Artists inspired by the city are celebrating their selection for a major RBSA exhibition coming this summer.
Metropolis, sponsored by Maguire Jackson, includes 98 works taking urban life as their theme. Birmingham features prominently, but inspiration is as far-flung as New York and Hanoi.
Two of the judges spoke to ART BLOG about what they were looking for…
Angela Dooley said: “You can have technically very good illustrations coming through, but to be selected we were looking for something a little bit different, something more thought-provoking.
“For me, a work needed to say something about the environment it is representing.
“You needed to think about the process, about light and atmosphere, as well as what the metropolis means to you. The ones that ‘got’ the theme or had something about them stood out.”
Fellow judge Steve Evans said: “I think we challenged people to use their imaginations, and we tried to encourage a broad interpretation of the theme. It was interesting to see the variety of work coming through.”
Local scenes are instantly recognisable, but artists also submitted work featuring London, Venice, Los Angeles, Lyon, Marseille, Hanoi and New York.
Some works form a social commentary on the times – there are urban estates and high rise blocks, scenes of homelessness and graffiti, a football riot.
Physical space is reflected in skyscrapers, cranes, bridges and girders. And there are people going about their everyday lives – working, catching buses, enjoying a drink, skating at Christmas.
“There was one piece that really stood out and made us all stop,” Angela adds. “A Sikh gent, who was submitted with no explanation. The judges were making up stories about him, wondering who he is.”
What you won’t find at Metropolis are picture postcard depictions. Angela says: “There were a few entries I couldn’t vote on because they were cityscapes and I didn’t want to see just a pictorial reference.
“There had to be something fascinating or unusual coming through in terms of culture and people.”
Steve Evans was well-placed to judge Metropolis: he is influenced by a 40-year career spent as an engineer designing buildings, and his art is steeped in the built environment.
“I am inspired by buildings, geometry, space and architectural detail. I tend to look at things that others perhaps don’t – railway stations, bridges, minimalist architecture.
“A metropolis is essentially a hub.”
And sometimes it pays to take a closer look.
Metropolis: Sponsored by Maguire Jackson opens on August 24.
Why not visit the RBSA this summer and check out our exhibitions and workshops?
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By Louise Palfreyman, WMMD blogger-in-residence