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From Romania With Love: Poetryartexchange 22 April - 3 June 2017

poetryartexchange is a unique cross-cultural collaboration between nine British and Romanian poets. Each poet submitted two poems, read each other’s work, and created another two poems in response. The University of Bucharest has published a book of the project, and we will be hosting an exhibition and sound installation to bring the words to life.

In a special celebration on April 22nd; five of the poets will read their poems and share their experiences of taking part in the project. The event will close with a drinks reception.

The poetryartexchange exhibition is on until 3rd June


Poet Biographies


Steve Rushton:

Steve Rushton7

Steve Rushton studied art at Kingston Polytechnic, exhibited regularly in England during the 1980s, studied art history at The Courtauld Institute and Birkbeck in the 1990s, and became an art and design history lecturer and arts curriculum area leader. He returned to art and started writing poetry in 2004, exhibiting regularly in London. His first chapbook collection Burning a Paper Plate—Towards a New Art was published by erbacce-press in 2015. His poetry has been published in Romania, Poland and England. A poetry single Sweet Sex Education Teacher from Chichester was published by Not Your Average Type in 2012.


John Riley: 


John Riley


John Riley is a writer. He has written, taught and broadcast on film, music and film music. His book “Shostakovich: a Life in Film” was excellently reviewed in many journals including The Times Higher Educational Supplement, The Moscow Times and the East-West Journal. He has curated film seasons for the Barbican and the BFI, and the South Bank Centre commissioned him to write, produce and direct the multi- media show ‘Shostakovich: My Life at the Movies’ which was premiered by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and narrated by Simon Russell Beale, before being produced by the Komische Oper, Berlin. He has appeared on and made programmes for BBC Radios 3 and 4 and the World Service, and Resonance 104.4fm.
Claire Booker:
Claire Booker
Claire Booker is based in south London. Her stage plays have been performed in France, Germany, Spain, Romania, Australia, America and the UK. She was nominated for a MacAllan Writer’s Guild of Great Britain award for her radio play, The Devil and Stepashka, which was broadcast on BBC Radio Four. She was also nominated for the Arts Council’s John Whitting Award for her play ‘Irish Roulette.’ She is currently associate writer with Goblin Baby Theatre Company.
Claire’s poems have been published in a range of literary magazines including: Ambit, the Interpreter’s House, Magma, the North, Poetry News, Poetry Salzburg Review, the Rialto and the New Welsh Review. She blogs at www.bookerplays.wordpress.com. She recently published Later There Will Be Postcards a poetry pamphlet.
Andra Rotaru:
Andra Rotaru
Andra Rotaru (Bucharest, Romania) has a BA in Sociology from The University of Bucharest. Currently settled in Bucharest, she is an active cultural journalist and organizer of literary events. She initiated several collaborations at the intersection of poetry and choreography (the dance performance Lemur, presented in US and across Europe), poetry and fiction and video: the documentary All Together, made during International Writing Program 2014; photography (Photo-letter pairing), involving community from Iowa and IWP writers.
Published books: Într-un pat sub cearșaful alb/ In a bed under the white sheets, Vinea Publishing House, 2005 (debut) – awarded the most important prizes for a debut book; En una cama bajo la sabana blanca (the translation of the debut book into Spanish), Bassarai Ediciones, Spain, 2008; Ținuturile sudului/ Southern Lands, Paralela 45 Publishing House, 2010; Lemur, Cartea Românească Publishing House, 2012, awarded The best young poetry book at Writers’ Gala, Bucharest, 2013. Was scholar in several literary programs in US and Europe, among them International Writing Program, Iowa University (2014).

Stephen Watts:


Stephen Watts


Stephen Watts is a poet, editor & translator. His own most recent books include ‘Gramsci & Caruso’(2004), ‘Mountain Language/Lingua di montagna’(2008), ‘Jour-ney Across Breath/Tragitto nel respiro’(2011) & ‘Ancient Sunlight’(2014). Recent co-translations include book of modern Kurdish poetry & volumes by Ziba Karbassi, Meta Kušar, Adnan al-Sayegh & A.N. Stencl (from Farsi, Slovenian, Arabic & Yiddish) & a book of Amarjit Chandan’s poetry. He has read internationally, in Syria(2010), in Romania(May & September 2013) & in Monza, Milan & Ravenna (2014) & has worked in schools & hospitals as a writer on issues of well-being & creativity. He has also curated many bilingual readings at exhibitions (including Nolde, Miro, Arshile Gorky, Guttuso & Francisco Toledo). His poetry has been translated into Italian, Czech, Slovenian, Arabic, Bengali, Persian & Romanian. Ongoing work includes collaborations with Claudiu Komartin & Golan Haji & forthcoming books include ‘The Language Of It’ & a prose work ‘Republic Of Dogs/Republic Of Birds’. He has lived in Whitechapel for the past thirty years
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Seventeen | Olga Grotova, Nika Neelova, Yelena Popova

As human lifespan keeps increasing, doubles of all the decades will occur. One could think of the ‘30s as the 2030’s or the 1930’s. In 1917 there was a Russian revolution. Russians still refer to it as ‘The revolution of the year seventeen’, but from this year it will mean both 1917 and 2017. Three artists in the show are drawn to this suggested doubling of history: a return to a fluctuating point in the past and reaching out to an illusive future. This suspended, circular, contemporary state of déjà vu gives rise to the idea of a reanimation of time.


