Lockdown week 27

Tier 1, 2 or 3


Exhibition (s)

A post of many visual arts. Two exhibitions in one Birmingham Street – Yes two! It is so rewarding to see artwork in the real and to discuss the shows with curators. My printed portrait of artist ‘Barbara Walker, ‘Bab’s , Drawing in the Round Room’ hangs in the middle of the 2nd floor gallery in the RBSA Prize Exhibition. It was drawn and printed over two years ago and retains a quality of focus and concentration on drawing. The atmospheric marks around the edges create an abstract frame in contrast to the figuration.

The RBSA stages an annual Prize exhibition as part of its charitable work to support artists, providing an opportunity for artists to show their artwork and be rewarded for their talents. 

The gallery is open from 10.30am – 5pm on Tuesday – Saturday. Admission is free. it is also on line @ https://www.rbsa.org.uk/rbsa-prize-2020

Selection by: Graham Chorlton, Artist and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Coventry University and Julie Brown, Collections Curator, New Art Gallery Walsall.

Argentea Gallery

Exhibition No3 in the city centre

The Museum and Art Gallery opened its doors to The Wildlife Photographer of the Year from the Natural History Museum, new additions to the collection and a special portrait from the National Portrait Gallery.

Lest we forget

September 17th. Digbeth, Birmingham UK

Covid App update

NHS Covid app

Alert: Now gone local to B13

Recorded venue visits.

Temperature taken in two venues. It seems I am ok.

Had a test through ONS Survey. No result yet.

Thats it

Lockdown week 26

Second Wave?

No happy waving going on.

I visited the library to return isolation books and withdraw new pages of knowledge. Even more dramatic was my venture into the School of Art Print room! Masked, sanitised and keeping left I walked the 1843 terrazzo patterned floor towards the wooden floors supporting the fine art printing presses. Master Printmaker Justin Sanders met me with protected by his standard issue BCU mask. The breeze through the large traditional swing windows keeps the space fresh.

One student arrived with exquisitely cut out paper stencils to be silkscreened as we kept our social distances. Screens were selected and coated, inks mixed paper selected and the art and craft of printmaking commenced. Although access is severely restricted over the next three months this was the first steps back to making.

A surprise awaited! Taiba and Lucy two of the original virtual ‘printgang’ members have been engaged by the university as studio assistants and monitors.


It is so good to have had a printed portrait of Birmingham Artist Barbara Walker accepted for the RBSA Prize Exhibition. I delivered it to the gallery on Sunday where the volunteers who keep the gallery going and open, met me to receive my framed print. I can’t wait to visit the gallery who are showing by example that visual arts can be shown in coronavirus. times. The IKON, Eastside, Stryx and Argentea opened recently and the Birmingham Hippodrome converted their theatre to a projected exhibition of Van Gogh. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery opened its door to the public with a special exhibition by Cold War Steve celebrating Birmingham people’s. Let us hope audiences will find it possible to come out into the city and enjoy the arts on show.


September 17th. Digbeth, Birmingham UK

Covid Apps

NHS Covid app

No contact from my NHS Covid App.

Temperature taken in two venues. It seems I am ok.

Thats it

moon stories

moon stories, inkjet print #2/5 2017

Museum Enabler Steve S enjoys the print drawing of him reading moon stories

Museum Enabler Steve S and Jonnie Turpie shake on it


Museum of the Moon

Museum of the Moon is a new touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram.

Measuring seven metres in diameter, the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface.

Moon Story, Drawing and social media.

The original drawing was begun when the artist visited the Museum of the Moon exhibition and spotted a ‘moonlight’ in the corner in the dark expanse housing Luke Jerram’s massive moon. On a closer view the moonlight was a table lamp beamed on a book being read by Steve to an entranced family. The illuminated reader and family provided a strong composition to base a drawing on. The artist took iPhone pictures, transferred them to an iPad, into adobe procreate and using an apple pencil the drawing was created through a number of states. An early version was posted. on Instagram channel where  Museum Manager Jessica spotted it, showed it to Steve who was surprised and impressed. Jess used Instagram to contact the Artist to let him know Steve would like a copy if possible.

