Print Matters Kicks Off Supersonic With Raised Fists 01/07/2022

Words Reece Greenfield / Photos Mo Bukhari

On Friday 1 July, as part of Digbeth First Friday, I attended an exhibition celebrating radical left-wing print art which was set to kickstart the week leading up to Supersonic Festival. The exhibit included such legends as Gee Vaucher, along with both Brummie and out-of-town radical contributors such as La Linterna, Foka Wolf, Lucy McLauchlan, Black Lodge Press, and Dog Section Press.

As I walk into Centrala, I am met with a projector and experimental music emanating from the DJ deck and PA at the far side of the room, which provides a great introduction for what I’m about to see. The night is themed around a mixture of anger and radicality balanced with good cheer, great talent, and comradery.

Upon ascending the staircase, I am greeted by a stall selling prints and distributing free stickers as well as some friendly comrades who take great delight in talking me through the art they have on sale. As I turn around, I see prints of many of them all over Centrala. The walls of the room are covered, the repetition of poignant slogans framed by colour and deliberate imagery adding to their impact.

There’s the cooperatively owned Dog Section Press and La Linterna’s ‘Already Against The Next War’ as well as, ‘Strike! Steal! Trespass!’ and ‘The System Cannot Be Reformed!’ by Black Lodge Press.

Over on the right-hand side of the room stands Foka Wolf’s Foamex Boris Johnson, clad in full armed police get up complete with decorative party hat.

What a fitting façade of a façade.

I am struck immediately by the way the artists utilise the medium of print and advertising. They perfectly appropriate the rhetorical requirements of the medium of political print; powerful in their brevity and creative not despite but by virtue of their limitations. Each piece oozes with radical emancipatory notions regarding war, property, and disillusionment with our own brand of liberal democratic capitalism.

After a good nose at the displays, I grab a beer and have a chat with Black Lodge Press’ CJ. I ask about their influences and CJ replies: “Gee Vaucher (who is also part of the exhibition tonight) her stuff, particularly in the 80s with the band Crass, got me into anarchist politics and of course anarchist art.

“Art is provocation and [this] is firmly rooted in anarchist politics. I went to the G20 protests in London, and I had this banner and it was just a huge black banner with white duct tape with ‘We are fucking angry!’

“The total non-subtle approach doesn’t really say anything about policy, but it’s a statement. Using phrases like that it hits in a different way; you instantly have a reaction.”

And as for their use of colour?

“Well, I use a riso-press up in Leeds called Footprint and it’s so colour limited you can only do like three at most and it restricts you in a really good way. There is direct thought over what colour you use.”

I can’t help at this moment but to think of the censorship via the Haye’s code of early 20th century American television. Any direct profanity or licentious or suggestive nudity was banned. It is precisely through adapting to these restrictions that some of the most creative cinema was conceived.

It is in print media’s limits and its replicability that we see its political value. These artists do not profess to have the answers, rather they provoke the spectator into a search for them. The sense of universality, experimentation and a shared anger at socio and political injustice gets me in just the right mood for Supersonic Fest which is happening this weekend (8–10 July 2022).

For tickets and more information on the Supersonic Festival visit:
For more from Centrala go to their website:

For more from the contributors see the below:
Black Lodge Press –
Dog Section Press –
Lucy McLauchlan –
Foka Wolf – @fokawolf
La Linterna – @lalinternacali

For more information on Digbeth First Friday visit (or @digbethfirstfri on Instagram)

Imogen Morris New Exhibition In Flux At Digbeth Art Space

Writer Emily Doyle / Photographer Jessica Whitty

In mid-June, Digbeth Art Space proudly unveiled In Flux, a solo exhibition from local artist Imogen Morris. Months in the making, the works push the boundaries of portraiture and the perception of thread in fine art. Boards are studded with nails, and then threads strung between them to map out faces.

“My main obsession has always been with the material thread and working in thread,” explains Morris. “Portraiture initially was just a means of creating form with thread. However, over the years I haven’t swayed from portraiture. I get a proper buzz from seeing an eye come together and being able to depict the characteristics or emotions of someone. The bigger the piece the more I can play with, so I want to continue working in large scale.”

Large scale pieces dominate the gallery, spilling off of huge canvases and creeping onto the ceiling or intersecting the space with fragile, polygonal forms. Long time followers of Morris’ work will be interested to see the artist spread out not only into three dimensions, but also into a broader palette of sugary pastels.

“I can’t remember the exact point I decided to experiment with colour and what it was that inspired me to go down that route. I think a lot of my influences come into my head subconsciously – I don’t realise I’m influenced by someone until after I create the work.”

“I have been working on the solo exhibition since January, and so in terms of a time it must’ve been then. This was also around the time that I saw Betsy Bradley’s exhibition at the Ikon and started getting into Sophie Tea’s work via Instagram so I can definitely put down my influences of working in colour to their work.”

