St Paul's Gallery

· culture ·

Birmingham can be a constantly surprising place. Just when you think you've explored all that it has to offer, you find something that's new to you, tucked away somewhere.

My brother came to visit this weekend, and Mr. Bsag suggested that we go to St. Paul's Gallery, tucked away in the Jewellery Quarter. Despite the fact that I've visited the RBSA gallery many times, which is just around the corner, I'd never been to St. Paul's Gallery before. It's a fantastic place, specialising in fine art prints of album cover art, and features the work of Storm Thorgerson, who produced many of Pink Floyd's album covers, along with some great covers for other bands.

The brother and I are both big Floyd fans, so seeing huge, beautiful prints of the original cover of Dark Side of the Moon and the Atom Heart Mother cow, signed by Thorgerson, made us go squeee! with geeky excitement. Thorgerson's covers are incredibly visually arresting (if slightly disturbing), and seeing them so much larger than even the size of a vinyl album cover is a treat. I've always loved the look of his cover from Pulse, and that was particularly good at a large scale. The colours are wonderfully vibrant, and you get the full effect of the repeated circle motifs, and the morphing imagery around the edge.

It isn't all Storm, though. They have a number of other great pieces, like a fantastic portrait of BB King by Robert Crumb, which is signed by both. Since Mr. Bsag loves the work of both of them, that would make a brilliant anniversary present, but I'd have to do a lot of saving up for it.

Another piece we both loved was a special print from Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, and depicts the HMS Thunder Child battling against a Martian fighting machine. My brother and I both grew up with War of the Worlds -- we both know the first part of Richard Burton's terrific (in the proper sense of the word) narration by heart, and will quote it to bored listeners on the slightest pretext. In fact, we had just been drooling over an original vinyl copy of War of the Worlds in Swordfish, so it was quite a coincidence -- enough of a coincidence to set the "oo ee, oo ee, oo ee" musical motif running in my head for the rest of the day, with the odd, "ULLA!" thrown in for good measure. Readers how have not heard War of the Worlds won't know what the heck I'm on about, but that's OK.

Anyway, if you're in Birmingham at a loose end, particularly if you are a Pink Floyd fan, St. Paul's Gallery is a great place to visit.