The Hive JQ

The Hive is a community hub for Birmingham in an historic building, with an award-winning organic café and bakery, craft workshops, exhibitions and event spaces.

A Sign of Life

A collaborative exhibition showcasing artworks by the students of Argent College who worked alongside artist Hillary J Baker to create mono-print self-portraits, A Sign of Life responded to themes of hope, fear, and dreams. The exhibition was organised to coincide with the grand opening of The Hive on 7th November 2019, reflecting the Ruskin-esque values that Argent College follow through their Practical Skills and Therapeutic Education programme. There were a number of prints on display, exhibiting artworks by John Ruskin and his followers that demonstrate the emotional response to art, from euphoria to despair. 

The exhibition also featured a beautiful sculptural work entitled Time Unfolding (Echoes), 2019 by Janet Manifold. Janet’s sculpture is hand-carved from alabaster, a soft rock with a luminous white colour. She describes the sculpture:

‘The shell’s orientation is upright with a deliberate softness intended to reflect human orientation and form. It is possible to hear the sea in the sculpture just as in a real shell. Although this echoed sound is a scientifically quantifiable process it means much more to our emotional selves, as evidenced by poetry, literature, myth and legend through the centuries. It can be argued that this is the implicit influence of calcium acting on the human brain.’ 

Janet’s work was a highlight of the exhibition, creating a dynamic and intriguing focal point which unified the sometimes complex Ruskin-esque themes. At the Hive, we always value visitor feedback. This exhibition revealed that our audience valued the artist-produced artwork, rather than the prints. For our subsequent exhibitions, we’ve worked hard to make sure that we respond to what our visitors enjoy!