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Live! - Culture

Olafur Eliasson @ the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

Aug 24 2006 14:39
Nick Simpson
Nick Simpson heads North of the Watford Gap for some light artistic relief.
Round Rainbow 2005, Olafur Eliasson

Being the avid Imperial engineer that we all are, I decided to devote an immense 15 weeks of summer to an internship - luckily I started it before term finished so I have a week of real holiday before term starts again in early October.

Because of this I try and 'escape' London at the weekends, and last week I visited the new Olafur Eliasson exhibition in Birmingham. Not quite sure what to expect, having never been further into Birmingham than the realms of an interchange at New Street Station, let alone visit the finer points of its cultural attractions, I was still surprised at the size of the Ikon gallery where the show was on.

With Eliasson being best known for his 'Weather Project' a huge sodium-light-toned sun bathing Tate Modern's Turbine Hall a few years back, I was expecting quite a large gallery, sparsely furnished with artworks. Instead it was more like the cottage industry of the art world with Olafur's experiments in colour perception filling up three rooms above an exhibit by a Japanese artist who has spent the last forty years painting the date on different bits of canvas.

As much as I enjoyed the exhibit, it reinforced my view of small galleries; as hard as they might try to attract big names, the limited space between front door and artworks really doesn't prepare you for the experience; for the first ten minutes I was still thinking about how slow the train journey up was. But just like the Picasso museum in Barcelona, as disappointing as the surroundings may be, the works inside, the part that really counts, was on par with what I would expect to find in London's finest galleries.

The Olafur Eliasson exhibition is at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham until 17th September 2006.

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