“ Address: Cannon Hill Park / Birmingham / B12 9QH „
Midlands Art Centre - Birmingham
Registered charity no. 528979
Cannon Hill Park,
Birmingham B12 9QH
The "MAC" as it is known locally sits on the edge of Cannon Hill Park near to the Warwicksire Cricket Ground. The MAC has been recently re built into a fine local arts centre. The centre actually goes back to 1962 but nothing of the original centre remains now.
The MAC boats is a good cinema which shows well known recent films, less well known films and some classics. The classics are great to see in a cimema rather than at home on TV.
There are also stages and studios. These are for plays and music productions.
Many of the "shows" are by local people which gives this Arts Centre a good family feel.
The website is right up to date with everything on offer.
All the family is catered for with art, drama and music courses for adults and young people.
There is a "Coffee Shop" come "Cafe" which serves snacks and larger meals if required.
Around the cafe and other areas there is a bar and great places to sit and chat with friends.
Car parking can be a problem if there is cricket on and during the summer months.
The "MAC" is well worth a visit to as is Cannon Hill Park right outside the main enterance.
Midlands Art Centre - Birmingham
Registered charity no. 528979
HQ: Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH
In 1995, thanks to the newly launched British National Lottery the arts have prospered. However, it hasn't always been the case prior to Lottery grants and schemes. Many establishments were trading on a shoestring trying to create outlets for up and coming artists which mainly had to purchase off the road shed's to exhibit their work. A lot couldn't even afford heating and normal amenities were non existent. Rotten floorboards was part of the parcel for a struggling artist who was desperate to do their craft and work tirelessly behind the exhibiting scenes; usually frozen and gaunt, but generally happy and upbeat. There is something spiritual about a malnourished artist whose choice is too scrape and save for every penny and in a way it makes for that one-off exhibit sale that every bit sweeter. Eating economy cold baked beans, layered up like a Michelin Man with holey cardigans and smelling of musty old socks; now I'm painting an unpalatable picture eh! - The lifestyle hasn't changed that much; but thanks to the internet and instant global access, and revamped galleries and art centres' funded by the National Lottery and British Art Councils, the landscape appears even more inspirational to the creative minded.
Return of the MAC
The Midlands Art Centre in Birmingham, known as the MAC, has reaped it's rewards by receiving an impressive architectural re-think. - Pleasingly to me, the MAC hasn't lost its original roots; the essence of the place has not disappeared into a forgotten time period; that so often is the case when visually tired buildings get modernized for conferences or exhibition space. The exterior resembles the 'German's Bauhaus Movement;' in the 1930's directed by architect Walter Gropius. Influences that notably garnished British shores in the 1960's; the block aesthetic style like the German's catered for the education sector and served the Grammar school era for a generation.
The MAC is refreshingly clean compared to the concrete city that encases the art centre like a huge protective metaphoric hand as if it is holding a butterfly. I can't help but think that this venue would have been perfect for my 'prized handmade book, titled "Blank inside"; where each page had a different font stating the two words "Blank inside." The Mac, after it's make-over certainly now would fit its surrounding ambiance, better than a quaint leaky church in Vauxhall London as a backdrop.
This wasn't a massively induced overhaul like you see in Culture cities such as in Sheffield, or Liverpool. The embryo is still evident once you've got use to the new structure that cost close to 15 Million. Founder, John English initially got a Birmingham council grant in the early 1960's to build on parklands; the plan was to help provide aspirations to poverty stricken children in the Midlands, by introducing them to the arts. The art of movement and craft, building young minds of the then future; inspired by artist 'Duchamp,' whose works without critics exposed the static vision of movement frame by frame, which is depicted in the 'descending staircase,' painted in 1912.
Critics saw the exhibit as a farcical dig at the Cubists (Art movement that was the fad at the time) It is interesting how cultural placements use the past and present in conveying it's spatial awareness, the MAC is more personalised than the NEC that caters for most events in Birmingham; the vastness making it internationally renown. I think English had no intention of losing the intimateness due to the MAC charity status. Hence, the dawning of the NEC; the MAC does explode in elucidated freshness, but still you can see the past in the interior walls, feel the history of design movements, yet sings with a post modern tone that has to be applauded. Sampad; the MAC's building partner did not have a huge budget to throw caution to the wind in it's re-vamp. They conversed and understood the history that John English had embedded in the project from the early 60's; similar ethics to what football legend Sir Matt Busby did for Manchester United, around the same era, still deployed to this day in it's youth system.
What's in the big MAC?
Soon to be exhibited as a performance piece is the works of 'Polarbear;' later this month (May 2010) - Called 'Return.' The performance depicts a journey into the imagination all done by anecdotal story-telling, expressive voice tones, sound effects and simplistic visuals. Check for details on: http://www.macarts.co.uk/page/3649/RETURN/23
Usually in new creative refurbished arena is an exciting vibrant buzz that installs a flurry of optimism. This is evident in the 'What is on' menu.' Showing of, "I see with my eyes closed." (Apparently with a small 'i') is having a premier opening, helped on robustly with Richard Baker's baton; all the relevant info available on the website above. (24-May 2010)
Another depiction that leads me to the Bauhaus is the German sounding words that are neatly crafted in grey and black in some sans serif font, above everyone's head like some cult scripture warning off negative thoughts. - "Bostin... sammich... def-out..." - Reminds me of some sign for the lavatory in some far-off obscure land, that you only visit their airport; 'Bostin!' yep, I am indeed. Fingers crossed it is the 'Men's.' It sounds masculine. Then again, so do the ladies.
Artist types tend to have a habit of wanting to curiously quiz or confuse their voyeur, and these words seem to get a collective eagerness of Blackberry clicking, that echoes through-out the layers of platforms, similarly denoted in artist Piet Mondrian exhibit's observing naturist forms. I'm starting to get a picture of where the MAC features in Birmingham's bid to become the 'City of Culture in 2013,' the MAC aims to be the equivalent to the Olympic, Velodrome; not in size, but in aesthetics and style.
The original four buildings from yester-year have been extended on the estate, for different arenas; they've embarked on a corporate area for conferences alike, as well as a café hot point for intimate gossip and to deliberate in small groups. They're co-ordination in workshops is endless, and that is a topic in itself to perhaps discuss at a later date. The vision is to fill a hundred plus weekly events within the designated areas of the MAC. The future does seem rather fruitful for the once forgotten and tired Midlands Art Centre, even though the economic forecast for the UK is tunnel vision on deep cuts, due to our precarious financial state. Maybe the arts have the answer to lift our hopes and dreams and follow through those burning creative desires that got buried in mountains of bureaucracy and bills, of modern life.
Creativity and culture is a welcoming breeze; that needs to be inhaled, for it to survive, so our future generations can enjoy and continue learning. That is if you're able to open the mind and absorb whats around you.
Thank you for reading