The Grand Union contemporary gallery and artists’ studio in Birmingham is celebrating its third birthday with a £100,000 grant from Arts Council England.
The Grants for the Arts award allows the Digbeth gallery to employ its first director, increase its programme of contemporary art exhibitions and events, and increase its fundraising and marketing activity.
The award coincides with the third anniversary of the gallery, which began life in 2010 when a group of emerging Birmingham artists came together to find permanent high-quality studio and exhibition space.
The group took over a unit in Minerva Works on Fazeley Street in Digbeth next to the Grand Union canal after striking a deal with Isis Waterside Regeneration – a subsidiary company of the Canal & Rivers Trust.
The former industrial space was transformed into individual studios and gallery by Queen & Crawford, the arts fabricator also based in Minerva Works, which recently worked with on a commission for a sculpture to feature in a Honda TV advertisement.
Grand Union now hosts a regular programme of exhibitions, talks and events and is at the centre of a growing community of creative organisations and businesses based in Digbeth.
Grand Union’s exhibition project space, which opens between 12-5pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, has hosted painting, sculpture, video work and performance from artists across the world, including most recently Norwegian artists Kjersti G. Andvig and Lars Laumann.
Grand Union director, Cheryl Jones, said the funding is vital to the group establishing itself as one of the must-see venues in Birmingham.
“We are developing an ambitious and exciting free public programme of exhibitions and events, with artists from the UK and internationally,” she said. “This grant means we can commission lots of new artwork to show in the gallery and also ensure our studios really are the best in the city. We have a really active visual arts community here that are raising the profile of Birmingham’s visual arts scene nationally and beyond.”
Grand Union’s eight studios are home to some of the city’s best contemporary artists, including Stuart Whipps, Tom Bloor, Juneau Projects, Liz Rowe, David Rowan, Helen Brown, Harminder Judge and BAZ. Their work has been exhibited nationally, including at London’s respected Whitechapel Gallery, The New Art Gallery Walsall and John Hansard Gallery.
Studio holder and graphic designer James Langdon was recently awarded the 2012 INFORM Award by the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst in Leipzig, Germany, a recognition for his work in the contemporary arts.
Grand Union is marking its third birthday with a reception on Friday, May 24, which also celebrates the opening of A Small Hiccup, a group exhibition with eight new commissions with performance, video, sculpture and digital media.