In 1964, the Wolverhampton Art Gallery acquired a portfolio of prints from the ICA in London containing works from the likes of Peter Blake and Bridget Riley. Thus began an association with pop art that has endured for half a century. From Saturday (December 7), the venue brings us the first of a two-part retrospective, A Big Bang: The Origins Of The Pop Art Collection, featuring pieces from that original portfolio, as well as striking work from Tim Mara, who studied at the Wolverhampton School of Art and Design in the 1970s. And tying in with the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s current Photorealism show, there’ll also be pieces from the likes of John Salt and Boyd & Evans.
Elsewhere this week, the Library of Birmingham is a fitting venue for Volume: Birmingham’s Art, Book And Print Fair. Beginning on Thursday (December 5) with a keynote speech from the KLF’s Bill Drummond and a “punk rock design performance” from Morag Myerscough and The Highliners, it’s a three-day celebration of ink on paper, with a packed line-up of panel discussions, workshops, performances and stalls. For a full preview, check out page 10 of this month’s Brum Notes.
Tying in with Volume, Grand Union presents The Piracy Project, an initiative exploring the creative art of appropriating existing texts, which calls into question concepts of originality and authorship. From Friday (December 6), the venue will house the project’s collection of modified and copied books.
Eastside Projects’ new initiative opens this week, with Trade Show previewing on Friday (December 6) and commencing proper on Saturday (December 7). Creatives and not-only-for-profit enterprises will reflect on how deeply trade is embedded in our society, and aim to promote a more collaborate economy. Trading stations will be set up within the venue, denoted by signage from an array of artists and designers. In addition, from Tuesday (December 10), the Library of Birmingham’s Discovery Pavilion will be given over to artists from Eastside’s Extra Special People scheme. Trading Post will see them display, discuss and trade their work.
Back in Digbeth, Eastside also presents but it could be a Levi’s advert, in which Tom Ireland and Mathew Parkin explore branding and “cultural myth-making”. Like Trade Show, it previews on Friday (December 6) and opens proper on Saturday (December 7).
Down in Edgbaston, from Saturday (December 7) the Mac presents new work from Ayo and Oni Oshodi. Last year, the venue presented Brown-Eyed Girl, in which the twins peered out at visitors from behind a portrait painting, keeping a diary for the duration of the installation. This new work is an audio-visual piece adapted from the Brown-Eyed Girl diary, entitled And when you finally disappear / We’ll just say you were never here.
Also this week, on Friday (December 6), Flatpack sets up at Birmingham Cathedral for Silent Night, a festive double-header of silent movies – Laurel and Hardy’s Big Business and Harold Lloyd’s The Kid Brother – accompanied by pianist John Sweeney.
Warwick Arts Centre’s cutting-edge theatrical programme continues from Thursday (December 5) with Beats, Kieran Hurley’s coming-of-age tale set to the backdrop of the 1994 Criminal Justice Act, in which the Government sought to clamp down on raves.
Also in Coventry, the Belgrade Theatre presents Oh No It Isn’t!, a comedy thriller in which the cast of a Christmas panto are embroiled in a plot to kill each other, while the Criterion Theatre hosts Sam and Bella Spewack’s My Three Angels, in which the spirits of three local convicts intervene in a family’s Christmas. Both plays begin on Saturday (December 7).
And back in Brum, the Crescent Theatre has Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox from Saturday (December 7), while the Mac presents Bertolt Brecht’s epic comedy Mr Puntila And His Man Matti from Wednesday (December 11).