Friday, 18 October 2013

Visiting The Public, West Bromwich

Today I went to view a friend's M A ceramics exhibition being held in an
 exciting open gallery/ entertainment/ meeting place in West Bromwich.
This wonderful place is called The Public
Sadly it is closing in November to become a college,
 but even more sadly the interior is to be completely gutted
and all the lovely design destroyed.
To find out the history of The Public you can go to
Here is how it looked today in all it's glorious pinkness.
I lost track of the number of floors when I got inside.
Was it three or four floors I climbed through from the reception area?
The thing is, you can take the lift,
but the way to appreciate the building and the art work fully is by
climbing the winding ramps and suspended walk ways.

 With the reflective surfaces, changing light patterns, sounds effects, and open drops, 
this was not wonderful for my vertigo but
 rich in stimulation of the senses.
(I know it's very tame compared with Frank Gehry interiors
 which I've visited and found more challenging).

 The labels attached to this ramp are tied by local people who were invited
 to catalogue their appreciation of the building
 and what has happened in it since it opened.

 There were lovely interactive art installations on the ramps,
 though this great photo of mine shows none of them.
 I made electronic music,
 watched videos,
 shared laughter,
sent an animated bird-like creation flying around the ramps
 by dancing on an electronic pad,
and much more.


Here I am becoming part of the art work.
Fortuitously I was wearing toning pink which fit in with the décor!

Back on the ground floor
 and gravitating to a welcome little tooth full of something in the restaurant
 there were more yellow labels on the chairs.
The one at my table said
"It's good that people can come here,
have a snack,
 and meet other people".

I think that says it all really.

The Public
 has provided a magnificent space for the people of West Bromwich.
A focus, and a platform for them,
 and for folk from further afield.

 Where will the knitting group meet
 when this community space is closed I wonder?

The decision to lease the building to a local college
 has been taken by the local government authority
who created a trust to run The Public.

Despite the increasing volume of visitors
 no doubt the cost of running it has prompted the decision.

I wonder if it has taken a while for local people
 to begin to realise the full potential
 of this courageous venture?

  Now it is buzzing,
 and appreciation for it growing,
 alas, too late.

Money aside, are we too conservative,
 too timid,
or too quick to look for possible negatives,
 to take up new experiences,
allow them to mature,
and make the most of them
I wonder?


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