The photography archive at Birmingham Central
Library have joined forces with Stan’s Cafe and Birmingham Repertory
Theatre Company to present a special exhibition to coincide with a theatre
production, The Just Price of Flowers.
The exhibition will present a small selection of images by John
Blakemore, widely regarded as one of the finest photographers and printers
in the United Kingdom. The tulip was a recurrent theme in a series of
still life images Blakemore made over a nine year period in the 1980s.
He was fascinated by their constant transformation and their sensual
and gestural elegance.
The exhibition will include images from his Tulipmania,
Tulipa and other
Tulip Studies made between 1980 and 2004. Speaking about this work Blakemore
“I learned a little about tulips, not much – less perhaps
than I could have learned in a few afternoons at the library. My search
then was not a botanical one, nor, though I learned a little history
(I hadn’t previously known of the period characterized as ‘tulipomania’),
a historical one. I looked at images that might not otherwise have engaged
my attention – obscure flower paintings, botanical illustrations – not
however, as an art historian but as an image-maker seeking ideas and
“The tulip journey then was ultimately a visual journey, an investigation
and discovery of visual possibilities. The tulip became an object of
attention and fascination. It became both text and pretext for an activity
of picture-making. The photographs are not finally, or not primarily,
about tulips: they contain tulips. To say this is not to diminish the
role of the tulip. Had the vase of flowers on the table when I made the
first tentative exposures exploring the space of my kitchen been, let’s
say daffodils, then the journey, if it had ever begun, would in all probability
have been shorter.”
James Yarker, Artistic Director of Stan’s Cafe is delighted with
the exhibition: “It fits perfectly. Our show uses tulips and the
Dutch mania for them in the 17th Century as way of telling a story about
mortgages and the 2008 financial collapse in an engaging way. John’s
photographs are wonderful and complement the theatre gloriously.”
The Just Price of Flowers is a revival of Stan's Cafe's
imaginative and engaging production which uses the 17th Century phenomena
of Tulipmania to tell a story of the 2008 financial crisis. Presented
in collaboration with Birmingham Repertory Theatre, with an eye to the
paintings of Dutch Masters and using origami props, this is a playful,
comic show, which gives an arresting insight into the mechanics behind
the credit crunch and a hint at the human dramas involved.
You can watch a short film about John
Blakemore and his archive in Birmingham library at http://source.ie/sourcephoto/?p=953
John Blakemore will give a talk about his tulip photographs before the
performance on Friday 22nd June.
Tickets for The Just Price of Flowers are just £12 each with preview
tickets for just £8 each.
Tickets can be purchased from The REP's
Box Office, The BOX, which is located in the Birmingham Central Library
foyer on Chamberlain Square, by calling 0121 236 4455 or you can purchase
tickets via The REP's website birmingham-rep.co.uk
The images are drawn from the John Blakemore Archive which the Library
acquired in 2004 with support from the Art Fund, The V&A Purchase
Grant Fund, the Friends of the National Libraries and The University
of Derby. The archive will be permanently housed in the new Library of
Birmingham when it opens in 2013.