The subjects of Morris’ portraits are of friends and of strangers, but they’re all of residents of the West Midlands. Personalities bubble though the woven forms, making the crowded private view feel even more busy. Wine Freedom keeps the drinks flowing and Selextorhood’s Dee’Cleo keeps the vibe going well into the evening.

“We had more people than expected,” reflects Morris, “and it was a really good relaxed vibe. I wanted to have proper chats with more people there as I appreciated every single person that came to the event, but annoyingly couldn’t get round to everyone. But aside from that it was a great night.”

In Flux runs until 11 July at Digbeth Art Space and is open daily 8am – 5pm, so catch it while you can. Meanwhile, Imogen Morris is off to complete a residency with DegreeArt at the Bankside Hotel in Southbank this summer.

For more on Imogen Morris visit:

For more from Digbeth Art Space go to:

Digbeth Photography Walk With Jack Lewdjaw

Writer & Photographer Beth Exley 

I’m helping to run a photography walk around Digbeth with Bristol-based visual artist Jack Lewdjaw, as part of the public programming for The Age of Dreamers is Over exhibition at Grand Union. I’ve been co-curating this exhibition with my university course-mates and the wonderful staff at Grand Union since September, so it’s such a relief to have the finished product out in the world.

Jack’s works that have been included in The Age of Dreamers is Over largely draw upon commercial signage and imagery, so this walking workshop has been planned to offer insight into his artistic process and how he draws upon features of urban landscapes for inspiration. To begin with, Jack encourages all of the group to sit on the floor of the gallery space – which is currently very dark and lit mainly by his neon work, ‘Happy Place’ (2019).

The atmosphere is cosy and relaxed; Jack cracks a few jokes and chats with us about his work and intentions for around twenty minutes.

It’s fascinating to hear an artist talk about their work when sitting directly in front of it. Jack describes how he constructed ‘Low Hanging Fruit’ (2019) from picture frames and acrylic, and then goes on to describe how different types of signage grab his attention – apparently flat, modern signs do very little for him. But he always finds his attention drawn to chunky 3D lettering.

After this short talk and a cup of tea, it’s time to head out and take some photographs. I’m not a natural photographer but the workshop has been advertised as ‘phone camera photography,’ and under Jack’s guidance I think I’ll be alright.

We head out onto the street outside Minerva Works and Jack immediately points out a large sign attached to a derelict building advertising TVs and Printers that looks like it must have been made in the 1980s. Jack explains that his background in freelance graphic design has left him with a keen eye for fonts.

Hearing someone be so interested in something as seemingly innocuous as fonts and signs is quite funny but also quite lovely – it’s great to see someone be so passionate about their work that they can make you interested in something you’ve not really thought much about before.

We walk further down the road, stopping at a few specific things Jack himself finds interesting – a door where the paint has been peeled away by tape, bricks filling a window, an unusually shaped bollard. Seeing him point out these small design choices and strange textures on streets I’ve walked down one hundred times is eye opening. I’ve lived in Birmingham for about five years, and I don’t think I’ve ever looked at the place in this much detail.

After letting us snap some photos of the street, Jack stops and asks us all what we’re interested in photographing, or what we notice we always end up taking pictures of.

One girl on the walk says any kind of dogs, another person says things that look out of place in the surroundings. I have a quick flip through my camera roll and see that I seem to take a hell of a lot of photos of reflections in water. I’ve never realised this is something I gravitate towards, but it is definitely something I find very visually interesting.

As we begin to head back to Grand Union for a second cup of tea and to get out of the rain that’s started to plop down, I find myself reflecting on the beauty that can be found in seemingly boring objects and locations. This walk with Jack has left me with the desire to slow down and take in my surroundings a little bit more – whether that be in Digbeth or further afield.

To find out more about Jack Lewdjaw visit his website here: 

The Age of Dreamers is Over is running at Grand Union until 25 June, find out more at:

Visualising Audio With SoundMuse Artist Nick Chamberlain

Writer Emily Doyle / Photographer Jessica Whitty 

“It’s a weird thing, isn’t it,” says Chamberlain when I ask him how he arrived here from his classical guitar background. “If you’re an artist using charcoal or gouache or oil paints… musicians rarely think about the material that they work with. I just started getting interested that way.”

If you head down to the gallery space at The Hive JQ this month, you might not be sure if you’ve wandered into an art show or a science exhibit. Musician, composer and teacher Nick Chamberlain is debuting his ‘SoundMuse’ project, seeking out connections between sound, visual art, and science.

Cymatics, the study of visualising sound waves, is a running thread throughout the space, with harmonographs and chladni plates breaking up walls and walls of complex curves and shapes. At the centre of the gallery is a rolling video installation, projecting a series of pieces by Chamberlain all of which respond to the sounds of the natural world. ‘Flowerbee’ is a standout, a piece of music for piano and cello is visualised by a pair of Eidophones – drum-like membranes covered in lycopodium powder which shifts into geometric forms as the music plays.

