braw, brum and beton
After the lockdowns and opening ups of twenty twenty one, we girded our loins and summoned up some fresh energy to tackle another year. We did manage to get through it and so.. here's a few highlights and reminders of the modernists' twenty twenty two...
We kicked off the year with 'Constructing Views' an exhibition by architectural photographer Daniel Hopkinson - Daniel has worked with many eminent practices and yet somehow this was his first ever exhibition. There's a little catalogue still available here.
The mooching season kicked off in February with a Wigan walk.. there was also a stroll in St.Helens, a Wolverhampton Wander and a Lomographic photography walk .. he gets about does our Steve Marland... twenty three mooches this year by our reckoning. Here are two happy moochers enjoying the views from St.Mary's Car park in St.Helens.
In March we all got up early to see the dimly lit daybreak photographs by Simon Buckley, from his ongoing project Not Quite Light. The photographs in our exhibition 'Time Will Tell' explored the evolving areas either side of the inner ring road that encircles Manchester city centre and parts of Salford. We also published a catalogue featuring images from the exhibition.
April saw the return of our in-shop talks, as we welcomed back John Grindrod to chat about his latest book, ICONICON. John took us all on an entertaining journey around the landmark buildings of millennial Britain, and the book features a few familiar names from our modernist gang.
We couldn't resist showing off our old friend Tony Bolton's LEGO model of the entire Manchester UMIST Campus, and so we made a little space in our exhibition schedule in May for his fantastic plastic replica of the Renold Building, the Barnes-Wallace Building and that curved stairway.
In May, the British Art Show came to town and the invited us to run a series of walks focussing on public art - in particular the work of Mitzi Cunliffe and Hans Tisdall. We obliged, with three tours... this image is of Mitzi Cunliffe's 'Cosmos' at Owens Park, Manchester.
Back indoors we were working on an idea proposed by Bill Mather for an exhibition of photographs taken by twenty two different photographers using out of date slide film. Some of the film was nearly fifty years old. The exhibition 'Out of Date' opened at Modernist HQ in May. We also published a photobook containing some of the images.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - well that's what we told our friends at OMI in Rotterdam, when we copied their idea of displaying record sleeves that featured architecture. Andy Votel, designer, DJ, musician, producer, record label owner, and obsessive collector of weird and obscure records curated a selection from his own collection, which we exhibited in July as 'House Music'.
Also in August, following his 'takeover' of the Leeds Modernist Society instagram account, Joshua Hart presented examples of his photographic series investigating the green spaces and tower blocks of Leeds. Thanks to Cubitts for their support.
Beavering away in Birmingham all this while were Mary Keating, Jenny Marris and John Bell, along with designer Sharonjit Sutton who were preparing for the launch of our publication 'Birmingham: The Brutiful Years'. The book puts the spotlight on the city’s often under-appreciated post-war architecture, with images and essays on some of Birmingham’s most iconic locations, as well as some of its lesser-known modernist gems. First published in September, it is already in its third reprint. The book got a good deal of press and is playing a little part in the Brutiful Birmingham and Birmingham Modernist Society campaign to save Birmingham's 230 metre long Ringway Centre.
Also, in Birmingham we partnered up with Black Country Type as he took a gang of happy snappers around the streets for a photographic exploration of the city.
Meanwhile at Modernist HQ, we had our eyes on the 50th anniversary of the Munich '72 Olympic Games and the graphic design work of Otl Aicher and his team. In particular, items from the collection of designer Ian McLaren who, loaned us his archive for our exhibition München '72.
In October, as the dark nights drew in and the weather got too cold for mooching we launched a season of talks kindly supported by our friends at BDP. Each month for six months speakers are talking on topics ranging from British Brutalism to African Modernism. This is Elain Harwood, taking well deserved applause after her talk on Brutalist Britain.
By November it was time to focus our attentions on Glasgow with the publication of another new book, Braw Concrete by Peter Halliday and Alan Stewart who advised us to take a long hard look at Glasgow's post war architecture.
We launched the book with a pop-up exhibition at the New Glasgow Society gallery on a cold November night, and a walking tour across the city the following day. We'll be back!
From November, the final exhibition of the year at Modernist HQ was 'Beton' by Olivia Turner. Her paintings are densely multi-faceted representations of Brutalist architecture. Olivia has exhibited worldwide and is currently the President of the Society of Scottish Artists.
Don't forget the bookshop... our year round project to provide the best books on modernism that money can buy!
And, every three months its time for the modernist magazine a quarterly foray into all things modernist - this year's themes were Light, Library and Layout.. before moving on to the world of M's with Municipal. Huge thanks to all the writers, photographers, designers and guest editors who volunteer their time and knowledge... just for you.
Throughout the year our busy volunteers at chapters in Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Swansea continued to provide us with information and insights about their fabulous cities via social media - you can find them on Twitter @modernistsocBHM, @modernistsocLDS, @modernistsocLIV, @modernistsoc, @modernistsocSHF and @modernistsocSWA and on Instagram @birminghammodernist, @leedsmodernist, @liverpoolmodernist, @manchestermodernist, @sheffieldmodernist and @swanseamodernist. So BIG thanks to them.
And so, what better way to end the year than by looking forward to the next. We thank Steve Marland again for providing us with a calendar full of chippys to mark off the days until mooching season begins again...
A special thank you goes to our subscribers, members and donors - during times when we have no grant income, it is you that keeps us going. And a big thank you to everyone who has contributed, exhibited, designed, supported, funded, visited and just generally been a part of the modernist society in twenty twenty two. We wish you well and hope to see you in 'twenty three.