A museum in New York has gifted seven artworks by American/British sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein to the New Art Gallery in Walsall.
Six tinted plaster casts from the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), featuring depictions of Epstein’s family members, Haile Selassie (Emperor of Ethiopia), and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (the First Prime Minister of India following Independence), have been brought to the UK with support from the Art Fund in 2019. However, due to the pandemic, their conservation and display were postponed until this year. These artworks will be permanently housed alongside the Garman Ryan Collection and a significant Epstein Archive at the Gallery.
Additionally, a sculpture of the renowned violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin, originating from the Jewish Museum in New York, has been unveiled to complement the existing series.
The artwork is currently being displayed on the first floor of the New Art Gallery. A guided tour will be taking place on Saturday 2 March with free entry.
The New Art Gallery in Walsall has teamed up with the Birmingham Rep and are looking for budding young actors to take part in a theatre performance inspired by art.
A 10-week programme will enable youngsters aged between 11-14 to work alongside a professional theatre director, learning script writing, physical theatre and scenography, before bringing it all together for a grand finale performance.
The programme takes place between 22 February- 21 March 2024 after school each Thursday and costs £50 per person with full and part bursaries available to those eligible for free school meals.
“This is a fantastic opportunity offering an invaluable experience for the next generation of actors and theatre makers, as well as a chance for young people to express the things they are passionate about,” said Councillor Gary Flint, Portfolio Holder for Wellbeing, Leisure and Public Spaces at Walsall Council.
To express an interest, please email Trixie Suen, Community & Young People Engagement Coordinator, The New Art Gallery Walsall at Trixiebella.email@example.com.
Following on from the news that the Guildhall in Walsall will be transformed into a creative hub, the Council has released some digital designs showcasing what it may look like once complete.
Work on transforming the historic Grade II listed building begins in the Spring with £1.8 million set aside from the Government’s Town Deal Fund to bring the building back into use.
Alongside a gallery area, a café and conference facilities, the new space will also feature a courtyard and spaces that local creative industries can use.
New designs for the Guildhall, give us an insight on what it could look like with digital images showing the café area and courtyard.
“These new images really bring the project to life and it’s exciting to see the plans coming together,” said Councillor Adrian Andrew, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Regeneration Walsall Council.
“This project is a great example of how we can diversify town centre buildings away from retail offerings, to provide facilities that will help local people access resources to build creative businesses.”
“Walsall is a hub of creativity and with the right facilities, there is real opportunity and scope to support and grow talent within the borough. We acknowledge the need to move away from retail purposes for our town centre buildings and I think that once it’s up and running the Creative Centre will be a hive of activity.”
One of the UK’s most exciting young jazz musicians is coming to Walsall!
Following the release last year of his debut albim ‘Home’, The Eddie Gripper Trio are now touring and will perform at The Table on Lower Hall Lane in Walsall on 29 January 2024.
Described a piano prodigy, Eddie started playing pians a the age of 11. From the press release:
“At a very young age, Eddie Gripper has proved an incredible prowess on his instrument of choice, clearly demonstrating an innate talent that would often take a lifetime to achieve. This is very much evident on Eddie’s debut album Home, a captivating body of work that perfectly showcases the young pianist’s expertise in an exquisite light.”
Playing alongside Ursula Harrison on double bass and Isaac Zuckerman on drums, The Eddie Gripper Trio has performed at numerous festivals and music venues and have gained plenty of accolades along the way.
Backed by Jazz Midlands, the performance will take place at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £10 per person and can be booked via TicketTailor.
The Walsall Society of Artists will be showcasing their work at the New Art Gallery in Walsall right up until 18 February.
Nataliya Hodson at the New Art Gallery. Photo credit: Phil Buckley
The 73rd Annual Exhibition from the group can be viewed on the ground floor in the Community Gallery, with some of the artwork available to purchase, including works in acrylic, watercolour and ceramics.
Visit on a Saturday between 10am-4pm and you’ll also get a chance to speak to some of the artists who will be on hand to demonstrate their work.
Barbel Withers (Painting – Frida). Photo credit: Phil Buckley
Local artists include Simon Tew, who specialises in pet portraits, wildlife and equestrian art and Jean Walker who creates some stunning artwork with watercolour and ink. Other artists demonstrating their talent include: Pam Renhard, Ann Hackett and Steve Woodams.
A transformative initiative to establish a vibrant Creative Industries Centre within the historic Guildhall building in Walsall has been given approval by Walsall Council.