The exhibition feels as if you’re walking through someone’s learning process, picking over sketches and experiments. Large posters explain the inspiration behind the pieces in a way that really invites the audience into what could be an intimidating subject matter.

“It was always trying to bring people in,” explains Chamberlain when we meet him for a coffee. “Like, isn’t this incredible? I don’t think people are amazed enough. That we’re travelling round the sun at 67000 mph and that two different vibrations can create these incredible, complex patterns.”

Chamberlain is also keen to cite his sources for the SoundMuse project. “It was Chladni who was the original guy who went to the Royal Institute to demonstrate this phenomenon, then it was Margaret Watts Hughes, then Hans Jenny then  Lauterwasser and then – I mean, Björk’s done a thing with it, did you see that? She did a big performance – and of course she’s got the money to do huge things – but some of it was just little dishes of water, she just projected it on a big screen.”

“There’s nothing [in the show] that’s particularly new – although I haven’t seen the bubbles, perhaps they have been done.” he wonders. One wall of the exhibition is covered with a series of “Bubble-sound Images”, photographs taken of soap bubbles vibrating at different frequencies where geometric shapes seem to emerge.

“I really enjoyed that aspect of it. It’s quite interesting to see the forms – there are a few facts I need to check up on – but I’m pretty sure it’s oscillating forms rather than shapes.”

And there is a deeper thing, it’s getting a handle on the way the world works, the way – I don’t wanna sound like a new age hippy, though there’s nothing wrong with that – to really try and get an understanding in the language and format that I can understand the world.”

Chamberlain’s passion for learning is clear. Above all else, ‘SoundMuse’ feels committed to leading audiences by the hand through the world of cymatics in a way that’s thought-provoking and accessible.

Check out the SoundMuse project here:

For more from The Hive go to:

Ewa Partum Exhibition: My Problem Is A Problem Of A Woman – At Centrala

Writer Beth Exley / Photographer Connor Pope

Centrala is a small gallery space and café located in Minerva works right on the edge of the Grand Union Canal in Digbeth. It is the only UK gallery space that specialises in the display of Central and Eastern European art outside of London. On this quiet afternoon there are a few tables positioned outside in the sun, overlooking the geese leisurely making their way across the water. It’s idyllic.

As I enter the café, I am greeted by a friendly barista who instructs me on how to approach the Ewa Partum Exhibition – they recommended starting upstairs with the display of Partum’s own works, and then coming back down to see the contemporary works of a younger generation of artists, who deal with similar themes and issues to Partum.

Heeding their advice, I go up to the first floor.  The space is large and understated, there are no dividing walls, and you can observe all the artworks together when you first enter. Here I am greeted by a variety of screens displaying performance pieces by Partum made in the 1970s and 80s, along with a few installations.

Ewa Partum is a Polish conceptual performance artist and film maker who began producing public works at the tail end of the 1960s, she is known primarily as a feminist artist, and is considered a pioneer of Eastern European feminism. Her work is powerful and personal and confronts the viewer head on.

The introductory panel states that this exhibition “aims to familiarise viewers with the work of Ewa Partum, but also to reflect on art as a tool of resistance and protest.”

Immediately next to this is a screen playing a short documentary video made about Partum by Janina Motylińska. I must admit, before attending this exhibition I had never heard of Ewa Partum, so this is a useful introduction that gears me up to understand the rest of the work included in the exhibition.

Turning around I am immediately drawn to an old-fashioned TV on a plinth in the centre of the room, this piece is entitled Change. The image on the screen is Partum herself in 1979. The work is a fragmentary video of a performance work. Partum has a bold black line drawn down the centre of her face and she stares directly into the camera. Makeup is used to age one side of her as the other stays youthful.

Change is captivating to watch, and I find myself staring at it for quite some time.

Pulling away I wander over to the far corner of the room where the most recent work of Partum’s included in this exhibition sits. You Take Our Freedom to Decide, So We Will Take Your Power (2017/2022) is a recreation of a 2017 work created in support of the Black Protest in Poland.

The Black Protest was a huge intergenerational protest against a parliamentary bill that sought to criminalise abortion in all cases. The symbol of this protest came to be a black umbrella. In Centrala, real images of these protests accompany the artwork, highlighting the importance of the feminist struggle in Poland to an international audience.

This exhibition is an important and educational display which introduces the audience to a radical and pioneering feminist artist. It is both highly interesting and powerful, and as I head downstairs to get myself a coffee in Centrala’s wonderful café I am very excited to see how contemporary artists have responded to Partum’s work in the downstairs space.

For more information of Ewa Partum’s ‘My Problem Is A Problem Of A Woman’ visit Centrala’s Website here: