meant to exist afterward. I wanted to burn the costumes after, but really had to change my attitude. My heroes are the Marx Brothers, but I only know them off video. They bothered to make their fun, gestural, off-hand experience package-able, not in a dark way but in a way that people can enjoy afterward forever. It's important to make an effort to make things that last so they can continue to communicate to people."
Quote taken from Saatchi Gallery


Spartacus Chetwynd is represented by Sadie Coles
 
Press release

You can own a Turner Prize Nominee, Spartacus Chetwynd, print for just £2.00!

Thrift Radiates Happiness
Arts Exposition
14-17 March 2013
Municipal Bank Building, Broad Street, Birmingham
www.thriftradiateshappiness.com

The Thrift Radiates Happiness team is delighted to announce two new artists to the event.

Firstly we are thrilled to announce that British artist Spartacus Chetwynd, a 2012 Turner prize nominee, will be one of our artists at the Thrift arts exposition opening next month (March), in Birmingham UK.

Chetwynd studied painting at the Royal College of Art 2004 and celebrates occasions in cultural history that exemplify extremist behaviour and belief. 

For the Birmingham exposition, Chetwynd has produced a limited edition print that, as part of the Investment Project, you can potentially own for only £2.00 investment. 

Other artists partaking in the Investment Project include Mecanoo (architects), Sparrow+Castice, Mary Yacoob and an original archive image from the Library of Birmingham.

Charlie Levine, curator at the TROVE gallery said that it was a great accolade to have attracted Chetwynd to perform at the THRIFT exposition. “This is not only an amazing opportunity to have access to an incredible and usual closed building, but also to invest just £2 and walk home with some incredible limited edition (of 100 each) prints from the architects of the new library to Turner Prize nominee, Spartacus Chetwynd.”

The Thrift Radiates Happiness exposition is a showcase a creative programme of drawings, images, sound and light, video and music from local, national and international artists. Other artists involved in the exhibition include Elly Clarke, Tom Crawford, Caitlin Griffiths, Ellie Harrison and Nicole Wilson.

The Thrift Radiates Happiness title has been taken from an inscription found carved across a main beam within the building.  All the art projects featured will appropriately focus on finance and investment

Entry to the three day event, being held at the former Municipal Bank Building on Broad Street, Birmingham, is free. This is the first time that the Grade II listed building has been open to the public in ten years.

The event is the result of an arts and business collaboration between Birmingham based gallery TROVE, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Birmingham Architectural Association (BAA), Birmingham City Council and global architect practice Aedas.

It has been funded by The Arts Council, RIBA and Aedas. Alongside the art exhibition there will be an extensive educational programme provided by the BAA and RIBA, including a public debate, heritage tours and a student design competition. 

Visit www.thriftradiateshappiness.com

Ends

For further information visit www.thriftradiateshappiness.com or call:

Jennifer Chatham, Chatham Communications (+44) 7775 912818

Jennifer@chathamcomms.co.uk


 
I popped to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford the last month.  It is a museum filled literally to the rafters with oddities, relics, curiosities and historical objects.  The collection was founded in 1884 is still growing.  Unlike a 'normal' museum, objects are not places in age/historical order, rather cabinets are crammed thematically, for example, Animals, Houses, Writing Material etc.  

A small row of cabinets particularly caught my eye, though, and these housed the 'Currency and Measures' objects.  Within the cabinets we found various objects, including knives, feathers and shells, that were used for payment before the idea of notes and coins existed as we understand it now.  This does not just mean all of the objects were of great historical interest, some were also fairly modern.  Below are are few images from these cabinets. 

Charlie Levine
Director, TROVE
 
Picture
When asked to take an image on the most recent site visit to the Municipal Bank to then show and explain why I took it and why I liked it, I thought I would have been overwhelmed with options.  The Municipal Bank is an incredible building.  There are nooks and crannies everywhere, huge rooms, small rooms, stained glass, secret vaults, original objects, new objects, corners, doorways and mirrors.  But when on site I clicked into curator mode and began being more concerned with which plug sockets work, which lights worked, how could the work sit in spaces where you can’t touch the walls due to its Grade II Listed status, which doors need closing off and how many invigilators will we need and where, that I didn’t take any images at all. 

So I have selected an image of the floor plug sockets in an upstairs office, taken by one of our artists, Elly Clarke, on this same site visit whilst Amy and I were busy testing ground floor sockets.

Charlie Levine
Director, TROVE

 
Picture
TROVE’s and Aedas Presents’ idea for Thrift Radiates Happiness couldn’t have come at a better time. With the RIBA focussing more and more on Public Programmes across the regions, being able to work with TROVE and Aedas Presents on this project was a great opportunity for us to get out there and support a great project that brings together so many aspects of what’s important to us.

RIBA West Midlands had previously worked with Aedas, holding events at their Colmore Plaza offices – from strategy workshops with the RIBA President to LEGO workshops and drawing exhibitions as part of Love Architecture Festival 2012 – and I had always been a fan of their art programme ‘Aedas Presents’ that Kate Eagle ran with Charlie Levine. 

Still, why Thrift? It’s a great chance to bring something unique and special to a public audience and is at the same time utterly relevant and every-day, touching on themes of art, investment and architecture.

While architecture occupies a fascinatingly ambiguous place on a sliding scale somewhere between art, culture & design, and construction & the built environment; aesthetics and commerce, its commonalities and symbiosis with ‘art’ and ‘culture’ are hard to overlook. 

Just like arts and culture, architecture makes a crucial contribution to people’s experience of a city, the happiness and connectivity within communities and overall influence on aspects that make cities tick: social cohesion, crime, health, well-being, visitor economy.

But just the same, these major impacts are often invisible or intangible, and especially in cash-strapped times like these it’s fashionable to question expenditure on things that are often perceived as luxury, such as the arts, or good design – even if they are in fact part of the solution.

Thrift Radiates Happiness touches upon all those themes in one masterstroke. 
It opens a central landmark in Birmingham City Centre, right at the heart of one of its cultural centres – alongside the Symphony Hall, the REP and the New Library – that has previously been closed to the public. By doing that it not only breathes life into a piece of urban fabric that has somehow become invisible to passer-bys, but also illustrates the opportunities that these empty gems can hold: they can be concert venues, galleries, theatre stages, film screens, dance floors, debating chambers.

It thereby alludes to something that is key to what architecture is in part about: being a purposeful, well-designed frame to be used and enjoyed by people through how they utilise the building and in turn shaping their lives. It shapes the experience of the space itself and whatever is happening within it, forms memories in a place that gives identity and character to a city and its inhabitants.

And even more, Thrift Radiates Happiness gives us food for thought on a very current topic: what is the worth of money, what do we invest in and why, how can we keep providing for arts and our environment despite the economic circumstances through partnerships, and which role do art and architecture play in providing meaning and shaping the every-day reality we live in?

Carina Schneider, RIBA West Midlands

@carinacarinas
@ribawestmids