Culture: The Art and Alchemy of Turning Kipple into Non-Kipple; Visual Arts It's Curtains for Periscope, Birmingham's Only Experimental Exhibition Space Run by and for Artists, Writes Ros Dodd

The Birmingham Post (England), November 27, 2007 | Go to article overview

Culture: The Art and Alchemy of Turning Kipple into Non-Kipple; Visual Arts It's Curtains for Periscope, Birmingham's Only Experimental Exhibition Space Run by and for Artists, Writes Ros Dodd


Byline: Ros Dodd

It might be next season's "must-have" bathroom accessory - a tassel-effect shower curtain in canary yellow.

It is indeed a shower curtain, but on closer inspection you discover it's made out of 30 pairs of domestic rubber gloves machine-sewn together and that it's a piece of art work rather than a trendy retail item.

The young, emerging Birmingham-based artist behind the creation is Emma Bowen, who specialises in using everyday objects - from crayons and cotton buds to brooms and carpet - in her sculptures and installations.

Much of her work is site-specific, which often requires the finished product to be completed in a short space of time. Her first solo exhibition, to be staged in Birmingham next month, will be the culmination of research undertaken during a month-long residency at Lee Bank Business Centre in Holloway Head, talking to the people who run more than 30 companies based there.

The centre is also the home of Birmingham Artists, whose Periscope project space will stage 25-year-old Emma's exhibition from December 13 to 15.

"I'm really interested in the business centre because although it's a communal building it has a feeling of being closed off," she says.

"I'm fascinated by its corridors, which always seem very quiet, but off which are intriguing hubs of activity. Many of the business units have sub-units within them, such as Birmingham Artists, which has studios, Periscope and the region's only print workshop for artists.

"So my idea for this exhibition is to investigate those spaces. I'm going to spend time in the building meeting people who work there and finding out what really goes on behind closed doors. The installation I make will be a response to how the building and the spaces within it work."

Emma, who graduated from Central St Martins College of Art & Design in London two years ago, is the kind of young artist Periscope was set up to help, as there is a dearth of space in Birmingham and the West Midlands for artists to practise.

Yet the three-year project, which is in its final year, was threatened with collapse when Birmingham City Council announced in June it was withdrawing its pounds 50,000 a year grant to Birmingham Artists with less than a month's notice after 21 years.

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