Summer in Birmingham: Love is Enough at BMAG

Guest blog by Lauren Morton @MissMorton

Photo by Lauren Morton
Photo by Lauren Morton

Summer in Birmingham: Love is Enough at BMAG

Yesterday I visited the Love Is Enough exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The exhibition showcases the work of both William Morris and Andy Warhol, who although born centuries apart share many parallels in aspects of their work.

Guest for the Holy Grail Tapestries
Holy Grail Tapestries – The Summons – William Morris

Curated by the Turner prize winning artist Jeremy Deller, the exhibition is split into four areas; Flower Power, Camelot, Hopes and Fears For Art and A Factory As It Might Be.

Although an unlikely pairing, the connections between these two artists are extremely interesting, from their interests in the politics of their times, the mass production and popularization of art, to their shared belief of the centrality of art to everyday life. Both also ventured from beyond the art world into publishing; Warhol launched Interview Magazine in 1969, whilst Morris launched Kelmscott Press in 1891 which produced 52 bodies of work in 7 years.

Marilyn Monroe - Andy Warhol
Marilyn Monroe – Andy Warhol

The Camelot area of the exhibition was one of my favourite. Morris was fascinated by the literature and culture of medieval Britain and produced many tapestries depicting the knights of Camelot and their quest for the Holy Grail. Variations of these tapestries were reproduced by Morris and Co for the well to do classes and it was these that were on display.These Holy Grail tapestries are the only set in a UK public collection. Each one tells a story of the knights valiant quest for the Holy Grail and the adversity they faced. The tapestries are vast in size and I was impressed by the level of detail in each, even down to the tiniest pebble on the sand.

Warhol’s version of Camelot was the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and celebrity. As a child he would write to movie stars requesting their photo and autograph, one of which is on display – a signed sepia photo from a young Shirley Temple which was one of Warhol’s most prized possessions.

Guest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - William Morris
Holy Grail Tapestries – The Failure of Sir Gawaine – William Morris

Like many Americans Warhol was also enamored with the Kennedy family (their time in the White House is often referred to as the Camelot era), and produced over 300 Jackie Kennedy works alone. A number of these are on display including Red Jackie (1964), which depicts the First Lady in Warhol’s well known pop art style.

One of the stand out pieces for me was this Marilyn Monroe Tapestry (1968), which was created for the American Tapestries Exhibition at the Charles Slatkin Galleries. Over 20 were commissioned but only 6 were made. ‘Love Is Enough’ is the first time this piece has been brought to the UK.

Joan Collins - Andy Warhol
Joan Collins – Andy Warhol

I would definitely recommend taking a visit to the exhibition before it ends. It’s a great day out for both adults and children and it’s certainly worth the money to see such iconic pieces which are still influencing the art and design world today.

Love is Enough is on display until 6th September so there’s still over a month left to catch this great exhibition. Admission is £7 for adults and £3 for children aged 3-15 years and also includes free admission to the rest of the Museum and Art Gallery. For more information click here.


About the Author

Lauren Morton is 23 and works as a Marketing Executive in Birmingham City Centre. Lauren is a massive foodie and in her spare time enjoys socialising with friends, music, the cinema and exploring local events.

Lauren’s blog Chaos and Creativeness is chaosandcreativeness.com

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