Thursday 27th June 2013 - 6 - 8pm
MADE, Newhall Square, Off 144 Newhall Street, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham

Thrift Radiates Happiness was a 4 day exhibition that took place in March 2013 at Birmingham's Municipal Bank. Curated by Charlie Levine, artists included Spartacus Chetwynd, Elly Clarke, Tom Crawford, Caitlin Griffiths, Ellie Harrison, Mecanoo, Sparrow+Castice, Julie Tsang, Cole Wilson and Mary Yacoob.

It was realised in partnership with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Birmingham Architects Association (BAA). 

To coincide with RIBA's Love Architecture Festival social and BAA Summer Programme launch night, we will be launching the Thrift Radiates Happiness catalogue - Retrospect. 

Please join us at MADE, Newhall Square on Thursday 27th June and pick up your copy! There will be a BBQ, drinks, talks from project partners the BAA and RIBA and, of course, the catalogue.

The catalogues will be available for the special price of £4 during the launch event, and available online and at the RIBA London Bookstore afterwards. 
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'
Yesterday morning, at 10am, the Municipal Bank hall became a camera obscura - see if you can spot the white van and the buses driving down Broad Street!
This is incredible - found on British Pathe's website, here is a link to the original news footage from the 1933 official visit by King (the Prince) George VI and the Queen Mom to the Bank with Neville Chamberlain.

The text reads:
Civic Enterprise. Prince George opens £85,000 Headquarters of Birmingham's Municipal Bank.

Birmingham, West Midlands.

Prince George, Duke of Kent arrives to cheers to open the new building to house the HQ of Birmingham's Municipal bank. He meets various local dignitaries
HERE is the link to the film.
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.
We've got everything printed and ready for next weeks opening on Thursday 14th. 

Make sure you're there with £2 ready to invest in a surprise print from a range of different artists and designers. 

Here's a sneak peak at one of the prints you could be lucky enough to receive as part of the 'Investment Project'. 

Keep a look out for any of our business cards dotted around Birmingham! 

A big thank you to everyone at Printbots!

Amy Kirkham

Things to bring to Thrift Radiates Happiness - 

$$$'s - artist Nicole Wilson needs your spare/left over dollars and cents! Please bring them and donate to her National Debt Crisis project.

£2 - to be part of the 'Investment Project'.  Invest £2 and you can walk away with a limited edition print by one of these artists - Spartacus Chetwynd, Mecanoo, Sparrow+Castice, Julie Tsang, Mary Yacoob or an print image from the Library of Birmingham archive.

A camera - this building is amazing, and you will want to photograph it!

And yourselves! See you on the 14th - 17th March!

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

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. 



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.