Yelena Popova’s practice continually questions what painting can be and how it operates in contemporary conditions. The work pulls the histories of abstraction into sharper focus by magnifying the temporality of painting by exposing painting’s materiality. The recent Chemical Landscapes and Human Studies series pose a question of human endurance and presence. Popova’s slowly changing chemical reactions and shimmering images that withdraw into the canvas have an autobiographical reference to the secret town in the USSR, where Popova grew up – a centre of nuclear production and the site of a radioactive disaster.

The notion of the forbidden/secret zone had many connotations and meanings during the Soviet era. Like Tarkovsky’s film Stalker, Nika Neelova’s work is loosely based on the idea of a possible dissolution to our attachment to reality. Through exploration of the hypothetical future of geology the work exposes the modified ruins and techno-artefacts of a human dominated environment crossing various historical periods. The seemingly unearthed futile objects set against the movements of the earth and deep geological time. Exploring fluidity of matter through time, the work suggests the view of the world as a set of flows running in parallel to one another.

Just like in Olga Grotova’s video One, whose narrative is constructed around a kaleidoscopic timeline shuffling temporary planes inside a hermetic system, the initial false sense of continuity and historical references gradually brakes down. Three female characters question social relationships within their enclosed environments balanced between memory of the past and disintegrating memory of the future. Grotova’s works on canvas resemble action paintings, however, they deconstruct painterly gestures through mechanical methods of production and repetition. The use of screen-printing process and digital manipulations transform genuine marks into replicated fictions




Exhibition opening


28 January – 25 March 2017

Private View 27 January 18:00 – 20:00


Aleksandra Natalia Koper

Centrala Gallery are proud to present for the first time in the UK the work of Aleksandra Natalia Koper. Koper is  an emerging Polish artist working in Painting,Computer Graphics and Sculpture, a Graduate of the  Faculty of Painting of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and The Polish – Japanese Academy of Information Technology. She finds her Practice and Philosophy straddling the European East and Far East. Her large scale banner works will fill Centrala Gallery walls using the techniques and practices of advertising  while her imagery subverts the the de-personalization and commercialisation of youth cultures.
 Exhibition open from November 4th – 7th January 2017
 Opening evening from 5 – 7pm on November 4th as part of Digbeth First Friday.
Saturday November 5th informal Artist and Curator Tour November 5th at 2pm.



15 July – 15 September 2016


“EXODUS”, from the Greek ‘going out’, is a project developed by Polish artist Kamil Tatara. This work by Tatara responds to the situation caused by the humanities crisis, analysing Europe’s realities and takes an interesting focus from the Paul Gaugin quote:

“Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?”

Tatars’s main working medium used to be oil on canvas: “Painting. [I] decided that painting is [the] best way of communicating for me. Something I truly love and enjoy.”

However, following the 2015 Paris terror attacks, objects have been introduced into his work. He transforms essential attributes of media representation of refugees such as blankets and lifejackets and reflects them on the modern Western world. Tatara also likes to note that he doesn’t shed tears over social media reactions after the terrorist attacks and points out how powerless a common mass reaction really is.

“I think [the] only sense of making art is to intercept beauty in passing time. Right here, right now and i will do it with [a] language we all speak and understand which is Art.”

Tatara’s exhibition features as part of Centrala’s summer programme ‘Neighbourhood’s Project’. The project features a number of events and Saturday workshops; it looks to explore the themes of home, migration and displacement by looking into the richness of culture and faith in Digbeth and the surrounding areas.



22nd April – 31st May 2016

Centrala Gallery presented an Exhibition selected from the participants of an Open Call to young and emerging artists from the Central and Eastern European Diaspora.

5 artists were selected from an entry of over 50 applying from the UK and Europe

The Selected Exhibiting artists were –

Olga Guse
Karolina Korupczynska
Alex Maczkowski
Emilia Maryniak
Sylwia Narbutt

Jindrich Streit Sovinec

Jindrich Streit, one of the most important Czech Documentary Photographers. For over 40 years, primary school teacher Jindrich Streit has been photographing the people of his home village Sovinec in the north of the Czech Republic.

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