The Industrial Muse: 'A Different View'

28 January 2014

A new donation to the Permanent Collection! This month, murmurs of excitement have been heard from the Archives as the latest donation is revealed. Becky Sexton, Archive Team Volunteer, reveals all.

After showing work in ‘The Industrial Muse’ exhibition in November 2013, one of the five exhibiting artists, David Harban RBSA, has generously donated 20 works to the RBSA’s Permanent Collection.

David Harban.QA

David was invited to take part in this exhibition along with four other artists; Brian Fletcher RBSA, Paul Hipkiss RBSA, Ron Law RBSA and Tom Millard RBSA. They were asked to respond to the industrial heritage of the West Midlands through painting, print and sculpture.

David first tackled this subject by heading to the building that had intrigued him for years; the former B.H Sale factory, Constitution Hill.  His donated etchings and aquatints include many recognisable buildings around Birmingham such as: the Town Hall; Great Western Arcade; the Queens Arms, Newhall Street and “Spires, Towers and Turrets of Birmingham.” David says: “Unfortunately many of Birmingham’s historical buildings stand neglected and victim to poor or non-existent planning control…The Victorian Society works tirelessly to highlight threatened buildings and has been a great source of information for this project.”

David Harban. St Pauls

Known as the UK’s second city, Birmingham is rich in heritage. David emphasises that it was once known as the city of 1000 trades; a manufacturing centre and a place full of industrial activity. Although David’s etchings evoke nostalgia for the City’s past, they also serve to document the present – including the recognizable terracotta buildings - and although trade has diminished many skills and crafts continue to thrive. David’s building exteriors encourage a sense of wonder of what is happening inside.

David said: “My interest in the heritage buildings of Birmingham broadened and the etchings in the exhibition represent those I enjoy and love, not always factually accurate but my personal view. I have only scratched the surface and maybe in the future I will pick up where I left off.”

A donation such as this, intrinsically linked to both Birmingham’s Industrial past and the RBSA Gallery, is invaluable to the Archives and will no doubt provide inspiration for many.

To see more artworks depicting Birmingham, visit the ‘Birmingham Today’ exhibition, on display from Thursday 6 February to Saturday 1 March 2014.