‘Glisten’ at the RBSA. Lauren McInerney (History of Art and English) on the hanging of the new festive show at the RBSA

A couple of weekends back, I was lucky enough to be able to help out with the craft gallery changeover at the RBSA Gallery, Birmingham. The Craft gallery at the RBSA, which is just by the main entrance, houses a series of changing exhibitions all year round and I was helping to take down ‘Automatic People’ (which featured craft works that incorporated movement into the works or were influenced by movement) to make way for the exhibition ‘Glisten’. Billed as “A glittering exhibition of contemporary fine craft”, this exhibition, which features an variety of crafts from gold and silver to ceramics, captures not only the frostiness of autumn turning into winter, but also the Christmas spirit–if you’re stuck for present buying ideas this year, then I can highly recommend a look around!

The changeover began on the Saturday morning with the removal of ‘Automatic People’ from the cabinets, and packaging the objects in protective bags ready to be sent back to the artists who made them. I also spent a fair amount of time making over 40 paper snowflakes; resulting in a very sore hand, but it was worth it to see the finished product!

Sunday was then spent unpacking the new exhibits and arranging them in their stands and cases – trickier than it sounds! With such tiny, intricate, pieces, finding the best way to display them so that they wouldn’t end up getting lost among the larger objects featured required a fair bit of trial and error. It took hours, in the end! Arranging the exhibits was also made slightly more difficult because of the sheer amount of different objects, made in various media and materials, that are represented including jewellery, ceramics and textiles. These all needed to be shown together, somehow, in a way that “flowed”, would make for a visually appealing exhibition, but with the added pressure of having to be accessible to a buying audience.

The size of the Craft Gallery didn’t help, either, and manoeuvering about this small space and its four large display cabinets proved to be a wee bit of a squeeze –  especially when you were trying your hardest not to knock a cabinet that has a neatly laid out collection of objects in it! Nevertheless, these problems and difficulties aside, and after endless manipulating and tweaking, the arrangements were finally finished and it looked fantastic!

RBSA is located on Brook Street, across the square from ‘The Jam House’. ‘Glisten’ is on until the 18th of January 2013… and if you happen to be going to the German Christmas Market, it’s well worth popping in to get in the festive spirit, maybe pick up a gift or two (& maybe see alumni Hannah Carroll, who is Gallery co-ordinator at the RBSA!).



  1. […] Since the beginning of 2013, I have been co-curating an exhibition with recent Birmingham History of Art graduate Chloë Lund for the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. As an Undergraduate Archive Volunteer, I have enjoyed access to the RBSA’s treasures from its Permanent Collection at close hand, and our exhibition displays a rich selection of the artworks acquired by the RBSA in the past five years as well as some that have never before been exhibited. The exhibition will not only explore the contents of the Permanent Collection but the relationship between the Society and the local community, which includes students at the University of Birmingham–each and every one of you! Art History students at the University of Birmingham have many opportunities to get involved with the RBSA, and you can read a bit about what other students have got up to with them here and here. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s