When it comes to Heavy Metal there is only one city that can claim to be it’s birthplace and that’s Birmingham.
Noting the lack of plaques or shrines honouring our city’s musical claim to fame in 2011 Capsule curated a series of exhibitions and events under the banner Home of Metal.
This summer to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Black Sabbath’s formation Home of Metal returns with a major exhibition at BMAG celebrating the legacy of the band and their fans. Running alongside this is a series of exhibitions celebrating Metal in all its forms.
Here’s my guide to the Home of Metal 2019 season:
Home of Metal: Black Sabbath – 50 Years at BMAG
Featuring memorabilia from both the band and their fans this exhibition tells the story of the band from their humble origins in Aston to key moments in their legacy.
There’s a quote from guitarist Tony Iommi in the exhibition where he says “Your surroundings and experiences influence your music so it’s important for people to understand where that music came from”. We learn throughout the show that the industries of Birmingham influenced the sound of the band in more ways than one – from growing up with the noise of the factories in the background to Iommi’s workplace accident which resulted in the loss of several of his fingertips thus causing Iommi to develop Sabbath’s signature tones and riffs.
There’s display cabinets dedicated to the four members – Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward featuring their own personal ephemera. Here you can find out their influences which include Boys Brigade parades, Gene Krupa and Django Reinhardt.
We also see from posters and mementos that Horror movie Black Sabbath starring Boris Karloff and Satanism were key influences.
If you fancy showcasing your version of ‘Paranoid’ there’s even a selection of instruments you can pick up and play.
Even if you’re not a huge fan of the band the social history element and tributes to the band which range from a knitted version of the band dubbed Sabbath, Wooly, Sabbath to a motorcycle make this exhibition a must see.
Ends 29th September – £12.00 entry https://www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/bmag/whats-on/home-of-metal-presents-black-sabbath-50-years
Ben Venom: All This Mayhem at MAC
All This Mayhem is a major exhibition of new and recent work by internationally renowned, San Francisco-based artist Ben Venom. His textile based artworks made from reclaimed fabrics including Heavy Metal band t-shirts mix the traditional crafts of quilting and sewing with the counterculture of outsider music and the occult.
Whilst the skulls and flying tigers that adorn his quilts aren’t motifs you’d expect to see in a craft usually associated with grannies don’t be surprised if you see old ladies sporting purple rinses standing next to someone wearing a battle jacket admiring the same work of art.
Ends 8th September free entry https://macbirmingham.co.uk/exhibition/all-this-mayhem
Home of Metal: Hand of Doom at MAC
If there’s one item of clothing that sums up the Heavy Metal scene it’s the battle jacket. Also known as cut offs, battle jackets are usually made from denim jackets with their sleeves removed and then adorned by patches and badges of the owner’s favourites bands logos and artwork.
This exhibition at MAC features portraits of Black Sabbath fans from around the world wearing their devotion on their homemade garments.
Ends 1st September free entry https://macbirmingham.co.uk/exhibition/home-of-metal-hand-of-doom
Show Your Metal at MAC
The exhibition also features a selection of jewellery made by Heavy Metal fans.
Ends 26th August free entry https://macbirmingham.co.uk/exhibition/show-your-metal
Alan Kane: 4 Bed Detached Home of Metal at New Art Gallery, Walsall
4 Bed Detached Home of Metal is curated by Alan Kane, an artist who I became aware of through his collaboration with Jeremy Deller on the Folk Archive exhibition. In much the same manner as the aforementioned exhibition 4 Bed Detached Home of Metal brings together work by established artists and artefacts from the general public, in this instance they are fans of the Heavy Metal subculture.
Kane plays around with the notion of Home of Metal by displaying artworks depicting items usually found in a domestic setting. In some cases such as his ‘Nature Morte’ patches they give a nod to Metal as a music form and in others such as ‘Lazy Sunbather’ by Des Hughes we see artwork based on items found around the home but constructed from various types of metal such as steel and iron.
Ends 1st September free entry https://thenewartgallerywalsall.org.uk/exhibition/coming-soon-alan-kane-4-bed-detached-home-of-metal-exhibition/
Przemek Branas – I Is Somebody Else at Centrala
Polish artist Przemek Branas has taken influence from identity and impersonation in the Heavy Metal scene. His work comprise of photographs, installations and a wall of masks.
For further images taken by myself of this exhibition click here.
Ends 11th August Free Admission http://centrala-space.org.uk/exhibition/przemek-branas—i-is-somebody-else
Monster Chetwynd: Hell Mouth 3 at Eastside Projects
Turner Prize nominated artist Monster Chetwynd is known for her reworkings of iconic moments from cultural history, in ‘Hell Mouth 3′ she takes inspiration from the three part film series ‘The Decline of Western Civilisation’.
Large scale sets take centre stage in Eastside Gallery’s industrial space. Whilst they do look great as standalone pieces I think they’d truly come alive when used as part of a performance.
Chetwynd’s ‘Bat Opera (Heavy Metal)’ series of eight prints are also displayed and are available to purchase at a special price as a fundraiser for Eastside Projects.
Ends 27th July free entry https://eastsideprojects.org/projects/hell-mouth-3/