Last week was the ‘official’ launch of Home of Metal; an ambitious project created by Capsule to realise Birmingham and the Black Country as the true home of Heavy Metal music. Sprawling throughout the region a series of exhibitions will showcase the history of metal music through artist interpretations, fans memorabilia, the bands own collections of clothing, guitars and much more.
You Should Be Living – The Visual Language of Heavy Metal
18 June-17 September
Wolverhampton Art Gallery, 01902 552 055, wolverhamptonart.org.uk/wolves
Free, Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm
Thirty years after the band formed, French artist Damien Deroubaix and Napalm Death founder Nicholas Bullen present sculptural constructions containing text and abstractions, embedded video monitors, audio cables and microphones, referencing the work of both artists and Napalm Death’s Scum album. This exhibition investigates the relationship between fans and music by examining the work of artists inspired by Heavy Metal. Matius Faldbakken, Ben Venom and Amy Sarkisian are some of the artists taking part, using typography, vintage t-shirts, sculpture and sound to explore aesthetic features of Heavy Metal and its relationship to contemporary art. The artists take inspiration from the genre, while exploring fantasy, chaos, performance and musical devotion.
40 Years of Heavy Metal and Its Unique Birthplace
18 June-25 September
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 0121 303 1966, bmag.org.uk
Adults £6, families £14, Mon-Thur & Sat 10am-5pm, Fri 10.30am-5pm, Sun12.30pm-5pm
The exhibition brings together unseen memorabilia, sourced directly from fans themselves, and places them alongside iconic items such as Black Sabbath’s Mob Rules stage cross, Judas Priest costumes and hand-written Napalm Death lyrics. The ingredients that made Heavy Metal a new genre will be explored, offering an insight into the region’s industrial history. The early blues-rock sound, the changing music industry, DIY politics and Heavy Metal’s global impact will all be presented to the greater glory of Birmingham and the Black Country’s own innovative, barrier-breaking musical form.
Chris Coekin: Manufactory
18 June-22 September
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Free, Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm
Artist Chris Coekin presents his beautifully detailed photographs and recorded sounds from the shop floor of a heavy industrial factory. Inspired by 19th-century trade union banners, Coekin collaborated with workers producing staged portraits showing an industrial environment, shaped by 175 years of heavy manufacturing and chemical processes, alongside disused manual tools. The rhythmic factory sounds and spoken-word performances have been recorded by Coekin and put onto vinyl record, capturing the intensity and psychological experiences of working within an industrial environment.
Be True to Your Oblivion
8 July – 10 September
The New Art Gallery Walsall
Tuesday–Saturday, 10am – 5pm
A major solo exhibition by former Turner Prize nominee Mark Tichner, whose work is influenced by Heavy Metal. The exhibition features commissioned works such as a video portrait of Nicholas Bullen, founding member of Napalm Death, and a banner with the Judas Priest lyric“I’ll choose my fate” from the song, You Don’t Have to be Old to be Wise. Tichner’s piece Egro Ergot is also included, inspired by a variety of sources such as Vertigo records’ iconic logo, which launched Black Sabbath’s first album in 1970. This piece evokes a hallucinatory experience, with its dizzying optical illusions and hypnotic animations. Heavy Metal memorabilia will additionally be presented during the exhibition.
Hell Bent for Leather
8 July – 10 September
Walsall Leather Museum, Littleton Street West, Walsall, WS2 8EQ
Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Dressed top-to-toe in an awe-inspiring mixture of shining leather, gleaming studs and chains, Judas Priest moved the Heavy Metal scene into rebellious outlaw. Walsall’s historic home of leather-workings inspects ‘the look’ of Heavy Metal and its most famous sons, Judas Priest. Borrowing the bands’ personal stage costumes from the Painkiller and Fuel for Life tours, with a wealth of fan’s memorabilia and photographs accompanying the collection.
16 July – 25 September
Dudley Museum & Art Gallery, James’s Road, Dudley, DY1 1HU
Monday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Metal celebrates the links between Heavy Metal music and metal manufacturing in the Black Country, investigating the occurrence and science of metal with a diverse display of minerals and metal ores. From the Industrial Revolution to the present day, the uses and products of metal will be explored, as well as an insight into how metal makes Heavy Metal music.
Heavy Metal and Place Conference
1 – 4 September
University of Wolverhampton & Light House
A celebration of Heavy Metal music, its origins, legacy and influence upon the world. Over four days, experts and academics including Professor of Sociology Deena Weinstein from Depaul University, Chicago and Professor in the School of Humanities Scott Wilson from Kingston University, London will share their knowledge in Heavy Metal and engage with the formation of the genre. The industrial areas of Birmingham and the Black Country in the late 1960′s will also be explored, in aid of expressing the origins of Heavy Metal music.
Words: Ross Cotton