A major initiative to help boost Birmingham’s creative industries and retain graduate skills is being repeated for a second year.

New Art West Midlands (NAWM) is an exhibition of the best contemporary art from recent graduates, who are given the opportunity to show their work in four of the region’s leading galleries, including Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

A Turning Point West Midlands scheme, NAWM is based on a unique partnership of four art venues and five universities with funding from Arts Council England.

Turning Point West Midlands is a strategic network working with artists, curators, galleries, universities and businesses, to strengthen arts in the region and nationally.

All exhibiting artists have graduated from one of the West Midlands’ undergraduate and postgraduate fine art degree courses in the past three years, encompassing Birmingham City University, Coventry University, Staffordshire University, University of Wolverhampton and University of Worcester.

From 147 applications, 24 artists have been selected to be part of the exhibition, which will be presented in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Grand Union, opening on February 14, 2014.

New Art West Midlands
New Art West Midlands

The inaugural New Art West Midlands shows took place in earlier this year, with work by 22 emerging artists attracting 50,000 visitors. Many of the participants have gone on to forge careers within the creative sector, both in the region and beyond, boosted by their involvement in the exhibition.

Professor John Butler, Head of Birmingham School of Art at BCU, said: “Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region now has one of, if not the, most exciting art scenes in the country. The key is to support emerging artists and, crucially, prove that this is the place to stay and forge a career.

“New Art West Midlands can provide an important first rung on the ladder for these artists, bringing their work to the attention of the art market, arts venues, critics, media and employers.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

“In addition, the vast number of creative talent coming out of our art schools will go on to bring important skills to the creative industries, not just as artists, but also in the fields of design, fabrication, arts administration, teaching – the list goes on. Last year’s exhibitions were very well received and we are incredibly pleased to repeat the initiative this year and, hopefully, in the years to come.”

Rafal Zar, overall prize-winner of New Art West Midlands in 2013, went on to exhibit his work at the Five Songs exhibition at Digbeth-based Minerva Works, organised in association with the internationally recognised gallery Eastside Projects, and was selected to be part of the Worcester Open.

Other noted entrants included Stuart Layton, now studying for a Master of Fine Arts degree at the prestigious Royal College of Art, London, and Corey Hayman, who has been offered a work placement in Florence.

Find out more: www.tpwestmidlands.org.uk

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