It's new. It's art. And it's from the West Midlands


Embroidered skin, post-apocalyptic Smethwick and potential rabbiticide — it's New Art West Midlands' annual region-wide show, and your detailed attention is exactly what it's demanding of.

Artist: Jade Hamilton Exhibiting at: mac Birmingham
Yep, it's a mannequin wearing a gas mask. It's also a neo-surrealist sculpture made of found objects and specially planted blown-glass terraria. Future Mess (2016) is about a tomorrow in which human beings have used up the Earth’s resources to such an extent that they have created a natural environment in which it is impossible to breathe independently. Light, fluffy stuff then.

Artist: Poppy Twist Exhibiting at: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Mic Approach is a video installation exploring the discomfort of the live event, and its ever-present threat of failure. Incorporating her roles as both a drummer in a band and a performer in her art, the most excellently named Poppy Twist explores what it means to be both ‘performer’ and ‘performed’. In a sparkly pink dress that references the expectation of ‘dressing up’ for a show, with a microphone held to her mouth, Twist prepares to start singing. Drum roll please...

Artist: Natalie Ramus Exhibiting at: mac Birmingham
The office was split 50:50 on whether to include this repulsive, yet intriguing piece. Following a super secret Kazakh style kick-boxing tournament, one person was fired, and an image of a human hand, stitched with embroidery thread appears before you. In what artist, Natalie Ramus, sees as an age of social detachment, centred around screens and virtual relationships, Hand Stitched (2015) uses visual shock to prompt viewers to reconnect with their bodies. We think.

Artist: Lisa Nash Exhibiting at: Waterhall Gallery, BMAG
Ready for another dose of unsettling? Dreamlike and uncanny, The Circle of Nature (2016) includes a woman cradling a bunny, with a larger rabbit watching on. Alluding to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Nash’s work explores the relationship between humans and animals – but she cunningly leaves it up to the viewer to decide what will come of the baby rabbit. Run, Thumper, run.

Artist: Natalie Seymour Exhibiting at: Waterhall Gallery, BMAG
It's Sandwell. Sort of. These digital photo-collages of an empty college in Smethwick stem from Seymour's fascination with abandoned buildings — whether a once glorious cathedral or the burnt out shell of a manor house. In Rebuild I (2016) the whole building is framed by its interior ruin: inner decay thus becomes the building’s landscape setting, with a sky of peeling ceiling, an abandoned projector for the sun and the ground a rubbish-strewn carpet. Anarchic looking, ain't it?

NAWM runs from February 18 to May 14 at Waterhall Gallery, BMAG, mac Birmingham, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Worcester City Art Gallery.