(Issue 170)
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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.


The original John Wick (2014) was an unlikely sleeper hit, considering it was about Keanu Reeves’s quest for revenge over a dead dog. Unlikely, that is, only if you failed to factor in the crisp, beautifully choreographed action and general ruthlessness. Chapter Two is the rare sequel that matches the original, doubling down on both the body count and fun international assassin mythology, while taking John’s harvesting of souls global. The plot isn’t important, serving as mere scaffolding for a parade of headshots and ceaselessly inventive action, as well as Keanu’s strangely peaceful charisma. He’s now been lead in three iconic action franchises, which isn’t a bad paper round, eh? Times & trailer


Second runner-up in a competition our Year 4 teacher created exclusively for our class is as far as we got with the writing of poetry. It began "Encased in a tangled web of deceit..." and somehow got increasingly tortured from there. For an altogether more rewarding read, we recommend This is Not Your Final Form, an anthology of poems about Birmingham. Published today, the text features 33 sets of cleverly ordered words, plus illustrations including one of The River, rather better known as a certain Floozie in a certain Jacuzzi. She gets her own poem and everything. Order the anthology on the interweb, or pick up a copy in that little know bookshop, Waterstones. It's a tenner.
Venue: Mughli Market, Selfridges Food Hall, Bullring, B5 4BP; website
Choice: Papri Chaat (£4.50) Chooser: Waitress

You've got thirteen days to work out what Manchester's spent more than twenty years loving on, without, you know, actually going to Manchester. An out-and-out darling of the north, Mughli's small plate, market-style pop-up restaurant — to be found exactly where Rossopomodoro used to live — is serving up an abundance of street food, more typical of the Indian Subcontinent than Brum-town in Feb. Having pretty much tried the lot, our pick was the crispy fried papri wafers, loaded with chickpeas, potato, zingy tamarind and oh so pretty pomegranate. A good in-between kind of a dish, or a crowd-pleasing sharer as part of a multi-plated order, as with much of the food Mughli Market is producing — the dish feels fresher and rather better for you than has become typical of a lot of westernised Indian food. The mango lassi (£3.50) is an obligatory accompaniment. Menu


Your 31st birthday falls on a Monday. Do you a) go to work (NO!); b) go to your second choice restaurant because your number one is closed; or, c) bounce like an idiot, and smile like you don't know what mortgages are? Rush trampoline park is huge and bright and has gladiator style duelling, a dedicated dodgeball enclosure and an assault course we could only truly complete one section of. There's also plenty of trampolines, including tumble lanes if you were one of those kids who could actually do gym, plus a trapeze. Yes, there are lots of small people, but there's also zero judgment from staff — nay there's respect — for exclusively adult groups. Whatever you do do, just don't be that parent that's watching, not jumping. From £10 an hour, you can book online or just turn up at quiet times. You'll live to massively regret not completing the recommended pre and post-workout stretching.
  • Damascena has opened its second spot, on Temple Row West, off the back of its huge Moseley following. Hug this tremendous, mezze-filled, well-located indie tight
  • The British Oak's first Farmers' Market starts at an eminently civilised 12pm this Saturday, continuing until 5pm. Bake will be there, so, if for no other reason, we will be there
  • Fish Fridays. If you went to catholic school, it's pretty much in your blood. More practically, it's also now a thing at Urban's JQ Emporium
  • Half of ICB is really excited that you can watch Mad Max: Fury Road in black and chrome at The Electric on April 30
  • Stand up for Refugees and chortle vigorously with Joe Lycett, Nish Kumar and other funny sorts. Tickets are selling at speed for the one-off event at The Rep on May 31. Chortle's a great word
"Awooga!" - John Fashanu, The Gladiators 
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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew LowryTom Cullen

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