The make-do-and-mend culture of postwar Britain is the inspiration for an event being staged by two of Birmingham’s liveliest arts promoters at the New Art Gallery, Walsall, next month.
Music promoters Capsule are joining forces with 7inch Cinema, organisers of the successful recent Flatpack Festival, to present Making Do, a free evening event of “listening, viewing, drinking and doing” on Thursday May 7, from 6pm to 9pm.
The evening brings together screenings of short films, live music performances from Pram, July Skies and The Winter League, workshops and activities and a nostalgic street party atmosphere throughout the building.
Screenings include a series of short public information films packed with handy hints for housewives, produced between the 1920s and 50s but just as useful in today’s wintry economic climate. Visitors can discover the healing power of Horlicks, the secret of a perfect rabbit pie, and how to clean a mink stole with only a handful of bran.
Alongside documentaries, cine-magazines, propaganda films and adverts specially selected from the BFI archive, there will also be a selection of colourful, handmade music videos by new talent from the Flatpack Festival, featuring flipbooks, animated sock-fish, cut-out cardboard dogs and puppetry.
Moseley avant-pop veterans Pram will reflect Birmingham’s spin cycle of perpetual renovation, while July Skies, a Midlands-based co-operative who have been championed by the late John Peel and Rob Da Bank on Radio 1 and Verity Sharp on Radio 3, demonstrate their nostalgia for more innocent times.
There is also music from The Winter League, described as a Salvation Army band for the climate change generation, and jazz singer Claire Taylor will be singing 1950s numbers associated with Doris Day, Ertha Kitt and Frank Sinatra.
Ioannis Ioannou, audience development curator at the New Art Gallery, says: “This will be a night event about looking at the past and especially at the 1950s for fun and exciting ways of dealing with the credit crunch and the lessons we can learn from post war austerity and self-sufficiency. We invite people to come and experience it with us.”
It heralds a weekend of late-night events in museums across the country, from Plymouth to Stirling from May15-17. Promoted by Arts 24, formerly the 24 Hour Museum, the online guide to Britain’s museum collections, it is part of the Europe-wide “Nuits de Musees” celebrations.
Museums participating in the West Midlands are Hall’s Croft, part of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon (open until 9pm on May 16), the Black Country Living Museum, which is staging an evening of traditional entertainment, also on May 16 (6pm-10pm), and the Avoncroft Museum of Buildings, Bromsgrove, which is staging a participatory event, The Mysterious Disappearance of Prof A von Croft, from 6pm-9pm on May 15 (pre-booking essential on 01527 831363).