New exhibition celebrates Midlands’ historic manufacturing industry

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An exhibition of items and artefacts celebrating the Midlands’ historic role at the heart of the UK’s manufacturing industry will officially open this week (Wednesday November 9).

Midlands Modern 1930-1980 is being hosted at Birmingham City University’s Parkside Gallery and will showcase artistically designed pieces and products from some of the region’s most iconic brands.

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Birmingham City University

Items ranging from handwoven fabrics and carpets, to stylised furniture and homeware, crafted in Birmingham, the Black Country and beyond will be on display - with products dating from the interwar period to the 1980s.

Among those on show will be the works of Tibor ltd, founded by Stratford-based fabric designer Tibor Reich, and rare pieces from Kidderminster’s historic Brintons carpet firm which dates back over 230 years.

The exhibition will also include glasswork - made famous in the Black Country - as well as ceramics and furniture created and crafted in the region which combine function with artistry.

Midlands Modern 1930-1980 has been put together as a way to demonstrate the wide ranging impact of Midlands manufacturing on products and design during the period, and how it influences creations today.

Birmingham City University Emeritus Professor Richard Snell curated the exhibition.

He said: “The exhibition champions the diversity of manufacturing in the Midlands both past and present and the importance of design and designers to the commercial success of an enterprise.

“It also creates an opportunity to bring together creative endeavours in many different design disciplines – ceramics, glass, tableware, furniture, lighting and surface pattern design. This enables the combined strengths of the region to be showcased in one venue as a means of promoting the Midlands as a creative and manufacturing powerhouse.

The Midlands was at the centre of the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries and remains one of the country’s powerhouses of manufacturing.

The materials have been drawn together to highlight the period when manufacturers began to work with designers, often qualified in architecture or design, as a way of boosting economic growth across the region.

John Hall, Exhibitions Manager for Parkside Gallery, said: "Parkside Gallery is proud to host Midlands Modern. This is a celebration of design and manufacturing innovation which re-instates the region's importance in relation to Modernism and product design development.

“It is fitting that our star designers of the future within our Art, Design and Media Faculty can reflect upon these design and manufacturing heroes within their own teaching and learning environment at Parkside.”

Midlands Modern will run at the Parkside Gallery on Cardigan Street in Birmingham’s Eastside until January 14 2017.

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