Eastside Projects

The bubbles of artistic endeavour continue to rise in bohemian Digbeth with a new artistic initiative in Eastside.

The Birmingham Post reports, Eastside's spacious gallery was meant to be, that a new artist-led exhibition space in partnership with Birmingham City University has been created called Eastside Projects. Utilising a disused industrial building in Heath Mill Lane in Digbeth the gallery offers a space almost perfectly designed for a gallery with glazed roof supported by concrete roof supports creating a large airy space.

The partnership with Birmingham City University (BCU) follows plans by the university to concentrate its art and design courses on a new campus in Eastside. More details on BCU's plans can be seen on Simon Howes Eastside Blog (http://eastsideblog.wordpress.com/2008/04/16/outline-designs-for-eastside-campus/).

This gallery also represents further progress to bolster Digbeth as Birmingham's arts and media quarter building on the pioneering work of The Custard Factory which converted the former Bird's Custard factory into a complex of studios and offices.

Work has begun on renovating the most architecturally imposing part of the Custard Factory, Devonshire House, and it is also underway on a block of buildings on the corner of Fazeley and Floodgate Streets, including a former chapel dating from the 1860s. Ikon Gallery's Eastside annexe will be returning to this building.

The space importantly helps to develop home-grown talent, albeit not exclusively, and reflects the growing trend in the profile of contemporary art. Artist Gavin Wade notes, "For Birmingham the natural attraction was always to go to London whereas in Manchester and Liverpool and Newcastle people loved the city enough to not to go to London . A lot of artists set up in Manchester in the early 90s to say 'we're different', but in Birmingham there's not that hatred of London". The growing art scene has taken longer to grow than in other cities and reflects the growing confidence and rebirth of the city, 'a direct relationship between the initiative and the city's growing art scene'.

The plan in Eastside is to cross over various different art forms, departing from the usual pattern of sequential exhibitions by having work installed on a semi-permanent basis, so that the space itself becomes an evolving artwork in its own right.

So, when does the gallery open? Well there is work to be done such as adding a mezzanine floor and adding partitions but the opening date for the first exhibition to be called This is the Gallery and the Gallery is Many Things, is tentatively pencilled in for the 20th June.

The future of the space seems secure for the future with a six-year lease with a three-year break secured and a desire to create a "permanent experimental space".


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