When the Bank's Committee of Management decided that the BMB would need a design that would become known throughout the city, the students at the School of Art (right) were asked to submit designs. The Bank's Chairman  (Councillor C T Appleby) offered a prize of Five Guineas (£5.25) for the best submission, and the School of Art's director laid down three conditions for the design:

- entries to the competition to be limited to designs submitted by students attending the School of Art, or the branch schools;
- the designs to be suitable for reproduction, if desired, in enamel;
- the Bank to own sole rights to the design.

Britain's First Municipal Savings Bank relates what happened next:
A large number of designs were submitted, many showing marked initiative and ingenuity. The committee spent a considerable portion of one morning in examining and criticising the designs, and ultimately decided on the one submitted by Mr E G Barnes, which was duly registered.
His conception of a key with the simple but effective slogan "Security with Interest" appeared to meet the case. Little could he have thought that his design would be so prominently displayed and so well known as it is to-day. It explains in the simplest language what the Bank stands for. Other designs submitted had considerable merit, and were also accepted for propaganda purposes.

The logo was used extensively, including large versions that were fixed outside branch premises, and which were illuminated at night. In many of the pre-war photographs of branches, the key is hung at right-angles to the building's facade. Two exceptions are Aston Cross and Nechells, where the key is hung flat against the branch's facade at first-floor level; both of these branches also have the key design on window panels (a practice also adopted with the glass panels of the doors of the city's trams).

The externally affixed keys were removed from branches (possibly during the war?), but all branches came to have the design on their windows. It was also a feature of the internal decorations of the Bank's Head Office in Broad Street.

This information is courtesy of  and taken directly off the Birmingham Municipal Bank website.
Nicole Wilson needs your spare dollars and cents to help sort out the US National Debt Crisis

Bring your $'s to Thrift and donate them to Nicole's plight to sort out the debt crisis in America.

"I usually find at least one penny a day. On August 31, 2009, I began sending my found change to the Bureau of the Public Debt to fund the Nation's Deficit. If I do not find any change one day, then I send a penny of my own. I copy President Barack Obama on every letter and then post all correspondence online."

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

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


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

Jennifer Chatham, Chatham Communications (+44) 7775 912818


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
'Microcosmus', Julie Tsang, photograph, 2012
Julie Tsang is a Birmingham based photographer. Influenced by environments and artists such as Andreas Gursky and Candida Hofer, she places emphasis on the value that a building can have towards societal values and culture. Her most recent work titled “Microcosmus” explores the transition of previously inhabited spaces in Birmingham of which won her the 2012 Library of Birmingham award.