A few months ago I attended a linocut printing day class at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, which is based on the University of Birmingham campus (where I also happen to work). The gallery has long been one of my favorites, as it’s collections are relativity small but of a very high quality. It means that, unlike in a lot of larger galleries, you don’t need to view a lot of mediocre art to get to the good bits! As a student at the University I used to pop in every couple of weeks to view the permanent collection at the gallery, or at the very least (if I didn’t have long) my very favorite painting in the collection, Bellini’s A Portrait of a Boy. While I was still a student at the University the Barber ran a brilliant (and I think quite unusual) temporary exhibition called The Great and the Good: Judging Quality in Art where they exhibited acquisitions purchased by the gallery over the years which are not normally on show since they were later found to be forgeries or, in a number of cases, just not very good. It was fascinating to see these pictures alongside some of the best pieces in the gallery, and one of the most fun shows I’ve been to.
The Barber only runs a relativity small selection of adult evening/weekend classes and I hadn’t attended one before. I also had never tried linocut printing. At the time of the course the Barber was running an exhibition called Court on Canvas: Tennis in Art, which was apparently the first ever tennis-themed art exhibition. Due to this, the linocut printing course was on a tennis theme, and we based our designs on pieces from the exhibition. I based my print on John Lavery’s painting A Rally, which was also used by the Barber in their promotional materials for the exhibition.
The Barber Institute are running a second linocut printing workshop on the 28th January on the theme of Chinese patterns which I’m very excited about. Me and my partner study Mandarin and I’m very interested in Chinese history, art and culture – as well as the Chinese language. Hopefully I’ll have something else to frame and hang on the wall after the workshop!