Once the drawing was finished proofs were made on a high quality Cannon inkjet printer on to a range of papers before an edition of 5 were printed on 300 gsm aquarelle off white paper. Two months on from the Saturday encounter in the Museum of the Moon the 2nd print of the edition was presented to Steve who along with Jessica enjoyed seeing the mounted fine print. Of course it quickly appeared on the @thinktankmuseum feed.



Printed Portraits Opening Day

May 10 th arrives and the 30 Printed Portraits will be revealed to all and those  who feature on the walls of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

In the morning I was attending to final details including briefing the wonderful front of house team and remaking the nameplates with larger type and a Shrieval coat of arms. A gentleman came into the space and after a while focussing on the pictures I asked what he thought.  He had seen the exhibition advertised on the BMAG Whats on listings and had travelled in especially from Telford in Shropshire to see it.

We talked about the how he is semi retired and visits galleries near and far to get a sense of artists work close up. We discussed portraits, photography, art before taking a picture of each other. He asked if he could take my picture in front of the Portrait of Eileen Wright as it is his favourite because of the ‘glint in her eye at her age’, as well as the big buttons on the phone she used to take he 97th birthday call.

Mike had been to the TATE in Liverpool to see the Rossetti Monna Vanna portrait and had taken a celebratory picture. I pointed out that next door in Gallery 17 is a beautiful picture by Rossetti of Beatrix.  He thanked me and went to see it, quickly returning with glee and after one last tour of the portraits made his comment in the book.

As the normal viewing day came to a close  a group of women came into Gallery 16. They viewed the portraits with interest and consideration, sharing their views to each other about the portraits and the subjects. They enthusiastically reflected, and nominated their top three! Top of their favourites  was Eileen Wright.

discussing anita’s portrait

which is your favourite?








I heard later that evening at the private view that as they left the Museum they met Eileen’s daughter and husband on the gallery entrance doorsteps and eulogised about the portrait exhibition and in particular the one of the older lady making her birthday phone call.     Wonderful

Eileen Wright takes 97th Call

Dr Robert Grose Hangs and lights the exhibition


DR Grose slots in frame of The very Rev Catherine Ogle

There are many clever,  precise skills and crafts required to hang a 30 frame exhibition.  Especially as I wanted a very aligned approach.  Getting the balance right between the 3 different sizes of frames to provide an equality of status for each portrait, while a unity across the 4 walls was a priority that Dr Rob achieved to perfection with his attention to detail at every stage. Rob also suggested not using the traditional ‘mirror clips’ to hang the show, but to use  security picture fixings. These have the benefit of being hidden from the view as the frames ‘magically’ hang on the wall.  In addition the spring locks are secure and prevent the frames being removed with out the ‘special lever. Lawrence at the Framers was able to supply.

Click on the gallery below to see pictures of the process.

Dr Rob Top tip : If the walls are not necessarily flat – you end up with rocking pictures. This can be remedied with a slice of cork behind the frame, but it can become uneven to look at on the oblique view which matters if the galleries are big.

The exhibition is in the Print Room, Gallery 16 in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery 


High Sheriff WM Printed Portraits installation

The High Sheriff Printed Portraits were framed by Lawrence at The Framers in the Custard Factory, Digbeth, Birmingham. ‘The Hangman’ Dr Rob Grose  and I collected the frames to transport to the hallowed and impressive galleries in the city’s municipal Gallery in the city Centre. Lawrence assisted with the 3 Large A0 frames.  It was a cold and damp start, but we were let through the historic, heavy metal gates and up in the slow, but sure lift to the 2nd floor gallery level.

Gallery 16 was pristine after the recent redecoration, but a tad daunting in its emptiness. While we got underway the galleries seen through our closed glass doors were bustling with visitors and groups of eager school children travelling in from their city schools to see the collections and be inspired to write and draw.  The Front of House staff and volunteers are very experienced, knowledgable and open to engage with all visitors. In fact our first visitor pre public viewings were invigilators eager to see the new exhibition and to understand more in order to respond to visitor’s questions.

