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.
 
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
 
'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. 

 
Picture
Release date:  17th January 2013

One of Birmingham’s most historic landmark buildings is set to open its doors to the public for the first time in ten years when it plays host to a captivating four day contemporary arts exposition.

From 13-17 March 2013 the former Grade II listed Municipal Bank on Broad Street will showcase a creative programme of drawings, images, sound and light, video and music from local, national and international artists.

The Municipal Bank was established in the aftermath of the First World War as a savings bank for the citizens of Birmingham. This grandiose building was opened on November 27 1933 by Prince George. It closed its doors in 2001.

The title of the exhibition is Thrift Radiates Happiness. The line 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.

The showcase 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.

Entrance to the exhibition will be free thanks to funding awarded 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.  

Marcus Wilkins, studio director at Aedas, said:  “Birmingham has a vibrant architectural community, a remarkable collection of heritage buildings and a thriving arts scene.  These ingredients have been combined to deliver what promises to be a truly unique exhibition of art.

“The value of business and art working together has long been recognised by those working in both sectors. It strengthens creativity, innovation and collaboration, something that Birmingham is reputed for.  Aedas is delighted to be part of it.”

Plans for the exhibition, that will open during the day and evening are well underway.  National and international artists already signed up include Elly Clarke, Tom Crawford, Caitlin Griffiths, Ellie Harrison and Nicole Wilson.

Charlie Levine, director and curator of the TROVE Gallery, added:  “We are assembling an amazing collection of artists for everybody of all ages to enjoy.  There will be areas where visitors will listen, watch, study and participate as well as enjoy the full gravitas of the building itself.  Visitors will discover how art and architecture make a positive difference to our lives and experience first-hand the art of investment

“A key feature of the exhibition is an auction that will take place in the safety deposit box room.  Visitors will be invited to invest £2 to receive a random number for a safety deposit box that will contain a limited edition art print.”

Gavin Orton, regional chair of RIBA West Midlands, added:  “This rich new cultural collaboration will deliver something truly spectacular for Birmingham.  It is a perfect example of Birmingham organisations working together to create a pioneering cultural partnership that will deliver a new chapter of arts activity for the city.

“We are delighted that the Council has allowed us to use this great building to promote arts and architecture in this way. It is a demonstration on how important local buildings can be creatively re-used and re-imagined. The exhibition theme of investment and finance is also highly fitting in a building that has stood the test of at least four major recessions in the last 100 years.

“We hope that this is the first of many exhibitions that this new partnership will deliver for Birmingham and the West Midlands.”

Visit www.thriftradiateshappiness.com

Ends

Pictured:  An internal shot of the bank’s original safety deposit box room

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

Jennifer Chatham, Chatham Communications 

Jennifer@chathamcomms.co.uk

Kate Eagle, Aedas

Kate.eagle@aedas.com 

Carina Schneider, RIBA

Carina.Schneider@riba.org 


 
Picture
As this was my first site visit, I decided to share the first photo I took, focusing on my first impressions and feelings of the building.

Walking into the massive space of the entrance hall I tried to imagine what it would have been like, stepping through the revolving doors into what would have been quite a magnificent sight. The high ceilings are impressive, with the remains of 1930s interior style adorned on them and the surrounding walls, and the floor space is huge; you can imagine the long cashier desks, the general public queuing, and employers hard at work.  I spotted the inscription which inspired the title of the show Thrift Radiates Happiness, and had a little wave of excitement come over me thinking about how we were going to be involved in a small part of this building’s long history, introducing others to the perhaps overlooked qualities of the Municipal Bank.

Amy Kirkham
Project Assistant, Thrift Radiates Happiness


 
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

 
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Keys to one’s heart

There is far too much magic at the Municipal Bank in Birmingham to choose what would be my highlight of today’s site visit.  This image however captures what really fascinates me about the building…. the millions upon millions of secrets that are ready to be divulged.  This is only one drawer of keys which are linked to the 10,000 safety deposit boxes in the vaults.  One can only start to imagine the stories which each one tells, of people and their precious items, valuable or worthless, but that reflect what each owner holds dear.


Kate Eagle
Manager, Aedas Presents

 
‘Modernist Teepee’, Mary Yacoob, ink and graphite on paper, 2012 

Mary Yacoob appropriates symbolic visual grammars from architectural plans, geological maps, diagrams, and alphabets. Some of her work involves documenting the minutia of daily life in diagrammatic form. In other work, she creates systemic works about architectural spaces that reconsider representations of urban planning and public art through proposals for often unrealisable interventions. Her panopticon project, which incorporates drawing, photography, vinyl floor pieces and etching, explores the architecture and geometry of surveillance and power. 

Mary Yacoob studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and London Metropolitan. Solo exhibitions include the Centre for Recent Drawing, the Anzac Centre, Seven Seven Gallery and Westland Place Gallery. Group shows include Galerie8, PayneShurvell, Guest Projects and OVADA. In 2011 she was artist in residence at the printmaking department of Camberwell College of Art.