The Argentea Gallery opened for business in St Pauls Square in the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Not, as you might think to sell jewellery but to exhibit contemporary photography.
Set at the top of this refurbished 18th and early 19th century square with St Paul’s church at its centre the gallery fits in with re-purposing of the square’s fine buildings. It’s perfectly positioned to bring added culture to this fine square.
The venue opened with a private viewing on the evening of the 27th October 2016 with invited guests and photographers.
The gallery director, Jennie Anderson, had chosen to open the venue with exhibits of work from 2 fine photographers, Robin Gillanders with his “A Lovers Complaint” and Tamas Dezso with his “Notes for an Epilogue” work.
The gallery is set on 2 floors with first exhibition space being on the ground floor. Crisp, white walls with an elegant hanging system. For the opening event, this is where the Dezso pictures were hung. Large colour images from his native Hungary. A strong, captivating set of images.
For me the stand out pictures were “The carpet sellers” a portrait of an elderly carpet selling couple in the snow, set against a white wall. The image held quality and charm. The elderly couple holding hands as they pose for the picture. And “Huts (near Moisei) a Bruegelesque image, akin to “hunters in the snow” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. I loved the image. Dezso’s pictures raised in me the question of how they were shot. They had amazing clarity, sharpness and definition yet the soft snow filled landscapes had a softness. Excellent.
The second gallery is in the basement of the building and accessed via an elegant spiral staircase. For the opening show, Gillanders pictures were hung there. This exhibition room is a little claustrophobic for me, having no natural light. Not helped in this showing by hanging many of Gillanders smaller pictures – each being 10” X 8” and then framed. It seemed a little tight. Perhaps less and bigger images would have been better. Nevertheless, still a crisp and elegant exhibition space.
Gillanders work is a series of exquisite images in black and white using abstract forms.
It’s everything a gallery should be with clean, sharp design, excellent and unobtrusive hanging and sensitive lighting. The gallery is sure to become a ‘must visit’ whilst people are in the city, especially when in the Jewellery Quarter.
A: 28 St Paul’s Square. Birmingham B3 1RB
Review by PDBarton 2016