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Meet Ally Standing: Forward Artist

Ahead of the opening of Forward: New Art from Birmingham, artist Ally Standing talks to Ikon about her art practice, what she’s exhibiting and her thoughts on being an artist in Birmingham. The first in a series of blog posts – stay tuned to hear more from artists participating in Forward. A series of artist video interviews, filmed at the artists’ studios will be released over the course of the exhibition and you can watch them on our YouTube channel here.

Can you introduce yourself and give us an overview of your practice at the moment?

I’m Ally Standing, an artist from Birmingham. I also lecture in Contextual Studies at Birmingham City University’s School of Visual Communication. My practice is sometimes interdisciplinary, but often photographic – and much of my work explores ideas surrounding the built environment, urban aesthetics and psychogeography.

Ally Standing. Image credit: Olivier Metzger / Air France Magazine.

What have you chosen to exhibit in Forward: New Art from Birmingham and why?

The work I’ve chosen to include in Forward is a print of a photograph I took on a recent trip to Hong Kong. Being a self-confessed lover of concrete and urban palimpsests, I found myself endlessly fascinated by the texture of the city. The photograph in question shows an external feature  of a residential block in the Central Mid-Levels area; a colourful yet faded tile wall – which is typical of Hong Kong – and a curious tangle of pipes. The building itself is a particularly high-spec block, with a golf simulator, landscaped tropical garden, wine fridges, and many other luxury amenities. This is in stark contrast to the 15 sq ft ‘cage homes’ in which some 200,000 of the city’s poorest residents live, which are half the size of a standard parking bay. Hong Kong is a mesmerising place; made so by the complexities and contradictions which manifest themselves within the very fabric of the city.

Ally Standing, Dynasty Court Tower (2018). Digital C-Type Print
60 x 60 cm.

What’s it like being an artist in Birmingham, and how do you see art changing or moving forward here?

Birmingham is a city in constant flux, which is interesting for me as an artist interested in documenting and exploring urban landscapes. Cycles of demolition and regeneration always offer new perspectives: through gaps in the hoarding, the naked and vulnerable city can be glimpsed. Birmingham’s art scene seems to be flourishing – but this plethora of artist-run spaces could be a fragile ecosystem. When HS2 effectively places Birmingham within London’s Zone 4, Birmingham – and especially Digbeth – will change beyond recognition; a transformation which can already be sensed. The arts community will have to adapt to this – but coming from a city where change is the only constant, I expect that we will take it in our stride.

See more of Standing’s work by visiting her website and follow her on Instagram.

Pink Elephant from Alcoholism 1965 (2016).
Collaboration with Gavin Rogers and Bruno Grilo. Image credit: Vik Chandla.

Land of Green Silences (2016). Collaboration with Bruno Grilo.

Forward: New Art from Birmingham is a group exhibition, including work by approximately twenty five artists, living and working in this city, to highlight the depth and vitality of a wide range of practices. Taking place in Medicine, the old gallery space of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, from which sprang the young generation that founded Ikon more than 50 years ago, it couldn’t be more in keeping with their progressive ethos, still informing our artistic programme to this day.

Open 23 January — 24 March 2019. Entry is free, open daily 10am-5pm, at Medicine Bakery and Gallery. 69 New Street, Birmingham B2 4DU. Please note Medicine Bakery is only accessible via a steep staircase.

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