This catalogue accompanied Stuart Whipps' 2011 exhibition Why Contribute to the Spread of Ugliness?
The exhibition by Birmingham-based artist Stuart Whipps, included a selection of photography and video reflecting on the changing nature of cultural value.
A two-channel video installation, England and the Octopus, Britain and the Beast (2011), focuses on the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales, a former quarry town at the geographical centre of Snowdonia National Park. When the Park’s borders were created in 1951 the grey slate waste tips that surround Blaenau Ffestiniog prevented its inclusion, a decision made in part by the eccentric architect of Portmeirion, Clough Williams-Ellis. Whipps presented new film footage of the town teamed with a Welsh-language script sourced from texts written or edited by Williams-Ellis.
The major work of this exhibition, Why Contribute to the Spread of Ugliness? (2011), centres on 487 boxes of archived paperwork from the architectural practices of John Madin, currently stored in Birmingham Central Library. A multi-screen slide projection combines three strands of subject matter: the archival boxes, their contents (printed materials relating to Madin’s projects and the construction industry between the 1950s and 1970s) and the buildings to which they refer. John Madin, active in Birmingham for over 30 years, designed many buildings that defined Birmingham as a modernist city.
Includes an essay by Birmingham novelist Catherine O' Flynn.
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