I'd persuaded Jim that we shouldn't leave first thing on Tuesday morning, as I really wanted to visit Walsall's New Art Gallery, under whose flank we were moored. Naturally this was to soak up culture, expand my knowledge of the visual arts, and refresh my jaded eye with some challenging modern sculpture. Also, I wanted to get some postcards and a mug. My last few trips have yielded a souvenir mug - we were given a commemorative Basingstoke Canal 50th anniversary mug last year, and the year before I'd bought a Bugsworth Basin one. In 2015 the Braunston show did a decent giveaway one. It was getting to be a bit of a habit, so I thought a Walsall New Art Gallery mug would be a fitting memento of this trip. Sadly it was not to be - while the gift shop offered a few mugs, they were all generic arty ones, not Walsall specific ones. Should have gone to the Leather Museum I guess.
Other than the rubbish gift shop though, the Walsall New Art Gallery was pretty good. I'm not a great connoisseur of the visual arts, but I like a mooch round a gallery as much as the next person, and I thought the Walsall joint hit just the right balance between accessible and condescending and - although you might (I heard some comments) not think so from the outside - it's a lovely gallery space.
Admission is free, as befits an institution dedicated to the public good. One of the very informative free leaflets tells me that the gallery is 55% funded by the Arts Council and 'self-generated income' (more mugs in the gift shop and I'm sure they could increase that) with the remaining 45% coming from Walsall Council. And that's the worrying part. My third reason for being determined to make this visit was the fear that it might not be here next time.
There didn't seem to be any signs barring photography, so here are a few of my favourite exhibits.
And thus concluded my second ever trip to Walsall. Next... the delights of the Walsall Canal.
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