This week I had the pleasure of attending Ort Gallery’s annual members show, ‘Schwarmerei’ , a diverse exhibition of local talent nestled above the cosy yet vibrant Ort Cafe in Balsall Heath.

Steve Berridge

Dave Barber

If you’ve not taken the opportunity to visit this rare gem just yet, bear in mind that ‘Schwarmerei’ means enthusiasm. Something in no short supply amongst Thursday’s jovial opening crowd as they immersed themselves in an array of art that really set conversation flowing as much as the wine on offer.

There was plenty to be admired at the show, including the eerily enchanting cinematography of Joel Chernin, Jayne Bacon’s up-cycled mosaic tribute to our city’s mascot and Haider Akbar’s surreal mixed media collages exploring fantasy and faith. But art is something that should be seen, not read about, so i’ll keep it brief and introduce you to just a few pieces that caught my eye.

Have you ever considered how much of history has been airbrushed out of what we know today? Neither had I, until coming across the constructed photography of Allan O’Neill. Next time you’re chatting to a football fan, be sure to ask them if they’ve ever heard of Frank Soo, but first, give yourself some food for thought by going to check out Allan’s piece.

From pioneers of the past to Laurie Ramsell’s thought provoking take on our potential future. Laurie’s unique combination of glasswork and sculpture raises morality questions about what it is to be human. A very cool piece from a sublime collection that really needs to be seen to fully comprehend and appreciate.

Jane Bacon

There’s been a lot of talk recently about mental health and how we must bring discussion into the open to end the taboo. Jason Clarke and Steve Berridge are helping this progress and must be commended for their pieces which were both aesthetically tremendous and coloured with emotion. Berridge’s large scale illustrative piece in particular exhibited a lot of anger at the representation of those with mental illness, particularly by the thoughtless tabloid headlines that saturate our news feeds.

The late greats Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon made an appearance at the show in the form of Dave Barber’s oil paintings.

If Rene Magritte and psychedelia were to have a baby I imagine it would look something like one of Dave’s paintings. I got a sneak peak of some of his works in progress whilst we shared a mutual appreciation for painting musical icons of the past.

 

And my personal highlight of the evening… ‘Brugmansia Tales’

Brugmansia Tales

A beautiful and dangerous feat of horticulture Whimsical, bold and delicately feminine.

Upon seeing Michaela Hans’ screen print I fell in love. I spoke with Michaela about her appreciation for Art Nouveau, Mucha and the enticing delirium of the brugmansia plant, which under no circumstances, she advised me, should be ingested! It won’t be long at all before I have one of Michaela’s prints hanging in my home.

I had the privilege of speaking with one of the gallery directors, Ridhi Kalaria, whose passion for inclusivity in the community knows no bounds. After founding the downstairs cafe, which may I add serves up a most delightful chai latte, she went on to form the upstairs gallery in the hope of providing new amenities for artists. Ridhi is enthusiastic about opening up new opportunities for anybody willing to embrace it, this is certainly no members only establishment, Ort’s doors are open to those from all walks of life and you’re invited to step in and join! Ort Gallery membership is available for just £20 a year and with that comes a plethora of benefits, including invitations to private views and pre-preview launches, discounted workshops and venue hire and even the chance the exhibit as part of Schwarmerei next year.

With plenty of creative endeavours to come, including an exciting visit from Nigerian artist Eca Eps, as part of this Autumns Fierce Festival, I am excited for what the future has in store for this community of hope. You really Ort to check it out 😉