Empty shops into art galleries, Erdington

This summer my local community arts group have taken over a disused supermarket to create a gallery and workshop space. I’ve heard a lot about pop-up exhibitions, and indeed there have been some Birmingham folk talking about doing some on Twitter. I get the impression that these tend to be fairly high brow affairs, something more like a traditional curated space just in a temporary building. Erdington Arts Forum‘s pop-up, which is located in a former Summerfield, is much more collaborative and community focussed than this. I visited it with Leonardo Morgado who has been several times over the summer. He reflected that there was something new every time he went. I can see why. Even at the end of the day somebody is always creating something new, and artists are on hand to not just talk about their work but get you involved.
The work covers a lot of media and forms: still life painting, portraiture, abstracts, written word, installation etc., and makes excellent use of the space. The basement installation is a good example of this – it takes advantage of a found hole in the floor to link the upstairs and basement, with a very different impression created in each space but a cohesive narrative between the two.
We both took part in a collaborative writing project where we challenged to write a three-minute short story, and chatted to some of the Erdington Arts team. The space was being provided free of charge by the landlord, who was also covering rent and insurance. Insurance is often the biggest barrier to these sorts of projects. Materials were expensive, especially as they were encouraging the public to have a go, and this was funded through donations. The place had served a lot of local kids who had enjoyed being able to get involved with arts projects; the team felt they’d done their bit to relieve summer holiday boredom, which no doubt would please local politicians and youth workers.
The space is due to shut on Thursday 3rd September. If you haven’t been yet, do go along, and do try your hand at writing a three minute story. It’s not easy, but it’s a lot of fun.

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Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jonhickman Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: http://interactivecultures.org