Having done much walking of late, I've felt very inspired by (and jealous of) the artist Hamish Fulton, who has said "If I do not walk, I cannot make a work of art", and lives round these parts. Most of his art are posters (or, rather, large areas of paint with vinyl lettering) recording walks - from coast to coast, from source to sea, across mountain ranges, along the Pilgrim's Way - and there is something about them that I like. There's a show at the Turner Contemporararararary - alongside the Turner - which is paired with a show at the IKON Birmingham
, which I'm convinced I've had a brief look round before.
After a recent daytrip to Nottingham - to see Thomas Demand, which I suspect I've failed to write about - I booked tickets to and from Birmingham, and plotted an itinerary from New Street via various shops and coffee places to the bookshop to IKON to the BMAG and to a reportedly good pub and back again. I didn't do anything useful like print out a map or anything. This may have been a mistake.
The journey there was uneventful, aside from a new walking route from St P to Euston, avoiding Euston Road, which is unpleasant in differing ways, and to time, although I see that they are (still? again?) improving New Street. They've done something to the Pavilions which I can't put my finger on, and I got a little lost in my search for Digbeth. I did find a rather useful secondhand bookshop, where I bought a volume of the Sturgeon short stories - five volumes down, eight to go - for two quid. I forebore to purchase anything else, and then got lost via the market (and an illicit pork pie) in search of local cheese (fail) and Brindley Place. I have Googlemaps on my phone, but the instruction HEAD NORTH is no use without a compass on a day when the sun is obscured by cloud.
Thus it felt like a forty mile walk to the gallery - the signage is erratic - and I managed to plot a coffee bar free route (although there was a Costa in the square and if I've realised there was wifi, I would have used the cafe in the gallery). I climbed the steps to the top of the gallery and had a look round the exhibition
, which, to my relief, was rather different from the Margate one, although along similar lines. I was rather taken by a couple of the acrostics -
(rare to have five letters rather than seven in these acrostics).
Alongside the Fulton were various rooms of Sarah Browne's "How to Use Fool’s Gold
", not an artist I knew, and it includes a couple of crystal radios, pictures of flowers, a vodka still, photos of Icelanders in knitted jumpers. Sculpture, I suppose, in the widest sense, and usually collaborations - brewing, knitting, printing, electronics, writing, weaving. Intriguing, although I'm not clear what it all means...
On the back stairs were various "postcards" by Japanese artists
- actually larger than usual postcards - which I wish I'd spent longer looking at. And there was a Martin Creed piece
in the lift.
I'd almost found the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery by accident when looking for the IKON, so it was relatively easy to find. I had about 45 minutes, so I had a quick look at the Staffordshire Hoard, and spent a little longer on the Pre-Raphs and the twentieth century stuff. I'm getting better at recognising British artists. I wish I'd had longer.
By then I was feeling the lack of coffee (I don't think I'd had one since Euston), and I accidentally found a Caffe Nerd whilst in search of a Caffe Nerd - I suspect not the one I was looking for. It was pleasingly close to the Wellington
, the pub I had in mind to visit, so that avoided getting lost. I fear the glory days of Birmingham beer are over - local breweries having been taken up and moved, and not the same level of microbrewing as, say, Nottinghamshire. Subsequent research reveals three local microbrews - ABC and Beer Geek in Ashton and Two Towers (Tolkien reference?) in Hockley - which demand a subsequent visit I feel. The Wellington has sixteen hand pumps, each with a different real ale, each replaced as the barrel empties. There is a screen telling you what is on and the ABV, and you are meant to order by number. The bar was predictably busy, but long practice meant I was served both times pretty well straight away.
For the record:Purity Mad Goose
4.2% (Gt Alne, Warwickshire)Hobsons Twisted Spire
3.6% (Cleobury Mortimer, Worcestershire)Slater's Top Totty
4% (Stafford)Ossett Excelsior
I manage to find my way back to the station via a Tesco for sustenance without getting lost, although I found a shop I'd been trying to remember to look for earlier. I sat opposite two people - a couple? I'm not convinced - who'd been drinking in the Old Post Vaults
, which has eight pumps, and who supplied me with a real ale map of Birmingham. I think I have a cunning plan to deploy in due course...