Sunday 12th July 2015 – Walsall St Matthews Church was the venue for the Worshipful Mayor of Walsall Cllr Angela Underhill’s Civic Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication. The service was led by The Reverend Jim Trood who included video projection as a element of his Dedication. Readings were delivered by The Mayor, Walsall CEO Paul Sheehan and The Right Honourable Bruce George who read the original version of Corinthians with great skill.
The service and featured songs from Blue Coat School children and Pelsall Ladies Choir.
Following the service we were invited to the Town Hall and the historic ‘Buns and Shilling’ ceremony.
To great applause, led by the Mayor the children returned to their seats, before the traditional bun and shilling ceremony took place and children from the school received a shilling medal and bun which now is ceremonial, however originally this would have been a real coin and portion of food to support disadvantaged families attend school. The service and the Bun and Shilling events are valuable in reflecting and remembering the traditions of Walsall and the West Midlands – Many thanks to Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council and to Mayor Angela Underhill and her consort.
Around The Town Hall are carvings, stained glass and paintings that reflect Walsall’s proud history. Including the listing of parish and congregation members lost in the great war; Paintings by Frank O Salisbury that flank the great Town Hall Organ; ‘Labour and Plenty’ stained glass and Andrew Tift’s : ‘There are no longer any birds in last years’ nests. Times change and we with them’ which is on loan from The New Art Gallery.
High Sheriff arts and creative Reports
As is my want when the High Sheriff makes formal visits to the many towns and cities of the West Midlands I seek out art, cultural and creative activities in local galleries. Walsall is blessed with the New Art Gallery which houses the Garman Ryan Collection as well as regular exhibitions of contemporary art and artists. White rose features throughout the gallery including a ceramic version as well as a growing version.
The third floor gallery holds some insightful and beautiful works in a show titled Small Worlds. The artists in this exhibition focus their attention on the changing urban environment. Their work allows us to reflect on hod we understand the concept of the local within an increasingly globalised context? What impact does the transformation of our local environment have on our identity and our communities? For some artists, Walsall, the Black Country and the West Midlands provide a focus for a consideration of the impact of social and economic change in those areas on the periphery of our major urban centres.
One of the artists is Rashid Rana whose large scale image is made from photographs and sign from the streets of Lahore.
Another artist Laura Oldfield Ford draws with biro pen and colourful washes. Oldfield Ford’s works are “investigation into the marginal, a process of burrowing under the heritage version of England to uncover the repressed psyche of a land. She wants to ask how far are the marginal political ideologies that emerge in the fraying edges of our cities a product of that environment and what new discourses are fomenting in the liminal zones of the commuter belt.” – See more
While stepping up through the 4 floors of the gallery I met Preya Chauhan, who worked with us on a range of projects including the award winning Bollywood Star, who is working in the gallery. She points me to a range of exhibitions including the garman ryan collection , that includes picassos, epstiens, and van gogh’s including her favourite ‘Sorrow’.
And last but not least no visit to the New Art Gallery would be complete without reference to the Garman Ryan Collection. Below are two portraits of Kitty Garman which are separated by 60 years.
The first portrait is by Lucien Freud who Kitty was married to and painted between 1948 and 1949. Kitty wasthe eldest daughter of the sculptor Jacob Epstein and Kathleen Garman. The second is by Walsall born artist Andrew Tift. Kitty Garman used to live in a small village just outside of Andrew’s home town of Walsall and her family donated their hugely impressive art collection to The New Art Gallery-Walsall , which is called the Garman Ryan Collection. Andrew has been working on portraits of Kitty for a small show at the gallery and this triptych is part of that series. The feel of this triptych was inspired by John Freeman’s “Face To Face” television interview series from the 1960s.