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Indepth Arts News:

"Intervention: Transformation of Five Large Victorian Houses"
2002-02-01 until 2002-02-28
Sozo Collective
Handsworth, , UK United Kingdom

On February 1st 2002, an extraordinary project from the new Sozo Collective, Intervention, opened in Handsworth, Birmingham. Local artist/builder Dave Pollard has transformed five large Victorian houses due for demolition to create exhibition and performance space for over 50 artists. There has been widespread local, national and international interest, including artists from Germany, USA and Japan. The space is open to any artist who wishes to show.

The atmosphere surrounding this venture is unique. Last year Dave Pollard transformed his own home into an exhibition, which drew in large numbers of people from the area and across Birmingham who wanted to help or exhibit, and provided the impetus for this current event. It is a creative and co-operative enterprise, self generating and self-organising. Contributions can be made at any time, including during the exhibition phase.

Pollard believes that the show represents the ‘democratisation of the artistic process,’ by providing space for new, as well as established artists, and by offering audiences access to a wide range of work in what was once a domestic space. Contributors include sculptors, photographers, painters, installation artists and storytellers. The ethos of the show is reminiscent of the artistic experimentation of the sixties and seventies, before the rigours of the funding system set in. It offers a huge impetus for the moving of artistic initiative into the regions.

Intervention merges art and construction practice, reflecting Pollard’s experience of working as a builder in New York. There is a waterfall in one of the stairways, and a linking corridor between the five houses with doors of decreasing size. Walls and floors have disappeared. ‘I want to disorient people,’ explains Pollard, ‘to make it look like something that’s not supposed to be happening.’

The show is providing an energy and a focus for the creativity of the area and for its regeneration. It is supported by Handsworth Area Regeneration Trust, a social fund supporting its first arts project, by Arts and Business, Birmingham City Council and local builder T & W. Brough Ltd. Local people are involved both as contributors and audience.

The exhibition connects Birmingham’s architectural heritage and its history with contemporary art practice. The buildings were once rooming houses for Irish and later African-Caribbean workers. An inscription found in one of the cellars records, ‘Tues 19th November Worst Air raid of war up to now.’ Artist Pauline Bailey is re-creating the interior of a slave ship and is researching Birmingham’s link with the slave trade. The progress of the exhibition is being recorded by a community video company, It’s About Time Productions.

Midland Area Housing Association, which owns the houses and supports the project, will demolish the houses this year and build new homes for families and the elderly. In the summer there are further plans for eight smaller simultaneous shows in other properties within a two-mile radius. The fact of impending demolition reinforces the temporary nature of this exhibition, and the determination of the Sozo collective to create something transformative in space that had been abandoned, ‘like a delicate and beautiful flower that grows and dies,’ says Pollard, ‘for people to remember when it’s gone.’

Intervention will be held at 103, Westminster Road, Handsworth, Birmingham from February 1-21st 2002, 2-8pm weekdays, and 12-8pm weekends. Admission is free. For further information contact Dave Pollard on 0121- 356-7344 or email fuk333@aol.com

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