The success of The Passage opening evening

Me with my work

Recently, my photographic series ‘My mum the lollypop lady’ was exhibited as part of The Passage. A show consisting of 21 artists displaying a diverse range of material, technique and concept. We were all united in the fact we all studied at Margaret Street School of Art and this really showed as we worked together to prepare our works for the exhibition. However, our greatest unification came on our preview evening 22/05/2014.

Inhabited under a railway arch on a back street in Digbeth was The Arches. The space is large, cold and damp in places. It still feels and looks industrial, something I particularly fell fond with as it worked well with the raw quality of my photographs. The first room within the space was more of a ‘white cube’ gallery showing more traditional or delicate works. A passage lead into the second room where the age and industrial qualities of the building were on show. Here, my photographic series was placed. My use of colour, the subject and the quality of my images, I feel, sat really well in these surroundings.

Through leaflet hand outs and social media, particularly Twitter, we invited the people in and around Birmingham to come view The Passage. As people started to enter, some we recognised, and some we did not, we realised that we had actually succeeded in attracting people to our show. The self promotion we did managed to get us in The Birmingham Mail newspaper and the Metro newspaper. As well as this, we had art writer Anneka French review are show. All of these documents can be viewed below:

The Passage Birmingham Post profile by Graham Young

Underneath the arches The Passage Birmingham Mail write up by Graham Young – Online version which was reproduced in the Metro

THE PASSAGE review by Anneka French

There was two performances on the preview evening.

As it reached 7.30, performance artist Nadine Paige Riley started to slowly walk towards a sheet of white fabric in the back corner of the room. Dressed in all red- a red dress, red high-heels and red lipstick, she had a femininity and sexuality that elevated in the bleak surroundings. In the centre of the cloth lay a industrially associated brick pressed upon a tomato dressed in a stitching saying ‘He Hated That I Was Born Female’.  The room silenced as she approached the brick, the clicking of her high-heeled shoes echoing throughout the space. Confronted with the brick, Nadine slammed her foot against it, crushing the tomato. Knowing the feminist values of the artist, I saw the brick, which was hard, heavy and masculine as a man in the scenario and the red, soft, natural tomato as Nadine who claims to have been suppressed by men her whole life. After attacking the tomato with the brick, the stitched words were placed on top of the brick and Nadine walked away from the performance with her head high. The artists looked towards the floor during the performance until the finale, the idea of role reversal was apparent, she had now become dominant and strong.

You can watch Nadine perform He Hated That I Was Born Female, 2014 on her Facebook art page below:

Around half an hour later, Ahmed Magare, artist and poet took centre stage to perform one of his poems named ‘she walks’. A heart-filled expression of the life of his grandmother, who is centre to his practice. Everyone formed a circle around Ahmed, which he used as his stage, acknowledging and interacting with all those around. He projected his words so powerfully yet softly. As a member of the audience, there was a great atmosphere and emotion as his words filled the space.

You can also watch his performance ‘She Walks’ on Ahmed’s Facebook art page: