Nature’s Presence

An Arts Council Collection National Partners Exhibition

‘Nature’s Presence’ is an exhibition inspired by Blakesley Hall’s history and its relationship with nature. The exhibition is set within the Hall and the Visitors Centre.

Blakesley is a timber-framed Tudor house located in Yardley, a residential suburban area a few miles outside Birmingham city centre. It was built in 1590 by Richard Smallbroke, one of Birmingham’s leading merchant families. Nature has always been present at Blakesley. Inside the Hall, wall paintings of flowers have decorated the rooms since the 17th century. Within the Hall’s grounds is a garden and an orchard which continues to flourish. In the past the gardens have been used by the Hall’s families in different ways and today they are a hub of community activity.

The artworks in ‘Nature’s Presence’ have been selected from the Arts Council Collection, Birmingham’s collection and other major collections. They range in media from film and photography to painting and sculpture. The artists look at the natural world, looking at flowers, animals and fruit from different artistic perspectives.

Artists include John Blakemore, Oliver Clare, Ruth Claxton, Brian Duffy, Kaff Gerrard, Nerys Johnson, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Josef Herman, Ivon Hitchens, Georgie Hopton, Thomas Henry Kendall,
Pradip Malde, Margaret Mellis, Helen McQuillan, Hayley Newman and Stanley Spencer. The exhibition is accompanied by a presentation of rare herbarium specimens that are native to Yardley. A work by Paula Rego is also on display in Gallery 21 at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

A comprehensive learning and access programme accompanies this exhibition.


Wall Have Ears: 400 Years of Change

An Arts Council Collection National Partners Exhibition

Celebrating its 400th anniversary, Aston Hall is a magnificent Jacobean mansion located in a public park in the ward of Aston, a diverse local community in inner-city Birmingham. The Hall was built between 1618 and 1635 for Sir Thomas Holte and was subsequently leased in the 19th century by James Watt Jr, son of the engineer James Watt. It is furnished with the city’s collection of fine and decorative art – furniture, textiles, ceramics, metalwork and portraits, dating predominantly from the 17th century.

Inspired by this great house and its location, ‘Walls Have Ears: 400 Years of Change’ is an exhibition of contemporary portraiture and representations of history, culture, class and race, featuring artists from the Arts Council Collection, and Birmingham’s collection. The past 400 years have seen many changes in the social, demographic and economic landscape that surrounds the Hall. Reflecting these changes, the walls of the Hall come alive to interweave the past and the present. Throughout the Hall, paintings, tapestry, photographs, film, sculpture and ceramics offer contemporary observations of people from around the world.

Artists include Richard Billingham, Faisal Abdu’Allah and Kofi Allen, Vanley Burke, Lisa Cheung, Sylvester Jacobs, Mawuena Kattah, Ryan Mosley, Eugene Palmer, Paul Rooney, Zineb Sedira, Donald Rodney, Stephen Earl Rogers, Emma Rushton, Barbara Walker, Richard Wilson and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

A comprehensive learning programme of onsite and outreach activities accompanies this exhibition.

Aston Hall exhibition page


The Everyday and Extraordinary

An Arts Council Collection National Partners Exhibition

The Everyday and Extraordinary explores the potential of objects to be transformed and seen in new and insightful ways. Showcasing over seventy modern and contemporary artworks, this exhibition celebrates the wonder of physical objects in a pre-dominantly digital age where artistic creativity helps us all to see the world in extraordinary ways.

Found objects have been transformed in many ways and for different reasons by artists; used to communicate a particular idea or concept such as Surrealism’s use of humour and satire, or Pop Art’s direct appropriation of items from popular culture. It is the relationship between the found object as artistic material, content and subject-matter that provides the basis for this exhibition which presents a Wunderkammer (a room of wonder) of artworks drawn from the Arts Council Collection and Birmingham Museums.

This exhibition presents an eclectic and surreal environment where the everyday and the extraordinary come together.

The Everyday and Extraordinary is a touring exhibition conceived by Birmingham Museums Trust, in partnership with Towner Art Gallery as part of the Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme 2016-19. 


Please note the work list may differ show to show.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Galleries 12 and 13
9 June - 9 September 2018

Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne
29 September 2018 - 6 January 2019



The Arts Council Collection : The Everyday and Extraordinary
The Arts Council Collection : The Everyday and Extraordinary

Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender and Identity

An Arts Council Collection National Partners Exhibition - Coming Out tours to Birmingham from the Walker Art Gallery

A ground-breaking and vital exhibition which marks the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexual acts in England and Wales (1967 Sexual Offences Act). 

In Birmingham, this major exhibition will feature over 80 modern and contemporary artworks by internationally renowned artists who explore themes of gender, sexuality and identity in art. Taking 1967 as a starting point, the exhibition will reveal new research into LGBT history and visual culture showcasing artworks from The Arts Council Collection, National Museums Liverpool and Birmingham’s collection.

Conceived by The Walker Art Gallery, and in partnership with Birmingham Museums Trust, Coming Out will be reimagined for audiences in Birmingham. The exhibition includes art works by many well known artists.  Visitors will see works by Sarah Lucus, David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Grayson Perry, Francis Bacon, Linder, Derek Jarman, Tracey Emin. Steve McQueen, Gillian Wearing, Margaret Harrison, Chila Kumari Burman and Charlotte Prodger. 

The public launch of this exhibition will be on Saturday December 2nd where we will be partnering with Shout Festival and Birmingham LGBT for a series of specially commissioned performances and activities to celebrate the opening of the exhibition. Please check the website nearer the time for event listings. 

To keep up-to-date with the exhibition, read the Coming Out posts on the BMAG blog.

Find out more about Coming Out at the Walker Art Gallery


Exhibition credit

Coming Out is a touring exhibition conceived by National Museums Liverpool, in partnership with Birmingham Museums Trust as part of the Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme 2016-19.



Store to Tour is a new series of films produced to celebrate our National Partners Programme, which brings together four major galleries and museums to create collaborative exhibitions and events and providing a permanent home for ACC works between April 2016 and June 2019.

This film explores Anya Gallaccio’s can love remember the question and the answer (2003), a central work in Walker Art Gallery’s latest National Partners exhibition, Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender & Identity.

The film looks at the installation process behind this unusual work, as well as how it fits into the wider exhibition, and featuring Laura Rooney, the Liverpool-based florist, tasked with sourcing 60 red Gerbera flowers for Gallaccio’s work.

Explore this Exhibition

Putting Engagement Centre Stage

Angelica Vanasse, Education Manager, Arts Council Collection at the Walker Art Gallery explains how the Gallery worked to put engagement activity centre stage as part of their major National Partners exhibition.
Artist Profile: Anya Gallaccio

Charlotte Keenan McDonald, Curator of British Art at Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, looks at the work of Collection artist Anya Gallaccio.

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Walker Art Gallery Exhibitions

Explore the exciting range of National Partner exhibitions produced as part of Round 1 of the National Partners Programme.

The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.