Birmingham is a city that has had its share of bad press – enduring decades as the lazy punchline of a sneering Jeremy Clarkson style joke. But anyone lucky enough to have experienced Britain’s second city knows that recent years have witnessed a Renaissance in the Venice of the Midlands (it’s do with canals).
Another artistic string to the Brummie bow has come courtesy of the EC Arts 48 Sheet project which is inviting artists to take over 100 billboards across the city throughout April, creating an unusual al fresco urban art gallery. Pick of the work comes from the brilliant Ben Long, whose blurred digital prints not only wrong-foot passing motorists but also explores the idea of images losing their potency through ubiquitous representation.
“These artworks could be taken simply as a subversion of representational art because they appear to disrupt the traditional values of painting and present abstraction as high octane thrill-seeking,” Ben says.
“But I also think there is a cautionary meaning in there too, which is to do with how the historic can be manipulated and used as a commodity, and how we have become over-saturated with paintings by artists such as Constable to the point that we are no longer able to see them clearly. The Hay Wain is a perfect example of that because it appears on greetings cards and biscuit tins – my Nanna even has Constable place mats that she brings out when guests come to dinner! Rarely are we afforded a direct and pure experience of art. The reproduction is how we’re constantly receiving information and in a commercial world the meaning and original intention of these artworks become subtly distorted given enough time."