Gallery 16 has brass plates on each door designating it the PRINT ROOM.

Originally this was a dedicated and curated print room, but it is now utilised for a range of exhibitions. It seems vey appropriate to be exhibiting the High Sheriff Printed Portraits here.

Click ‘Installation’ gallery to see how we embarked on the hang.

Hanging the exhibition was a revelation. Individual prints began to ‘connect’ with each other and we began to see ‘themes’ that had not been apparent until this moment. Some subjects looked one way, while others looked elsewhere. Hands began to follow each other, and subject’s emotions became clearer and clearer and the exhibition began to reveal itself.  Each portrait and its subject  is important in itself, but gathered together they become a body of work that reflects on the breadth of people I met in the West Midlands in 2015/16.

The exhibition is in the Print Room, Gallery 16 in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery 


Photography for? – John Parsons for DG Rossetti and the verb to ‘GET’

I live and work in Birmingham which amongst other attributes has a wonderful city museum and art gallery with a particularly strong and widespread print collection. I have been ushered in through the ‘strongroom’ doors on a number of occasions to glimpse the collections.  Most recently Victoria Osborne the gallery Fine Art Curator was kind enough to show me the photographs taken by John Parsons of Jane Morris under the direction of Dante Gabriel Rossetti in his Chelsea garden in 1865.  I first was alerted to these series of posed photographs in the Painting with Light at Tate Britain  in 2016. These photographs were from the V&A collection, but when I mentioned the exhibition to Victoria she offered to show me the Bmag examples from the collection.

One of the series of photographs is of Jane Morris leaning forward. I am not sure as yet, whether the studio photos were made as images in their own right or whether to be used for Rossetti’s paintings of Jane morris or his compositions she clearly featured in, including Reverie.


The only information I can locate is a short letter from Rossetti to Jane morris to establish the time of the session.  It gives little away to the rationale behind the this use of photography.


Copy of a letter written by Rossetti to Mrs. Morris

Sunday Night [4 June 1865].

My dear Janey
The photographer is coming at II on Wednesday. So I’ll expect you as early as you can manage. Love to all at the Hole—
Ever yoursh

D. G. Rossetti

There is a lot more research required to understand what was the motivation for the photographic session.

On the theme of  early use of the new medium of photography by painters Victoria brought to my attention the portrait of the writer and commentator Thomas Carlyle used by Ford Maddox Brown in his painting  ‘Work’.


Clearly this photograph by Charles Thurston Thompson with Carlyle perched on the wood support was destined for the character on the far right of ‘work’.



Commentary on ‘one of the greatest and most radical paintings of the 19thC”

The Verb to ‘GET’ – Carlyle writes to Ford Maddox Brown to accept his request to be photographed using the term to GET.

Carlyle’s writings were known for their lively rhetoric which comes across in the letter he wrote to Brown agreeing to pose for the photograph:’I think it a pity you had not put (or should not still put) some other man than me in your Great Picture. It is certain you could hardly have found among the sons of Adam, at present, any individual who is less in a condition to help you forward with it … I very well remember your amiable request, and the promise I made to you, to ‘sit for some photographs.’ That promise I will keep; and to that we must restrict ourselves, hand of Necessity compelling. Any afternoon I will attend here, at your studio, or where you appoint me, and give your man one hour to get what photographs he will or can of me. If here, the hour must be 3½ pm (my usual hour of quitting work, or to speak justly, the chamber of work); if at any other place, attainable by horseback, it will be altogether equally convenient to me; and the hour may such as enables me to arrive (at a rate of 5 miles per hour we will say!)’ (F. M. Hueffer, ‘Ford Madox Brown: A Record of his Life and Work, p. 163)Again More research again needed to clarify the constructive and valuable adoption of photography by painters and drawing artists in these early days of the medium.