Why contribute to the spread of ugliness? – an exhibition on John Madin at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham
Last month I decided to take a look around the Ikon Gallery where I was just in time to see the exhibition ‘Why Contribute to the Spread of Ugliness?’ by Birmingham based artist Stuart Whipps. This exhibition comprised of slide projections focusing on the 487 boxes of archived paperwork of the architectural firm John Madin Design Group, stored at Birmingham Central Library. The display revealed images of the contents of the archives and the buildings to which they refer.
John Madin, Birmingham born architect who sadly passed away in January, was known for working in the Brutalist style of architecture responsible for a number of landmark buildings in Birmingham city centre including Chamber of Commerce, the Birmingham Post and Mail Tower, the BBC’s former Pebble Mill Studios and Birmingham Central Library.
Madin’s work has been plagued with controversy, as Modernist architecture declined in popularity in the 1980s Madin witnessed some of his famous buildings being demolished and threatened with demolition, this in turn has resulted in a number of campaigns by the 20th Century Society to save these buildings. Birmingham Central Library is next on the list to be demolished in 2013. Nevertheless, most of the hundreds of buildings that Madin designed in Birmingham are still standing along with those that can be found across Britain, Europe and the Middle East.
Modern architecture in Birmingham can be seen to be having a revival, the Rotunda building previously an eye sore now hosts much desired apartments. Tastes in architecture change over time, look at Victorian architecture which was despised until 1960s, what we dislike today may not be the case in the future….will these buildings last the test of time until they are appreciated by future generations?
If you’re interested in reading more about John Madin a key figure in British post-war architecture take a look at Alan Clawley’s book 20th Century Architects: John Madin.
John Madin was much written about in local blogs:
RIP John Madin (a piece written by someone who lives in a flat he designed in Moseley)
RIP John Madin from someblokesblog
Another obit from David’s blog
Lorna Parson’s Pecha Kucha tribute to john madin