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Stuart Whipps

If Wishes Were Thrushes, Beggars Would Eat Birds

Due to the early closing of this exhibition due to building closure, we're delighted to be able to show filmed documentation of the work in situ online. Book your place to receive a password and to view If Wishes Were Thrushes, Beggars Would Eat Birds. 

This exhibition comprises a newly commissioned body of work by Birmingham-based artist Stuart Whipps, exploring specific histories within plants and minerals in different parts of the world. 

Whipps is known for often making work about things he does not understand, or skills he does not readily possess. This practice of rigorous curiosity and learning has resulted in projects slowly unfolding where the artist has trained in various other professions and disciplines. In recent years this has included restoring a 1979 Mini with the assistance of former British Leyland workers, training to make geological thin sections at the University of Birmingham and working with a 17th-century sign language devised by Sir Christopher Wren. 

At the heart of this new exhibition is an exploration of particular gardens through characters and stories connected to them. Using installation, photography, film and sound, Whipps explores ideas of cultivated landscapes through wildly different timeframes and personal narratives connected to specific sites and materials. 

Installed within the gallery as a choreographed sequence of moving images using both digital and analogue means of projection, viewers are gently guided through the work by the artist’s voice. This narration gathers together histories and stories from Scotland, Ireland, England, France, Switzerland and Mexico, whilst macro and micro imagery moves from industrial scenes of limestone quarrying and cutting to minute details of leaf veins and organic plant structures. 

With this work, Whipps invites us to consider the ways in which people have worked with materials over vast periods of time, whether through practical practices of resource extraction or through wider political frameworks of empire building and colonial thinking. 

A new chapbook has been published to accompany the exhibition, featuring new writing from Michele Horrigan and Sean Lynch. Reading copies are available in the gallery and you can buy the publication in DCA shop or through our online shop here

Please see our exhibition notes or speak to a member of our team for more information about the work on display and to hear about further events programmed over the autumn in response to Whipps’ work. 

Please note if you also wish to visit our Create Space for creative family activities connected to the exhibition you'll need to book a separate ticket: here

About the artist:

Stuart Whipps (b. Birmingham, 1979) has undertaken the following solo exhibitions in recent years: The Kipper and the Corpse, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 2019; Isle Of Slingers, Spike Island, Bristol, 2016; Photo Colour Services, Ithuba Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2015; Birth Springs, Death Falls, Flat Time House, London, 2013; Why Contribute to The Spread of Ugliness?, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 2011; and New Wooabbeleri, Focal Point Gallery, Southend-On-Sea, 2010.

Group projects and exhibitions include: City Club, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, 2019; 4.543 Billion. The Matter of Matter, CAPC, Bordeaux, 2017; Portrait (for a Screenplay) of Beth Harmon, Tenderpixel, London, 2017; and most notably, he was selected for British Art Show 8, 2015 - 2017, widely recognised as one the most ambitious and influential exhibitions of contemporary British art.

His works are held in collections such as Arts Council England, British Museum, New Art Gallery Walsall, Deutsche Bank and Birmingham Central Library.