General Office Studios and Gallery Space, 12 Hagley Road, Stourbridge DY8 1PS
West Midlands

An Open exhibition call out was made to Dudley Borough artists asking them to respond and submit their work for a summer exhibition. General Office has its roots in the tradition of Stourbridge as a centre of Fine Art education and craft excellence. The theme of #Unity was presented as tasking this past with the present and to honour a celebration of artistic response.

A fine selection of photographs, paintings, drawings and objects created a finely crafted exhibition. A restricted dimension of A3 with a depth of 30cm, aided artists towards making smaller works – a sense of calm intimacy developed.  Various exhibition visitors commented on the nature of being drawn closer, to look into detail and to have an intimate encounter with each piece.

Open exhibitions are extraordinary in the gathering of different personal expressions into one space. Paintings juxtapose with stitched collage; which sit alongside drawing and print. A painted description of the bustle of Stourbridge High Street by Gerald Rushton took up its place in painterly tradition alongside a series of monotone structures each breaking with notions of frame and presentation; carefully sculpted and collaged they formed intriguing objects.

The exhibition included a porcelain vessel by Monika Miha’lyhi, two beautiful symmetries of limpet shells by Helen Garbett, a photograph by Andrew Gurnett of ghostly chairs and an intricate carpet design by Vanessa Heywood. There was of course more – the list of artists and artworks can be obtained from General Office, this gives just a small overview of what there was to see and celebrate.

Themes of togetherness between people and ‘family’ were a strong presence. Print, stitch and graphite works centring on the figurative and familial were the main contenders for the two exhibition prizes. Firstly, the People’s Choice Award went to and celebrated the work of Elizabeth Griffiths. Her tender childrens’ portrait and her detailed, stitched eyes, perfectly executed and delivered the theme of the exhibition and were celebrated by the viewing public.

The General Office prize winner was Elizabeth Hemming, her graphite portrait of herself with her son won the judges favour for her mix of creative and sympathetic content and skill.

The judges were: From The Midcounties Co-operative Funeralcare, Zoe Ketch (Area Manager) and Karen Millard. From General Office, Simon Meddings with Sarah Goudie and representing Dudley Borough artists, Dean Melbourne. The prize is a commission to create a new large scale artwork for the entrance lobby, shared with the Co-operative FuneralCare.

A great experience for GeneralOffice, looking forward to more.