Why choose Warwick? Seven art venues to visit in your first term
If Warwick is already on your list of options to study art history, here’s why you should put it right at the top.
While it’s always worth mentioning that the History of Art department was ranked second in The Sunday Times’ Good University Guide subject league tables, there are many more reasons to choose Warwick.
As an honorary local, I know exactly how amazingly well-placed we are for all your art historical adventures. It’s all about location, location, location, right?
So here are seven art venues in the immediate area that should catch your eye before you accept your offer.
Oh, and make sure you pay at least one of them a visit in your first term!
Mead Gallery, University of Warwick
A bit of a given, this one. At the heart of campus, in the newly refurbished Warwick Arts Centre, it’s open during term time and absolutely free.
It’s a great place to discover the university’s art collection, and an excellent starting point if you plan to do the sculpture trail on a sunny day.
Herbert Art Gallery and Coventry Cathedral
Well okay, this is two-for-one. But it’s an absolute must if any of your modules cover the art and architecture of the region (and at least one of them will for sure).
Just like the City of Culture itself, the visual art on display here is a wonderful mix of old and new, with elements of the medieval through to the modern.
The Herbert did, of course, host the 2021 Turner Prize, which was awarded to Array Collective for their winning immersive installation, The Druithaib’s Ball (above).
It’s also just a stone’s throw from Coventry Cathedral, which has its own spiritual artworks of note and also hosts exhibitions.
I won’t lie, this is tricky to get to without wheels, so you’d be wise to make a day of it with a group. Once you’re there you’ll not want to leave.
The permanent collections include British folk art, 1,500 years of ancient Chinese art, as well as the Marx Lambert collection; Enid Marx being known for the bold geometric textiles she created for London Transport.
Compton Verney hosts plenty of temporary exhibitions in partnership with national galleries. Plus there are acres of rolling countryside to explore (above).
Leamington Spa Museum & Art Gallery
Located within the historic Royal Pump Rooms, the temporary exhibitions tend to be quirky and none the worse for it; so approach with an open mind.
You’ll also learn about the town’s spa history and see a mix of fine and decorative arts that cover paintings, sculpture, ceramics and glass.
It’s also worth strolling through Jephson Gardens opposite to visit the Leamington Studio Artists at East Lodge for a grassroots arts fix.
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham
Catch the train from Coventry to University Station in Brum, and you’ll find something akin to a miniature National Gallery right here in the Midlands.
There are plenty of headliners of Western art to catch your eye; Botticelli, Degas, Gainsborough, Rubens and Monet to name a few. You’ll even pass Paolozzi’s Faraday (2000, above) on your way through campus.
MAC (Midland Arts Centre), Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham
Another Brummie cultural gem that’s well worth the extra travel. MAC is a community arts complex with a focus on the contemporary.
This year’s exhibition programme does a wonderful job of reflecting its ethos to celebrate diversity and reflect the demographic of its community. You’ll find gigs, workshops, talks and theatre there, too.
IKON Gallery, Brindleyplace, Birmingham
This takes you back to the centre of Brum, and has an internationally acclaimed reputation for the contemporary.
Expect white cube vibes in a neo-Gothic school building, showing works of both established and emerging artists that are often thought-provoking, consistently innovative and certainly never dull.
Where have I missed?
There are, of course, plenty of places in the wider West Midlands that are well worth a visit.
Share your own suggestions in the comments below.