In collaboration with the non-profit organization Urban Hax, the Grade II listed building, the adjacent former police station and related properties will be transformed into a multifaceted centre.
The space will include a café, gallery areas, conference facilities, and dedicated zones equipped with machinery for local makers and creative industries to utilise. Preliminary work has already been completed, involving the interior removal of structures in preparation for finalising the centre’s layout. The ambitious project aims to attract approximately 50 companies spanning five floors.
The transformation will encompass the installation of new windows, refurbishments, and the addition of lifts to establish the Creative Industries Enterprise Centre. While concerns about flooding and drainage have been raised, officials assert that these issues can be effectively addressed through appropriate planning conditions.
During the consultation phase, the proposal encountered no objections from key agencies, residents, or business owners in the vicinity. Securing funding of approximately £5.5 million from the Arts Council and the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport, the initiative is actively seeking additional grants to support its implementation.
The sensitive restoration and conversion is expected not only to preserve the historical significance of the area but also to contribute to the broader regeneration of the town centre and the Church Hill Conservation Area, presently listed on the Heritage at Risk Register.
A dedicated space for creatives is to open in Walsall this autumn, with members of the community having their say on how it should be designed.
The People’s Design Studio is the brainchild of Andre-Donovan Reid, the founding director of KIONDO, a black-led design research studio that connects organisations and local authorities with people.
Based in a listed, 6000 sq ft building – the former Hogs Head pub in Leicester Street – the centre has three aims: to be a community hub and venue; to host KIONDO’s design-research lab, where individuals or groups can experiment with citizen science, design and placemaking; and to provide creative studios, with open access workspace and facilities for creative practitioners, academics and social enterprises.
“What I’ve found is that there is a strong arts and creative sector in the town, but people don’t profile themselves as coming from Walsall; they’ll say they’re from the West Midlands instead,” he said.
“The town is home to visionaries, innovators and creative thinkers and doers who are itching to build Walsall up and I want people to be proud of the town. The aim is to use this space as a place where we can help to transform the town into a place of creativity and innovation.
“I want to help make a place where existing communities and groups continue to work towards a better Walsall, and are resourced to serve the locality in deeper and more connected ways.
“By opening this space to the creative community, we can ensure it is used for social benefit. “The space will be co-designed by those who will use it. It has to be a collaboration.”
Andre, an architectural designer who lives in Walsall, said he had “an epiphany” last year after realising his work on improving the experiences of underserved communities through design was mainly centred on short-term contracts that brought about short-term impact. Instead, he wanted to focus on a large-scale programme that would bring about deep and meaningful long-term change.
“I’ve been living in Walsall for four years and decided I wanted to stay here, but build on the roots I’ve already developed,” he said. “I can see the value of the creative community here and want to harness it, but it has to be right for the town. It’s not a case of bringing a blueprint from elsewhere and expecting it to work – and that was what the creative groups I’ve worked with said, too.
“We’re at an exciting part of what I hope will be a long-term project with local groups, colleges, organisations and local authority. We really want to transform Walsall.”
KIONDO, the leading organisation that is applying for charity status, is to launch The People’s Design Studio at the end of September, with an event, called Blank Canvas, to kick-start the season.
Working in partnership with Walsall for All, Creative Black Country and Walsall Council, Blank Canvas will take place on September 26, starting from The People’s Design Studio, up to Park Street and to The Walsall New Art Gallery.
The launch event will involve the creation of three large murals that will focus on: live, work, and play. Locals will be asked what their dreams and ambitions are for the town and artists will fill in the canvasses to create a “manifesto” that will help to guide KIONDO’s work to support communities in the town.
At the same time there will be an online event, where locals can also contribute to the manifesto, and from the September 25-27, The People’s Design Studio will feature an exhibition by UKBFTOG (UK Black Female Photographers), as its first creative pop-up.
Work has already begun on the creation of a comprehensive online Walsall Arts Map named ‘Abundance’, which will culminate in a detailed digital resource highlighting arts, culture and leisure groups and activities in the borough.
KIONDO is also inviting the public to join the Walsall Placemakers Community, to bring together a diversity of local voices as to help shape Walsall’s future for the better.
Anyone interested in accessing The People’s Design Studio can apply to the trustees, who will review the applications. To support the project please donate to the Transforming Walsall Fund. For more details, email: Walsall@kiondo.co.uk
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